Did I walk the Camino today if I didn’t take any pictures?
20.3 miles Started at 6:40 am and arrived at 3:20 pm (with 2 half hr breaks)
The day started early as everyone in the albergue seemed to wake early. The nuns and the volunteers had prepared a free breakfast for us – crackers, yogurt, and hard boiled eggs. I had my bag packed and ready for transport, grabbed a couple of eggs and a plain yogurt and I was out the door. – not before Sophie handed me some more eggs and Rosa one of the volunteers gave me a kiss on the cheek and a “Buen Camino.”
Outside wasn’t as warm and inviting. Beautiful and clear, but COLD. I had on four layers – just about everything I owned but my finger tips were freezing. I had left my warmest winter gloves behind in exchange for rain-proof gloves. I did everything I could think of to keep my finger tips from going numb – it has been like this almost every day, the first two hours are so cold – there is frost on the ground. When I leave the albergue I am alone except for two Spanish men who keep getting off the Camino, I keep herding them back in, pointing out the yellow arrows or the markers in the sidewalk. Eventually they get it and they leave me in the dust. I am alone.
The first hour we are on asphalt, the rest of the day is mostly on a dirt or gravel road – like what we would call a fire road back home. For three hours we walk on a perfectly flat surface. Flat, I mean pre-Christopher Columbus flat. Finally the earth rises, about as steep as my driveway and three times longer, then flat again. I am not complaining.
The sunrise was spectacular again, I go to take a picture and get a warning from my camera – no battery charge. What?????? How could I not have charged my camera? How can I get through a day without a camera? Well, I did get through it, but felt the loss and wish I could share the beautiful day with you in pictures. I will have to do it with words, I am not very good with words.
Now . . . those first 3 1/2 hours, picture this . . . .you have just crossed the Grapevine heading north to Sacramento. You have flat farmland as far as you can see, you pull off the I-5 and head east toward the mountains and then you make a left and head north. As far as you can see to the left are fields,not orchards, but fields of plants, grain, vegetables -maybe a row of trees here and there to break the wind. Some fields are freshly cultivated,some are grass filled with wildflowers or weeds. You look to the right and you see the same thing – flat land, Central California with acres and acres of agriculture – food for hundreds of people. To your right you can see 100 miles on a clear day and see the snow-capped Sierra Nevada range – heavily snow capped. Now if you were walking that instead of driving it, you would be experiencing my morning – instead I am walking west and the mountains are to the north. But can you visualize it?
And it was beautiful!
Most of the day I was alone. I start my day in conversation with the Lord – first gratitude, then asking Him for direction, and how can I be of service to Him, and my prayers for people I am meeting here and those at home. I did have acouple of interesting conversations. I from England shared his daughter’s health problems – getting toxic shock syndrome at age 16 and now has a rare auto immune disease that they cannot diagnose and are having trouble treating.
It is Sunday, May Day and Mother’s Day in Spain. We have been told the grocery stores may not be open today and tomorrow so we are stocked up with food. I have some food in the bag I am transporting.
Finally after 10 1/2 miles we come to a tiny teenie town and most people are stopping for breakfast or snacks. I take a 1/2 break and elevate my ankle. It is tender again today, but is doing the job.
And then the terrains changes, rolling hills with well-cultivated fields. Many shades of green, wheat fields of various heights; some fields plowed but not planted yet. We roll through another little town, Ledigos. I wish could share the view coming into the town. There was a church high on a hill above the town. It was made of the deepest red mahogany bricks. A bright green field ran from the church steps down to the street – such a contrast of colors, against a clear blue sky.
By 11 am I was down to 3 layers, I never did get down to one or two – there was still a bite in the wind. I finally got warm about a half an hour before arriving at our destination.
After Ledigos, the Way was a path along a highway under leafless trees. All along the path were wildflowers on both sides, yellow, purple,white. The view to the north of the snow-capped mountain range seems to be getting clearer and clearer. I heard from the other pilgrims that we are at the half way mark. I can hardly believe it. The afternoon continues on and on and on and on. I assume Mary and Sophie are about to send out a search party. It is taking forever to get to San Nicholas. I have been walking now for over an hour without seeing anyone. I am walking in beautiful farmland, but no one is working the fields. No one is in the villages I pass through now, only occasional cars pass by on the highway. I can see the road winding around ahead of me. Where are all the other pilgrims? It feels like there has been a nuclear blast and I am the only one left in the world. Eventually I go over a hill and see three bodies walking slowly ahead of me. I practically run to catch up with them – good I am not the only one in the world alive. They are Spanish but understand English and I tell them about my nuclear blast theory. They laugh and say they understand, they haven’t seen anyone in a long time too. They say they are happy to see me. They are two men and a woman, walking the Camino for the second time with the intention of purchasing property to convert it into an albergue. We say good bye at the next village and they tell me I made their day so happy.
I get to our albergue in San Nicholas and while I registering Mary and Sophia come in. I thought they were ahead of me! I put my spare battery in my camera from my backpack and take a few pictures and enjoy this lovely alberque which is my home for the night.
Another wonderful day on the Camino, full of peace and serenity and physical challenges.. Tomorrow will be easier, only 16 miles.