So....I was going to post my last two blogs over the past few days and I´m not sure if Mercury is still in retrograde but it seems that every time I tried to log onto computers where I´d be staying, the wi fi would be amiss, or the computer was so old that it couldn´t support my blog platform or to be honest, I was just too tired to type. I´ve been keeping a journal of the Camino so far, scribbling bits and pieces along the Way.
Tonight I sit in a Little town in the province of Leon, and Erneto has graciously allowed me an hour to use his personal computer as there is no computer here at this hostal. And so...I type.
I´ve broken up the trip into 3 segments, so if you want to read one part at a time, then be my guest. I don´t imagine that you´ll have so much time to read my whole novella with one read. Or you might....Regardless of what you read, I send you gratitude for coming along on this journey with me. Here we go...Part Uno:
Kiara and I met in Bordeaux after not having seen each other for almost 5 years. She and I met in university and have remained close over the years; we still can´t believe we´ve known each other for 20 years. We headed to her mum´s place about one and a half hours from Bordeax airport and stayed in the sweet¨"Maison Rose" in the Little village of Lit et Mixte for 3 days before heading out on our Camino. We ate, drank, biked and caught up, and her mum was so gracious and hospitable. Not to mention her neighbours, Elmer and Aya, who drove us to St. Jean Piere du Port, which is the beginning of the French Camino, or the Camino Frances. They all dropped us off at the tourism office, where one of the lovely volunteers set us up in a B and B. This B and B was not the type of B and B you´d normally think of. Oh no, this B and B we ended up coining: Bedbugs and Bitches. Yup. The very first night Kiara got a crazy case of bed bug bites at the hostal. The bitch was the lady who owned and ran it, and apparently is notorious for being crazy. She has a bench outside her front door, which looks inviting, but she doesn´t want anyone to sit there, and if they do, she goes upstairs and "waters" the plant boxes, which are conveniently located over top of the benches. If you sit there, you get soaked and she just shouts, "It´s your problem! I´m just watering my plants!!!" Her nickname in town is the Commandant, or The Commander. We chose to call her Jean Valjean, the lead role in Les Miserables, because that´s what she was...entirely miserable.
After a first night like that, anything was better, so that was a good thing. Without going into every detail about our 11 days together, I´ll just say that our highlights were so unforgettable that I´ll just name a few. Apres bug bites, the owner of the next hostal brought Kiara to the doctor and she got treated with no problems. We fought the wind in the Pyrenees for the first couple of days, got caught in a torrential downpour before Ronceveax (think about the scene in Romancing the Stone where they slide down a huge watery landslide...that was pretty much us). The province of Navarra is beautiful and mountainous, so I felt right at home, and pretty much made my decisión to move back to Nelson when I do move back to Canada.
Over the next few days we had beautiful weather and stayed at some sweet places along the Way. Usually we´d stay in an albergue with many other pilgrams, but a few times we splurged on some doublé rooms. One was in Zubiri, when in the middle of getting changed, I bent over in my underpants to go into my pack and the owner Juan just happened to open the door at that time. He got a Little bit of soft Canadian porn, and wasn´t really embarrassed about it at all. The Spanish are much less modest than us Canucks. Please note that this is a Spanish keyboard and it is doing some autò corrections, so if there are typos, I blame it on that.
To say that Kiara and I were slow would be like saying that Paris Hilton is a bit materialistic. We had 65 year olds whizzing by us as we sat and languised over a 2 hour lunch and bottle of wine. Our Camino was much different than that of others. But that is what I´m learning so far, is that this Camino is MY Camino and I don´t have to do it the same way as anyone else. Another highlight was tapas and rioja in Pamplona, where again, we did our Camino our way and took the bus into the city instead of walking for an hour and a half on hard pavement. I could blame Kiara´s plantar faceitous but really, I was quite keen to hop on the bus Gus. Some people are horrified and think it´s sacriledge, but to me, it´s survival and what I want to do. We also hopped a bus a few days later for 5 minutes to bump us up and miss about a 1.5 hour walk in the late scorching sun. Into Logrono, we hitchhiked for 5 minutes to skip the late afternoon scorching sun and walk through a nasty industrialized área. Yes, our Camino was not so traditional. It was crazy, we´d simply say, I wonder if there´s a bus, and within about 2 minutes one would come our way. Or I´d say, I´d like a guitar at the next hostal, and sure enough...there would be one. Kiara was getting a bit freaked out with the whole manifesting thing...she´s not one of my yogi friends, but is a sister nonetheless.
We did have a sweet night´s stay in Navarra where there was only one other guest...a lovely Korean profesor who´d been there for 15 days with a bummed knee. Turns out his pack weighed almost as much as he did and he had to bail on the rest of the trip. We made a dinner together, and he taught us a few meditations before bed before I taught him a bit of yoga. It was truly a sweet Exchange and we realized that even though we didn´t speak each other´s languages, we spoke the language of good food and meditation...universal.
After hitting the fountain of wine in Rioja...let me explain: There is a fountain at a winery that offers free wine from a fountain. Because Kiara and I were so behind the rest of the crew, we hit the fountain at exactly the right momento in the late afternoon, armed with a bar of dark chocolate. Needless to say that took up another hour or so. After Logrono, we headed to the next town of Najera, where we spent the afternoon by the river bank sipping wine and eating chocolate with a new friend Angelica. She´d just arrived from Germany to pick up where she´d left off last year and her friend had already gone ahead. I assured her that if she stuck with me, there would be no rushing. We had a terrible dinner, and celebrated Kiara´s last night in the main square, or Plaza Mayor with some White wine, watching all the kids play soccer. The next morning, Kiara walked me and Juan, my new friend from the Canary Islands to the bus, where he and I would catch a bus to the monasteries outside the city. I felt like I needed to be with someone else, because I knew how much I would miss Kiara. Juan called us the Camino Twins, and he understood when I spent most of the the morning crying. It was like the last day of camp saying goodbye to friends. She and I had a teary parting and I really struggled for the first couple of days without her. Something was missing. However, I know that this Camino has so many different stages and phases so I packed up my pity party and started a new party, with Juan and Angelica as my sidekicks. I´m realizing on this Camino that I am never really alone...there is always someone to talk to at meals and at hostals, and the connections here are created so quickly. The connections I´m making here are helping me learn so much, mostly about me.