Camino de Santiago: Day 23 (Christina)

From Triacastela to Sarria (22 km)

Sabina fills me in this morning about the Japanese pilgrim who had collapsed at my feet yesterday.  The ambulance arrived after 23 minutes and when he was carried out in the stretcher, he was all smiles waving to everyone. Seems like he was going to be ok, tragedy averted.

I examine my feet before starting out and can hardly believe that I have no new blisters and all my other blisters are in various stages of healing.  And I have no pain in my feet this morning when I take my first few steps.  A lightness has settled in my heart and I as I set out at around 8:00 this morning, I think it is going to be an easy day.

Day 23 and no bandaids!  Woohoo!

It is another cold and foggy start to the day, very humid too.  Lots of up and down over the moutain through beautiful scenery.  I am reminded of the cloud forest in Mindo, Ecuador although it is much colder.  The vegetation is lush and everything is wet from the mist.  It is a long walk to my first cup of coffee, 14 km this morning.

Today I reflect on some of the things that have happened on the Camino. What happened on the road to Astorga still puzzles me but I can now see how that was a turning point in my journey, the point after which I started to heal.  I must admit that I have felt the presence of a strong force or energy on the Camino. Perhaps it has been because of my openness that I have felt this energy, I am not really sure.  I don´t even know what to call it: it feels like a strong energy that draws me towards people or  pushes me away.  Is this what people call God?  I have experienced it as a strong energy, without personality, just something beyond our physical selves.  I am reluctant to call this God because that conjures up too much from my past.  When I think of God, I think of religion and what I have experienced on the Camino has nothing to do with religion.  I have had a spiritual journey without a doubt, but not religious in any sense.

I have suffered much physical pain and I have faced a lot of emotional pain as well.  As my feet are healing, so too is my spirit.  I feel a greater force has been at play throughout this journey.  I used to think that life is just full of random coincidences but it seems impossible for me to explain all the has happened to me on the Camino as randomness.  I know my heart was closed tight after my Jehovah´s Witness experience, but now I think it has been opened, if only just a crack.  I began the Camino as an atheist, and that has not changed.  But now I will concede that perhaps there is a force greater than us that I will call an energy although I´m sure some will call it God (but I won´t, I hope you understand).

So I have experienced this energy on the Camino, although I have never witnessed it in my day to day life.  Maybe one needs to be open to it to let it move us, to move through us.  There is so much to think about as I walk on the Camino this morning.  The path this morning winds through forests that are shrouded in mist, quite magical.  I feel a lightness of heart this morning, like I want to celebrate, to rejoice.

What to do when a herd of cattle are heading your way?  Yield, of course.
Especially when they have big horns!

When I finally reach a place to have a coffee, Alex and Arpad are already there.  Alex tells me there is a fiesta in Sarria tonight and I think I am ready for a party and think that perhaps I will stop at Sarria today, even thought I think I can walk further.

As I make my way towards Sarria, I think I would like to stay in a private room tonight, a little bit of pampering.  I don´t need anything fancy, just a little room with a single bed, that has a locked door.  I begin to imagine my little room where I will stay tonight, in fact, I have a very clear picture in my mind of what it looks like.  I am certain I will find my room in Sarria; the Camino has not let me down yet!

When I arrive in Sarria, I am surprised at how large this town is.  I pass by a big hotel but don´t even bother to take a look at their rooms.  I know they will be expensive and an impersonal hotel room is not what I have in mind.  I stop into a ¨Pension¨ that advertises rooms (as opposed to beds) and I am disappointed to learn rooms start at 45 Euros, a little more than I wanted to pay.  I describe to the man at the Pension that I am looking for a little room, nothing fancy, don´t need a private bath, just a little room with a little bed and some privacy.  Well, he suggests I stop in at a restaurant a block up the street, he thinks the lady there might be able to help me.

When I walk into the restaurant, Camino Frances, there is no indication that they have beds or rooms, it is just a little mom and pop restaurant.  I ask the lady if she has a room.  Yes, she does, and she takes me upstairs to take a look. She has four rooms that she rents, and as I enter the hallway to the rooms, I notice how sparkling clean the floor is, and how everything smells of fresh laundry. When she opens to the door to my room, it is the exact room I have been imagining all morning – small, modest, simple bed, window, and a locked door.  And it is only 15 Euros.  Sold!

I now learn that the woman and her husband are French speaking which is a bonus for me, now I can communicate with much more ease.  When I explain I want to do my laundry in a  machine – washer and dryer – she says she will take me to another Albergue up the street and arrange it.  So for 6 Euros, I get all my clothes and towel washed and dried.

The French lady who was so kind and helpful.

Now that the laundry is taken care of, and I´ve already had my shower, I sit down to eat at a table outside the restaurant.  As soon as I sit down, Sabina walks up the street and joins me for a snack.  I haven´t seen her since the Albergue this morning.  She is continuing on to the next town.  We then see Alex who is eating lunch at another restaurant nearby.  And then Frances and Glenn stroll up, ask if the food is good, and decide to have their lunch here as well.  Finally, Arpad walks by, he is slower because of a bad knee, but he too is continuing on.  He doesn´t want to stop, because it looks like rain and he wants to miss it if he can.

Just as I finish my lunch, and say good bye to Sabina and Alex, it starts to rain.  I am so glad my clothes are not hanging on a line outside today.  Glenn and Frances head indoors to finish their lunch and I go to my room for a nap.  When I awaken, I am surprised to see Glenn and Frances have decided not to walk in the pouring rain, but are staying in the room next to me.  They got the room for 25 Euro which is only 5 Euro more than two dorm beds.  They love their room, especially the window that looks out over the countryside.

Now I head out into the rain to look for an internet cafe.  I am wearing my blue plastic poncho that has been salvaged with duct tape and headphone wire, but it is ripping in new places.  It is pouring now, coming down in buckets, and I think my poncho is on it´s last legs.  I stumble upon a great trekking store that has everything you could imagine, including good rain gear and foot wear.  Now that my feet on on the mend, I decide not to bother looking at the shoes, but I do end up buying a rain coat that will cover my back pack.  It is a good brand (Altus) – the brand I remember that was recommended on the Camino forums – and it was only 28 Euros.  I figured it was worth it for the peace of mind.  I asked the lady in the store to take a picture of me in my plastic poncho before I throw it in the garbage.  As I walk out into the rain in my new raincoat, I think I can handle any kind of weather that will come my way over the next week.

Saying goodbye to my cheap plastic poncho
in the shop where I splurge on a good one.

I find the internet cafe which also has a bar so I get to enjoy a nice cold beer while I knock off three more posts.  I hate getting so behind on the blog, but getting access to a decent computer and internet is so unpredictable.  Now I’mm only a couple of days behind, and I feel much better.

At 9:00 I head back to the restaurant and have a small dinner, not the pilgrim’s menu.  A large plate of pasta with tomato sauce, tuna, and melted cheese along with two glasses of wine sets me back a mere 5 Euros.  As I eat, I write today’s journal entry before calling it a night.  I am so comfortable and cozy in my little room enjoying simple little pleasures like being able to turn the light off when I am ready to.  Oh, and about that party, apparently it is not until the weekend, I’ll be long gone but who knows maybe there will be a party in the next town.


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One Response
  1. sonja says:

    hi chris…did my last comment go through? The connection was acting up so not sure. why do you equate god to jenovah’s witnesses. Jw’s are merely people who have their own interpretation. Many other people who have a religion are wonderful people who would never do or act as jw’s do. Don’t discount that there may be a god just because of people with a warped sense of things…..btw i now have my next challenge figured out.