Tag Archives: El camino

Reflections: Part One

31 Jul

There is so much to reflect upon now that we have completed this amazing journey. I think it may be weeks, months, even years before the full lessons of the Camino are apparent to us.

As those lessons occur to me, I will share them here.

The experience of walking the Camino was unlike anything I’ve witnessed in my lifetime: thousands of pilgrims from all over the world, traveling by foot, bike or horse anywhere between 100 and 400 miles on an ancient path that ends with a majestic cathedral, where they glorify God. Truly inspiring.

The aspect I was most looking forward to on the Camino was solitude — not necessarily silence — but a time when I could unplug from my hectic life and experience some sort of introspection.

I was equally excited for Caitlin and her friend to experience some quiet thinking time. Their generation grew up with so many distractions. I wanted to have them to understand what it’s like to devote time to thinking.

The Camino affords you not only time and relative quiet, but its natural beauty serves as inspiration to think deeply and reflect.

What a luxury to have six days of solitude. Of course, it was painful and hard. Each hill seemed like a mountain.

But looking back now, already those bad memories are fading, and the peace and exhilaration I experienced remains at the forefront.

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Day Four: Arzua

28 Jul

Not gonna lie: I was on the struggle bus yesterday.

I was so discouraged at the end of Day Three that I seriously considered riding taxis all the way in to Santiago de Compostela. (Interestingly, the taxi signs are in strategic locations throughout the trail — usually at the top of a very high hill far from the next town.)

My feet have several blisters the size of grapes. One of the most aggravating erupted on the side of the ball of my foot – and because of it, I think I had changed my gait, causing my hip to hurt like heck. I was a hot mess, as Caitlin would say.

But, as the three of us have concluded, the true challenge of the Camino is a mental one. Today, despite little sleep (boisterous dog fight down the street; boisterous Spaniards in the room above) I performed beyond my wildest expectations. My feet hurt – but I was able to walk fairly well, something I feared I wouldn’t be able to do. I was slow but steady. (I refer to myself as La Tortuga — turtle in Spanish.)

Four things contributed to our pleasant fourth day:

  • The weather is delightfully cool with overcast skies. The girls kept on their long-sleeved shirts or jackets all day; being the menopausal one, I, of course, was in short-sleeves.
  • The company was interesting. We met our first Americans (Alaskans) who were traveling with a very nice Polish priest. They had walked an amazing 42k (25 miles) the previous day! We had a wonderful chat with two Irish bicyclists at the top of the highest hill. They seemed like our friends until they practically mowed us over as they careened their way down. A woman from Madrid who had studied in California walked with us part of the way. She mentioned that the part of the trail we were hiking was called “leg killer.” Funny how the guidebook didn’t mention that! But it was indeed grueling, with some very steep inclines.
  • Mentally, I was in a better place. I think I had wallowed enough in self-pity and disappointment the day before and had decided that was enough. Everyone’s mood was good; we entertained ourselves with recollections of funny scenes from “Parks and Recreation.” In fact, the song of the day was “Get on Your Feet.”
  • Reaching Santiago is becoming more real. The Irish bikers we spoke with talked about how they would be there by nightfall. The Polish priest talked to us about the Pilgrim Mass and how his group had to make it there tomorrow. We’re eager and hopeful.

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No wi-fi for three days

27 Jul

A lot has happened since I last blogged. We’ve been on the Camino for three days!

I may need to catch you up slowly – and in snippets here and there.

I believe it was the night before we set off walking that we had a horrible realization: our route would take six days of walking and we had been thinking all along that it was to be five! One day might seem like much more, but believe me, it is.

Day One was very strenuous and very hot. It being our first day, we left at a leisurely 8:30 am, which meant we were still walking at the hottest part of the day. And we ran out of water the last 3 miles. Not good.

But as with all things on the Camino, the bad always is balanced with the good. Our hotel was charming, and we were treated to a delicious family-style dinner. We were ravenous and devoured it quickly!

Our room is on the right under the canopy. The courtyard was very beautiful and relaxing.

First course: rigatoni with Bolognese sauce and bread. Second course was pork cooked in a light tomato sauce and a salad. We ate on a patio that overlooked their bountiful garden.

On our way to The Way!

24 Jul

As we ride the train to Sarria, we are treated to some beautiful scenery. In places it reminds me of Steamboat, Colorado, or near DeBeque, Colorado, with its wide, rocky rivers and scrub-oak covered mountains.

In other places the landscape looks like Sidney, Nebraska, with its high, broad plains covered with shorn hay.

I just finished a beautiful book about the Camino in which the author talks about how much the walk taught her. I’m excited to begin and find out what lessons are in store.

We will begin tomorrow morning on the feast day of St. James. How appropriate!