We slept in an hour later this morning. As we only had a short day today we decided there was no need for an early start and it was luxurious to sleep in a while longer. It reminded me of our early days on the Camino when I would be waking Lilly at 8:30 though recently she has been waking me at 6:30. We were done with packing and hit the coffee shop by 8:15. We had our first croissant since before Burgos and we weren’t disappointed as it was very good.
On the road before 9:00 and the weather was warmer than the previous days. It looked to be a sunny morning. This cheered us for though we’ve been blessed with great weather this trip, having a rainy start to the day, which was predicted, can be a bit of a downer. Starting later we wondered if we might’ve missed the mass pilgrim exodus leaving town as there were only a few in the cafe and a few when we left the city. Soon, though, we found ourselves in a large group heading to Santiago. Many more than yesterday causing us to wonder about the nature of the ebb and flow of the pilgrim wave. Now that we have crossed paths with so many of these people time and again familiar faces are becoming known to us and it’s pleasant to see them as we or they pass by.
The walk was similar to yesterday’s path along eucalyptus groves and wooded lanes. We passed through a few larger towns but for the most part were in the countryside. Both Lil and I agreed that with the exception of the first two days of coming into Galacia, where the scenery and views were stunning and dramatic, the rest of the walk in this last province of the Camino has been the least attractive of the journey. Maybe it’s just as well for the attention is intended to be directed inward on this Spiritual phase of the walk and perhaps the external environment need not be distracting.
Today I thought about the many gifts of this walk. One of the more obvious gifts is how healthy I feel. Though I’ve had my challenges with my feet and right leg overall I’m in great shape. It is a joy to lose pounds and see my waistline shrink while eating wonderful meals and drinking great wine and beer every night. The daily walking of 12-15 miles on average with a pack that weighs over 20lbs does burn up a lot of calories. Then there is the gift of inner clarity that comes with having solitary time to reflect and think about my life without distractions and interruptions. I love this aspect of the Way. While there are certainly pilgrims who enjoy walking and talking with companions, for the most part you will find us alone with our own thoughts and musings. Many people come to the Camino for clarity and direction in their lives. I think we all leave the Way wiser than when we began on it. I will also take away memories of the many kindnesses that were extended to us on the Camino. There is a element of grace that accompanies the pilgrim and we’ve met many wonderful people who have offered their support or help as needed on our journey. The companionship of other pilgrims is also a gift that I shall remember. As I’ve said in earlier entries walking the Way is like being with a large global family and while I haven’t had a great many personal interactions with other pilgrims, those I’ve had have been meaningful to me. One can quickly form connections that may only last the duration of the journey yet are significant while they do. I’m grateful too for the beauty of the Way. The natural wonder of northern Spain, the mountains, the sweeping wide open planes, the ancient roads, towns and villages with so much history and character. Being outside too day after day walking the earth feeling connected to my own creaturehood has been a great feeling. It reminds me that I spring from the same substance as the elements around me and that this lovely amazing planet is truly my home.
We stopped for our brunch around 11:00. The cafe that is the first on route after a destination where pilgrims may have spent the night will be sure to get a lot of traffic. When we arrived at least one wave had been through there and maybe two. Pilgrims were coming and going. I marvel at the speed and efficiency of the cafe workers in getting food and beverage out in a very timely manner. We ordered an egg and cheese sandwich to which we added watercress greens and a lovely ripe avocado. That and our second Americano set us right for the rest of the walk.
The morning got warmer and was muggy for the first time. I was de-layering clothes as I walked until I was only in my t-shirt, the first time since leaving the Meseta. Speaking of which, in looking back I think that that part of the walk was my favorite. Though most of our challenges were there it was a wonderful experience walking through it. Many people have the conception that the Mesata is the flat and boring part of the Camino and will skip it entirely often taking a bus from Burgos to Leon. For those of my readers who may one day journey the Camino I highly recommend walking the Mesata for it is a beautiful and mystical part of the Way.
