I should have known today was going to be very special when the sun came up and put on one of those “once in a lifetime” shows.
The orange ball rose up slowly behind us, forcing all of us crazy pilgrims who are walking on the Camino to Santiago de Compostella to stop, take out our cameras, and start snapping away.
We early birds had rolled out of bed super early in hopes of beating today’s blistering forecasts – but no one was making any time; El Camino was demanding attention, was demanding we slow the fuck down, pause, breathe, and just be in the moment.
And what a moment – from the colors to the mist rising from the canal as the sun was warming up the day.
The entire show lasted maybe 6 minutes, but no one seemed to notice the day’s unforeseen delay.
It was the first sign of what was to be, an incredible day on the Meseta.
The Camino signs are becoming more and more prevalent. The dirt path is lined with not one but two Camino shells pointing the way – road signs are everywhere – I mean Helen Keller couldn’t get lost here.
Until this sign!
Walking through a small clay colored medieval village I was stopped at the cross road confused for a moment about which way to go. I felt like the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. The road sign suggested I could go right or I could go left–uhh too many choices — but then I heard bells and whistles – I chose to go left to see what was causing the noise.
It was a shepherd bringing in to the village his flock.
Foot and road traffic stopped while he brought his sheep into town – another sign to just slow down and enjoy the moment.
Which I did, until I had to walk through all that sheep shit – bet ewe didn’t see that coming did ewe?!
Around lunchtime I saw a sign for an albergue – a hostel that offers cheap rooms and food. I wasn’t hungry, but I was ready to kill for a Diet Coke.
As I walked in, I felt like I was on a Hollywood set for a new Camino movie – or Dr Doolittle.
There were geese roaming the grounds, young European college kids lazing in hammocks and reading, and then there were the donkeys.
This aggressive pair was stealing food right off the table as young pilgrims tried to eat their picnic in this garden paradise.
They weren’t able to “Shooo” the donkeys away, but the local bag lady came to the rescue!!!
I shit you not – just like any superhero, she arrived out of nowhere, and armed with her day-old bread, she began hitting the donkeys on the head – beating those asses in to submission and away from the startled city slickers.
It was a comedy within a comedy, only made funnier cuz I was laughing so hard I was sure I was going to pee my pants.
Everyone here on The Way seems to be looking for a sign….
There’s Thor the angry guy from Norway – this is his 10th Camino. Yep, he’s done the Full Monty: 500-plus miles from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain, 10 TIMES! When I asked Thor (not his real name, obs) why … he just took a deep, deep drag off his cigarette and slowly exhaled and nodded.
Carl, a very handsome 70+ year-old German from Düsseldorf has walked the walk six times! When I asked him why, he picked up his beer and drank his glass empty.
Another German, young Karl from Cologne is completing his second Camino. He started in his hometown back in May and plans to go to Santiago, then turn south going through Portugal, then back into Spain through Sevilla, on to Gilbraltar to end up in Morocco. Ummmm, why I asked this very healthy, 20-something, he just shrugged adding, “Why not?”
Then there’s Alex, a young screenwriter from LA who is here alone in between gigs and who, it seems has fallen in love with a fellow pilgrim, a Swede.
“No one has ever looked at me the way he does. I mean he really, really looks at me…it’s gotta be a sign or something….,” she said full of joy and hope the way young lovers sound when they’re telling a total stranger about a new romance they found here on the road.
I dunno if it’s a sign, but I told her – you don’t know until you know – so go on to Sweden and see what happens!
And then I got my own sign today – a big ass, stop me in my tracks giant sign.
A road sign with mileage to Santiago almost broke me. It read 463kms to Santiago.
What the fucking fuck?! Surely that’s wrong, surely I’ve walked further than that, I mean I have GUIDEBOOKS and they say I’ve walked further than that.
So there I was on the side of the road looking up at my sign in disgust and a little depressed. So I got out my guidebooks and my maps and I recounted every fucking kilometer I’ve walked since September sixth.
It didn’t add up – my calculations and the official fucking road sign didn’t match.
And then an elderly man walked passed me, stopped, and asked why I was so upset. When I explained my mathematical meltdown he said, “Ahhhh pay no attention to that, it’s just a sign, it doesn’t mean a thing.”
Here are my stats
15.2 Miles Marched Today
(Boadilla del Camino – Carrion de los Condes)
233.3 Miles Traveled So Far
272.5 Miles Left To Go
505.8 Total Miles to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain
PS – My math is right!! The road doesn’t follow the Pilgrim’s Way! Yay!
Tomorrow: Still on the “Meseta” –