Ponferrada to Villafranca: Today’s walk was very different then yesterday’s, I’ll explain why in a bit but first I want to discuss something else.
Last night (my time) someone asked me on my Facebook feed how many where in my group. I responded that I am walking solo and that I though groups walking together insulate you from the experience. After thinking about this while walking today I want to rescind that response and explain my thoughts on the subject. That’s what you get for reading my blog – “my thoughts,” sorry. The first time I walked the Camino 5 years ago I came to Spain by myself and quickly met folks to walk with. Over the course of the 35 days that I was on the trail I walked with a number of different folks and groups of folks. The last part of my time was spent in the very good company of a group that I became very fond of. Many of my memories and feelings about that Camino were formed by the people I met along the way.
This time again I quickly fell into the company of fellow pilgrims and enjoyed their company for some time. However in the last week or so I have made the conscious decision to walk by myself (fly solo as it were). As a pretty extreme extrovert this is a real act of discipline. I have found that the older I get the less extroverted I am becoming. Still, alone time is not easy for me.
All that said I am really enjoying my time alone. Technology has made it mush easier as I text or talk with Priscilla daily and text, Facebook and this silly blog have made me feel connected to friends at home – I did not come to Spain to make friends, I am blessed with many at home. I am however enjoying most of the people I meet on the Way.
What has been so different doing this solo is how much more I am experiencing my surroundings. Like yesterday- It was my favorite walk yet and I don’t even remember doing that stretch last time. All my memories of my first Camino that are related to a place are also related to people. I am also able to spend way more time with my own thoughts and prayers and this has been for the most part time I am really grateful for. As you can imagine it does have its downside.
So is one way better than the other – I would say no, just different. It has made be grateful for all those I get to walk though this life with in my “real” life.
Ok, let me tell you a little bit about my day. Unlike yesterday which was spent in the mountains, today’s walk was spent walking through urban sprawl and then rolling hills of cherry trees and vineyards. A pleasent rest for my legs as the next 3 to 4 days are made up on some serious ups and downs as I enter the mountains of Galicia. I also saw the first rainbow I have seen in a really long time and yes that means I walked through some rain but nothing much, that also looks like its about to change.
As I mentioned earlier walking alone can have its downsides. About 2 hours in I took a wrong turn and having a strong commitment to not turning around (drives my wife crazy on car trips) I stuck with it and relied on my well honed sense of direction (oh well). Two hours later, google maps and the assistance of a little girl and her father “I” found my way back onto the trail. As it turns out I had only lost about half an hour.
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering what Bob Hooper walking solo looks like, the better question is “what does it sound like?” I spend a lot of time talking to myself – and yes out loud. It’s kinda funny.
Here are a few pictures of my day – enjoy