Camino Diary, September 14, Villifranca Montes de Oca
A good but painful walk today.
We spent a little time wandering through a town today in search of an ATM. Our goal was to get a little more cash for daily expenses. Someone will eventually figure out that dropping an ATM right on the Camino route will make them a lot of euro. I have realized that prices have increased from what I’ve read advertised. Not dramatically but enough to make my “daily bread” disappear faster than I planned.
Less than 2 weeks in and my feet are a mess. The worst are the blisters on my small toes that are bigger than my little toes. I am struggling to stay in the moment because of the distraction of the pain. Or maybe the pain is keeping me very focused on the moment. I’m honestly not sure which it is. I lanced two blisters and wrapped them in these Compede bandages. Tomorrow I will cover my feet in Vaseline again before we start walking.
I walked looking for a very specific sign today and no such sign was given. It became funny after a while. The Way only a day earlier was abundant with this particular sign and yet today – nothing. In the conspicuous absence, I felt like God was talking to me about a character defect of mine. I want assurances before I begin, I want to know how things are going to turn out before I leave my door. In this case, the sign I was looking for that would assure that God would “bless” this thing I have on my heart, was more miraculous in its absence than if it had appeared.
“Just do the thing.” I felt God was saying. “I will give you no guarantees.”
The scenery today was my consolation. It was beyond nature. It was super nature. It was otherworldly. Except the pain kept reminding me that I was very much still in this world. We stopped for a lunch, a bocadillo, jamon y queso. In this light, in this breeze, looking out at this countryside, it may have been the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.
We walked 23.5 kilometers today until we reached our posh accommodations for tonight. It’s a posh mountain hotel that has a wing for pilgrims, a large open room full of single beds. There must be 24 of us in this room and another group of at least the same in another wing. When we walked in to pay for our bed and get a stamp in our pilgrim’s passport we felt a strong temptation to splurge and upgrade our 13 euro beds for a proper room with all the amenities. After we asked the price we decided our 13 euro beds would be just fine.
Between a nap and dinner I took a quick nap. I am learning to embrace the rhythm of the siesta. I hit the shower room after my nap. A long, narrow room with sinks at one end and a row of stalls with showers in each one. Trying to keep everything dry that you don’t mean to get wet is a constant challenge. I entered my shower stall at the same time as two other pilgrims, easily in their early 70s, entered their stalls. The noises my fellow pilgrim was making in response to the hot shower would have made a Baptist blush. He seemed to enjoy it very much.
We ate the pilgrim’s meal that was offered on site. Mine was a pasta salad and pork loin with fries and a lettuce salad. Wine, of course, and water.
Here is a direct quote from my diary, “Today, clarity about the next 10 years. Clarity about writing. A lot of prayer for C*****. More hopeful today. God to see (my granddaughter) today. She is confused about where I am and what I am doing and way. Me too! Tomorrow is Sunday and I am barely aware of it. What I am aware of is that I see Donna in about 3 weeks and that 3 weeks from tomorrow I am meant to be walking into Santiago de Compostela.”
Seeing people along the way from previous Albergues and pilgrim’s meals and shared segments of the Way is like a joyful reunion, despite language barriers and the actual amount of time spent together. It’s encouraging to see these familiar faces of fellow peregrinos and catch up with their stories. Tonight at supper the conversation at the table reminded me that Jesus’ call is always to those who have ears to hear – some are listening for the music, some are not.