October 20th, 2013
Today is October 20th - Happy birthday, dear Maria! - and it´s so hard to believe that in 10 days from now - God willing - we´ll be back home! It´s so hard to believe because while you´re on the Camino it seems as if the Camino is your whole life: a life where there exists only three verbs: walking, eating, and sleeping, and three nouns: backpack. albergue, and Camino. Last night we ate our pilgrim meal with a Canadian couple in , I´d say, their mid to late fifties, John and Roxanne, who just retired from their jobs and sold their house to begin a new chapter of their lives starting with the Camino. Their plan is for the rest of their lives to be a jouney seeking physical and spiritual well-being, their next stop after the Camino being a 7 week meditation at a Bhuddist monastery and after that maybe a pilgrimage to a shrine in Japan. They aren´t the first (or even the second or third) older pilgrims we´ve met, typically alone, who´ve sold their assets, even given their children their inheritances, to start a new lives, to travel for years, the Camino being their starting point. A couple of them that I know of, though, having started full of joy and optimism, sticks balzing, were brought down pretty early on by the standard Camino injuries: debilitating blisters, knee injuries, all the results of not being properly prepared. We saw them at the beginning, then they´d be lagging behind, then they´d be needing medical care, then we wouldn´t see them anymore, and we´d wonder, still wonder, what happened to them, if they were somehow able to finish, though we can´t help but doubt that they will. For them I feel so sorry, because they´d set so much hope in this journey. There are so many souls in crisis on the Camino, pilgrims dealing with divorces, broken relationships, bad family relationships, the death of a loved one, loss of a job - many who´ve los their jobs - lost young people, lost old people, all of them seraching for, many of them finding peace on the Camino. I hope that they all find peace in their lives, I hope everyone finds peace, espcially all of you, my dear loved ones and friends. As for my Camino journey, I´m not really sure how to define or verblaize it, even at this point, I guess all can say about it right now is that it´s been and continues to be a journey. But the last few days have been really hard for me and, by extension, hard for time amd it´s all because of the stones. The mountain descents are hard, yes, but it´s really the stones that are turning the descents into a nightmare (okay, I´m being melodramatic here, but you know what I mean) for me....huge, slippery-looking, uneven, reticulated stones that hog the whole path - the Wretched Stones, I call them, after a story book that terrified my son Tommy when he was little and are terrifying me now. I´ve had to deal with the Wretched Stones on previous slopes from time to time, but here on the mountains of Galicia they´re everywhere - for me Galicia is the Kingdom of the wretched Stones! And yet most of the other pilgrims (there are a few who are almost as scared as me) , Tom included, just hop down the stones with a minimum of effort, because, in truth, and as Tom and others have tried to convince me by having me rub my foot over them, these stones aren´t like our Ohio slate, they really aren´t at all slippery, not even in the rain. Tom has been a wonderful, patient guide, he´ll walk down the rocks to show me how it´s done, then he´ll come back to help me down, step, by step, telling me I can do it when I´m convinced that I can´t, the result being that yesterday I so slowed us down on the stone-coverd slopes that it took us 10 and a half hours- most of those hours in rain that varied form drizzling to pouring - to walk 21kms from Fonfria to where we finally stopped in the village of Pintin. It was 7pm, our boots were drenched and we had to stop, but there was no albergue in the town - the albergues, like the pilgrims, are getting fewer and father between. but fortunately there was a little Pension in the village so, because of me, we had to spring 35 euros to stay at the pension - where we actually were given a very nice room and a typically wonderful 10 euro pilgrim meal: salad for Tom and spinach soup for me, next steak and fries for both of us, and for dessert a slice of Santiago cake for Tom and a flan for me. Unfortunately the pension didn´t have a dryer, so it was another night of getting back into our dirty day´s clothes! But anyway, it was over dinner, while I was telling John and Roxanne how hard I was finding the stones on the slopes, which they shrugged off as not really bad at all, that I came to a decision: I´m not going to let those Wretched Stones wreck another day on the Camino for us. I´m going to kick those stones´ butts, in fact, though we haven´t come to any yet today, I even sorry for the first stone that tries to cross my path! To paraphrase Dr. Suess, "I´ve got two big sticks, I´m all ready, you see, Now those Wretched Stones are going to have troubles with ME!¨ Or so I keep telling myself. Tom tells me it´s maybe better not to over think it. Anyway, please send brave thoughts my way and I´ll send happy, loving thoughts yours! Have a peace-of-mindful day. Love, Patti 8)
10/19/2013 10:27:16 pm
Whatever symbolism or psychic meaning you five them, treacherous stones are very real and demand caution. Blessings and hugs to you and Tom, your hero. (no doubt there are pilgrims who envy you for your knight in wet but patient armour!).
10/20/2013 05:38:02 am
Yeah I agree with Marianne - watch those stones, but it is great that you are overcoming them in your own way in your own time.
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My husband Tom and I will be walking the 490.7-mile Camino de Santiago from St. Jean Pied de Port, France, to Santiago, Spain. We leave Columbus 9/11/13 and return 10/30/13. God willing.
The sequel to "Equal and Opposite Reactions" in which a woman discovers the naked truth about herself.
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