Camino: Day 24

Camino de Santiago Primitivo

Day 24

This is a camino of gratitude for me. Each day, I choose something I am grateful for in my life and think and journal about it throughout the day. I will share an excerpt from my journal entries at the end of each day’s post.

Day 24: Cornellana—Bodenaya ~ 10.2 miles  

17 October 2017

Part 1: Ruminations

My open journal

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 as I unpacked 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!

Rest shelter that I came upon just as it started raining

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 to enjoy coffee or wine or food, 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.

Collection of images of camino arrows I have collected

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 80-plus-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!

Part 2: Bodenayana— A Little Bit of Heaven

Today was magical in so many ways.

Early in the day, I walked over Puente de Casazorrina, one of the many old bridges on the Camino. This one was over 300 years old. How many other pilgrims and other travelers have passed this way?

Medieval bridge on the Camino Primitivo

About an hour later, I was felt like a little mouse as I walked under the behemoth legs of the modern highway overhead.

Giant legs holding up the freeway above me

Then through serene woods with the sounds of rushing water coming up from the gorge below.

Direction signs in the forest on the camino

Not too long before I arrived in Bodenaya, the fog moved up from the valley, and the wind turbines played hide-and-seek on the far ridge.

Wind turbines floating in the fog near Bodenaya

And then there was the magical-mystical Albergue de Bondenaya, which is one of the best albergues on the Camino. David makes you feel so welcomed. “Sit down,” he says, “would you like some tea, coffee, a glass of wine? For tonight, this is your home and we are all family.” He explained the routine for the evening, and then told us that after we had our shower, we should leave our day’s walking clothes in a basket. They would be washed and ready for us to don in the morning!

Alburgue de Bodenaya

We are close to 700 meters (2275 feet) here and the evening was cool. I had been longing for an albergue with a fireplace and David did not disappoint. So cozy to sit in the common room next to the fire writing in my journal. The albergue is a veritable museum documenting perigrinos who have passed before us. Covering the walls and ceiling are mementos that others have given to David as well as his keepsakes from his own Caminos.

Common area at Alburgue de Bodenaya

The seven of us pilgrims staying here tonight were served a warm communal meal with two kinds of soup, artisan bread and cheese, and of course red wine. David is very charismatic, draws everyone out, and makes everyone feel important. One request he has of the group is that we all agree for a time to wake up in the morning and that we all have breakfast together before leaving, “like a family.” As a group, we decided on 7:30 as a reasonable time in the morning.

Pilgrims and hosts eating dinner together at Albergue de Bodenaya

He told us a little about the albergue. He lives in the horreo next door (more about that in the next blog post). This building had been a barn and farmhouse. The common room downstairs was where the animals and farm implements were kept. The family lived upstairs where the dormitories are now. The body heat from the cattle in the barn, helped warm the upper story.

After one of the most wonderful dinners I experienced on the Camino, we were all ready to find our bunks…

Bunkbeds at Alburgue de Bodenaya

…and in the morning we were gently awakened by a very quiet Ave Maria on the speakers—much nicer than another perigrino’s phone alarm.

We came downstairs to find our clothes washed, dried, and folded. What a luxury!

The table with our folded closthes at Alburgue de Bodenaya

This albergue has no set cost to it. David asks the peregrinos only for a donativo (donation) as we see fit. We left what we chose in a donation box by the door.

Cathy with David (right) his friend who was helping him
David, on the right, and his friend (left) who visits occasionally to help David at the albergue. Smiles all around! David kept commenting on my smile. “You are always smiling, Cathy,” he would say, “I love your smile.” I think he finds something unique and special about each pilgrim in his care.

I felt the sincerity in what David does and how he lives. It was not forced or a show (as I kind of felt at the Guemes alburgue). Of course, his is a much smaller and more personal establishment, which I like better anyway. It was difficult to say goodbye.

Camino Day 24 Journal Entry


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