Perfect weather for walking. Overcast, cooler. I so much enjoy the physical act of just walking, even though I am tired I feel so good. Walked mostly alone today. Once past a golf course (thought of Len!) in the middle of nowhere.
The road was very straight, it rose and fell over several hills, with a track smoothed in the center by millions of pilgim feet. As I crested a hill I heard a double whistle, shortly followed by first one then many bells and a shepard and his two dogs and an obedient river of sheep emerged from a field where the sheep had been grazing on the stubble of a recently mown field. I just stood in the center of the road as hundreds of sheep flowed around me and up the hill.
Later hundreds of black and yellow goldfinches in the bushes.
Stopped for brunch in Ciruena. The bar was off the path and up a hill through the town past a lovely little church with an interesting sculpture of a tractor in the patio. Ordered a cafe con leche and a slice of tortilla and a bottle of peach juice and then noticed the wi-fi. First since Madrid actually strong enough to connect, and the connection very fast. Read emails and sipped cafe. Just finishing when Guylène arrived, always a delight. She has had alot of trouble with her shoes and feet. The walking part is very difficult for her.
As you can probably tell I have been finding this a joyous experiance, but I am very conscious that others are burdened and troubled, aching feet and knees, the loss of a beloved parent, the loss of a job, the termination of a relationship and resulting void. Feeling that ones life is going nowhere and has no purpose, or that one has disapointed ones parents, one self. Feeling lost and confused, excluded in the babble of multiple languages and strange food. Having doubts about the choice of one’s life partner. Several times I have looked up to realize the person talking to me is has tears running down their cheeks. Overwhelmed.
It is wonderful that along the way there are places to stop and rest and just be quiet. Yesterday, along the road, in front of the wall of their garden someone had rigged a little fountain, and a stone table and stone benches, with an invitation to drink the water.
And who are the people who so thoughtfully paint the thousands of yellow arrows that mark our way?
Eduardo and Nando arrived (bisou, bisou), and G and I also commented that were had expected the camino to be full of people in ther 40’s & 50’s looking for renewal and are surprised by the number of young people. There are alot.
Passed through the town of Santo Domingo, celebrating their 900th year this year and decked out with little historical markers everywhere. 7 lively Finns there, and I think I finally have their names – Heli, Marja, Lela, Anna-majia, Sune, Lena, Ilsa. Now just keeping the correct name with the correct face. (Don’t laugh, like at work I took their photo).
Arrived at Granon. I’ve heard more good things about this albergue than any other. I was afraid when I arrived I would be disappointed, but I am not.
It is like a warm welcoming home, and the pilgrims sleep on mats in rooms in the church. Uli was already there, and greeted me warmly. A woman was playing a guitar and the two of them, both with very nice voices were finding common songs across the language barrier. I took a shower. My mat is next to Uli’s, under an open window overlooking the little plaza in front of the church. It is cool outside but I am warm and cosy.
Later: wonderful evening. Quieter than the last couple of nights with their festive atmosphere. Mass, and again a pilgrim blessing. Afterwards we all ate dinner together, the cozy living room being transformed into a dining room with two long tables for the 44 or so diners. Marta, who along with a guy from the canaries, and another guy from Pamplona and some of the Finns helped chop and cut for a dinner of a lovely mixed salad with apples from the tree outside and a lentil stew. Banana or apple for desert. This was followed by a short time together in a lovely small chappel tucked up under the eaves but overlooking the main santuary. People shared – in english, german, portugais, itallian, spanish, finnish, their thoughts. Several people shared songs including Uli and a portugaise who sang what sounded like a lullaby, and an italiano who had a lovely voice. The accoustics were great. It was calming and peaceful. The highlight was whe we said the Lords prayer. Most said it fairly quickly in their own language, but the finns said it in unison (did I say that in addition to the 7 and Veera there is also an older Finnish couple making 10 out of 44), and finnish must contain much longer words, as they finished a while after everyone else was done. Their harmonious voices left me with goosebumps.
Another small highlight, Veera and I went to the bar to get our Granon stamp. It was very small, run by a woman who was there talking with 2 friends. We talked (signed, stumbled, communicated) a little – where we were from. She said how much she enjoyed living is this town and talking to her friends. It was a good life. I asked if she had any zumo de naranja & she smiled and said “The best”, took 4 oranges, went in the back and squeezed them into juice, came back beaming. It was indeed good, and her pleasure at giving us pleasure made us feel so warmly welcome. And the pleasure we took, was like a gift to her. Everyday I see people go the extra inch that makes the difference to someone else.
1 Oct 2009