Long Duck Dong from Korea whom Kiara and I fell in love with. He taught us a few forms of meditation and told us to focus on our "abdolman" and to practice "compassion", which, with my ears and his accent I took to mean, "the passion", so I focused on the possibility of a fiery Spanish passionate love instead of my breath. It was a different form of meditation. When Kiara and I told him that we were both 41 and single he sighed, "Ohhhhhhhhhhh. That a big problem."
Lourdes from Pamlona after we told her we were looking for a cafe in her vacation village outside the city, "Only a coffee?! Then you MUST come to my house. I have coffee and you don´t have to pay!" She then proceeded to give me her packet of rice cakes when she heard I didn´t eat wheat. Talk about generosity.
Celebration to Reflection
After Kiara left, I was feeling pretty blue, but luckily I had Angelica my new German friend, also a high school teacher and lover of the mountains, to eat meals with and chat. Usually we´d walk by ourselves, meeting at different points for coffee or a meal, then meeting at the albergues or hostals later in the night. Juan from the Canaries joined our crew, as did Andrew and 3 sweet sisters from Australia, a couple of peeps from France, a former school teacher from Scotland, and another German gal. For almost a week we´d walk sometimes together, sometimes alone,but would always meet up at cafes and bars, and stay at the same albergues together. It was fun. Until for me, it wasn´t. I realized that I was drinking way too much (wine is included in the menus and is cheaper than wáter), and I noticed that I was starting to feel a bit down. I craved some alone time, and even though I loved this group dearly, I felt like I needed to take some time out from the constant socializing. I needed to reassess why I was here on the Camino. Surely not just to experience being with people all the time and drinking too much so that I felt lousy. We had so much fun in Burgos with tapas and dancing, and the next day I took in the Cathedral and monastary while Juan and Angelica kept walking. I ended up having a picnic on the porch of a museum in Rabe de las Calzados, which was closed, but in the shade. In pulls a car into the museum´s driveway and I find it´s the owner of the gallery/house who wondered why there was a blond girl with her shoes and socks off eathing cheese and olives on his front porch. He explained that the gallery was closed, but invited me in anyway and showed me his life´s work: truly amazing. I spent about an hour looking at his paintings, sculptures and multi media pieces before he invited me to bring in my food and eat inside in a civilized manor. I shared my cheese, he made a salad and we shared his leftover fish soup over a cerveza before I headed back out. He gave me a card for a friend of his who had an albergue in the next town of Hornillos and said I should stay there. Angelica had already reserved a room for me at the municipal so I thought I wouldn´t be able to stay at his friend´s place. The thing about the municipals are that there are usually about 30 people there, with snoring people galore. I much prefer the smaller private alberges with only 4 or 6 to a room. In Hornillos I met the crew and we made a community dinner together which was pretty sweet. I went outside with my cup of tea and heard,¨Hey...are you the Canadian musician?" Turns out it was the artist´s friend who had been looking for me. He invited me to his place where I´d have my own room and a guitar, so I packed up my bag and headed down the road. Much more tranquil. More more what I needed. I found that many serendipitous acts like this were happening, and my constant making plans to meet the group, trying to keep up etc. was not really working for me anymore. And so, with that, after a week of amazing walking, comraderie and fiestas, when Angelica left at Castrojeriez, I decided to go a bit slower, which meant that I´d break off from the crew and go my own way. It´s a decisión that was a bit difficult as this means that I might not catch up with my friends, with whom I had become so close. They are and were familiar, but I am here to step out of my confort zone.
Sincé taking a step back, saying goodbye to Angelica and Juan, I am on another type of Camino. So far I´ve met a few great new people, and the other night embarked on a night walk in the pitch dark for 8 hours under the new moon´s starry sky. If you follow the Milky Way, you can make it to Santiago. I´m now half way there as of yesterday, and I´ve been spending much more time alone, writing, meditating, and feeling overall back on track. I´m alone, but not lonely. The Camino continues to teach me what I need, which is really not all that much. Fresh air, a bed, food, comraderie and music. Gracias Camino.
I now find myself in a sweet albergue outside of Astoria called Albergue Verde which is so exactly what I need right now. Full of open hearted women running the place, I´m eating organic foods, doing yoga and dancing when I´m not reading Pema Chodren. A hippie´s heaven. I have finally listened to my body and spirit and slowed down for a few days. The Camino is constantly teaching me to honour what I really need. In Leon a few weeks ago I stayed in a hotel for one night that had a spa so I could sauna and steam away my oncoming cold. I spent the nights before in rooms with people who were snoring up a storm and exhaling all of their colds into the hostal air. I realized I don´t actually need to do that anymore...I have a choice and I´m not in any rush to get to Santiago. In fact, since I am more than half way there, I really am nervous about getting there too quickly. I don´t want this journey to end.
Up ahead of my a couple of days is a monastery where you can stay for 2 days so I will most likely do that. If I keep on going the way I have been, I should reach Santiago by New Years! Kiara has now coined me the Snail of the Camino. Here at the Albergue Verde, the motifs are snails, which is so totally a propos. I´ve let go of feeling slow, of possibly missing friends I´ve met along the way, who are now a couple of days "ahead" of me. I´m learning that there is no such thing as "ahead" anyways. I´m just going at my own pace. Slow and steady.
Once again, thank you for coming along on this journey and I´ll be back blogging in a week or so.
Much love and light,