No, I’m here. And I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m trying to post a video on this blog and it’s a little harder than I anticipated. If I can’t get it to go, look for a link to a YouTube site instead!
Work in progress.
I’m feeling kind of “Jeremiah Johnson” today.
Jeremiah Johnson was a character played in the movie of the same name by Robert Redford. This character started out as a pretty “green” newcomer to the American frontier, planning to make his way as a trapper or trader or some such thing in the American Rocky Mountains.
There were few people who lived in the frontier at this time, except for the native Americans who were wary of the newcomers who were slowly but surely crowding into their space. Also, the old timers who were doing what he was just starting out to do, and had been doing it for a while.
Over time, Jeremiah Johnson learns how to fend for himself alone in the mountains. He becomes proficient at trapping and shooting. he can build his fires and keep warm as needed. He becomes a grizzled mountain man, respected by the Natives and the locals.
Slowly, he realizes how much he has learned during his time in the mountain, although he does not stop learning and, yes, making mistakes.
I’m feeling a little Jeremiah Johnson today.
I’ve met an unusual number of new peregrinos today. I’ve also run into groups of people starting out. “I just started in Leon.” “We haven’t had a day of rain!” “Wow! We’ve been walking for two days and it’s so much fun!”
Is it so wrong that I feel like smacking them?
Many of them have sent their packs ahead to the next town so they don’t have to carry them (OK if you have a legitimate physical need), Walkers arrive by taxi (ditto for physical need).
They carry light little day packs and swing big bottles of water in their hands, spritely jogging up the hills, chatting and laughing. They’ll get to the albergue long before me and I will, therefore, be unable to find a place to stay.
Yep, I’m feeling grizzled. I could just grunt in answer to their “dumb” questions. I could roll my eyes as they stop along the way and complain about their newly developing blisters. I could smile to myself as they race up the hills, knowing that I will pass them on the way down as they begin to nurse slowly disintegrating knees.
I could, but I don’t. Because, like Jeremiah Johnson, I’m still making mistakes.
Let’s put it in another way. The Camino is keeping me humble.
1. It’s a long, challenging day, 25 kilometers, all of it mountainous. To add to the challenge of the terrain, which includes lots of loose scree, the temperature goes from 5 degrees to 32 degrees Celsius today.
2. I reach the impressive Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross).
Shortly after, I come to the highest point on the Camino Frances, the Punto Alto, a heavenly 1,515 meters high and I celebrate the gorgeous view with some water, I spend several extra minutes up there. Why? Not because of the view , which is majestic, but because I can’t figure out the way down. I seem to have temporarily lost the trail. Thanks alot, St. Christopher.
3. I run out of money. Not cyber money, but real, honest-to-goodness, hold-in-your-hand, cash. And without cash, you can’t get into an albergue or buy a meal. The only cash machine in town has run out of money. I used my last euro at a wonderful lunch in Acebo. I planned to get more at the next cash machine.
St. Phil, the jokester, whom I haven’t mentioned in a while, decides to play a little trick on me instead and lets all the cash machines along the way (there aren’t many) run dry. Ha, ha.
4. My greatest tragedy happens today. It involves my beloved rain jacket.
5. After getting some money (several weird turns of events including a *gasp* ride into a city in a real car) I am enjoying my first communal meal in an albergue since day one in France.
Suddenly a guy bursts into the dining room and frantically exclaims at the top of his lungs “WHO STOLE MY PANTS!!!???”
In the moment of silence that followed, I realize that the pair of pants he is holding up as an example of his stolen pants are MY pants, which I had washed and hung to dry outside. Then, he disappears, along with my pants.
My goodness, my goodness.
Thank you, Camino.
Thank you, Saints.
How dreadfully boring my journey would be if I actually did have everything/anything under control. Instead, I chuckle as I write in my journal and review the day’s events.
Today I tracked down another sporting goods store. My dear friend had told me about two stores, one in town, one about 10 minutes outside. I found the one in town a few days ago and drooled over the nice equipment. Today I went to the other, smaller, less fashion conscious store. More boots, backpack, MUCH bigger catalog.
I also corresponded with an on-line Camino Forum friend who has a pair of tech pants to sell. Those are pants designed for outdoor wear. Not denim, nor any kind of cotton, which has become anathema in outdoor wardrobe. Actually, there is a difference between tech clothing and “normal” clothes. Tech clothing, usually a combination of polyester and other stuff, is lighter, yet not lightweight. The fabric wicks moisture (formerly known as “sweat”) and dries quickly. These materials can comfortably handle a day of outdoor activity. I wouldn’t wear them to chop logs, but for hiking, sure.
