Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

Links to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimages are on the navigation links to the right of the web page.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Day 10 - Descending into Hello

The stars from the mountain top welcomed my early morning start. Each burning alone yet to us forming patterns by which to guide us. By the time the sun rose, it hid the stars but we are still surrounded by them. So goes my fellow pilgrims.

Elias (18) and Jakob 19) are cousins on an adventure. They left near Vienna in June, are going at the same pace as I am, and will arrive in Santiago on the same day. They will have walked 99 days at 30km per day - 3000km, about the same distance as LA to Chicago.

I cannot imagine how they motivated themselves. Elias even had to get stitches and then have them removed a couple weeks later. Those of us who have met them are taken by their friendliness.

(I didn't notice this at the time I wrote the blog posting, but Conrad is sitting in this picture at the picnic table. We don't talk about him until tomorrow).

Yesterday also chatted some more with Mathias from Germany and Jose from Spain at a cafe. I met them in Foncebadon at the albergue. Mathias also started in Burgos because he only had so many days off. I assumed they knew each other but as it turns out they just know a bunch of languages and share an appreciation of beer. 

Sylvia is a high school girl who goes to University of Bologna next year. She began in St Jean, comes from Southern Italy, and talks a mile a minute. We parted after a fast 45 minute walk because I wanted to go over the mountain at San Xil and she wanted to sleep at the monastery in Samos. 

George from Michigan gave himself this walk as a retirement gift. His wife arrives in Santiago and they will together walk to Finisterre. He and I chatted at the albergue.

Libby and Mary are sisters from Melbourne. I passed them and Julia (from Colorado) on the muddy slog up to San Xil (at times laden with free-range chicken residue) and assumed they knew each other. Again, people on the Camino make friends as they walk. They caught up with me as I finished my lunch picnic, we parted as I rested at this hilariously out of context/what is it doing in the forest solar powered vending machine.

We then chatted more when I found them snacking and having a coffee. That's when I realized that Julia wasn't actually with them because this was where she caught up with her husband. Libby was playing a YouTube from her son - nothing like Dusty Springfield in the middle of a beautiful field cafe.

I didn't make it to Sarria but I did like my albergue just before it. Others staying here are the Slovenians and the Milanese folks I keep meeting (the shorter guy is snoring above me as I type this)

Because I had to turn around and head back up to the peak at Alto Poio (I left my wallet at the cafe's credentials station while getting a hot chocolate), I had a couple extra kilometers, as well as a slow-me-down fall onto my favorite open wound knee. At least this part of Galicia, already so Celtic in culture, looked like the hills of western Ireland and gave much to please the eye.

Today was another 40km day.

I won't say that the blisters on my feet approved of the distance or the mountains. But the sun shined harder than the wind blew, and I found myself basking in the easy conversations that develop as you walk. You may be walking alone, but you are always surrounded by a cloud of witnesses supporting, encouraging, and wrapping you in community.

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