Monday, September 9, 2013

The Blessings and the Burdens of Short Stages

Fonfria to Triacastela, 9+ km

Me with a "camino family" that has been together for about 2-3 weeks, depending on when each person joined the group.  They passed me today and will be staying in Sarria tonight. The guy immediately on my right, Massimo, is the one who got me lost this morning!

After I got into Triacastela, I was able to take a nap and then take a 30 minute shower without worrying that I was using all the hot water of someone else.  I had the dorm to myself until about 30 minutes ago, and I am now currently enjoying the WiFi here.  This Albergue is very nice, and is in an old house with very low doorjambs.  There are signs everywhere basically saying, "watch your head!"  I don't know exactly what they say, but considering their placement and the fact that some of the doors here only reach to my nose or forehead, it is a good guess.  

One of the many pastoral scenes I passed on my way here.  The mesita might have been the breadbasket of Spain, but Galicia seems to be the area for ranchers.  I was dodging cow patties on the road all morning!

There isn't a whole lot to see here in Triacastela, so there isn't much to do until Mass at 6:00pm tonight.  I'm not complaining, as I will probably use the time to write in my journal or maybe even read. I haven't opened one of my books since starting the Camino, so it might be a good use of time, although I will probably sit and talk with other pilgrims, if possible.  Sometimes groups stick with themselves in the evenings.   

Someone's reminder on the trail that silence is essential to contemplation (that is the gist I get out of it, anyway--I would be happy to add the translation later, if anyone wants to send it to me).

Since I am walking alone and taking such short stages, the people I meet are people that I will likely only see for a day, rather than over and over on the trail--what eventually gives rise to Camino families, or groups of pilgrims that gel, then travel together for most of the rest of their trip.  Last night, I had dinner with such a group, and there was 6 in their group--only five are in the photo because one of them is having major foot issues, and may end up dropping from the group, if not from the Camino.  They took care of one another, teased and bantered, and made plans to be with each other day by day... And, frankly, I am a little jealous.  Walking only 10-15 km per day means that the pilgrims I see each night will be different, since most pilgrims walk 20-28km per day by this stage.  And, since I skipped the whole middle part of the Camino, most of the people that want to be traveling with groups will already be with a group of people they found.  And they may or may not want to include someone who is by herself.  Since it is so close to Santiago, many pilgrims are beginning to think about home and all of their plans beyond Santiago... The main topic of conversation at dinner was whether or not they would have time to go to Finsterre, a little town past Santiago on the coast.  If I ever have the chance to do this again, I want to make sure I have time to go there, too, as well as to walk the whole thing!

While my Albergue costs a little more than I would like, it has both WiFi AND an outlet by each bed!  

A tree I passed on he way into Triacastela.  This particular Chestnut tree has a diameter of 2.7 meters!

Before I left, I said that I wanted to be a part of a family--not necessarily while on the Camino, although that is part of it, but in general.  This is mostly because it is way too easy for me to become a navel gazer and brood when I am by myself all the time--I need it sometimes, but I need people, too, and I am not always as good about seeking them out when I need them. And yet, here I am walking the Camino in such a way as to remove the possibility of being part of a group.  It might be that I need to find my courage again in meeting and becoming acquaintances, or it may be that I just need to learn to take people as they come.  Heck, it just might be that I need to learn healthy ways to live by myself, and forcing me to be that way is God's way of teaching me the lesson.  Whatever it is, I probably won't be leaving with a group of friends like so many who walk the Camino.  

Santiago Peregrino at the Church here in town.

Tabitha likes to say that some people come into our lives for seasons....sometimes they are long seasons, and sometimes they are short, but they were never supposed to be lifelong friends. The rhythm of the Camino seems to highlight that truth, since all of us walk at various paces and abilities, and those that walk faster breeze past us slowpokes, only to disappear, usually never to resurface.  Sometimes, due to injury or sickness, they might resurface for a moment, only to drop out again, and sometimes, they are like a ping pong--in and out of our lives at intervals.  But the beauty of it all is that we are all on the same journey, and if I can help you along your way, we are both enriched by it. 

Either there are some very bored pilgrims, or a lot of graffiti artists that wish us pilgrims well!

I hope and pray that Massimo, Tom, Annki, Christian, and their companions have a Buen Camino--watching their care for one another warmed my heart, and getting to play scrabble last night was a pleasant gift, even if the tiles really were geared toward spanish and not english!