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).
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Day 21 - Boadilla de Camino - Monday, 11 May 2009
Hontanas -> Boadilla de Camino = 28K (430K to go!)
Three weeks ago I boarded the plane from the USA and headed for Spain – and in three weeks I will be on my way from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid to catch my flight back to America and home.
I am, unfortunately, NOT halfway to Santiago yet.
I am, however, making rapid progress now. Today, my happy, healthy legs and feet carried me almost 30K. Tomorrow I will probably make 25K. One note in my guide says to bank BEFORE leaving Carrion de Condes – no banks for two days. The terrain on the meseta is flat farmland, few trees or villages. This time of year it is a beautiful green blanket, but I try to imagine walking it when the blanket is golden in the heat of summer. The vast meseta is like a green sea.
The long, slow climb up to the flat meseta was early in the day and rain threatened so I donned my bold, red poncho; climbing and sweating – it was a good workout. I maintain the same pace on climbs as I do on flatland. This is not true of most of the other pilgrims I observe. Perhaps I have some mountain goat genes!
Before arriving today, I met with a flock of sheep – they flooded around me as I stood in the middle of the path, delighting at my good fortune.
I arrived at this lovely private albergue about 1400, showered, washed and hung laundry, and downed a large, delicious bowl of café con leche. Rainclouds are moving in and threatening my wet laundry.
Tonight I will sleep on the bottom bunk (most nights I choose the top bunk). The bunks last night were extremely high and I had a hard time climbing into bed. I tore my walking trousers and my tote bag in the process. At 0600, I had an even more challenging time getting out of that bunk. Even an acrobat would have called it a challenge.
Most of the day I walked alone. I like to be alone with my thoughts. I did have nice interactions with a German woman who works in the department of monuments. I see her often on the path. She is an excellent walker and always looks so poised, confident and well-turned out. I also ran into B. (the Canadian guy who stayed at Rabe the night I was there) and the woman from Atlanta (who also stayed with us at Rabe). They were both still festering from our shared night at that place.
Right now lightening is flashing and thunder is booming. The rain is pummeling the earth. Already the sidewalk outside the window looks like a river during flood season. We pilgrims are inside, sitting in the dark, thinking about the repercussions of all this rain. Half dry laundry is draped on bedposts. There will be wet clothes tomorrow and there will certainly be terrible mud to trudge through. And what if we are walking in such a storm? Miles from anything…lightening…
Eduardo, one of the albergue’s hospitaleros runs in. He is soaking wet, dripping on the floor, working to light the gas heater for us. Outside the lilac bushes bend to the ground – the wind makes everything bow and dance as it sings. The sweet smells of rain penetrate into the room. I am reminded of spring rainstorms back when I was a child in Iowa.
I seem to be the only native-English speaker in the room. The other pilgrims are Germans and Spaniards who are traveling in small groups.I am alone. Somehow I feel almost invisible among them – lonely and alone in a crowd. They do not reach out to me or include me, nor do I make an effort to initiate a conversation. I have no book and sit here, trapped by the rain, whiling away the time until dinner (hours from now) by journaling and staring out the window.
Finally the rain lets up and a weak sun emerges from behind clouds. I set out to explore this empty, bleak little village. I have a nice photo-opp, but my recalcitrant camera fails me again (it is a battery operated digital – I wanted to avoid the charging challenges, but it seems to eat batteries faster than I can replace them!). A pleasant German woman strikes up a conversation.
Later we share the pilgrim meal. Across the table are two young firefighters from Galicia. We laughed and talked and sipped wine. Favorite movies came up and I was delighted when they indicated “Princess Bride” as a favorite. Later a retired Spanish Colonel joined our conversation. He served at Torrejon de Ardoz back in the 70’s when I lived there too. So we had much to talk about. The lively conversation and camaraderie was quite a contrast to the earlier isolation during the rainstorm.
The full moon shines down on me as I make my way to my bed. The end of another delightful day on the Camino.
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".