Pilgrimage: Day Nine

Notes for a New Day will recount some rather older days during the next few months – journal entries from my pilgrimage on Spain’s camino in 2013.

Something I forgot to write about a few days ago – from the day of walking that was worse than childbirth. We had not seen anyone else walking that day, and so, besides the cold wind and fatigue, there was also a loneliness around us. My son suggested we play games of GHOST and Botticelli to keep our minds off the cold, but really he was just trying to help me stay focused. I think he may rightfully have been worried that I wouldn’t make it. When we approached the town of Cruces I told him to go ahead and find an albergue and get warm. He did walk ahead, because he couldn’t have possibly matched my snail’s pace, but at turns on the camino he would wait until he saw me so that he could point the way and I wouldn’t get lost. We were in a maze of ugly new apartment buildings at this point, but were led eventually into a very small, nearly extinct village. I was so cold, truly chilled to my bones (I might remind you, this is May!), head down against the wind, and sometimes I would look up and see what would turn out to be a large recycling bin, instead of what I had thought was my son in his blue rain poncho. I think I might have been close to hallucinating, but we were led to Pedro and Virgen de Guadalupe and all was well. Or was that a hallucination too?

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This morning Sibyl and Basil – okay, you know these weren’t really their names – fed us a typically worthless Spanish breakfast before bidding us buen camino. The day was not too long – 24 km – but so strange. Lots of climbing – we must be quite high, now in San Juan de Ortega. Along the way a memorial to some of the victims of the Spanish Civil War in the middle of a long, desolate walk through mud, pine forests and moss-covered deciduous trees that had not leafed out yet only added to our unease. It felt and looked like late winter, and the memorial was as stark as the landscape.

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