I had no idea that it would be this hard—not excruciating—but I’m aware of footcare and muscles each kilometer.
It makes me wonder at the miracle of survival and of the many angels on the road. Paulina, a stranger invited me to dance. I managed one dance and late that night she gave me the ‘second skin’ formula my blister needed. Nestor had the iodine, Susan soaked my feet.
The Camino is a spiritual walk, as well as geographical and historical journey. We Left Estella where the wine bodega of Irache on the outskirts of town had an open tap of red wine on its stone outer wall! How cool is that? Many filled their bottles but I just had a sip. It is reputed to fortify all pilgrims to make the trip. It made a real testament to the hundreds of vineyards we walk past.
The Walk or the Via Lactea (the Milky Way) is filled with miracles. We pass many ruins with signs saying they were hospitals for pilgrims. In Medival times the French encouraged the Walk and many who were sick, abandoned or just wanted to break out of their confines would travel the Way for months. Of the 7 million living in Europe in the Middle Ages, it’s estimated that 500,000 walked the Camino.
Many stories of healings there are lost with the ruins. We saw a church at San Juan de Ortega constructed so that on the equinox the sunlight of the setting sun falls directly on the Virgen in a scene of the Anunciation. To pray there at that exact time helps restore fertility to any who are infertile. Queen Isabel of Castile when childless came here in 1477 and later conceived a child. Many lives are restored on the Camino. Who am I to doubt them?
For me I am learning new strengths that I never knew of. It’s breezy and cool for most of the morning walk. I have my sprained foot taped up. We stop around noon for a snack of paella or cheese and apple. But the last 5-10k of the day deplete me. What is the lesson? I feel like a small ray of light with nothing to offer but movement and love for the beauty around me. I’m not a mother, therapist, leader, not even a Quaker. I’m just pure energy hoping my footprints can hallow the earth somehow. The end of the walk comes about 3pm and I lay with my pack on a bunk bed. Relief. Smiles of fellow pilgrims greet me. The work was not my feet, it was the stripping away and joy in just a hot shower. Simple lessons in gratitude is miraculous for me.