Archives for the month of: November, 2011

(This story is part of a continuing series based on my adventures walking 500 miles across Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago. The first part begins here.)

March 11, 2005
Day 12: Burgos to Hontanas, 30.3 km/18.8 m

I’d had diarrhea for a couple days. I suspected it was due to the lard the Spanish use for cooking, which liquefied into a horrible orange oil. It seemed that everything arrived in a pool of horrible orange oil. I could live with the diarrhea, it hadn’t been terrible, but when I awakened, to be frank, the inside of one of my butt cheeks was raw and inflamed. That’s when I discovered that it’s impossible to walk without moving the inside of your butt cheeks. I pulled the roll of sports tape from my bag and did the best I could knowing the tape probably wouldn’t stick for very long. I was grateful to be walking solo, that’s for sure.

Jaime came down from his quarters upstairs and offered a warm, easy smile. I told him I’d need another hug from him before I left. As he embraced me, he said that his hugs heal people. I didn’t doubt it.

I asked him if anyone served breakfast at that hour, 8:30, and he said the café next door was open. “Wanna join me?” I inquired boldly.

The Spanish aren’t as keen on breakfast as we are. They tend to like a thimble of espresso to wash down their bland, lifeless pastries. I, on the other hand, like a pot of strong coffee and a plate of something that’s sizzling—eggs are nice. For the Spanish, a fried egg and a plate of French fries is a dinner order. But Jaime hooked me up. He knew the café staff, of course, and he had them make me a vat of Americano coffee to accompany two eggs and toast.

And then we settled into the task at hand—to exchange as much of ourselves as we could over eggs and coffee.
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(This story is part of a continuing series based on my adventures walking 500 miles across Northern Spain on the ancient pilgrimage route El Camino de Santiago. The first part begins here.)

March 12, 2005
Day 13: Hontanas to Fromista, 37.8 km/23.5 m

When I awakened, I decided to hit the trail early and get to the next town six miles away for breakfast. The day was spectacularly beautiful and the first real warmth on the Camino so far. I stripped down to just my pants on the bottom—no under layer—and a t-shirt under my coat on top. And even that had started to get a bit warm. The sun on my face was a welcome phenomenon, though I could feel that it would eventually penetrate my sunscreen if I wasn’t careful.

It was an easy, flat, two-hour walk on a road build by Romans to Castrojeriz, a town that puts forth a spectacular display nearly the entire way by offering its Castillo standing sentinel in the distance.

I stopped in a bar for breakfast—the basic pastry and coffee combination. The castle ruins rose up on the hillside out my window. I watched the sunlight hit the blades of grass. I marveled at the ancient stones that made up the walls around me. I thought of the people who have moved through, sitting in the same seat, drinking coffee from the same cup, maybe even thinking the same thoughts of somehow being totally removed from the world and totally immersed in it at the same time.

In my guidebook, on the Castrojeriz page, was a quote from Joseph Campbell: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all along waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.

I pondered the idea of bliss and if I was following it. Despite hoping that I’d put myself on a track that was leading to abundance and creative fulfillment, it was hard to really know. I certainly was pursuing a dream, but I was about to turn 40, and the dream hadn’t really materialized in the way I’d imagined it would. Thus, I was on the Camino looking for answers that might bubble to the surface in the midst of silence.

Silence. I’d had a couple days of it, at least while walking, and now I was hoping for some companionship.
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