We were up early in Triacastela. It was a short night but we were ready to get on our way again…after we stopped for first breakfast before leaving town.
The day started in early morning light and fog. The sun came out and then disappeared again and played hide and seek with us all the way to the doorstep of our destination for the night.
Despite the fog, it was another beautiful walk. So beautiful that you know you’ve missed some other spectacular vistas because of the fog. At the same time, the fog adds a mystical quality to the whole experience and creates moments where beauty suddenly emerges and then disappears back into the fog again.
As we walked we came upon roadside – well – home based market. A very old, very run down farm house stood next to a field with fruit trees and a very rough vegetable garden and just at the edge there was a makeshift shelter where produce was being sold to pilgrims. They were all young guys running the place and there was a hardcore hippie vibe – I’m not sure any of the guys were Spanish. I asked about a bathroom and one of them told me, with an Australian accent, to go ahead and walk in the field behind, “just try not to pee on any of the crops.”
As I wandered back I expected a little grow op with some tall pot plants but I never saw any. I did find some bramble bushes with no flowers or fruit on them and I felt it was fairly safe to pee in that area. Once relieved we were on our way again.
We walked through a couple small villages and in the distance we could see Sarria, our stopping place for the night. For a long stretch of the Camino you could see your destination getting closer and closer from a long way off but it hadn’t been that way for a while.
Arriving in Sarria meant we were officially on the final leg of the Camino. This was the start of the end and the section of the Camino you were required to walk to get your Compostela. It was a large center and we understood from Brierly that we could expect an influx of pilgrims from this point on. Not only would this be the starting point for some pilgrims but starting in Sarria we would find other Camino paths converging together as we neared Santiago.
After sorting out our beds and showers, Bill went looking for a Farmicia to get some cold medicine. He had developed a bad cough. I was praying for him to be healed and well and able to enjoy this last section of our journey. At lunch we found a little place along the river that advertised a real hamburger (it wasn’t) and hand cut fries. We ate until I felt- for the first time in a long time – full full.
We met two men in our albergue who were very old friends who meet up for holidays together and this year they were walking the Camino. These new connections and fascinating stories of life and friendship and love are part of the magic of the Camino. The young couple making out on the bunk beds in our room were part of the *sometimes* uncomfortable reality. One of our new friends had a kind but clear conversations with the young man that this was probably not the right time or crowded room to be in for their afternoon delight.
In my diary for this day I noted some reflections on formation that had been percolating throughout my walk that day:
1) Jesus never made following him easy, never set the bar low, never focused on drawing a crowd – in fact he fled from them – often.
2) Accountability groups do not work unless you work them. It’s too easy to share an Instagram version of your life with church folks.
3) I think intimate moments can happen among large groups of people. I am seeing these happen along the Camino. We attended a pilgrim’s mass last night with a large crowd in which I only understood about 2% of the words but the love and expectation was tangible. Receiving communion together was powerful. It seems to be more about the size of the heart than it does the size of the crowd.
4) The bio I am reading about Francis describes a very slow formation – I think real formation tends to be done in a slow cooker than in a microwave oven.
It was hard going to sleep this night knowing that in the morning we would begin the final stage of our Camino.