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 22 - Carrion de los Condes - Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Boadilla de Camino -> Carrion de los Condes = 26.9K (405.1K to go!)
I am staying at Santa Clarisa’s (a monastery). There are only 3 people per room here. This can mean a more restful night’s sleep than places where 50 or more people share space.
The walking began at 0630 with the full moon riding on my shoulder. I dragged in here about 1145 – about 27K. My legs feel it, but will relax before long. My feet seem to feel every rock in the road – as if they are reading Braille.
I feel a blister forming (a hot spot) and no proper band aids – the materials available (tape) require scissors so I must spend some cash on some small scissors and add them to my pack weight.
Today I bought sun protection – my face and hands are very brown now and there are lots of sunny days ahead. When I walk, I wear long pants and a long-sleeved (very light-weight) t-shirt to protect me from the sun. I also withdrew 200E from an ATM.
The next few days require long walks and few opportunities to get supplies, so I must plan accordingly. There are few villages and they do not always have stores or bar or banks. In the days of yore, pilgrims could find supplies. The advent of private vehicles has changed rural life and has an impact on the pilgrimage too.
Once again, I am the only native-English speaker in the albergue. I am achy and tired and inclined to feel a bit blue. Rain threatens and the other pilgrims, traveling in groups, seem indifferent to anyone outside their circle.
I took a nap on arrival and while I was dozing, my third roommate barged in, talking loudly to a friend down the hall. He moved my pack and continued to carry on his loud conversation though clearly I was napping only a foot away from him. Roommate etiquette on the Camino – not good!
Post-aborted-nap I went shopping. I ran into pilgrims I have met before and shared a bottle of Valdepena wine (Tres Molinos, the table-wine we used to enjoy decades ago when we lived near Madrid – now it’s only 1.5E!) An older Spanish man stopped me on the bridge and shared a pilgrimage tale with me. I listened, nodding my head and just let him talk.
I am now sitting in the setting sun, like a cat. I am in the ancient courtyard, sipping the last of the Valdepena, listening to birds settling down for the night. Classical music drifts out of the monastery. Across the courtyard French-speaking pilgrims chat.
I think about my own life. All of my adult life has been like a pilgrimage. I have moved so frequently – I meet people, engage and move on…never knowing for sure how I have influenced (or been influenced). Sometimes when I am away from home, I wake in the night, remembering home, but remembering the wrong place. In the dark I actually think: where is home? So my days and nights on the Camino are like that too.
The many languages I encounter here on the Camino make me think of the Tower of Babel. Each day I am reminded of what it means to give thanks for my daily bread (and my daily bed). As a pilgrim, I am always an outsider – sometimes included, often invisible. Language and customs and pain humble me. I am forced to reach out. I observe life and learn a lot about how NOT to be. I reach out as much as I can, but there are times (of course) when I wish someone would reach out to me.
I read the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi (which I frequently consult as I walk). “…grant that I may not seek to be consoled as to console,…to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love…”
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".