1 August 2009

This past week a large car bomb was set off in Burgos in front of the barracks of the Guardia Civil. There were no deaths, but a large number of injured, some of them children. I had spent a day in Burgos during my journey across northern Spain two years ago. The news media reported that this cowardly act was done by the ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) or “Basque Homeland and Freedom”, considered by itself as a Basque paramilitary organization and defined as a terrorist organization by the European Union, the United Nations and by the United States. In October 2008, a car bomb was set off at the University of Navarra in Pamplona, also attributed to ETA. This is the same university campus that I walked through on my first day on the Camino de Santiago in early 2007. I had commented at the time in A Journey of Days that “There are sprayed-on slogans on some surfaces, presumably Basque separatist sentiment, but there does not appear to be any sense of danger here. Of course, my radar for that type of situation has never been very good!” My point in bringing this up is that there is no such thing as true security, even when you feel most secure. Of course the pilgrimage to Santiago was very much more dangerous in the early years, when murder, rape and theft were commonplace on the Camino. My experience on the camino led me to believe that it was a very safe walk, even for people walking alone, as I did. Apparently not quite as safe as I thought, although I would not suggest that people forgo the walk because of the Basque troubles. It would sure be unfortunate if a pilgrim now were to be inadvertently caught in the cross-fire as an innocent passerby.

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