From Maine to Spain (and back)

Foncebadon to Ponferrada (34km/21mile/42,405steps) – the day started off with a quick 20 minute climb to the Cruz Ferro or Iron Cross which is the highest point on the Camino and where pilgrims for decades have placed a stone at the foot of the cross, symbolically relieving themselves of their sins and burdens. Tradition dictates that the stone is to brought from home and carried all this way. Hence I brought a small stone. The stone that I placed at the cross was one I had taken off the beach on Peaks Island, Maine, nowhere creates perfectly round stones like the Maine coast. Don’t worry though I picked a small granite stone up off the trail a few days ago to put on the beach on Peaks at the end of the summer. Seemed like a fair trade. And yes I am obsessed with the weight of my pack but I am carrying stone with me – oh tradition.

The day continued with what I believe may be the prettiest day of walking I have ever had. While the trail was quite challenging and we did get a few sprinkles the last few miles Mother Nature was really showing off her stuff today. I walked for 6ish hours through the mountains dropping into small valley hamlets and back up again. It was not only beautiful it was really fun.

One sad point was that I did obverse many folks walking in sandals because of hurting feet and I came across a young women who had tripped, fallen and cut her head open on the rock – she seemed in amazingly good spirits despite all the blood but her companions were taking good care of her and an ambulance was called.

As you walk the Camino not a day goes by that you do not see at least one memorial to either a person who died walking the Camino or a person for whom this trail meant a lot. Today I saw one with a saying I have never heard before but really like. I’ll end with the quote and some picks from what was a really good walk today.

Peace

The boat is safer anchored in the port; but that is not the point of boats

Actual Knights Templar Castle

You Never Walk Alone – unless you want to

The last few days have been some of my best on the Camino so far. Yes, the weather was beautiful and the scenery interesting, but that has little to do with my enjoyment of the past few days. It is the people whom I have spent it with that have made is what it has been. For the past few days I have been walking with 3 Australian men, 2 my age and one, a catholic brother who is a little older , a young women from Dusseldorf who is a recent college grad (thankfully fluent in Spanish and English – our little roving bands translator) , another German – this one a man in his early forties who has the energy (and personality) of a 12 year old from Berlin, he is great fun and a young Japanese women.
While we walk in and out of the lives of the same 50ish people (our own little UN)- we have chosen to travel together. This happened without conversation or agreement – it just happened.

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Sometimes there are conversations, at other times we walk spread out lost in our on thoughts. We eat together and we relax together – but most importantly we journey together. Life stories have been told, jokes laughed at and sadnesses and joys shared. We are all walking our own Camino, but for now we walk it together.
Today was a rare day for me – my head and heart and feet were just not into the walking. Most days I love to walk, even with a few pains, but not today. I don’t know why – I just wasn’t. David one of the Aussies must have sensed this and made a point of walking and talking with me for hours, making the time pass much faster. A kindness that I had done for him a couple of days ago when his feet were not doing very well. Nobody says anything about it, it just happens. David is a great guy, funny, crass at times and very caring. After 25+ years of working for a telecommunications company in Queensland he has quit his job and is going back to school to become an elementary school teach (a life long dream). He is a big hairy man with a strong accent, loud laugh and will make a wonderful teacher of small children. This is just one example of the people I am meeting on The Way.

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Here it comes and you knew it was – This has, once again, all reinforced my faith and belief in the power of community. Life is full of these little moments – lives weave in and out of each other, effecting a moment, a day and sometimes a lifetime. God is alive and well on the Camino. In the simple hola, help with a blister, quick joke, coffee paid for or in a long silent walk.
God is good – Always

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