26 August, 2014 - Rabanal Del Camino
So today I decided to just let my mind wander to wherever it wanted to go. I've spent the last few days doing purposeful introspection so I thought I'd take a day off. It turns out that I didn't have many revelatory thoughts...the deepest thought I had was when I realized just how much the wind rushing through trees sounds like water. But let's be honest, that is more of an observation than a deep thought.
But it was a good thing to experience I think. Not having a set purpose for my thoughts today, I found myself defaulting to planning and logistics. I paid more attention to what time it was and made a game out of calculating my average speed every hour or so.
Then there were a few times throughout the day that I would concentrate on absolutely nothing at all for a couple of minutes - like when you find your eyes relaxing and you start staring out into space. That may also have been from me being tired despite my rest yesterday in Astorga. I bet I just need to gain some momentum, you know - get into a rhythm of waking up, walking, eating breakfast, walking, eating lunch, walking, settling into the albergue, eating dinner, and going to bed. Yeah, I think settling into a routine will help.
I have entered a more mountainous area now and because I'm higher up in elevation, it is much much cooler here in Rabanal. I am sitting out on the patio/courtyard area and the wind is picking up and blowing the clouds by pretty quickly overhead. Some of the clouds even have some rain in them - but they just send down a bit of drizzle.
Well, Rabanal began as my least favorite place on the Camino but quickly became my favorite so far. I was just approaching the entrance to the town when a huge tour bus came up from behind me along the road and pulled over to park a few hundred yards ahead of me. As I got closer, about twenty or thirty people piled out of the idling bus with their little backpacks, their hiking boots, and their walking sticks! I couldn't believe it. I had walked over 13 miles with my life on my back and these people just pulled right on up and started waltzing into town with their little walking sticks - which they didn't even need! Seriously, most of the people were carrying their walking sticks instead of using them!
I was overcome with anger and a sense of self-righteousness - like they had cheated. But most of all, I was afraid that their big group would take up all the beds at the good albergue. So I sped up and overtook most of the group; most of them were wandering around the market anyway. I made it to the albergue (by this time it was about 1pm) and saw that it didn't open until 3pm.
I was still in a huff so I took a deep breath. I unloaded by backpack, took off my boots and socks, and took out my guidebook to distract myself. I read that this albergue is run by the Confraternity of St. James in London, it runs off of donations which means there is no official charge to stay here for the night, and they only accept pilgrims who arrive unassisted (a.k.a. NOT on a bus). I felt relieved and I felt justified.
So I waited around for two hours chatting with other pilgrims, stretching and walking around the plaza area outside the front of the albergue. When the place opened at 3pm, the four hospitaleros greeted us. Two of them were a husband and wife from Denver and the other two were a pair of sisters-in-law from England. One of the ladies from England started going through the rules of the albergue but started by saying that the most important rule is that tea time is at 4pm. They are so welcoming and loving. The same lady said that she sees all the pilgrims who come through as her temporary children - pretty amazing!
Sitting here in the courtyard, I look back at the way I felt toward the people on the bus and I feel disappointed that I let myself think that way. Everyone is on the Camino for different reasons. And who am I to judge how someone experiences the Camino? In the future, I am going to try harder to turn any negative thoughts that I have into positive ones. Whenever my feet start to hurt or my pack feels too heavy, I will think about how blessed I am to have the strength to keep going (or the freedom to stop if I need to). Whenever I feel hot and tired, I will remember to embrace the discomfort - because it is only temporary and soon I will have a cool place to rest.
Dear God, please bless this lovely town and these wonderful hosts. Please help me turn any negative thoughts into positive ones and please help me remember how blessed I am to be on this pilgrimage. Amen.