After our brunch we took off once more. Waves of pilgrims were usually walking slower than my preferred pace, and I’d pass one group and be in solitude for a while before catching up with another group. From what we’ve read about tomorrow when coming into Santiago, we’ll meet even greater numbers of pilgrims, not only those walking the last 100K and other longer walkers but also bus loads of people that converge on this holy city. It promises to be an experience if nothing else.
At one point on the morning’s walk I stopped to take off a layer when a pretty woman who’d been walking behind me asked me if I was the person who wrote a blog about my journey on the Camino. It shocked me and I replied that I was writing a blog but I was sure she was thinking of someone else. No, she said, youre William aren’t you? And the name of your blog is Walking My Talk? Wow, you could have blown me with a feather I was so surprised. Just then Lilly caught up and I told her this woman, Ivana, from Sydney Australia, had been reading our blog. Ivana turned to Lil and said and “you must be Lilly?” It was Lil’s turn to be surprised. The long and the short of the story is that Ivana, a lovely healer walking the Way, had found my blog on the internet. While posting entries and pictures of her own, she linked my webpage to her messages so her followers could have a idea of what the journey was about. I of course was pleased that others are getting benefit and perhaps pleasure from my entries. It caused Lilly and I to wonder who else might be tuning in. Lilly too was tickled that Ivana knew her as Lilly. Her new persona has taken on its own life now!
The kilometers glided by. For the last few days there’ve been markers every 1/2K showing how far to go to Santiago. When we got to the 30K mark we took a picture to commemorate the occasion. Hard to believe 35 days ago the marker read 900K to Santiago!
By 1:00 our sunshine had turned to rain clouds and it began to drizzle. It was a good opportunity for us to take a break and we stopped for a hot chocolate during the downpour. While waiting we read more passages from the Tao de Ching marveling that the wisdom of 3000 years ago is so apropos and current for today’s world. One of the lessons of the Tao is to stay in the center of the circle or to be in the middle way, not to swing too far one direction or another in thoughts, feelings or actions. This is also a lesson of the Camino: how to be more balanced in my approach to life and how to act from a place of centering rather moving from one extreme or another. By the time a pilgrim has finished the Camino he/she has learned the virtues of being balanced. The Way will bring you to the center or you will suffer accordingly. I learned this lesson the hard way on my last pilgrimage and it took a year of processing for me to fully glean its true wisdom.
We arrived at our lodgings by 3:00. The rain had lessoned and was still lightly falling. We were greeted by a very affable woman who showed us several rooms to choose from. We settled on one with a single and a double bed. Lil graciously offered me the bigger bed. Yeah, a bed I could fit into! The Pension also had laundry service and we readily agreed to have our clothes washed and dried for 10 Euro. After a while jackets and sweaters, which are hard to hand wash, just need to be cleaned of their sweaty odors and the timing was great so to have all clean clothes when we entered Santiago tomorrow.
After our showers, naps and stretches we went out to find an eatery. Once more we were fortunate to find a good place and had a satisfying meal of mixed salad, and roasted chicken, our first on the Way. We saw other pilgrims we recognized at the restaurant. I think the Camino must be a big economic support for the communities along its route.
Now we are back in our warm and cozy room. We have figured out that at least in Galacia, the heat is programed to come on at 5:00, just when most pilgrims are getting settled in. It stays on for a few hours and then goes off sometime during the night. We guessed that on other parts of the Way, the temperature is now warmer so they see no need to warm up the pilgrims at night!
This being our penultimate Pension of the journey now is a fine opportunity for looking back and appreciating all the great and wonderful places we’ve been blessed to be lodged in. With the exception of one or two all have been excellent. Having good comfortable shelter at the end of a long day has added greatly to the pleasure and enjoyment of our overall journey.
Well friends Lilly is asleep and soon shall I be too. So with that I will bid you all:
Buenas Noches Amigos!
30k left to Santiago. Eucalyptus Grove. Lilly and Fuschia.
Pilgrim riding to Santiago with friend./i>
Spring lambs. Pilgrims take a break on the Camino.