Early to rise, early to walk…
Getting nearer the end of our Camino. Today was the beginning of the end. We are in the final 100km of our journey and while that figure sounded way too long on day one, it now sounds way too short.
I’ve lost weight.
I’m sleeping well.
I feel better than I’ve felt in a long time.
I’m able to be in the moment.
We started today after another night of Bill coughing, despite medication. I am concerned about him. I thought I’d lost his company back in the beginning of our walk when he smashed his toes and they turned black. But he persisted.
Now I can’t imagine what this walk about have been like without his presence, wisdom and insights. I’m praying he gets over this quickly.
We got out the door in Sarria a little before 7 a.m., found an ATM – I hope my LAST ATM on this walk.
As we walked in the dim light of morning, just before sunrise, we came to the edge of Sarria to start the path and we heard a sound like rushing water. It grew louder as we got closer to the path out of Sarria. The source turned out to be hundreds of young teenagers getting off of school buses and starting the last 100km together as a field trip.
It was like landing in the middle of salmon swimming upstream.
At first we tried to get ahead of them so we could walk without the roar. We briefly succeeded but their youth got the better of me and soon I was in the middle of the pack and had no idea where Bill was. I talked with students surrounding me and they explained why they were there – “the only school trip to sign up for that sounded interesting” 5 days on the Camino – and asked me what brought me there from America. We talked for a little while but soon the river of young people moved on ahead allowing me to find Bill again and continue our day’s walk.
The Camino has changed for us today. There was no point at which we were truly alone on the way. More pilgrims have joined at Sarria. Maybe because paths have converged but we met several last night who came in specifically to walk from here because you will get your certificate by walking from Sarria to Santiago and getting two stamps each day along the way.
I wrote in my journal, “There was no point on the Way today that was not busy with people in front, behind or alongside. I think our days of solitude are over. Now we must maintain inner peace in the sea of peregrinos.”
Bill and I have started talking about what comes next. How do we re-enter “normal” after this experience? I think we will always have a new definition of “normal” from here on out but it’s not clear what that will look like.
We stopped “early” today at Ferreiros/Mirallos. An “in-between” stop that put us behind the majority of pilgrims we started with from Sarria and would let us start slightly ahead of the crowd that would start behind us in Sarria tomorrow. The hope was that we would be able to maintain a mostly quiet walk tomorrow.
As we walked into the office of the albergue which was also a pub, there was Ryan, the young man who had helped us find a laundromat in the rain way back in Logrono when our friend Derrick was still with us. He asked about Derrick, we caught up and then he finished his lunch and got back on the way. He hoped to finish in only three days from there.
We checked in and got our bunks. No one else was there yet so we had our pick of the bunks, got showers, ate lunch and we relaxed. Up in the building we were sleeping in we were able to talk with other pilgrims, nearly all who were on their first day and trying to figure things out. I had a lot of time for reflection and journaling and made a list of things I wanted to change on my return from the Camino as well as a list that had formed inside of me while I walked of talks I wanted to dive into back at with our church community.
At dinner we met and ate with Brian, a doctor from the U.S. He had six grown children at home and was on the Camino to sort out what was coming next in his life. He told us he had walked for a few days and then been sidelined for several with blisters and bruising on his feet. He’d been in a bad way but had finally recuperated and was restarting his Camino from Sarria. We enjoyed the bottle of water and the bottle of wine they put on the table as we talked over our pilgrim’s meal.
This was a day of surprises.