Camino de Santiago Primitivo: A Little Bit of Heaven—Ruminations

Day 24: Cornellana—Bodenaya 10.2 miles
17 October 2017

Today turned out to be magical in so many ways. It was showery and foggy as I left the monastery in Cornellana. I chose to walk back into town to eat breakfast. I spent some time writing before I headed out. From my journal:

It occurs to me as I eat my breakfast of fried chicken bocadillos and sweet café con leche that this Camino is not (or no longer) one of perseverance. As I prepare for probably 10 miles today, I am looking forward to the walking. If someone were to say that it was time to stop, I would rebel. I am not read to quit. Will I feel the same when I get to Santiago? Or Finisterre?

Only a little way out of Cornellana, I walked past a house. There was a long woodshed behind it that ran along the fence line. Inside was an old man, who must have been recovering from a stroke, perhaps, walking back and forth. I recorded my thoughts:

This morning, I was thinking of the many ways to do a Camino, I passed a man in his yard…an old man…maybe in his 70s, walking back and forth, back and forth…so slowly on shakey legs. Five meters…turn…five meters…turn…so slowly. He was doing his own Camino.
Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, whatever our way of life, we are all doing our own Caminos.

After a few hours of walking I was ready to rest and eat a snack. I don’t know how many times in my walking—both here and in the UK—that I had experienced an interesting phenomenon: I would think, “I am about ready for a rest and a bite. A bench would be nice, or a table, or even a nice sitting rock.” And within about 5 minutes, one would appear—often with a view! Today, that phenomenon reached a whole new level. It was raining and to stop and rest would mean that, in unpacking food, stuff would get wet. It is also a bit difficult to eat in the rain. I was trying to figure out what to do when in front of me appeared not just a bench, but a bench with a cover! I could not help but laugh…and be amazed!

In the afternoon, enjoying a café con leche at a café in the quaint town of Salas, I wrote:

Funny—I could stop here. There are lots of options for albergues. But I am not ready to end the day; walking has become a way of life for me—for now.

I walked for a bit with one of the young American women who I had met in the monastery the evening before. She had a bad cold and wanted to just curl up in a warm bed somewhere. She was almost near tears. Their group was pushing through the Camino in 30 days non-stop, which in my mind is crazy. A few rest days here and there and time to savor moments is so valuable—not just on the Camino but in all living as well. It made me think of all the ways that people walk the Camino:

  • The people who treat it like an extreme sport—30, 40, 50 kilometers a day, almost non-stop.
  • The people who get up and leave the albergue while it is dark so they can get in as many miles as possible.
  • The people who do little walking at all, but take busses more than walking.
  • The people who do it in big groups, chattering and chattering the whole way. (The Spanish say “habla-bla-bla-bla.”)
  • The people who have their bags carried via shuttle from albergue to albergue.
  • The people who carry everything the entire way.
  • The young couple I met who stop at about every settlement having coffee or wine or food all day and taking short hops each day, laughing all the way.
  • The people who stay in posh places every night.
  • The people who camp almost every night.
  • The people with huge, overblown packs and those with almost nothing.
  • The people who always stay in mixed-dorm rooms.
  • The woman who is doing it to lose weight.
  • The people who want a change in life.
  • The people who do the Camino a little at a time from year to year, as vacation allows them.
  • The young couples from different countries who have met on the Camino, holding hands and conversing in English, because it is the lingua franca.
  • The people who stick to the guidebook stages like they were handed down from God.
  • The people who research every stage.
  • The people who just take the days and moments as they come.
  • Those who are looking for a spiritual awakening.
  • Those who walk the whole way silently.

So many ways; so many Caminos…

And so, what is my Camino—my Way?

  • My normal pace is slower than most people’s, so mine is necessarily a slow Camino, especially because of my pack weight.
  • I turn around often to see the view behind me. I stop to take photos and record my thoughts.
  • Mine is a Camino of gratitude.
  • I enjoy walking mostly alone, only occasionally walking alongside other pilgrims. I want the time to think and meditate.
  • Rachel seems to come to mind often and I cannot figure out why.
  • I take regular rest days to enjoy the place I am in and savor the atmosphere, food, and sites.
  • I don’t care much for monuments, palaces, cathedrals. Museums are okay in moderation.
  • Each day, I prepare my little thermos of sweet tea and carry it so I have it to enjoy with my lunch while I rest. It is my little luxury.
  • I like the views and the little hermitas (chapels) and how many kinds of waymarks there are.

  • I like meeting so many kinds of other pilgrims at the albergues at night. But I only have a couple days at most to get to know people because they ALL are traveling faster than I am—even the 76-year-old lady I met at Guemes!
  • I like to take lots of photos.
  • I love sharing my experiences with my friends and family back home.

From my journal:

It has been such a Camino of tears for me. Emotions often run higher than usual and I am getting better at allowing them to. What does that mean for me and my future self? Buen Camino, Cathy!

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