This blog is a record of my observations, experiences and crazy thoughts about my 800 kilometer pilgrimage across northern Spain: the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (April-May 2009).
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Day 16 - Belorado - Wednesday, 6 May 2009
Granon -> Belorado = 16K (537.9K to go!)
1530 – Relaxing by the Pool!
I am lulled by the gentle sounds of hens caring for their babies. The albergue (run by Brazilians) has a carpet of green, inviting grass in the courtyard. There is also a swimming pool! The garden is flanked by a chicken yard. I face away from the German pilgrims drinking beer poolside and watch the chickens as well as a family of ranging rabbits.
Later I will shower and go explore the town, but for now, I sip Rioja wine (though I have left the Rioja region behind now and am in Castle-Leon) and consider moving to the pool to soak my feet in the cold, cold waters. The pool is in the sun so I linger in the shade and continue to enjoy the antics of the poultry and rabbits.
The walk today was good, but the sun was very hot. The terrain is like Nebraska or Iowa (I am from Iowa originally so I am a good judge of this and I hasten to note, this comparison is in NO way pejorative; it is merely descriptive). The countryside consists of rolling hills, farmland and there are few trees. R. and I had breakfast before leaving the albergue in Granon (rice, bread and coffee). Though we passed through three villages, there were no bars/cafes open so no bathroom breaks nor coffee breaks. We arrived, sweaty and hot, in Belorado around 1400. My current walking companion (R.) surrendered her large backpack to a van driver who drove it to this albergue. So, she did the last couple hours in the hot sun mostly unencumbered.
Last night in Granon the local church had a pilgrim mass. In a small village, the pilgrims comprise most of the people at the mass. In Granon, most of the village showed up. The priest gave us a warm blessing and then we went back to the albergue to share a communal meal for 40. I helped prepare baked apples and stayed up past “curfew” to dry dishes.
The sit-down meal consisted of lentil soup, baked apples, egg salad, bread, wine and water. More guests kept arriving so we kept adding water to the soup and chairs to the table. We all sat around one of two long tables to talk and eat together. The most common language was English, but as usual, there were no other guests from the USA. Dining on Camino can be like being at the Tower of Babel as all the pilgrims chattered away in their respective languages, reverting to English when they needed to really communicate. After our meal there were prayers in the church and each pilgrim read aloud and shared a story.
Pilgrims washed their clothes and hung them to dry up in the bell tower where the breezes made quick work of drying them. It was fun to hear the bells toll in such close proximity! Our mattresses on the floor were tucked up under the eaves - I felt like a little bird in a cozy nest.
The house rule at Granon: don’t awaken before 0700 (breakfast at 0730) was violated by many pilgrims. Rustling bags and loud voices - people think they are being quiet and respectful, but they are not.
More later… I am off to clean up and to explore Belorado.
In April 2009, I began my 500-mile trek across the rocky paths and mountains of northen Spain. I finished my walk on the the ancient Way of St James (the Camino de Santiago de Compostela) in early June 2009.
I consider this a pilgrimage of gratitude. Each step was an opportunity to express gratitude for the abundance life offers; each footstep, one of finding joy. It was a humbling experience. It was a character-building experience. It was a spiritual adventure and a physical one too - who knew I was such a mountain goat? I hope you will enjoy my rambling, stream of consciousness obeservations of my experiences as a pilgrim on this historic pilgrimage route that really is only the begining.
Of course veteran pilgrims know: the Camino never ends - once a pilgrim, always a pilgrim. So, wherever YOUR path takes you, I wish you "Buen Camino".