“For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart, and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length–and there I travel looking, looking breathlessly.” ― Carlos Castaneda
“Guess what I am doing today?” I posted ironically on Facebook the fifth or sixth day of my journey.
“Let me take a stab in the dark,” responded one. “Walking?!?”
“How did you know?!?” I asked. I kid around about this but truth be told, walking has become my life. I cannot imagine not walking. Walking has become a very part of who I am.
“Guess what we are doing today?” I frequently joke with my Camino friends. “Walking?” they laugh. “Of course,” I say. For walking is what we do.
“Guess what I am doing today?”
I am not walking.
Today I am taking a layover day in a very small village called Boadilla del Camino, in the province of _____; a village where storks nest on the bell tower of the old church and _________. I am staying in an oasis, the albergue, “En El Camino”, which has a beautiful garden, swimming pool, restaurant with patio and costs only 7E.
Today I am not walking and it is the strangest feeling in the world. A feeling that oddly enough, a feeling that brings tears to my eyes. Now that I think about it, however, I realize that I am easily brought to tears these days, at the drop of a hat, really, so perhaps it is not so odd. But still, to become tearful at the thought of not walking seems rather strange.
So I ask myself, “What am I doing today?” And I don’t have the answer. I find myself at somewhat of a loss. My intention was to sleep in but in a dormitory full of people packing their backpacks before sunrise, sleeping in is nearly impossible. Although the reality is that I awakened at 5:45 alert and ready to go despite the fact that the others were still sleeping.
What am I doing today? To kill time, the first thing I do is organize all my gear on my bed. I take inventory. Each item is precious in one way yet in another, means nothing at all; each one is useful yet can be fairly easily replaced. My sleeping bag, my walking sticks, my towels, my clothing, my backpack. It’s interesting to notice how much more propriety I feel over my things now that there are so few of them.
What am I doing today? I brush my teeth, brush my hair, even put on some mascara for a change. I run a piece of dental floss through a blister on my left heel, I cuddle with the kitten, Beneto, I eat breakfast, I talk with a group of cyclists from Poland and Italy who have stopped in for breakfast. I smile when Armanda shows up for breakfast; she has decided to take another layover day as well to give her feet another day of rest.
Perhaps you will recall that Armanda and I met on Day 7, walking from Ayegui to Torres del Rio. I had run into Ana and Yeni, the sisters from Monterrey, Mexico just before the little town of Villamayor de Monjardin and we were walking under a cloudy sky through hilly pastureland. Armanda overtook us and is my habit, I greeted her and introduced myself. She comes from South Africa by way of England, where she has lived for the past 13 years.
The four of us ended up walking together for the rest of the day and stayed in the same Albergue, La Pata de Oca in Torres del Rio, where we ran into Pavel, the Spanish friend we’d met in Puente de la Reina; and Con, a German we’d met in Ayegui. This was the first time we’d met the father/daughter team from Argentina, Marcelo and April.
As you. may recall, we spent the late afternoon and early evening sitting on the patio of the darling old building, eating popcorn and drinking our beverages of choice; for most, wine or beer and for some of us, freshly-squeezed orange juice. There was also ice cream involved, if I recall correctly.
We were treated to a partial strip show by the outgoing Venezuelan brothers, we shared grimaces over the body odor of a French pilgrim, some of us watched the World Cup on the television in the bar, while others caught up on photo sharing and emails. A couple of our pals even shared a “snog”. That was the night that Olalla, Pavel, Ana, Yeni, and a few others left the albergue at 3 in the morning for a moonlit adventure; walking ___ km to Logroño under the stars. Armanda and I declined to join them, preferring the comfort of our squeaky, creaky beds
But I digress.
So here we sit, Armanda and I, using our electronic devices. I, with my iPhone 5C and bluetooth Brookstone keyboard and Armand with her tablet and smart phone. It’s been I-don’t-know-how-long since I posted anything on my blog; posting on Facebook is so much more convenient and at the end of a day’s walk, so much more appealing. So I write, the kitten, Beneto curled up in my lap after a morning of chasing baby birds around the garden. (He and I also shared our own game of chase.)
Other pilgrims come and go; two German girls who walk slowly and carry a bible with them as they walk, have breakfast, climb the tree, then put on their backpacks and leave. A couple speaking German come walking in and have breakfast on the other side of the patio. Our table is just outside the kitchen window so I hear the hospitalera washing dishes and her helpers doing other things in the kitchen.
My idea is to ask the hospitalero if Armanda and I can put one of the plastic tables under the tree next to the pool and spend the day in the shade, watching people come and go, perhaps taking a dip now and then. I hope to write not only this particular blog post but to compile my notes from past days and compose posts for the past (at the moment, I can’t think of how to say this in English).
Olalla and I have been texting this morning and she is aspiring to walk all the way from San Bol to Boodle but it is a long walk, about 35km I think, and with her bad knee, I am not certain it is a good idea. But although she is 18 years my junior, she is an adult and must make her own decisions.
Armanda and I decide to talk a walk around town, which I have seen very little of. I suspect there may be very little to see. Off we go. All is well on the Camino…