(Originally posted on 1 September 2016)
Tardajos/Itero de la Vega
So here we are again, Las Mesetas.
It is one of the hardest and, at the same time, the most fascinating part of the Camino. Miles and miles of flat path from Burgos to León with the same landscapes i.e. nothing but haystacks. No villages. No shadows. No water. And the certainty that you would have to walk for at least another 10 miles before you come across a fountain or an open bar.
Yes, there are tricks. Some pilgrims walk this segment during night time (in order to avoid the fatigue from walking unsheltered under the burning sun), others take the bus and resume walking dozens of miles after. But if your schedule and/or your attitude do not allow you to use these tricks, you will just have to get through them. Without looking back.
Crossing Las Mesetas is like watching yourself in the mirror, especially if you walk alone. You don’t have to be careful to where you put your feet, or if the path is obvious enough. That is not the point.
Las Mesetas forces you to reflect. You see your defects, your regrets, your future. And you prepare your soul for the ritual at the Cruz de Hierro (I will dedicate a post to this subject soon). Just like an alchemist refines the low-quality metals to find gold after hundreds of hours of work, you have the opportunity to refine your soul with hundreds and hundreds of steps. I love them and hate them at the same time. But I acknowledge that the Camino would not be the same without them.
I believe that the first part of the French Way is good for training your body, while the second part is good for training your mind. However, both of them share the same rule: the more stuff you bring with you, the harder the path will be.
Last time when I crossed Las Mesetas, I came out of it with a headache. A fellow pilgrims who skipped the entire segment using the bus asked me how it was. I laughed, with a tinge of sarcasm and seriousness, I replied him in just three words:
“Mind-fucking. Mind-blowing. Mind-erasing.”
And the situation, one year later, hasn’t changed too much..