Unfortunately, I had to do a fast 180 on those pants when I ran into the boots crisis I wrote about a few days ago. My on-line friend is on her way out the door to begin her adventure and wants to know if I’m still interested. I asked her about the length of the zipper in the front. If the zipper is short, I’ll know they are women’s pants designed more for fashion than for practicality and are designed to sit, sexily, at the hips. If the zipper is long, I’ll know they are designed to head up to the waist and will stay put in spite of all the things I’ll need to pack around the waist – belt, power bars, euros, Kleenex, and my own personal “muffin top,” and I don’t mean Betty Crocker, although that lady may have had something to do with it.
I bought some tech wash and “Impregnator” from the second store. Tech wash is the special laundry soap you use on those pieces of outdoor clothing you spent tons of money on – or got a great discount on – and don’t want to have disintegrate too quickly. Fancy fleece, down, socks. “Impregnator” is the stuff you spray on your formerly waterproof items to make them waterproof again. I have a beloved red rain jacket that has seen me through miles of adventure and will go with me again this time. However, I think I’ve washed it once in ten years.
Hey, it doesn’t really get dirty. Don’t judge me!
But I don’t think it’s waterproof anymore. I’ll find a German friend who can translate the directions and I’m sure my jacket will turn out great. Or it may simply dissolve as I spray, like sneezing on cotton candy.
Imagine my delight in announcing to DH when he got home, “Guess what, honey? I was hanging around in town and found a spray impregnator!”
Downstairs of today’s store brought me face to face with a rack of Crocs. Those ugly, plastic shoes. People who wear them swear by them and Camino people have praised their comfort at the end of the day when they need another pair of shoes for tired toes to retreat into. I had walked to the store in my old, worn out pair of low tops. The sides are bursting, the toe stops in the front are peeling away from the shoe, there are holes in the soles so water cannot stay out. They are, of course, as comfortable as a pair of slippers. And as 800 km trek worthy.
Perhaps I should take those instead of the sandals I bought a month ago.
This second store also had a sleeping bag liner, 100% silk, for half the price I’ve seen anywhere else.
Tempting. Silk. Ahhhh.
But the more I spend on this side of the trip, the less I’ll have available when I hit day 14 on the Camino and need to spend a day in a luxury hotel, with room service and hot showers.
I need to do more walking outdoors and less in sporting stores.
I did get out this morning, but it was hard. The weather was too lovely to resist – it was perfect “drive-the-Fiat-convertible- top-down” weather but I resisted driving and walked instead. I couldn’t fall asleep last night so I overslept, was tired, and ran behind schedule so driving would have been soooo lovely and convenient. But I walked. And it was hard.
Today was a busy Wednesday. I have a German class every Wednesday at lunch time. But I have had trouble getting there on time since I determined Wednesday would be my “walk to Patch” day. Walking on German class day means I have to leave the house extra early in order to arrive on time and, well, I just don’t seem to be able to do it.
Today I had lunch with a woman who is planning to walk the Camino with a friend this coming July a few days after I plan to be back home. Her girlfriend is the driving force behind their Camino. She herself is just returning from a trip to Barcelona! Plus, she is a very experienced traveller/walker, so I doubt she will have any trouble.
Her boyfriend is concerned about her safety. I told her that, on the on-line Forum, she will find answers to questions about the safety of women traveling solo (safe enough) but I don’t recall questions about safety of women who are traveling in groups. It doesn’t seem to be a concern. She mentioned the sleeping arrangements and I never thought of them as threatening – up to a hundred people of all ages sleeping in bunk beds in the same room.
I feel more threatened about body odor and snorers.
And I didn’t mention bedbugs. I don’t want to think about them, why get someone else all riled up.
She asked good questions about how to get the biggest “bang for the buck” when walking, since they have a limited time for their walk. They want to get a Campostella, the certificate issued at the Cathedral in Santiago de Campostella signifying that you walked at least the last 100 kilometers, yet they also want to hit the important cathedrals in northern Spain. They are also considering walking in the Pyrenees because it will be a much cooler walk (temperature-wise) during July. However, the Pyrenees part of the walk is 800 kilometers from the Cathedral in Santiago.
She asked me several questions about spirituality and what role spirituality played/ is playing/ will play in my Camino. Difficult, difficult questions. One writer whose Camino book I’ve read, Kevin Codd’s To the Field of Stars, mentions how the writer got into the rhythm of starting each day of his walk saying the rosary. I’ve started that and found it useful. It let’s my mind focus on things, people, other than my self (my feet, my back, my thirst).
At this point, however, I’ve been able to brush aside the big spiritual questions as I prepare the practical, technical items I’ll need – passport (check), sunblock (check). I seem to be avoiding working on the most difficult aspect of the Camino:
What, if anything, do I hope to get out of this? Why am I doing this?
The obvious answer is that you can’t prepare in advance for this. The Camino will provide what you need. Some pilgrims don’t seem to get anything out of it and are disappointed. I hope that will not be me. One pilgrim suggests that you can’t find God at the end of the Camino if you don’t bring him with you from the beginning.
Great. More stuff I have to bring.
18 and (still) not pregnant.
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