Walking through a beautiful river gorge on a winding road. Bird song abundant and vociferous, came from every direction. Dawn broke, the sound of the rushing river rinsed away my last remaining negative energy. Today’s hiking; Bliss.
Joy, love, and happiness filled my heart in a way I haven’t experienced in so many years. The only words I could think to say, “Thank you.”
In imagining what heaven would be like, it wouldn’t be a place as often is believed. It would be the very feeling I described. The all enveloping feeling of nirvana.
Midway through the day I walked multiple miles with an Italian woman named Raquel. She was a semi retired archeologist. Upon meeting her, we were on the edge of a small town. We both engaged about the hike so far. On the edge of town the road forks. We veered to the right. We walked about a km and took a trail off the main road, complete with yellow arrow indicating the way. I got the sinking suspicion we had gone the wrong way. I didn’t mention it as we were deep in conversation. Once we had made a full 360 in the forest I knew we were had. Within a short distance, I could see the town we had just left. We had circled back to where we started.
Raquel, having not been paying attention didn’t realize we had re-entered the same town. It took a few blocks before she realized it and I had not informed her. When she realized it, she let out a gasp and said, “you realize we are in the town we just left?!”
I replied, “Yes, I realized we made a wrong turn about 10 minutes ago, but saw the town so I knew we could correct it.”
She started laughing. She was so light-hearted about it, I laughed too. We made our way out of town and saw the error of our ways. We missed the sign that indicated to veer left. Quite a funny mistake. All in all we added about a mile and a half to our day. No big deal, and my first wrong turn of any substance. Later she said, there are no wrong ways on the Camino, only lessons to pay attention.
Raquel has a passion for life and language. She speaks 5 languages and loves to share philosophy. She gave me some flowers she picked from the roadside. She said these are a symbol of your walk and also make a good tea, with a smile She was quite the walking companion and at 60 had to slow down so I could keep pace with her.
I also met a man named Bob from Yerba Linda. He’s loving the walk and we talked cycling. He wants to come back and cycle the Camino, as do I.
My new walking companions took their leave at different times shortly before the steep climb out of the canyons. I enjoyed their companionship but was happy to be heading into the challenging section alone.
While drenched in sweat and exhausted in the last 5 miles today, I found myself grinning from ear to ear. Two miles from O’cebreiro lies the village of Laguna de Castilla Many people were resting but I kept moving, fearing had I stopped, my true level of fatigue may make itself known. A small fountain flowing fresh water seemed irresistible. I dipped my handkerchief and rang it over my head. I did it so quickly, my hand hadn’t registered just how cold the water was. As the water streamed into my hair and down my face, I had to catch my breath. Both shocking and revitalizing. I dunked my handkerchief again and repeated the process. Once again I was stunned by the briskness. Overcome by my senselessness, I started laughing. Had there been an observer I’m certain they would have thought I were delirious! And they might have been right…
Today was my last “long” day of hiking. 18 miles of beautiful scenery. The last 5 miles there is a rather strenuous climb of 2200 feet to an elevation of 4900 feet. The views from O’cebreiro are nothing short of breath-taking. My days going forward will average 13 miles. Two of the remaining days will be in the 15 mile range.
I have entered the Galicia region. Rich in Celtic history, its influence is still felt. The mountains here are the first obstacle the winds from the Atlantic hit after traveling across the ocean. The weather can be fickle. Today is beautiful. I’ll take it while it lasts.
I have less than 100 miles to Santiago, 96 to be precise. It seems like yesterday I started in St. Jean. I have laughed, and cried. I found physical strength and stamina, and I found emotional release and peace of mind.
Today is a day you often read about, but rarely get to experience. The perfect day.
Time to rest and reflect on the journey behind me, and look forward to the remaining days ahead.
Buen Camino my friends.