The Train in Spain

View from my train window near Burgos

Travel is always enlightening. It is also occasionally disappointing and tiring, and, if you are traveling alone, lonely. Sometimes it is more than all of this. Sometimes you find a “thin place.” A thin place is where the distance between heaven and earth seems shorter, and reveals something deeper. Yesterday, I rode the train from Bilbao to Madrid and found a thin place.

About two hours into my train ride, a young woman with a backpack and hiking poles boarded in Burgos. Burgos is on the path of the Camino de Santiago — the 500 mile trek from St. Jean, France to Santiago de Campostela, Spain. I’m planning to hike (the shorter version of) the Camino this year so, after the woman settled into her seat, I asked her whether she had been walking the Camino. She had. Later, we talked a little more and realized we had many connections — our work with refugees and our love of horses. Her Camino hiking partner is Mexican and lives near my second home of San Miguel de Allende. She is German and lives near my adopted refugee family in Berlin. Our conversation was short but felt long. When we arrived in downtown Madrid, we hugged and promised to keep in touch. Somehow, our conversation changed everything about the three weeks I’ve been in Spain and the few days I have left here before I return home. Today, Spain seems a little deeper, a little wider, and a little closer to heaven.

24 comments

  1. thanks for this Kim! I’ve experienced many “thin” places when traveling–just didn’t know the word for that connection which makes all thebad parts of traveling so worth while! a litle closer to heaven!

  2. One of the joys of travel are the unexpected pleasures of chance meetings like the one with this young woman. Is it true that the train in Spain stays mainly on the plain as Prof. Higgins says? 😄

  3. I was going to hike the camino this year, but my hip is not happy so I’m still debating. Was originally supposed to do April 2020 but Covid messed that up. What section are you doing? Lots of coincidences on your train ride!

    1. Originally, we were going to go in 2020 and reserved hotels through a Camino travel planner several months in advance. But of course, the pandemic intervened. This time we gave the travel planners about 5 months notice to reserve our hotels. We’re going to walk from Porto, which is supposed to be especially beautiful.

      1. Wow. Not bad. I was hoping to circumnavigate Mount Blanc this year on foot. I started booking inns myself back in January and they were already sold out. I wrote to one innkeeper asking when I should begin planning for next year. He said October. I never thought about using a travel planner. That would simplify things considerably. Thanks for the info. Have a great trip!

        I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do this summer. First Covid now the war in Ukraine have put me in a state of paralysis.

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