We are climbing the Cordillera de Cantabrica expecting soon to be in Sarria. Our high point today was 4360 feet. We woke up at 6:30 to a drizzle and left at 7:30 with a steady rain. The Holm oak and the chestnut trees swallowed the stoney path. It was hard walking. although we were promised beautiful vistas, we didn’t even see the sunrise. The rain and mist wrapped around us. Still the pilgrims in bright ponchos greeted each other cheerfully, “Buen Camino”.
In the rain we crossed from the province of Leon-Castile to Galicia. Not a ray of sunlight. We went to a bar at 9 am to dry off. First a French family who started the pilgrimage north of Paris with two girls 5 and 2 years old explained they were on 2 bikes trying to make it safely through the rains down the mountain. Then surprisingly 2 friends we met on the Camino 4 days ago sloshed in. We were finishing some fresh bread. These friends, a Dutch and a Polish woman walking the Camino together, took off their backpacks and a layer of wet clothes.
We exchanged stories of little joys on the road: hidden chapels discovered, a dinner with homemade yogurt, and ofcourse how much all the blisters were healing. Bea gave me some lotion with ibuprofen in it for my swollen foot. We asked where our mutual friends like Damaris, Nanso and Pablo ended up. On the Camino time is warped–each day feels like a week as we travel through 5 to 10 pueblos each day, staying at a different hostel each night with different rules for the kitchen or the laundry or the dorm rooms. We laughed a lot. Someone made a bad pun about today’s mist and walking the mystical path. Bea and Flor had to walk 10 kilometers out of their way in the rain, but they weren’t upset.
Jonathan thanked Flor for her story of how her Dad died before he could walk the Camino. So she’s doing it now for him–15 years after he passed. She has decided on her pilgrimage to move to Scotland. What about my Dad’s death? What am I doing in memory of him? So jonathan and I spent time on the road visualizing and sending love to our family,
The pilgrimage is a moving community of seekers. Some friends I meet are worried that they are not learning anything. Why be anxious wondering if you are walking the Camino the orthodox way? Some pilgrims are non practicing Catholics, and wonder about repentance for past faults. Is the Camino a penitent walk for this person? I ask Bea if sin even exists. As a Quaker I find it interesting that the Catholic priests we see are happy to bless pilgrims, but don’t walk the Camino. They watch us flow through. The hierarchy is inside the church, the people moving on.
What will be at the journey’s end? Everyday I’m amazed I made it safely. It’s beginning to occur to me I might make it all the way to Finisterra.