(Sorry for the delay, life has been rudely interrupting my plans. Day 10 was our last day with Derrick on the Camino, a day we chose to take slowly and to savor.)
This was a day for sleeping in. Derrick had been celebrated the night before and rest was very welcome. We had a room with our own bathroom and shower and our own beds with sheets and pillows. It’s funny now to think about how beautiful those things seemed at the time. A small taste of heaven.
My feet had been soaked in natural disinfectant bath the day before to help treat my blisters. The best word to describe them is “epic,” like the burning of Rome. I was relieved to have a day ahead that did not involve climbing up or down any mountains.
I woke up at 8 am. Then stayed in bed until 9. Finally, Bill asked if everyone was awake and we all decided the time had come to start Derrick’s last day with us on the Camino.
Part of that “day of rest” was spent walking around “old Logrono” together. We visited 3 Cathedrals that were all amazing and all felt like thin places to me.
Besides taking in their beauty, I was praying a lot for my friend Carole and for her whole family and praying for my fellow peregrinos on the way. Bill looked for help with a malfunctioning hearing aid and despite his smashed toes and a reduced ability to hear, he maintained a cheerful and engaged disposition that was very encouraging. At the same time, he was growing a little anxious about losing Derrick at this point on our journey – in part because of friendship and in part because he had become so proficient as our translator that other peregrinos on the way had mistakenly come to believe he was our hired guide. What would we do without Derrick? I was feeling the weight of that question in my own heart as the day moved towards night.
That night we ate supper at 8 pm. Because Spain. The siesta system was still baffling me at this point on our walk. The gelato we finished supper with that night was a highlight and it would become the preferred way to end a day on our Camino.
That day was also a turning point for the rest of our journey. I had been encouraged by things I had read about the Camino to not book rooms or beds in advance. To take the Camino day by day. But our experience up to our tenth day had taught us that while this may have been the way to do it in the past, the competition for beds now made the walk much less relaxed and contemplative when you were hurrying to make sure you had a place to rest. So on our tenth day I planned the whole next week of our journey and made bed reservations as much as I could so that when we started out in the morning we knew that no matter how long that day’s walk would be it would end with a bed in a place we would like to stay.
It meant re-arranging my expectations for my Camino. One of the things that frustrates or irritates me most is when plans change. I remembered the old proverb, “Blessed are the flexible for they will not be broken.” I tossed out my original plan and we started making a new one. As Bill pointed out, “what’s the point of sticking to the plan if we end up too dead to enjoy it?” When I first started mapping out our Camino I saw “rest days” built into some pilgrim’s schedules. “Wimps!” I thought. “We’re just walking.”
I was an idiot. I am less of one now.
“Rest before you need to.” This was a bit of wisdom we learned on the Camino and now we made sure we would put it into practice.
Bill and I both pulled things out of our packs to send home with Derrick in order to lighten our load. Not much, but it was feeling like every little bit helped. I took Derrick’s belt as my shorts no longer could stay up on their own. He kindly took a shirt, my life-straw, a pillow and my Camino guide (because Bill had his) for me. Bill gave Derrick a few of his things and took a pair of pants from his for the rest of our walk. We transferred ounces but we noticed the difference.
It is really impossible to overstate how much we had enjoyed Derrick on the Camino. Impossible to overstate how much I learned from him. Impossible to overstate how much I depended on him. Impossible to say how much my time with him on the Camino meant to me and will mean to me in the years of reflection to come. As we went to bed that night, Bill and I knew we would wake up early, well before sunrise, and get back on the way both lighter and heavier because of Derrick’s return home.
As we tried to sleep, my phone pinged. I had no service but while on wifi I could receive emails from home. This ping came as I was contemplating my consolation and desolation for the day. The ping turned out to be a message from a friend back home who was aware I was on the Camino and had just come across something she thought I might appreciate. Her message read, “This popped up in my feed today & I thought of you on the Camino! Praying for you today.” And it became my main consolation for the day:
September 11, 2019 ·
But your loss brought you here to walk
under one name and one name only,
and to find the guise under which all loss can live;
remember, you were given that name
every day along the way, remember,
you were greeted as such, and treated as such,
and you needed no other name,
other people seemed to know you
even before you gave up being a shadow
on the road and came into the light,
even before you sat down,
broke bread and drank wine,
wiped the wind-tears from your eyes:
pilgrim they called you
again and again. Pilgrim.
Excerpt from ‘Camino’
From Pilgrim: Poems by David Whyte
©2012 David Whyte