Wow. I’ve been drawn to North-Western (despite living in North-Eastern) Spain since University and finally I am in the Province of Bierzo, home to one of my favourite Spanish wines and the best scenery of the Camino de Santiago so far. I adore being in the mountains – Theres a peace and serenity there that can not be rivalled, not even by the coast, my second favourite place to be.
Luckily for those around me, my entire outlook has changed in the last 48 hours since the picky post in Astorga. On a physical level, nothing much has changed in my life in those two days, I walked, slept and ate, as every day on the camino. However since my last post I’ve been to the most beautiful and uplifting mass on the day of Santa Maria in Astorga’s magnificent cathedral, had a delightful and much needed 12 hours sleep last night in Rabanal de Camino and fed and played with scores of dogs and puppies along the way – my spirits are about as high as at any point on the camino AND I left my troubles at Cruz de Ferro.
Cruz de Ferro is where pilgrims leave a stone they brought from home that represents something that has troubled them. My stone, as originally and until Burgos I didn’t have one, was picked up somewhere before Fromista when I received a very kind compliment that made me well up with tears. At that exact moment a stone appeared to me whilst I was remembering just how bereft of positivity, kindness and compliments my life had become in the previous years. The lesson?
‘The first time someone shows you who they are – believe them’, Maya Angelou.
I walked these entire two days from Astorga in gratitude for the fabulous things in my life, my friends and family, my own internal strength and my growing faith and trust in God and this friendly universe. It has been, without question, the best days on the camino for my peace of mind.
Ive even started to plan now for the return to Barcelona, trying to think of ways I can reorder my life to better match my changing priorities. Devising methods to help me put theories into practise – taking what I’ve learnt over these 35 years and actually making some good decisions.
Why do I have no animals and children in my life when these are the things that bring me greatest joy? Why do I shrink from my own power? Ive still got plenty of time to walk and get these questions answered and begin to put together an outline of a better, healthier, spiritually aware life and I can’t think of any better way to spend the next two weeks. A week ago I was concerned for myself to come off camino, now I feel progress is being made for the return trip and the real ‘camino’ – real life!
Back to the physical level – another hole has been conquered in my belt of ambition making around 5-6 inches lost off the waistline. Must be all those pilgrim menus!
The walk over the past two days has taken us up over 1000 meters and at Cruz de Ferro, the highest point of the entire camino, now until tomorrow is all downhill to Ponferrada where a fantastic Templar Castle awaits! I have a bit of the thing for the Templar knights ever since I came to know about them from the Broken Sword games! Today I find myself the owner of a Templer cross purchased from a real life Templer whose role it is to still protect and help pilgrims over the Leon mountain range. It’s only a short 17k, hop, skip and jump to the Albergue at Ponferrada so I should be able to sneak in a bit of time at the castle.
What else? After tomorrow we’re into the 100s of KMs to Santiago. It seems far more than four weeks ago that I left Barcelona wondering how I’d take to camino life! What if I couldn’t make it? What if I needed to answer the call of nature? What if no one spoke to me the entire time? Awww, what a div.