older Asian (guessing Japanese) gentleman dragged his feet but trudged past me in his speed. (I admit he scared me in the dark. The foot dragging sound can be creepy).
At the town of Santa Catalina de Samozoa the sunrise was in full glory. An older gentleman greeted peregrinos with offers of a good breakfast deal a couple blocks into town.
While walking through town, I befriended David, a professor and librarian at Western University, in London in Ontario Canada. From a family full of teachers, he and I had a delightful walk all the way (before we could fathom) to first El Ganso then his destination of Rabanal. We snacked there as we waited for his traveling companions. He liked my Taizé cross and was fascinated by what I told him of All Saints Pasadena; I liked his scallop shell pendant and story of his prior walk to Santiago on the Lisbon route. We found out that we both knew the Irishman Peter! I attended mass with Peter and slept in the adjoining bed; David and his traveling companions had dinner with him in an earlier pilgrimage stop.
David, a lapsed Roman Catholic with 6 siblings, asked three deep questions given our common interests. First, what did I think of alternative relationships given my recent wedding? I explained that I firmly believe that marriage is a vocation that you are called towards, not a required contract. It may have social reasons as far as lowering barriers to entry into social groups, but from a spiritual point of view, it's as intentional and focused as entry into the priesthood. I'm glad he asked this because despite my work for marriage equality, I don't have any doubt that some couples aren't called to marriage.
He asked me also if I were clergy, which I explained I wasn't but did struggle with some thoughts whirling in my head. He thought I had natural preaching instincts and made recommendations on a visit to a Franciscan monastery in Santiago on behalf of Rev. Janine Schenone.
Another big question was my feelings about turning 50. Evidently he's a playful sort and finds age a distraction. I told him that I first came upon the Camino as a way to celebrate my 50th befitting of my personality, it really isn't an issue any more, and I found that the spiritual walk had far deeper implications for me.
His final question as we wound up our walk together revolved around his reason to be a pilgrim again. He's grieving for his lost grandchild and for the struggles of a teenaged one. I fought back tears as I felt his pain, and I promised him that Simon and Noah, and his family, reside in my heart and prayers now on this pilgrimage. I hope that my calls of mercy and grace can soothe his broken heart, and that my humble petitions will help bring peace to the family.
Our arrival at the Cathedral in Santiago will be on different schedules but I hope to stay in touch with David of Canada. He said he would hold Stephen and me in his heart.
I continued upwards past the lovely town of Rabanal, over stunning trails with magnificent views of the valley. I was heading to the hamlet Foncebadon and fighting wind, cycling pilgrims, and horseback riding pilgrims, got to the 3700 ft albergue. It was a fast 28 km not least because of my delightful companion (who, because my hearing loss made it difficult to hear cars, guided me off the road whenever the cars approached us from behind on the rural highway).
Foncebadon is a cross between Guerneville California in it's quirky ways and an alpine village. It can't have more than 100 inhabitants, all living off the pilgrim trade. I found the Mount Igaro albergue, a yoga / vegetarian offer place you'd see in Boulder City.
And there's no weefee in the whole burg. That's wifi for the non-Spanish speakers. I held back tears thinking I could not chat with Stephen today.
I settled into my room of Germans, a French couple, and Italians, packed my leftover food from yesterday, and walked the 2.3 km up the mountain to 4300ft or so to see the Cruz de Ferro.
I shall talk about the cross visit in the next blog posting.
I later had dinner in the albergue. I unfortunately picked the only table with zero English speakers. The Czech girl spoke German with the Austrian older man. The two older Russians were talking with the Slovenian couple. The Slovenian guy spoke German and English but he was at the other end of the table. Two packed English speaking tables were across the room and I felt awkwardly isolated. I saw the older Asian man at a distant table. He too didn't say anything, though I'm not sure if it was because he too didn't speak any of the languages.
As the driving wind and rain continued into the night, I fell asleep quickly, wondering about the isolation non speakers feel when I'm at home. This might have been the saddest moment for me so far on this trip.