Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 2 recap - I Better Write These Names Down

I ended up visiting the Castillo with its remarkable views of the plain where Burgos sits. I can understand how wind whips through such a place, much as it does in say Oklahoma. The city mirador (view spot) had a coffee place that was closed at 8:30am but I enjoyed seeing a giant compass on the ground showing that Boston was due west and less than 7000 km away.

I realized that with the sun rising at 7:45am, it's dark until 7 so doing exploration before church wasn't feasible. So rather than return to mass, I visited the outsides of several places such as St Esteban and said my morning prayers in my hotel room while still dark.

I had a simple Huevos Fritos con bacon. The bread costs extra as does a terrace view of the cathedral so I just ate inside quickly while I read my guides. The waitress seemed surprised that I didn't want bread but I just said "sin gluten" and she understood. I never thought of gluten as a morally suspect ("sin gluten", get it?) food but now that I do (because of the translation homophone), I felt better passing on it.

Stephen gave me three cards on this journey. I opened one of the three cards, this to read at the start of my journey. It touched me and I'm blessed that I have him to walk beside me for the rest of our lives.

Chatted at the bus station with others peregrinos, my first chance really. Two older ladies - one a resident of Florida, her friend a snow bird who comes down from Springfield Massachusetts - and I gabbed while we waited for the delayed bus. They started in St Jean but were city hopping from Burgos to Leon to skip this part of the meseta (plain).

When the bus stopped in Candon I realized that many peregrinos actually did this. Some were getting on the bus and skipping to Sahagún or Leon. And many people recognized each other immediately. Apparently as people walk faster and slower, they meet early on at albergues (dormitories) move on.

This happened later at my albergues. I met immediately Brad from Washington state who asked if I spoke English as he sat in the courtyard. We realized we shared a room and he pointed out that the two women - Elise and Marise - in our room napping were snoring friends he had met a few days earlier and just met again. Brad made a wonderful, important suggestion to me. What a blessing that he was my first long conversation of this journey. He said that I should write down the names of all I met.

He and I went to a local market to grab breakfast (fruit and goat cheese for me thanks) for tomorrow, and we ran into Florian and Britta (he from Bavaria, she from Koln). Brad eyed the paella at their restaurant and seemed to regret ordering the pilgrims menu at the albergue. At that pilgrim's dinner Brad introduced me to Kyu from South Korea who was finishing up a job stint in London and Omkraw (?) of Japan. I introduced myself to Judith who I passed earlier. 

Like Brad said, one has to write names down.

Back to my walk, I got off the bus startled because I had fallen asleep at the 1/2 point of the Camino Frances. Camino Frances is the oldest and most popular Camino walk so I thought I'd see people exit with me. Nope. The bus stop was a wasteland that made me think of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof as Tevye sent his daughter to Siberia. Nobody exited but me. Two peregrinos hopped on, as if to say adios to this stark landscape.

I didn't see the famous trail signs so I headed across the rural highway to the houses with hopes of picking up the trail. I did not want to walk along the highway so reviewed the John Brierley guide book. It said a senda (gravel road) began near the albergue so I looked around these several dozen buildings until I found the sign, a Fontana (fountain), and senda. I saw a Peregrino, refilled my water bottle which I drank on the bus, said a prayer, and began my walk.

It was easy. It was about 80F, sunny, and breazy, so the meseta was easier than many hikes in Southern California. But just as The Rev. Canon Joanna Satorius explained to me on her walk this past July and August, you spend the first part of the journey fidgeting with the pack and wondering about your body. I fidgeted a lot, especially as I saw a senior woman zoom past me. I later met her at dinner: Judith from Dorchester and it's her third Camino walk.

What I realized was the following

  • tiny villages are truly tiny, at most a couple dozen homes

  • the sunflower were drying on the stalks, which made me glad I brought much water and soda 

  • my discomfort from the pack was all in my shoulders and I noticed I was walking wrong. I stopped hunching and the pain died down but too late my shoulders hurt
  • I drank some water at a Fontana directly even though I never touched my water which was convenient
  • I somehow lost my hiking stick strap and the workout glove I clipped to it soon after so had to backtrack about 3 blocks before I found them. This made me frustrated and aware that things can be left behind all too easily on the Camino
  • I walked past a total of 4 people and then never saw another person for the next two hours
  • People have died on this Camino for over a thousand years

  • I stopped at a small church and got irritated by the small detour because I walked an extra km to see it and it wasn't much 

  • as I approached Sahagún it looked like a wondrous city from afar

  • As I approached it, a fellow on a bike handed me a card with a hostal name and photos on it. It turned out to be the name of my backup hostal.
  • I was tiring fast and it was only 14 km as my app was telling me. I had originally maintained a 5.3kph clip and that's while fidgeting and taking photos but was rapidly slowing down
  • Sahagún is not a shiny city. It's a sad reflection of a once powerful ecclesiastical power.
  • I found the monastery easily and dropped my pack and asked for the pilgrim menu because I expected to just shower and nap and not walk around

  • After my shower ad washing of my day's shirt, socks, and underwear which I left to dry on the terrace, I was refreshed enough to walk around for breakfast stuff with Brad
  • I can't take photos while the battery is recharging. Remember to grab the battery before leaving the room.

I had great conversations. Brad is seeking deeper spirituality and had said he had wonderful conversations with nonbelievers so far. He may be a born again as he wasn't familiar with my Taizé pin or their worship style. His wife and adult children are Filipino and he loves rice. 

Elise and Marise both are taking this journey because they turned 50 like me. We had great laughs because they just retired from the Canadian military and their bright idea was to not celebrate with cocktails on a cruise but to accidentally relive their days in the military: wake up before dawn, start walking, in bed by a certain hour, March March March. They might be walking with me tomorrow as they head the same route and want to do 30km as well.

30km. I'm seriously wondering if I can maintain that pace. Do I have doubts? Yes! I ache so much. I took Advil and the pain died down.

My feet are fine (wimpy toenail already looks like it's gonna give up the ghost on day 1) but my shoulders were a wreck. I need to be focused on posture and weight. I ate some of my food and drank soda to both snack and get the pack weight down. I might leave behind something just to keep weight down further.

I feel good about my planning. I planned on this day being only 13 km so that I can get a test walk with jet lag and see how I feel. My sprain and knee wound weren't noticeable though my ankle brace did feel like it slowed me down.

As I fall asleep writing this, I'm wondering what I've gotten myself into.

1 comment :

  1. Leaving things behind--I wonder what you wil l have shed by journey's end.