Ten days in and can you believe I have hiked 150 miles? Today is lovely and I am sitting at a peaceful cafe in the main square drinking a glass of Vino Tinto… but I’m honestly feeling in funky, melancholy state of mind today. It was an easy hike from Grañon to Belorado at just under ten miles (side note: I never thought I would say that hiking ten miles with a pack on under the Spanish sun would be “easy”) and even with leaving late, around 8am, I managed to get in to our destination city far before the albergues even opened. The donativo albergue where I stayed last night in Grañon was an absolute dream. We were greeted by the most incredible Italian volunteers who were serving their two week stint at the church – well not just greeted by – they took our packs from our weary backs, gave us hugs and kisses, water and fruit. They explained that it was a donation based albergue and that they just wanted to offer their hospitality to the pilgrims of the Camino. They pointed to where the communal sleeping floor was, explained where to wash laundry, and that there would be group stretching session at 6:30pm, dinner preparation around 7pm, dinner at 8pm and then a special moment in the cathedral (over which we were sleeping) at 9pm. I can’t even begin to put into words (I know I need to) how welcoming and lovely these people were. The albergue was extremely minimalistic, but all our needs were met, our stomachs were filled, our hearts were left warm and our souls nourished. After our special family meet up in the cathedral, we shared hugs with each and every pilgrim at the albergue, laughed and cried, and walked back over to our accommodations for some evening chit-chat which turned into a sing-along and musical session with a very out-of-tune piano. I even had the opportunity to play and sing on the ukulele for some of my fellow travelers, and it felt so good to use my singing voice and feel so whole and purposeful and in the right place. Perhaps that is what made it so difficult to leave this morning and why I am feeling a bit ho-hum today.
It is also apparent that our little group of travelers (five of us) may soon be letting the Camino do its work in taking us on our individual journeys and into other pilgrims’ lives. One of us is battling badly blistered feet and a hurt knee and may be leaving the Camino. Another had a foot injury and is realizing he will in no way he able to finish the Camino by his 21st birthday as he had planned, so he will take some time off and then a bus to a destination further along the Camino. I am loving these people with all my heart but also feeling that I need to step out of this comfort zone and meet new people along the way and learn new lessons. Perhaps 1/3 through the walk is a good time to allow change to take place. One of the biggest lessons I think we are all learning is that even though you may have plans for yourself and your walk on this path, the path may have other plans for you. It’s a lesson in control. Part of the reason I personally wanted to undertake this physical challenge was knowing that it was something I was totally in control of. Having my life change drastically around me, in ways I couldn’t fix, was absolute torture for me. I thought that coming here would be easy. I am learning now that no one is in control of their journey along the Camino de Santiago. You could unexpectedly have torrential downpour that could keep you off the trail. You could twist an ankle getting out of the bunk bed and need to take two days off. Even my daily routes have been changing from what I originally planned – I feel strong and want to go further, or I want to take a 3km extension to see a 12th century cathedral. A big lesson I am learning out here is that I have to be completely open to whatever might come my way. I am actually not in control, at all.
Thank you to Madge D. and Jill C. for their generous sponsorship of today’s adventures!