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 24 - Sahugun - Thursday, 14 May 2009
Ledigos -> Sahugun = 17K (365K remaining!)
I am penning this in the sunny Plaza Mayor in Sahugun. I am wearing my windbreaker because the spring breezes are still chilly here. In my scruffy clothes and windblown hair, I feel like a homeless person (which in a way I am). I am whiling away the hours, waiting till 1600 or so when I hope to connect with friends who live on this very plaza. I don’t have their address or their phone number, but I have been in touch online. They are in Leon for the day. So, for a couple hours I am living on a park bench.
During siesta, there is not much to do. I spent some time and 2 Euros at the Café Zentral catching up on e-mail. I snacked on tortilla and tinto (red wine). And now here I am, basking in the sun on my very own park bench.
My day started later than usual. I left the Ledigos albergue around 0720. Temperatures had dropped and the prairie wind was quite strong. The sky quickly became blue and the waving, green wheat captivated me as I walked along. At 3K I stopped for breakfast at a bar in Terradillos de los Templarios. I was delighted when a frisky kitten proceeded to hop up on my lap and snuggle down for a nap. (Spanish cats often tend to be a bit aloof or suspicious). A second kitten arrived. I had a hard time making myself leave the cozy scene.
I walked on (another 3.5K) to Moratinos where I was met at the fountain just before town. An e-mail buddy (and former Air Force brat) was sitting there with one of her dogs. (She’s an Ex-Pat and has a home here in sunny Spain) My friend and I walked up the rise to the village where we were met by her beloved spouse and dog #2. They swept me into their cozy kitchen and plied me with coffee and cookies. Her mother was visiting from the USA. After days of communal life (barracks living!) it was a delight to sit in a kitchen and sip American coffee, chat in English, and have a sense of “normal” for a bit. I even felt a little homesick for my girlhood days in Iowa, gathered around the kitchen table with my sisters and my own mother. A little touch of home for a lonely, tired pilgrim!
My friend's offered me a bed for the night and ohhhh was it tempting. A lazy, relaxed day among kindred spirits would be a good thing. But, I graciously declined and pressed on. (Frankly, I am always a bit disbelieving when people offer me a bed or an invitation – I turn shy and feel unworthy. My social skills are bad – I seldom “look people up when I’m in town” … heck I hardly even call my own daughter!) I lingered a while, but when some other pilgrims showed up, I took the opportunity to depart. It was a delightful stop and I am grateful to have had a few hours with them. I would like to know them all better.
So, now I am in Sahugun, a lively town in a rural area. The plaza where I wait and on which my friends live, is bordered with 14 trees. At this time of year the tops of the trees are trimmed back severely. In the heat of summer they will provide a lovely canopy, but now they appear misshapen and distorted (to an American’s eyes). There is a fountain at the end of the plaza and on the opposite end is a bandstand. A few pigeons splash in the fountain. Around the plaza are numerous inviting cafes, bars and shops under an arcade. On summer days, no doubt, tables and chairs and people spill out into the main plaza.
2300 – Time for Bed
I am full of rich food and pleasant conversation and now it is time for me to sleep. What a luxury to have a room to myself. Though I will be up early and walking tomorrow, it is still a great pleasure to have a room to myself.
My friends here in Sahugun winded and dined me and made me feel comfortable. I laughed and enjoyed good conversation. I am grateful to them for being such gentle hosts. I met my hosts back in Santa Fe when I was planning my Camino adventure - they were veterans and shared their wisdom and regaled me with stories. So what a delight to stay at the flat in Spain!
It has been a joy to visit with friends today. It also reminds me of how lonely and physically demanding days on the pilgrimage can be. The contrast is stark.
I say a prayer of gratitude and turn out the light on another day in sunny Spain, a happy day spent among friends.
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".