Well, in contrast to the last blog, the last few days have been a bit rough. Even miserable in some parts.
My first bad move was to set off from Santo Domingo in the afternoon and so found myself walking in the very heat of the day on some hot, dusty, often beside a busy highway, trails. I met up with the others who had set off earlier in Belorado, had a drink and pressed on to the next village on my own.
A highlight of the place I landed is that it was a church carved into the rock face and the hostel was run by Franciscans. They are so hospitable, even giving me a hug (you all must know how much I love that by now), on the way out the door. The next day I actually jogged a bit and felt really quite strong. I had intended to do a 50K day. I met with the others and we walked onto San Juan where they were to stay and we said our final goodbyes. I would walk onto Burgos, 27 Km up the road.
I already had a pretty serious blister forming and then with about 15 Km to go my calf muscle “let go”. I seriously could put almost no weight on it at all! I was wondering if this was where the Camino would end for me. I limped into the next village and was shuffled into a taxi, which took me to a physio. It turns out it was cramp. Seriously, just a cramp. I’m such a sook! In actual fact a number of muscles in my legs had started cramping. Her treatment was to give me some salt tablets and massage my legs, I limped in and walked out, it was amazing. I was then able to walk gently into Burgos where I find myself now. 50Km in a day.
So, in Sooky summary: I had a bad blister, I had a bad leg cramp, I said goodbye to my friends and my camera battery went flat! Perhaps I need to harden the !@#% up little princess!
The terrain has changed over the last few days, with more plains and seemingly a bit hotter and dryer. The villages and towns are still amazing, San Juan is essentially a monastery, a café and a hostel. The forest that I walked through prior to San Juan was once upon a time notoriously dangerous for pilgrims, apparently filled with robbers, murderers and geography teachers lying in wait to jump out and rob them, kill them or berate them for late homework. I was imagining what it must have been like for a pilgrim to find themselves walking into the safety of this monastery after braving those wilds.
I am currently in Burgos and planning to rest for a day. I like this town, great food, beautiful architecture, a pleasing vibe. Worth a visit I think, not least of all for her amazing cathedral and beautiful sculptures.
So, as I have been walking alone over the past week or so and drifting into and away from my friends, it has caused me to think about our journeys personally and in community. I find that it is often difficult to hold the same pace as my friends or indeed others that I may find myself walking with. At the same time, I like being with them and sharing the journey with them. I also find that a number of other pilgrims (not my tribe), are very set on their pace and are constantly comparing and justifying why their way is best. I don’t find this very helpful.
It has brought me to thinking about how this seems to happen in my real life. Here’s a parallel that I notice in my world:
I compare myself to my peers. Careers, cars, relationships, marriage, kids, house, lifestyle, et.etc.etc. It’s really sad, and I’m pretty embarrassed writing about it, but I find it happening often. Some of my friends have told me how they wish they were going on this trip I’m currently on, but you know what? I envy their great marriages, or families or any number of other things. And this brings me to realize that we each have our own “Camino”, our own way, and comparing with each other is as ridiculous as comparing a sports car with a battle ship.
My lot has been to not find a happy marriage (so far), but I am strong and fit and have an adventurous soul. So if I live true to myself and try and work within the bounds that life (maybe God), has dealt me, then there is no point wishing I were someone else. There is every point in taking the time to work out who I am, and how I’m wired, and to work on a life that is true to this. Perhaps this is part of the journey to a life well lived.
Israel’s King David wrote in a Psalm to God “I will praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful….” Talk about a healthy self esteem! But I think he has it right, he knew who he was, he knew he was made a certain way on purpose, and frankly he did a lot with his life. This appeals to me.
I look at my friends, and all the time I see their fearfully and wonderfully madeness. If a man is judged by the quality of his friends, then I am freaking awesome!!
My love to you all.