There is a definitive cast of characters that make up my days on the Camino now. There’s Rory, a wild-haired and wisecracking Englishman and Sabine, a quite blonde med student from Holland. There’s Hugo, a Brazilian pediatrician wine aficionado and Hugh, a grumpy and quick-witted Canadian who isn’t nearly as surly as he lets on. There’s a group of bubbly 20-year-old Koreans that cheer and high-five everyone. There’s Shawn, a sad-eyed Australian. And there are so many others, some of whom I’ve never been formally introduced to but who are there just the same, around the next corner or in the bunk bed next to me at night.
This morning as I left Burgos I saw a woman drop some ointment from her bag. I picked it up and handed it to her and we struck up conversation. She asked where I was from, I told her Portland, and then she asked me if I knew Karen. Indeed I do! We walked together for the first few hours talking about Karen and our lives at home until eventually we lost track of each other. What a small world it is.
Today we have officially entered the Meseta, Spain’s central high plateau of endless horizon and wide-open spaces. This part of the Camino gets a bad rap because it bakes walkers in the summertime and bores them year-round. But so far I love the Meseta. It’s a landscape of space and sky. It’s simple and beautiful, like walking.
It was a long day today. I don’t know what else to say about it. I walked and walked and walked stopping only to eat chocolate and make a sandwich of cheese and pesto. I’m not hungry when I walk. I’m not anything. I’m just moving.
I feel very calm out here on the Camino. I’m not worrying about anything. My brain isn’t racing in its normal way. I’m just here. Just walking. And I think that this simple gift of calmness may turn out to be profound.
My body is holding up well. My blisters have disappeared. My only complaint is my aching feet but, really, they’re quite manageable. One cannot expect to walk across an entire country without pain. All in all I feel quite lucky.
Also! I’ve been meaning to thank all of you for the supportive comments you’ve left on the blog and Facebook. By magic of the Camino (and smartphones and SIM cards) I usually receive your messages while I’m walking, just when I need them most. They always boost my spirits. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Today I walked 19.5 miles (31.4 km).