I’ll do my best not to dwell for too long on the guilt associated with not blogging here the last two days. Have I mentioned that I’m walking about 15-19 miles per day? Am I forgiven? Don’t worry, I’m completely aware that I am the most critical individual when it comes to my lack of updating this site for the last two days. But the thing I want to touch on today is one simple fact: The Camino Provides. Whether it is a better pathway when you need it, or simply a bit of shade, it feels like the Camino is a living breathing creature that can communicate with its pilgrims. And the man I met on the trail on Day 1 was correct in telling me that every single day on the Camino, I would experience a miracle. For me, that is what the Camino is providing. Miracles. Daily.
As you know, my friends and I learned our lesson the hard way about not getting absolutely tanked on the delicious red wine of this region. After all, we are doing a bit of walking around this country. So our hike from Torres Del Rio to Logroño was rather efficient after a very good night’s sleep and nourishment from the pilgrim’s meal the evening before. The miracle of the day came unexpectedly when we met a praying mantis on the dusty path. I lost my cat Marcel about two years ago, and shortly after he died, I had a unique experience with a praying mantis in my parent’s yard. For me, for many reasons, the praying mantis connects me very strongly to the spirit of Marcel. I was starting to feel low at this particular moment while hiking and also thinking about all the kittens I have seen so far in Spain, and it got me thinking about Marcel and how much I miss him. At that moment I saw the insect on the trail just looking up at me. I followed it down the Camino about fifteen feet or so and it kept looking toward me then fluttering away further down the path. It was so awesome and exactly what I needed to lift my spirits. And we eventually made it to Logroño. Logroño was the first large city we had been in for a while, so we opted to get a private room for four and cook dinner in the albergue kitchen to save money. I have to say that it was pretty fun to go to the Spanish supermarket! The meats and the cheeses here…. good god they are amazing. A nice dinner of Spaghetti Carbonara and a big green salad with our Italian friend and then another good night of sleep.
Day 8 was a very early 5:30am alarm as we had a big day of 29.9km from Logroño to Nájera. We were prepared with hard-boiled eggs and a giant sandwich for lunch to keep us satiated and energized. Multiple miracles on this day. A good portion of the hike this day was through rolling vineyards of the famous Rioja red wine, and we noticed an adorable little white-tailed bunny rabbit. A few minutes later, another one dashed by in my peripheral. Before we knew it, we could scan the horizon and see about twenty of these ridiculously cute creatures hopping around. I was hardly able to keep from crying because it was just about the most amazing sight as the sun was rising behind our backs. Miracle number 2 came a few hours later when we climbed to the top of a hill (nothing too difficult but it happened to be the biggest hill of the day). Once we reached the top and came over the crest, we saw a man with a guitar, harmonica and tambourine lighting a stick of incense. As we got closer, I said hello and he smiled and started playing “Dear Prudence.” We took off our packs, drank some water and threw our coins into his hat in gratitude of his gift. It was truly the most perfect lift of spirits. We made it to our stop in record time (for us) and rewarded ourselves with another private room for four and an early pilgrims meal.
Today was another 5:30am wake up as we hiked 28km to the town of Grañon. We opted to hike an additional 6.7km to hit that town as we had heard of an amazing donativo albergue in the local cathedral that offered a unique and meditative resting spot for pilgrims. (Look at me now, sitting on my floor mat and finally posting about the last three days.) The day was long and hard, I felt exposed to the elements of the sun, but of course I had my miracles. I was feeling a little frantic about the two batches of beer I had brewed right before I left to do this adventure… a good friend had graciously agreed to help me finish them by bottling, but I was walking today and feeling anxious about my precious beers. (I know, ridiculous.) Just as I was almost completely in my head about this, I turned the corner of the pathway and saw an actual hop farm. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So of course I ran across the street and snatched some desiccated hops cones from off the vine and rubbed them between my hands before inhaling the perfect aroma. Made me feel at home again and assured that my beer would be just fine. It put some pep back in my step and I took off with new energy that put me in the front of my group of friends. I felt anxious to get to the albergue, to get settled in the church and to get my meditation on. I recognize the complete ridiculousness of rushing to meditate. Just as I was feeling like I was almost totally drained, I decided to whisper a little prayer to the Camino and ask for a nice shady spot with a bench where I could put up my feet and eat my sandwich. The Camino provides. Just as I reached the top of the hill, my shady bench came into view. I almost couldn’t believe it. It completely took my breath away.
I suppose I am becoming more comfortable with the wonders of this trail. It’s difficult to explain. I am constantly conflicted with being present in the magical miraculous moments, but then thinking about my own shit, or the climate of my country, or whether or not my grandparent’s home could possibly be destroyed in the Napa fires. I find I am battling with some shadow of guilt for even being here – though I know it is exactly where I need to be at this moment. I surely haven’t even come close to trying to sort out what to do next in my life, or how to step forward professionally, or how to mend my broken heart. But I know I can put one foot in front of the other tomorrow and get to where I am going. Especially if there are miracles along the way.
Thank you very much to Natalie S. for sponsoring Day 7, Maddie E., Jack B. and Brearne C. for sponsoring Day 8, and Rachel L. and Zach M. for sponsoring Day 9! You guys are all incredible!!!