Today the weather, threatening rain, encouraged a quick 25 km walk through landscape that felt a lot like home. I have entered the area known as the Meseta, where the trail runs through agricultural area and is known for its monotony. The trail was mostly flat and straight along a two lane highway, with various crops planted as far as the eye could see. I enjoyed the walk, as there was a sense of familiarity as I “rambled” along the country road. There were other reminders of home as well- an irrigation system running in a field, fresh plowed fields, a farmer digging around the edge, a willow tree at the side of a lane, like the one in our front yard, and even a tractor trailer emblazoned with my sister’s name Teresa (not that I’ve seen that before- just the name reminded me of her! Don’t take that the wrong way Teresa!) The photo I posted is a sign showing the distance, 6 km, to my “home” for the evening, as well as the distance to my journey’s destination, Santiago, at 463 km. You might see just a hint of desperation in my face, as the clouds were threatening and the last 5 km of the day is always a bit of a trudge, when the end seems close, but feels so far. A few nights ago, we stayed at a small alberge where we were invited to participate in evening prayers. Each person read a prayer, in their own language, of a pilgrim that had previously stayed the night at this place. The words that I read have stayed in my mind, as they are a metaphor not just for the journey I am on with my fellow pilgrims, but for life as well. It said, “In the end, we are all just walking each other home”. To my family and friends both in Canada and on the Camino, thanks for walking with me on this journey home!
One of the benefits of sleeping in a crowded dorm room is that there are people who think that waking up and getting ready at 5:30am is a good idea. On this particular morning, I was out on the road by 6:30 am, feeling a little grouchy after a rather lonely evening when I had been separated from friends unexpectedly and had not connected with anyone in the hustle and bustle of the evening. Just after the sun had risen, I looked into the sky and this is what I saw. There were very few people on the road at that hour of the morning, and I was surprised a few days later when a man I had met showed me a photo that someone had shared with him, which was the same as the one I had taken! All I can say is that I felt blessed by this sign in the sky, and I hope you are blessed by it as well.
Today marks day 15 since I began walking this journey. It is difficult to describe the passage of time while walking the Camino. On the one hand, I can’t believe that two weeks have slipped by so quickly and that I’m already a third of the way into my journey. I want time to slow down so I can savour every moment. The days pass by, one after the other, with sights new to me, but ancient and worn by time. It’s not uncommon to see the facade of a row of houses where a modern, well kept exterior is adjacent to a medieval crumbling wall- past and present existing in beautiful harmony. The church spire usually towers over the towns and cities through which the Camino passes. The public square adjacent to the church is often the common gathering place for both pilgrims and locals alike. Yesterday, as one of my fellow travellers and I were leaving our accommodations in the predawn of the morning, we walked across the square fronting the magestic Burgos Cathedral. At that precise moment in time, we crossed paths with another member of “the fellowship”, coming from a different lodging and a different direction. We had not prearranged this serendipitous moment in any way, yet there the three of us were, starting the day together in silent companionship. Something very special about Camino time!
I’m sitting under an umbrella to shade me from the sun on the patio of the Alberge (hostel) in which I have stopped for the night. I walked 31km today, largely through farmland. My Camino is taking on a certain predictable rhythm. Up at 6 am, pack my knapsack, walk to the closest bar (they call everything a bar here- even though it is more of a cafe- but they do serve alcohol at any time of day and it isn’t uncommon to see a Spanish man drinking wine or sipping beer at 8 am), walk until lunch break, walk to my destination for the evening, unpack bag, shower, wash clothing, relax, eat dinner around 7pm and then in bed by 9pm. Of course, a lot of thinking ( or not thinking), socializing and enjoying nature happens in between the “mundane” of the routine. In the past hour as I sit typing this note (wifi service is variable and I already lost this once), I have already connected with my new roommate- a Scottish woman hurrying to meet her deadline and get to the end before she flies home, one of two older Dutch brothers I met the second day on my journey, but haven’t seen for several days, a Bavarian monk who shared a snack with me one night when I was feeling lonely ( he is quite an enthusiastic fellow- think of a German Mr. Bean, who loves talking, beer and The Lord!), a Brazilian woman, whose English, we discovered, is much better than my Spanish, a young German I spent a couple hours walking with, and an interesting woman from New Zealand that I shared a cab with on the day I arrived. All this is to say there are so many intersting people you meet along the way. I have reconnected with one of the original members of “The Fellowship”, but lost one along the way as he hung back to nurse a bad knee. We’ve joked that the Camino is like the United Nations. I would love to challenge the world leaders to take two weeks and walk the Camino together. What would the world be like if they came together communally, under a common roof, sharing squeaky bunk beds in a dorm room, preparing meals and eating together, enjoying a drink in the sun after a long walk together? Can you imagine?