We have walked 725 kilometers. We have 72 to go. We plan on being in Santiago in four days rain or shine or of late, lots of heavy fog…..
Our legs have grown strong and Daisy and I can now pound out 25 kilometers in a day. We walk roughly between 5 and 6 k an hour depending on our energy, intention and terrain. With our new bouncy butt technique, a man from Germany taught us, I can now move down hills much more quickly. We take turns for each other setting the pace.
Usually if we have a disagreement, one of us will set the faster pace, usually the more frustrated one who moves ahead that is until we forget why were frustrated and really we are both usually right or wrong and that is how it goes, so it ends. we move on to another discussion. The bad stuff, we move thru quickly nowadays because it is like walking up hill. Hard. Why bother. Our energy is geared toward walking not friction. We do not have enough energy to drag out a disagreement, and it is way more fun to laugh and play and see the beauty.
Daisy still Daisy has work to do in digesting the Camino experience. She is tired in both body and mind. She has learned to wake between 6 to 6:15 every day and has fairly efficiently fallen into routines that get us out the door, including taping and tending her feet. We walk, talk embrace silence because our minds have become mush. We continue walking observing the landscape twirling our walking sticks and walking some more.
Yesterday we walked 27 kilometers. We are going for it mostly because we are tired and crave days in a hostel with private beds to sleep past 6:30am. The routine of sleeping in a new place everyday can at times be very hard on the system. Though folks are respectful, I am a lite sleeper sensitive to the sounds of snoring, farting, someone waking in the night to go to the rest room, the early bird who wakes at 5:00 to leave before 6:00 am. Truth is without exaggeration, I have probably sept between 3 and 5 whole nights thru since the beginning of walking the Camino. we began on April 31. Walking everyday with pack, rain, fog, sun mud and a new Alburgee nightly, cool showers and when the showers are hot a long line of enthusiastic folks waiting for a turn. And the meals cooking or going out. We mostly go out for the peregrino menu which is very cheap and gives us the experience of local food. I love the the peregrino meals. We eat lots of local soups, salad, meat or fish and desert choices of flan or the Camino tart which is a kind of almond cake, my favorite. Regardless, I am tired. So is Daisy. We miss home badly. The weather has turned cold…..again…! Yeah for the 5 days of sun! I loved those days!
As of today we are approximately 33 kilometers away from Santiago. Walking is our focus. We wake gear up, eat simply and walk, walk, walk! The goal between 10 and 12 kilometers before we have lunch then we chow! Today was a crab pie, fresh orange juice, a shared piece of almond Camino tart. We’re off, we can walk another 10 k on lunch sometimes the main meal of the day, before we find other food snacks to get us to the next Alburgee…… Sometimes limping. This is not your everyday workout, this is a whole other kind of work out, the Camino. The back of my left Achilles is so tender sometimes I come limping in and even after arriving at my bunk and setting up my temporary home I hobble for another hour or two. Daisy also hobbles for different reasons. We are not the only ones. Everybody does it. In fact it is a rare pilgrim who is NOT hobbling at the end of a day. Always something. Even on the last days of this trip. The life and culture and focus is about our bodies making it to Santiago. We must tend our feet and our gear.
Many new pilgrims have joined the Camino in the large town called Sarrah. This is a location where pilgrims may receive their compestella passport and only walk the last 100 kilometers. I think I mentioned previously how valuable a compestella certificate is on a resume….. Not all pilgrims start in Locations where a pilgrimage becomes a journey. In fact 75 % of the compestella certificates issued are from walkers who began in Sarrah. Lots of new energy, it is fun on the trail…., and it is very interesting to observe the new walkers and think, they will have blisters, they best be careful of their feet, it is raining and they will arrive in an Alburgee with wet clothing if they do not take care…..all these thoughts run through us who are now seasoned walkers. For me these new walkers are like mile posts. They help us see what we have walked thru and if they are lucky they will walk thu some of it too. To say what have we learned …….fear, humility, a bit of wisdom and understanding that one must be vigilant to the body and even more important to the mind. A strong mind and a good set of emotional tools to pull one through a tough moment, even when lacking sleep. No excuses because they do not help us get the next kilometer down road. For me, my work is to allow myself to stop, take the beauty in, as if it were a miracle, or honor the love of god who shows up in a predominately Christian setting which has impacted the landscape of every town or city we have walked thru. There is beauty.
