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 09, 2009
Day 10 - Logrono - Thursday, 30 April 2009
Viana -> Logrono = 7K (610K to go!)
The walk into Logrono charmed me. The inviting, cottage-like, adobe houses crowd onto the very edge of the road. Flowers spill out of window boxes, caged birds trill, cats wander in and out and doors are open. People sit on benches and watch the pilgrims pass by. The smell of soup wafts out on the spring breeze. I slow my pace, taking it all in.
I can’t help but think of the poem, The House by the Side of the Road. (Mother used to quote bits of it as she went about her work around the house. – the third stanza is most familiar to me.)
The House By the Side of the Road
By Sam Walter Foss
Let me live in a house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by - The men who are good and the men who are bad, As good and as bad as I. I would not sit in the scorner's seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban; Let me live in a house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I see from my house by the side of the road, By the side of the highway of life, The men who press with the ardor of hope, The men who are faint with the strife. But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears - Both parts of an infinite plan; Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
I know there are brook-gladdened meadows ahead And mountains of wearisome height; And the road passes on through the long afternoon And stretches away to the night. But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice, And weep with the strangers that moan, Nor live in my house by the side of the road Like a man who dwells alone.
Let me live in my house by the side of the road Where the race of men go by - They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, Wise, foolish - so am I. Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat Or hurl the cynic's ban? Let me live in my house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.
As I walk, I stop at an open door and gaze in. The two women inside gesture and invite me in. They offer coffee and sweets. This is what they do. They invite pilgrims in. This is their daily offering, making strangers feel welcome, helping pilgrims who travel a long and sometimes lonely road to Santiago far away.
And it is not just people along the way who reach out to pilgrims. Each day, my friend Judy, back in the USA, e-mails a daily uplifting thought to me. Her sweet offerings are wonderful fuel for my thoughts as I walk along each day. I look forward to these thoughts.
It’s good to remember that I walk with Love (God) along the way (see below). These thoughts frame my experience and make it richer.
This thought is from the second verse of the CS Hymn 139:
Who walks with Love along the way? Shall talk with Love and Love obey; God's healing truth is free to all, Our Father answers every call; ‘Tis He dispels the clouds of gray That all may walk with Love today.
As I sat, posing for a photo, it occurred to me that I should return to our modest house by the side of the road (in sunny SC), get a few chickens and a big orange cat and be happy. It was almost as if a voice spoke to me as I sat there smelling the perfume from the spring flowers and listening to the birds chatter.
I walk on, into the city..
I am in Rioja now – the wine producing region of Spain. About 135,000 people live here. It seems large after all the tiny villages I have been walking through. I cross the Ebro River and find the bustling downtown area.
Rese and I sit in an outdoor café and eat tortilla. I flirt with a bright-eyed 2-year old boy whose family smiles at us. He laughs when I share my tiny quacking duck with him. I laugh.
The boy and his family take their leave. Moments later the small child reappears, supervised by an adult. He thrusts out his chubby fist to present me with a bag of hard candies. They purchased them for me. The phrase "never take candy from strangers" runs through my head. I laugh and say gracias.
I walk away thinking about the kindness of people I meet along the way. Sucking on a piece of the candy, I am mindful that people are respectful of pilgrims. They know there is meaning in what we are doing.
It rains on us in Logrono. Hard rain. Fortunately it is worst after we are already safe in our beds, but I did have to navigate my way home from dinner in the showers.
I was lucky enough to have an invitation to join the TV documentary film crew for dinner. The meal was truly a gourmet event with the food prepared by the men in an elite gastronomical society and served in a lovely dining room. These men have met each Thursday for about 50 years.These culinary societies are typical in this region of Spain. I am honored to be a guest.
The food was wonderful and I enjoyed a departure from the more Spartan life of a pilgrim. (My usual fare has been thin lentil soup and crusty bread.) There were several courses of rich food, prepared and presented in style.
I felt like Cinderella as I scurried back to my albergue to beat the curfew – they lock the doors at about 2130 each night. Pilgrims who miss curfew are just out of luck.
I made it "home" just as the door was being closed. Idreamed sweet dreams of rich, elegant food, orange cats and my little house in sunny SC
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".