Day 9: Tides
Considering these are days that have little more responsibility than taking a long walk and finding food and shelter, it is amazing how difficult it can still be to find some time and space alone to collect my thoughts. There are so many great memories to be made, that I sometimes neglect to write down those memories and reflections! There are many sections of my journals in which, after having gone several days without writing a word, I find a free afternoon and try to recount the events of those missed days.
[Note from me - now - three years later - what I wrote in the section of the journal I referenced for this post is an example of how all the days of the Camino blend together. I am surprised to realize that moments I thought happened late in the pilgrimage were actually within the first week!]
After the running of the bulls, we opted to bus back to Puente la Reina and take an evening walk to Ciraqui, where we had reservations at a pilgrim hostel, Alberque Maralotx. Though I have read many positive reviews of this Camino, it was unfortunately one of my most frustrating alberque experiences on the pilgrimage.
Although the hostel closed at 10 (and was expecting our late arrival), when I arrived at 9:45, D and I had separated for a short time. The door was closed, and trying not to disturb other pilgrims, but knowing it was open, I knocked twice, and after no response, had no choice but to ring the bell. This resulted in the owner answering the door and berating me for how late it was. Though I tried to ask if D, who had made the reservation, had arrived yet, he ignored my questions and continued to scold me. After some time, I gave up and decided this would just have to be one of the nights I slept outside in a church courtyard, and walked away. Fortunately, D arrived shortly afterward and was able to convince the man to let us in (to a room full of empty bunks). It was frustrating to arrive tired, to be met by a person who makes a living being hospitable to pilgrims, and to feel so unwelcome.
This morning, we rise early and leave without seeing the owner or any other pilgrims. The frustration of last night - and the increasing pain in my feet - is easily brushed off, because this is the day we will be passing the wine fountain in Irache.
We arrive at Irache at around lunchtime, and gleefully approach the famous Bodegas de Irache fountain. I twist the tap and gleefully fill my scallop shell with free (and free-flowing) bright, red wine. We decide to rest in a grassy area in the center of the village, enjoying a few sips of wine that we took “to go” in a plastic bottle with our picnic of leftover-tortilla and chorizo bocadillos.
In the late afternoon, we finally reach Villamayor de Monjardin, and decide to stay at a pilgrim hostel hosted by Oasis Trails. We mingled with a new variety of pilgrims, among them a group from France (including a priest named Sebastian), an Italian, some Americans, an Australian, and Jimmy and Warren from the UK. They are walking in kilts and, as we start chatting over a beer, they invite me to visit their pub if I ever find myself in Scotland.
In the evening, after a hearty communal meal and lively conversation with pilgrims and volunteers, we have the opportunity to spend some time in a meditation room, and participate in a “Jesus meditation” - 45 minutes of quiet, prayer, and reflection on the Gospel of John, finished with a soothing glass of hot mint tea before we head upstairs to our beds for the night.
The Camino is like the tide.
There are moments when the current rushes in and the waves crash around us, and we play about in the mud...the moments when we’re sharing meals and and offering advice about walking sticks and blister maintenance and making small talk by the clothesline and trading stories about our best and worst moments over a beer and singing songs together in the back dining room of a bar.
Then there are moments when the waves slink away, and I’m left sitting alone in the wet sand, staring at the sea, and listening to the breeze...when I find a quiet moment to reconnect with myself, draw closer to God and lean in to my intentions for making this pilgrimage.
What are the changing tides in your life?
Are you as equally present to others in the chaos as you are to yourself and to God in the silence?
P.S. When writing this blog, I remembered Oasis Trails had someone there the night I stayed, making a film about their albergue. And guess what? It’s still available online! Jimmy and Warren are among the stars, and there are cameo appearances of many of my Camino Family members - and me! Check it out below.