August 24, 2002

8/24/02 Hacinas

Cavemen at Atapuerca

Today we went north, just outside of Burgos to the archaeological site of Atapuerca. This huge dig, most of which is in the extensive caves in the area, researchers have found a link between Homo Sapiens and Neanderthals. Unfortunately for us, the weather was not cooperating with our outing. It rained on and off all day, causing it to be a lot cooler too.

Afterwards, we all went to Burgos for lunch. The exciting thing for me was to finally see some pilgrims walking the Camino de Santiago through the city. I must have seen a dozen walking in the rain. And where we had lunch, tow couples were eating with their burros grazing in the grass outside. Last year only seven people made the trek with donkeys, so this was a rare sight indeed.

A loaded burro takes a rest

We were having lunch with some friends of Natí and José that they knew in Burgos. There were ten adults and just about that many kids. To start off with, the waiter brought out a three-foot diameter pan filled with paella, (and we ate the whole thing) followed by an assortment of smaller dishes and salad. Of course we had to have dessert and coffee. They served the lemon ice cream in a lemon and coconut ice cream in a coconut. And the men finished off the meal with a glass of Pacharan.

¡Me gusta helado!

During lunch, the kids began to get restless. We were sitting in a backroom with several other large parties. At one point Javier began kicking his ball, and before we knew it, launched it right into another family as they were trying to eat. It bounced off one mother, spilling her drink and the ball landed in their paella. The husband handed us the ball while Natí made a few quiet apologies. Within seconds, everyone was back to normal. I can just imagine what huge kind of brawl would have ensued had this same event happened in an American restaurant.

I hate to say it, but I probably got more enjoyment out of playing with the children than I got from the archeology dig. Alberto and Marisol had two adorable little girls. Alicia is three years old and she seemed to enjoy anything I did with her. She could stop giggling when I carryed her on my shoulders or bounced her on my knee like a horse.

Javier wonders "Is it real?"

After a very filling and very long lunch, we went back to Atapuerca for more of a hands-on exhibit of how the 'cavemen' lived. The rangers talked about the specific humans being researched at Atapuerca but also talked about the evolution of such things as tools, hunting weapons and art. The whole exhibit was outside with several recreations of vaarious kinds of homes.

Instead of heading home, we all went back to Burgos for some late dessert in the plaza. My friend Pat would love Spain because they serve real melted chocolate. I was a little sad to say goodbye to these new people I've met today. Alberto gave me his phone number and said to call when I walked through Burgos on my pilgrimage. They live one street over from the route as it passes through the city.

We finally sat down for a quick dinner before saying goodnight at 1pm. Amparo's family and I are supposed to go on another trip tomorrow but I guess it depends on the weather.