I have noticed that yellow arrows, the standard waymarking of previous caminos, are not so prevalent and obvious on this Camino. Google Maps wants to put me on the highway in some sort of death defying camino of its own. Arrows might be quite small, perched on some building corner.
I left the albergue only two days ago. It seems forever. It wasn’t any easier this year. The most important people to me were as before, not the pilgrims I met but those associated with the albergue. I’m sure people would be surprised to know what was discussed between me and the 21 year old young man from England, one of my fellow hospitaleros. I don’t think I laughed so much in a long time. Two musicians stopped by for a time, and the music was calming, mesmorizing, and took me to a place that needed some time to return from. And then I left, with Mar’s voice in my ear and hugs from everybody. The bus took me to my starting point in Oviedo. I found my way to the cathedral and then headed out, expecting to cover the 12 km in about 3 hours. And I probably would have if it weren’t for that (insert swear words) red arrow. I had come to a point where the road continued down to the left and a less major trail branched to the right. There was the signpost with a conch shell symbol. There was an arrow pointing the way. A red arrow. I dithered, uncertain. What did this mean? Had someone neglected to paint it yellow? Was red the colour for this route? I had done no research whatsoever. Or maybe it meant red arrow DON’T go this way. Like red means stop. So I continued along the road, saw no more yellow arrows, and thought it best to ask. Asking directions in English can be a bit of a crapshoot, but imagine asking in Spanish. I managed to understand that I should have followed the (insert swear words) red arrow. Seeing the look on my face, the son and his mom said I could get to the town I needed if I just followed along their road and turned right at the intersection. But the good stuff always happens when you don’t expect it, when you don’t plan it, and when you most need it. There ensued a 15 minute discussion about working in Canada and a gift of six pears. Thus ends wrong turn # 1.
I eventually found the albergue after chatting with a man out for a walk along the highway, asking a cyclist to give me a ride up the hill, and meeting a fellow walker at the bar before going to the albergue.
I did the same thing on day two. Not precisely the same, but I did manage to take a few wrong turns. Wrong turns on the Camino are usually noticed in one of several ways. You haven’t seen an arrow for more than 15 minutes. You come to an intersection and nothing indicates which way you should go. Random dogs come out and bark at you because they aren’t used to seeing strange people with backpacks walk by. I ended up walking with a woman who lives here as she was walking to town and back. And I got to thinking, because walking for 25 km will do that to you. Some thoughts were more philosophical. Do we really make mistakes? Or do we fail to notice the chances these mistakes present to us? Are we so fixated on one course of action that we can’t accept that other courses will do just as nicely? I have 4 more pears and met 4 people I otherwise wouldn’t have. There were other less philosophical thoughts as well. My ass hurts. Maybe I should have peed when I was at the last bar. Wow, I really love the colour of that house. Where’s the next (insert swear words) arrow?
I think instead of regarding missed turns and arrows as mistakes, I will just carry onwards, knowing I’ll get there eventually, wherever there happens to be today. I have a video of a fellow I met at the albergue, singing a song so that I can practice it with the chords. He makes a few mistakes along the way but instead of starting over, he continues, laughing at himself, until he gets to the end. I hope I can laugh at my mistakes. I know there’s gonna be lots.
(apologies for the crappy sound, I think my finger was over the microphone)