4 September, 2014 - Palas de Rei
Another day on the Camino and the second in a row walking in no sun. That kind of tricks my body into thinking it can go longer than it should. Luckily my head comes into play and shuts that down pretty quickly.
I haven't mentioned the father and daughter pair I've met from New Zealand - Bruce and Lydia. They are both great! I met them in Triacastela along with the others and we'll probably be in the same towns until Santiago. I met them through Ramon. It is interesting meeting different people in such a different environment from their norm but still see their roles coming through. Like Bruce, for example, acts quite fatherly toward me which is actually very comforting. He keeps to himself but when I offered something up like that I am doing laundry or looking for a store for a camera battery charger (mine fried back in Ponferrada and this is my second attempt at finding a proper replacement) he offered to add my clothes to their load and told me about electronics stores I might try around town. That feeling of comfort I got reminds me of a scene in this TV show called Girls. The main character talks about how when we are little and we drop and break a glass, how our dad keeps us away and out of harm until he cleans up all the glass - but how when we are older, there isn't anyone that does that for us anymore.
There is something very liberating about striking out on your own. You learn to do things you never thought you would do. You learn things about yourself that you never thought you would know. But there is also something very freeing about depending on others. Asking for help allows us to be vulnerable and being taken care of shows us the best of humanity.
I'm writing this as I sit in a restaurant having just ordered dessert, by the way - ice cream cake or "torta helada" and wine (duh). The first white wine - vino blanco - I've had here in Spain and of course it is amazing.
So this morning I left in the dark again but this time I was by myself. Yesterday, I walked with Ji Wuk and Aldo in the dark. But it's quite difficult to wait for the light because sunrise isn't until 8am which means I wont get to my next stop until about 3pm. Now that I am getting closer to Santiago, there are many more pilgrims on the Way and far fewer beds available so I've been trying to get into town by 2pm or earlier.
Anyway, I made sure to put my flashlight in my pocket for easy access and I'm glad I did. I brought it out as I was climbing the hills through a dense, forested area in the dark. There was a good 20 minutes when I couldn't see or hear other pilgrims either in front of or behind me and I started to get nervous. I started hearing rustling just off the trail and my mind started cutting to all the worst possible scenarios - pretty bleak stuff. I wasn't sure if I should continue on or sit by myself and wait for who knows how long for another pilgrim or group to come up from behind me.
But then, I squeezed my flashlight and remembered that it was the one I got from family day at my brother Mike's work. So I kept going and imagined that Mike was walking along right beside me - just like the time in Yosemite. We were hiking down from Half Dome and I was sick, dehydrated and had massive blisters on both feet. He just talked to me the whole way down to distract me from the pain. So I imagined him doing the exact same thing this morning. It was like he was right there with me - asking me questions about my Camino so far and how excited I was for Liverpool. Imagining him walking along beside me helped keep me from panicking, kept me walking forward and kept me from thinking that some huge thing was going to jump out from the darkness and attack me.
So I texted Mike when I was clear from the trees to thank him for the flashlight. I don't know if he ever got the text and I don't know if he will ever know how important that flashlight will be to me from now on but I hope he knows how important he is to me.
Dear God, please bless Mike, Erin and smart, beautiful, fun Kate. Keep them all healthy and happy and always let them know how much they are loved. Amen.