We continue to walk through beautiful villages, probably thousands of years old. The villages are agrarian based and the village folks work into their 90s. This is what we have been told, but it is also clear that the ołder folks dominate the towns and they work. They also play. There are festivals, dances, wine, and distillerd drinks of some kinds that will heat you up from the inside out. I like these drinks. They are tinctures with local plants and the herbalist in me has to try the local brews. It is one way they speak about the land, the culture and the people. I also love that folks love their local brews. There is pride.
Today was a special day. Why? Because the Alburgee that supposedly existed turned out to be much further down the road. Why go back kilometers when you can go forward. A tough moment. This could have been a real distress moment. We have the perfect song: Monty Python, “always look on the bright side of life” we sing while moving up the very steep hill we had come down looking for the Alburgee which was not located where it said it was. And at this point decided it did not exist. We sang because we had 6 kilometers to the next alburgee and sweet Daisy was already limping. Not a good sign. So we sang. I set the pace slow but sure setting little goals to get us up this steep hill one step at a time. (Yes this steep). Suddenly Daisy comes trotting up with the music on her iPhone and we are serenaded the entire Monty python song and we get to whistle to the lyrics and jolly walk to the bright side of life. Song over. We are about to the top of the hill. A big white dog. Daisy reacted to the dog with nervousness. I on the other hand saw the little lopping dog behind the white dog. They are happy romper dogs. We turn back onto the Camino trail. And there is a young man with 5 dogs. All happy dogs and they come over for lots of pats from Daisy and I. We are so happy to pat dogs! We miss our dogs badly and love the social connection with animals. We are in happy dog conversation with this young man. Turns out he lives his summer in Finnesterre with other pilgrims on the beach and comes to help his extended family by working in the garden, walking the dogs and what ever help he can offer. A friend. He took us home. They have a pilgrim guest room with a bunk, sheets, fresh spring water, toilet the stuff of a home inside one of these old Spanish homes. We are located right on the Camino trail and in the morning we can skip out. Mean while we are going to eat local food and talk about Hawaii and the islands off south Spain which is where this family is from. The woman has walked the Camino 7 times and will walk again in September. They moved here to be by the Camino.
I am still trying to understand this pull so many people have to walk the Camino over and over and over again and to then set up home or create a pilgrim Alburgee for pilgrims. A life and soul adjustment, or calling that seams to be powerful for many people. The Camino is a life blood. The ancestors walk this trail it is so real and so old. There does not have to be understanding as to why one is called, I guess. A trail, Thousands of years old, there is life. And it’s popularity is growing. I hope that everybody who feels called to walk this trail does. Yes a financial commitment. But now that I know this there is a much greater commitment. The commitment of some how being reworked over and over again -but then being exactly the same. What did I learn about the Camino? Well the best answer might be to say, “dunno”. Really it is so damn complicated and it is not one big thing but so many little things put together that it boils down to about relationship, and ones internal landscape of self.. And gratefulness for the moment in time to impact our lives quite literally forever. Daisy and I are just one more here with the thousands and I am so very glad to be part of the group.
—– next day
Today a short day due to Alburgee locations about 20 k Tomarrow we walk into Santiago our last 22 k walk. (Of phase one. I do plan for us to walk to finnesterre if the weather is good, another 80 kilometers) Mind blowing but we are just about there…..
I asked Daisy what have you learned about the Camino? Her reply, ” If you step in cow poop you will never get it off your shoe.” Yes her crazy mother understands.
I asked her, “Do you think your friends will understand?” “No. Actually, not at all.”. She continues to say, “This is one of those things that you can think you understand because you can say, I or you walked 800 kilometers, but the truth is, it is a hands on experience. It takes many days when you realize that a helicopter is not going to rescue you and bring you to a hot tub.” So many transitions. I am a bit afraid for my daughter. Still twelve years of age and funny and kind and cares about her looks of course! Yet she has grown rugged, thoughtful, competent in a different culture doing a very different activity. I don’t know how it will translate back in her teen world.