Saturday, November 12, 2011

Notes from the Camino, IV: June 7, 2011

Above: Marz and bink walking a pilgrim-made labyrinth. Passing people add stones to the widening spiral.

[E-MAIL from the Camino de Santiago]
On Tue, Jun 7, 2011 at 9:40 PM, Fresca wrote:

Hello all!

Thanks for all your messages! It is really really nice to hear from home (and other familiar places).

This is a shared computer, as always, so I'm going to respond rather impersonally, but I LOVED hearing your individual voices.

Today we walked almost 20 miles so checked into a private room in a hostel (57 euros for 3 people, compared with the 5-euro/pilgrim albergues)--we wanted a bathtub and some quiet over the very friendly but sometimes grating hubbub of the shared albergue spaces.

So........... Here I am---still walking.

And still walking, again....
[Above: Marz (and me to the left) walking through vineyards]

.... And--what the hey!--STILL walking.

It took me THREE weeks, no lie, for my brain to settle down and accept it.
One day, walking across the central meseta (plain) I actually felt my brain unclench and unfold, like a flower opening.

Oddly, or not so oddly? it was like giving up hope. But, as the Buddhists say, it was not a loss but a liberation.

Since then, and that was only a week ago, I've really entered into the pilgrimage. I went from wanting to go home to not being able to imagine a life not made up of walking.

Iborpofen, which is sold in Spain in large tablets of 600 mg (vs USA's 200 mg tablets) no doubt helped me get over the hurdle of blinding blister pain.
And Saint Michael helped in the form of San Miguel beer.
I am relieved to say the blisters have healed.

The other day Marz (Margaret) opened her pack, took out the ubiquitous can of the tuna fish, and said,
"If you can't find god in a can of tuna fish, you won´t find god on the camino."

(The tuna, I should add, is in olive oil, not water, so is a very luscious treat, tho it gets a bit boring after a month...)

Whether that´s proof or disproof of god depends on the individual, I guess (can one find ultimate meaning in a can of tuna fish?), but it sort of summed up the walk for me:

It´s all about my relationship to physical creation, physical existence.
And it´s also about the people who share that physical world, who continue to amaze me with their kindness.

[RIGHT: Tom from England helps me fill my water bottle from a local fountain. Public water supplies are usually clean and safe to drink (or are clearly labeled if not).]

Last night Giancarlo, an Italian peregrino (pilgrim), commented that he had never seen such joy shining out of people´s eyes as he sees on Camino.

The route is more commercialized than it was when I walked in 2001, but it´s still a pilgrimage, not a bus tour.
It strips people down to their essences.

Amazingly, those essences prove to be good and kind and generous. OK, and sometimes cranky and snappy too!
But generally that is soothed with a foot rub and a glass of wine...

[Above: Or sometimes it takes a bottle of wine. My end of the the table was a tad crabby until we'd downed a couple. --Photo by Fred from Amsterdam]

I told Sara [right], a French pilgrim, that walking was like practicing for a good death, and she replied,
"Yes, it takes a lifetime to have a good death."

I know I am middle aged because the young walkers talk about high school and college, and I talk about death!

It's ALL good.

On the road again in half an hour, so off I go.

I think this is a very scatty message, but such is Internet on Camino.
I trust it conveys love and best wishes
from your pilgrim friend,

[RIGHT: Me and Marz with Sara: Eating al fresco from shops was cheaper and often better than eating bocadillos from the usual bar-cafés.]
All photos by bink (unless she's in the photo, in which case it's probably by me).

Click for all posts about the Camino de Santiago here.

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