We’ve now walked from Pamplona to Villamayor de Monjardin, over the last three days, a total of around 56Km. Utterly beautiful. Our injuries seem to have settled and our particularly injured member has stepped up to the plate, pushed through and is keeping up nicely, after some quality time with the Physio in Pamplona. Her husband has had much advice to offer on the subject of injuries, and as a consequence we have asked him to start every sentence with the phrase “I’m no doctor, but…” I’m no doctor but, let’s stop for a coffee, I’m no doctor but I need a bathroom break, etc.
I walked out of Pamplona on my own, having taken the sleep in option and also wanting a little alone time. The trail takes you out of Pamplona and up into the mountains, at the top there are scores of windmills, I love these. I caught up with the others in the midafternoon and we wandered into our albergue for the night together. Again the long tables and meeting people from all other parts of the world. This night was a couple of guys from Spain and four Canadian ladies.
The next morning we set off toward Estella, you’ll see a couple of early morning photos. It was lovely coming down the hill and seeing the sunrise peering through the cathedral. Estella is an especially lovely town, you’ll see photos of the river (which as per tradition, I skinny dipped in…before we hit town). This is a beautiful wine region and you’ll see some photos of the vines that we walked through on our trail.
On the way out of Estella there is a “wine fountain”, which dispenses free wine to passing pilgrims. The tradition is that one uses their scallop shell to drink from. You might think that the wine would be the worst stuff that they could find, but in truth I found it to be quite palatable. It really is a lovely gesture and symbolic of the hospitality and generosity to be found on the Camino. Apparently there is a 24 hour webcam www.irache.com which shows the fountain and the pilgrims who over indulge. I’m not sure how successful this would be in Melbourne.
Today’s walk was through some beautiful forests and villages, and then a serious climb up to where we are now. Medieval bridges, ancient Roman roads, monasteries and ancient ruins rising up out of the woods. It really is a magical journey to take.
This afternoon we find ourselves settled in Villamayor de Monjardin, we have a lovely upstairs room with a terrace, which has views that are genuinely breathtaking. We’ve already decided that we will share a bottle of wine (or two), here this evening. The albergue in which we are staying is run by a Dutch ecumenical group, they seem very interesting and tonight they will run a “Jesus Meditation”, really looking forward to it. They are all volunteers and they run this place as an evangelistic outreach to pilgrims.
So, one thing that I have been reflecting on the last few days is gratitude. It is amazing how walking through 20+Km/ day in some pretty serious Spanish heat can teach you about gratitude. In the past week I have experienced real, sincere, deep, heartfelt gratitude for the following: Shade, soft grass, good tasting water, an egg and ham tortilla, coffee, flat ground, a reduction in incline on a hill, seeing my friends round a corner, a simple single bed in a dormitory, a cold shower, simple pilgrim food, a sound sleep. As I said deep, sincere, genuine, heartfelt, gratitude. In my day to day life I would consider myself a positive, “glass half full” kind of guy, but none of these things would have been likely to gain my attention. It has brought me to thinking, as a middle class westerner, have I lost my ability to be grateful for the simple? There is a passage in the bible that says to be grateful in all things, I think that maybe I don’t even know that there are a whole plethora of things for which I can be grateful in each moment. How great would it be if I could harness that? If I could live in real gratitude day to day. Moment to moment.
I also wonder if time in the dark is required for me to really love time in the light. If I had never experienced searing heat, could I actually be grateful for a cool shower or shade? If I had never experienced being frozen to the bone, how grateful could I actually be for a warm bed? To what else in my world might this apply?
I have spent times in my life where I have felt terrible loneliness, so I can tell you from deep in my heart that I am grateful for my friends. I thank you, sincerely.