Trancendant Moments on the Camino de Santiago
On a pilgrim route steeped in history, surrounded by symbolism Heather experiences 2 of “those moments” in the same 24 hours. Just before her hips decide to play silly beggars.
Estella to Los Arcos.
Some good bits and some serious. But nothing too funny in this instalment. Its the feast day of St James / St Jacques / St Iago and at the first bar I go into for coffee, the service is on TV from Santiago Cathedral where, body and mind willing, I´ll be in a few weeks.
I arrive at the Irache monastery and if you google it, you might find the webcam which shows the fountain – water one side, wine the other.
As I don´t drink, of course, I didn´t have more than a sip. Much. Well, maybe two sips.
A few minutes later, by the monastery is a table, a man and huge saucepan. He offered me – chicken soup! This is still morning. I asked if he did this every day but he said no, just because it was Holy Day. This is indeed a special day.
I go into the monastery. Oh, wow, just wow, just an amazed silent ´wow´. Even shells on the ceiling out of stone (shell is the symbol of the pilgrimage). I come out and then have to make a decision – there are two ways, one of which sounds nicer (and through woodland) than the other but the other does go through villages = bars = coffee/juice. Coffee/juice wins (shame on you, Heather!)
At Villamontjardin I think it is, I say goodbye to the Swedish family as I see a mountain with a castle on the top that´s calling me. Going off-piste is good but I think the way up could be improved. In order to avoid a good hefty climb (Yes please), it takes you about 3 km extra. Then the castle was locked so you couldn´t actually go and see out of it. But it was good being high and on my own.
Back down I had about 3 1/2 hours on my own, along rough tracks and scrubland so I was sick and tired of being on my own by the time I crawled into Los Arcos. I chose a new age-y kind of albergue, kind of ethnic-y, you know? It was lovely. A German lady dragged me to the mass. I walked into the cathedral and – jeez – those of you who´ve been to Samye Ling, the Buddhist temple and have seen the amazing gold and colours will understand. Every single square cm was covered in golden ornateness, statues everywhere. I Just stood and had a sublime moment. The service was even more sublime. The choir sang heavenly songs, some written specially for ´Los Peregrinos´and the musicos among you will understand when I say the harmony is all in thirds and just sounded so beautiful. I looked around – pilgrims whom I hadn´t seen for days, I thought were maybe ahead or behind, just everyone. We went up each one and the priest asked each one where they came from and said a few words in their language.
Yeah, I wanted to cry, it was so beautiful. I´m not catholic or any religion but it was definitely some kind of that type of experience.
Then – how could it get better – everyone was invited to the municipal albergue for a meal. We had paella and melon and cakes, and wine , of course. It was fiesta! Everyone I think was there, the choir, pilgrims I´d met along the way, the priest, the accordion players…. It was fantastic! The special peregrino song I said I HAD to have – I received the words and James from the US recorded it and is going to email it to me.
Oh, indescribable. We all said we couldn´t possibly tell anyone about the feeling that night, there aren´t words, you had to be there.
Today, I went strongly and fast, 29km in 7 hours.
Now the last laugh is on me, cos after my ritual shower, clothes washing and emptying of the rucksack, I went into Logrono for coffee. I couldn´t walk. My hips seized up. Ha! Pride do cometh before a fall! I´ll see tomorrow, but I might have to do a pitiful 7 km or so. There are albergues along the way, you don´t have to stop only at the recognised stages.
Well, thank you for all the emails, I´m replying bit by bit and I love to hear about bogs, rain, mist and the rest of it! No seriously!
Take care everyone,
It´s ok, I´ve heard from the offspring, all good and fine!
Things are looking up now that the boys have been in touch; I just hope the body’s cooperating with Heather’s brain tomorrow – I’m pretty sure she’ll beat the creaks and squeaks.