Anyway, last night, I stayed in the Beilari, a small albergue with about 20 beds. As a private albergue, it was a bit pricey at 30 euros, but it included dinner and breakfast today, so it was very worth it. The owner, Joseph, had us play some games with an imaginary ball in order to get to know one another...kind of cheesy, but also fun. The last one was to sum up in one word what we were feeling at the moment, and I chose gratitude as my word.
|See the white sign with the blue square right above the red arrow? That is what trail markers look like in France. I was so glad to see my first yellow arrow.|
|Some of the many wildflowers I saw on my walk today... I was traveling over several hills, so seeing pretty flowers was a good pretext for stopping to rest a moment.|
As I was walking, I didn't see another pilgrim, and it gave me a lot of time to think and pray--and that time meant realizing that I was also grateful that I didn't let the volunteers at the pilgrims office persuade me to take the higher route over the Pyrenees. I took the easier route, which meant walking along several rural roads--the route Napoleon is a dedicated walking trail, but is much more vertical. Cars on the narrow lanes meant stepping to the side in order to let them pass, and staying on the rural roads meant that I walked about 15km rather than only 12km, but I think I saw a total of 10 cars all day, and the walk through farmland and small towns was gorgeous.
At the same time, I started to feel a bit worried that I would not see another pilgrim tonight as well, so I began praying that I could at least be able to meet at least one other pilgrim this evening. After eating lunch by myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see the French couple from my stay at the Beilari at the albergue. Then, after my nap, I went out to explore the town a bit, and settled in a bar/cafe with wifi. While there, I overheard one of the people that came in say something about walking, so I piped up and asked if they were pilgrims...they were, and this couple at the end of the bar said they were, too. The couple is from Austin, and their son went to Blinn, where I work. The other pilgrims I met are 3 sisters and their cousin the priest walking together to celebrate Fr. Martin's 25th anniversary of ordination. They are from Ireland, and are only walking a very short part of the Camino, but we all had a very pleasant dinner and conversation. The highlight was listening to Martin and Keith (the Austenite) discuss middle eastern politics.
|I made a video to add to my summer classes, and first, accidentally took a selfie with the Val Carlos country side in the background. Of course, stupid me didn't think to get pictures of my dinner friends.|
One thing I didn't do today was change my socks halfway through, and I probably should have. When I finally stopped, the person at the supermarket told me that I was only 3km from my destination, Val Carlos. At that point, I thought about doing so, but decided that it wasn't far enough to make a difference.
Then, there came a choice of ways to walk into Val Carlos, and I chose the one that looked like it would wind through villages on rural roads rather than follow the local highway. And, that is how I ended up walking a good extra 3 km. By the time I got here, I could feel some places where my feet were rubbing, and was sure that I had a blister (I didn't, but I learned my lesson--another thing to be grateful for!).
So, God has again blessed me and given me more than I needed...no rain, good people to interact with, and a hope that there will be more of the same tomorrow. Even when it is hard, I am so grateful, and that makes even unpleasant experiences more pleasant.