21 Sept, 2017BOOK: Presumed Innocent. By Scott Turow…Detective story of the mindless ilk…not all that exciting, but fills in to move me from fatigue to sleep
SONG: There are several and they will be included in another post before I leave Leon. They relate to incidents and people of interest, in places that blur together too much to try and separate them…so I linked them to my music for another post.
THOUGHT: I think I ‘get’ what walking meditation is…and I am growing to really love it.
Anne on her Way
Softest welcoming light as we head up the mountain
Part of the mystique of the Camino before I started (and probably the same for others who are between the idea of their Camino and the reality of it) was the notion of deeply interactive conversations about spirituality and humanity and that sort of thing. Then there came the reality.
Arriving and getting started at the beginning in St Jean, was a multilevel lesson in chaotic thought. Getting priorities in place was difficult. My underpants were at an equal level of importance with what I was carrying in my lunch bag. Hopefully not a mismatched connection at the physical level.
Where it all went was obvious…somewhere hanging off my body, but it needed to obviously (or not), be on the right place on the body. Access to each thing became the focus, as in, what might I need most. Rain gear always won since wet everything was fairly high on the catastrophe scale. Snack and water access came next…camelback wins such high applause and gratitude for Tony and his pre-trip input. And so on down the line. Because of the fatigue at the end of the day, the anxiety was higher in the beginning as to what needed to be done and in what order in the midst of the fatigue fog. At this point in time, I’m happy to report that there is more of the automatic part going on. My two surviving brain cells that still fire regularly, are often missing by suppertime. Time and practice have lead me to the point-checks that are becoming instincts I can trust. Several items have been left behind in the process and while it lightened my pack, it was not voluntary.
The ideas about sitting down and writing at the end of the day and taking pictures along the way proved to be just that…good ideas. While walking promotes ideas in the beginning of the day, it crushes them out of existence as the hours go on in the initial segment of getting adjusted. Because I have stopped to take a few days off the path and rest in Leon, I have got time to both think and write and sleep in a place where there is just one bed and it is for me…and the bathroom is not shared with anyone!!
So, here are some moments that have filtered through, starting with a summary of how a normal walk-day goes.
Staying in the Albergues is a time constrained thing. 12 and 2pm for checking in. You have to be out at the latest by 8am and in some places, 7:45am. Quiet time is from 10pm to 6am (snoring apparently not factored in as noise)
0 DARK THIRTY: Quiet time ends at 6am, when either a few individuals brave it and turn on their headlamps or the Hospitalera flips on the main switch and fluorescence bathes the room. Occasionally there is music to inspire the waking process. In one place it was Gregorian Chant and in another it was Spanish ‘step-it-up’ dance music.
Coffee was served in the first Albergues before we left, but that was short lived and now I need to walk to first coffee. I usually have a bite of something with protein to kick my start.
During this brief period between 6am and 7:45, one must:
Stuff everything into the appropriate places
Lean out the door or window to verify chill factor or rain conditions just to make sure the stuff process was going to relate to those first steps out the door
Compete for toilet and sink space – whether or not you are having a bad-hair day is totally irrelevant
Perform foot rituals (more sacred than all else) Occasionally care requires requesting someone else’s assistance in covering the unreachable open places. Knee bracing is also included in this step.
Beloved socks; outer set
You might want to add a little paper tape to that
Next is finding the boots and your sticks then donning the boots and tying them reverentially to the hoped for perfect tension.
With all this in order, it is time to step out the door and into the day, ferreal!
For the next 4 to 6 hours, the rhythm is generally: Walk; Pass; Be Passed – all the while wishing the passee, Buen Camino. At about 2 hr intervals there are stop points, and the first is generally Stand-Up-Spoon Spanish coffee with milk. I eat the version of the camino tortilla that has potatoes, eggs and bread.
Next stop is boot removal time and wound inspection, coupled with a meal or substantial snack.
And the last segment leads, for most, to the day’s stop point. Albergue beds fill up quickly and reserving space is done much more often. (A day ahead usually you know more about how much you will be able to do.) At this point, I send my pack ahead on the first class transport and if I get to it and still have energy later in the day, I pick it up, throw it on my back and head to a next place. Failing to have a reservation and arriving to a full house, means you HAVE to walk on, sometimes another 10k. At that point, most exhausted pilgrims taxi on to the next place.
Once you have that assigned bed and your pilgrim passport stamped, you remove the boots and put them in the boot/stick place; fall onto the bed (or climb up onto it if you got the short straw and the bunk on top is yours.
This is only a brief lull however, because there is the washing of the socks and underwear – drying time always precarious, but if they are still wet in the am, they are pinned to the outside of the pack.
Showering is dependent on a few factors, but if your companion says you need one, you need one. Sniffing your own armpits is not a qualifying standard.
You may arrive around 3 or 4pm but that is dead on into the Spanish tradition for Siesta. Everything in the village is closed and nothing reopens until 7pm. I snack-plan around this factor.
Only 200 population and we won’t see them til 7
Dinner with the pilgrims always has some form of communality, even when there is not a common dinner in the Albergue.
One of the first communal suppers at Orrison
For me participation is either WITH the firing of the 2 brain cells because the walk just wasn’t as bad as I might have expected…or it is a nutritional barrier I have to push my way through just to get to my bed where I can sleep. As I have continued to get a rhythm in my walking, the end of day has become a happier place.
If I am on the upper bunk, I do strategic planning for the 2 pee times I will need to be ready for…and that includes getting up and down the ladder and remembering where the bathroom is…occasionally it is a flight down stairs…and that is pretty sucky.
As I climb into my sleep sac and open my book, I pray fervently to the snoring god that he has chosen another dorm to go to. Input my titanium ear plugs in and sleep comes on in.
So re: those real conversations that open themselves to sharing, happen less for me on the actual walking path because I am so very slow and most people want their hustle. Language also limits much of the conversation. Some days, I hear a lot of English, but on others, it is a mix of lots of others and so Buen Camino suffices. There are times like I found today, when the conversation clicks quickly into the wonderful realm of soul sharing and I expect that will happen more often as the settling in has opened me up as well. But then, I am in the midst of time off. We will see how it goes as I get back on Tuesday.