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Part 225 - Memories

This post is brought to you from the archives.

· camino,body,mind,joy

I sen't this email to my mother on May 4, 2015. I sent it from Hermanillos de la Calzada, Spain


Well … Today was a slog. No two ways about it. I'll try to paint a picture of the past couple of days. I'm sure to miss some details, as the days are bleeding into each other, but I'll try my best.

Night before last [May 2, 2015], we were in Carion de Los Condes, a small village with a strong community of faithful Catholics, who genuinely seem to care for and adore peregrinos (pilgrims).

First, we checked into a private albergue run by a group of nuns. They greet pilgrims with a hug and a smile. They charge 5€ for a bed (not a bunk bed, but a real bed) a hot shower with amazing water pressure, and a clean room to share with 20 other pilgrims. They host a prayer/meditation service at 5:30 pm. They check on each pilgrim to see that their feet are healthy, their bodies are in general working order, and their spirits are, if not high, at least not in the toilet. They make rounds until lights out and they physically care for ailing pilgrims, which at this point are numerous.

Next we strolled around the corner to a local restaurant to enjoy a pilgrims menu. Kim and I ordered from the normal menu, as the pilgrims menu is pretty bad in most places. There's only so much pork loin a person can stomach. And while we are both fans of fried potatoes, at some point even fries get old. Instead we ordered a mixed salad, which in this case consisted of lettuce, shrimp, crab, fish, grilled tomatoes, beets, roasted peppers, and other goodness. Wine is included with the meal. Good wine. Local and good wine.

After dinner, James and I attended mass. This is the point at which I found myself overwhelmed.

A number of locals attended mass. It's a pilgrims mass, specifically for the benefit of people walking the Way of St. James. And yet … There were several local people in attendance. It was touching to see the townsfolk come out to support the peregrinos. The priest, a heavyset guy with Mitt Romney hair and a soothing voice, offered the mass. A young nun played guitar badly. It wasn't until after the mass that the blessing of pilgrims was administered. The priest offered a group blessing. For the first time in his Life, he did it In English. He kept looking to the young nuns for affirmation and they in turn offered nods of support sprinkled with giggles. It was totally sweet.

Next, pilgrims approached one by one for a personal blessing. I can not express the amount of love in the room. I can only say that I was weeping - uncontrollably.

Sleep that night was deep and brief.

Yesterday [May 3, 2015] we walked under the cover of clouds. We walked 17 kilometers along an ancient roman road. The other 11 kilometers were split between tarmack and what's known as a senda, a small gravel path paralleling the paved highway. It was a long day, but all-in-all a good one. We slept in Teredillos de Los Templarios last night in a modern albergue on the outskirts of town. Kim and I shared a room with two other pilgrims, whom we had not yet met. One of them snored, the other woke at 5:15 and crinkled plastic bags for a full hour.

This morning [May 4, 2015] we woke to rain. Hard rain with wind. Horrid, wretched, rain and wind that abated only slightly a few hours of the day. Today was another trek along an ancient roman road. This sounds like an amazing thing in theory, but in actuality it's a lot like walking down a field road in west Tennessee, or Texas, or possibly even Oklahoma. Maybe I just had a soggy attitude, but today … I was not so enamored of the whole roman roadness of it all.

We finally reached Casa el Cura in Hermanillos around 3:30 pm. Everybody gets a room for privacy, a bathroom to themselves, with a tub and hot hot hot water. We share a communal meal around a long table. Wine is included with dinner. Good wine. Local wine. Dinner is amazing. I'm in bed now, exhausted from the overwhelming romanness of the road and the incessant rain.
More when able.