Shockingly, I arose before dawn. Breakfast had been laid out the night before, so I partook while still dark outside. Decision made to investigate what the majority of Pilgrims did regularly and commenced my day unseasonably early. The soulfulness and solitude for the first few pre-dawn klicks were sublime. Perchance the Peregrino “jackrabbits” discerned this tranquility and hence the early storm out of the hostel. Perhaps these were the hours of attainable enlightenment on the Camino. Most Pilgrims had some sort of expectation that a gain of wisdom and peace would result from this eternal treading on the earth, and I was no exception. Was it high hopes to have an experience like Saul on his horse or Buddha sitting under the Bodhi Tree? The author of the most used Camino guidebook, John Brierly wrote, “The Camino can open up a space that allows for profound personal transformation”. These early, serene moments of the morning felt like a tiny illuminating window trying to pry itself open.
The sun slowly rose across the sweeping horizon. Namaste Surya.
Villages still felt like ghost towns as one snuck through them. The archaic, lovely 6-arched Puente La Reina (Queen’s bridge) delivered all Pilgrims safely across the Rio Arga. Prior to the bridge’s placement, many fell to injury or death in their attempts to cross en route to Santiago. Gratitude filled for this medieval stone bridge.
More quaint villages passed, and the desire swelled to stay in each of them, but onward I trod. Village churches, like hostels, offered a credentialed stamp for Pilgrim’s passports, which was necessary to provide proof of one’s journey. Stops at these small, darkened sanctuaries prompted reminders of setting Camino intentions. The steady Pilgrim stream also sustained Church coffers. Slowly the accordion-like document was filling.
My legs were tired today. I had aspirations of venturing further, but this idea was abandoned. An Americano pilgrim stated she was staying in Villatuerta, where a hostel boasted a spa and meditation room. She had pre-booked a massage and was running late for the appointment. This sounded like a potentially good destination for my weary legs.
This spa-seeking Peregrino seemed distressed despite knowing a masseuse awaited her arrival. Unfortunately, her day culminated post pummeling, when the oil used caused her skin to breakout in a small rash, and the ‘smells’ of our bunkmates caused her to gag. She vowed and confessed at breakfast that she was done with hostel stays. From here forward, she would seek out hotels. Hostel life can be challenging even at it’s best with added luxuries. My heart went out to her.
My 80 plus, year-old adventuring friend once confided that (we) travelers would do anything to globetrot, throwing all comforts aside when needed. We swapped stories of sleeping overnight in train and bus stations as needed, when on the road. Her eyes sparkle when we reminisced. Consider yourself blessed to be able to downgrade creature comforts she stated, thus, you can go anywhere. Gratitude continued to rise as I remembered her words.