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Published: July 16th 2010
Over the past three days I moved along another 46 km, mostly flat ground, upon a terrain which has been for the most part monotonous and unassuming. There have been surprises, of course, like viewing sunrise from the peak of a morning mountain with a friend or coming upon a field of sunfllowers bowing to the rising sun. I have seen more sunrises here than possibly in all my life until now combined. The morning hours are surely the most rewarding ones for walking.
These past days have also included a bit of inner conflict. Once, near the peak of my turmoil, I was relieved to discover that I am not alone in this. It seems many are going through this kind of thing, at this stage of the walk.
I can best illlustrate mine through a brief clown sketch of my meanderings.
Imagine a peaceful walk alone through the hills. You are all alone and well. The sound of your footsteps calm you and you fall into a beautiful deep rhythm. Your skin still remembers the feel of the mineral bath you discovered the day before, when you left the others and found your own secret path.
You see a
town emerge in the distance. Suddenly, out of the blue, you are a neurotic mess. What to do? Should you stop in the town, where most of your friends are stopped, or should you go on? The questions pierces you and takes away your blessed inner peace. You have to make a decision. You arrive in the town and see the occasional person. They are without backpacks, for they have already checked into their hostel. They have that glow of a person who knows where they are and are happy with it. You, on the other hand, walk back and forth, cannot take off your bag, cannot make a decision. Time ticks by. You feel pulled to move on to another possible wonderful unknown discovery, but you are also feeling attached to these people you know and pulled down by their inertia. Shit. What to do. You suddently feel drained from all the thinking. You just plop your bag down and stay. That night the hostel is so fucking hot, it´s a sauna with snoring sound effects. You flee and sleep on a bench outdoors. A young German girl who is part of a religious youth group sleeps on a
bench out there as well. You giggle with her. You feel like you are sneaking around. Dirty old man. The next morning you dart the hell out of there, determined to leave the group and their "influences" forever. You are now fleeing. You climb a mountain in the morning. You see Liana sitting there watching the sunrise. You feel good to see her. You proceed to walk 20 km with her, kind of lost in good conversation. You arrive at a hostel where the group begins to gather, one by one. A pool and a nice green lawn. A dog with a gentle smile. A host with a nice ponytail. Everyone seems very happy to be here. Except you. Shit! It´s happening again! The song from the clash, clashing in your head: "Should I Stay or Should I Go." Your bad energy is building. You make a split decision. Go. This is the second time you´ve left the group. Hmmmm. You may be becoming that guy. On the walk away, you start to be able to hear yourself think again. You can hear your own thoughts and feel your own emotions again. Ahhhhh. You made the right choice. Even the
delicious canal beside you and the cool breeze seem to confirm this for you. You sit down to write a bit in your journal. You arrive at the hostel two towns later. All is well.....except......shit......you......are........kind of..........missing........some of ........the.....people.....in....the....group.
You made a big mistake, man. You imagine the people you left having the biggest, best, most exciting party imaginable. Martinis by the pool. Smiles everywhere. Everyone having sex with one another. You missed it, you douchebag because you MADE THE WRONG CHOICE. You go back and forth for awhile. Then you give up, do some yoga, have dinner, meet some new people and hit the hay. (You happen to find a copy of EAT PRAY LOVE on the shelf of the hostel which excites you and whispers to you and you think, "hey, maybe I did make the right choice, walking an extra 10km just to find this book").
Next day. Walking again. Fine. Basic. Arrive at next town, the one you know the group will be stopping at later on. You get that same neurotic thing going on. Again. You pace around. Can´t decide. Stay or go. Stay or go. Alone like a wolf, or together like sheep. Who are
you? What should the camino be? This sucks!
A voice comes to you, or maybe you even seek it out. A female, motherly voice:
"Drew, stop this now, go to a hostel and check in. Put your bag down and maybe get some food." Okay, you say, relieved that someone else has taken charge of the situation.
You do this.
You then commence to walk around. You see some of the group coming in, as they do, one by one, over time, depending on how fast they walked and what time they´d left. You are a bit ashamed to still be here after having said goodbye. You are nothing but drama. You see Liana there, aimlessly wandering in the square. You go towards her. She is upset. Her bug bites hurt. You feel relieved to see her. Like seeing an old friend, a dear familiar face. You relax. The neurotic storm is over. Time can flow freely again. The day becomes wonderful.
You are now a willing member of the group. As the next two days unravel, you feel deeper feelings of happiness and love for the people in the group. Somehow, you´ve accepted your status as a social being,
thread and needle operation
one who needs others, one who enjoys others. Your image of the camino as a grey bearded man solo and wandering with a stick and talking to God is now officially dead. Good riddance you say.
apologies. that may have been quite a long winded story.
but it kind of sums up where i am now.
Early in the walk, a song came into my head. One of those killer hits from childhood:
The more we get together
The more we get together
The happier we´ll be
When your friends are my friends
And my friends are your friends
The more we get together
The happier we´ll be
Today it struck me that a pilgrimage is an event which has traditionally involved a huge many people. Masses of people flocking to a single place. I have guarded the image of a pilgrimage as a solo experience. Both are of course true. It is deeply personal and simultaneously crowded. As we get closer to Compostela, more people appear. There are those now who are joining the walk. Supposedly the final third is even more dense. One might even encounter a shortage of beds. Particularly
in July. So I guess I´m burning through some crap so that I can join the human community as my one and only solo self!!!!
And I really like the group of folks I´ve met and am walking with. That´s closure for you.
Day 1: St. Jean Pied de Port - Roncesvalles 27 km
Day 2: Roncesvalles - Larrasoana 26 km
Day 3: Larrasoana - Pamplona 16km
Day 4: Pamplona day off
Day 5: Pamplona - Puente la Reina 24km
Day 6: Puente - Estrella 22 km
Day 7: Estrella - Los Arcos 21km
Day 8: Los Arcos - Lagronia 29 km
Day 9: Lagronia - Najera 30 km
Day 10: Najera - Santo Domingo de Calzada 21km
Day 11: Santo Domingo - Belorado 22km
Day 12: Belorado - Ages 28km
Day 13: Ages - Burgos 25km
Day 14: Burgos - San Bol 26km
Day 15: San Bol - Castrojeriz 17km
Day 16: Castrojeriz - Poblacion de Campos 29km
Day 17: Poblacion - Carrion de los Condes 16km
Day 18: Carrion - Terradillios de los Templarios 25km
Tot: 1.563s; Tpl: 0.052s; cc: 9; qc: 51; dbt: 0.0483s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb