Fragments of Joy

Here is a blog post I found in my notes but somehow missed posting while I was in Spain last year.

I am sitting in my albergue, drinking tea, and eating cookies. There are maybe 30 other people here and I really don’t care if I talk to anybody. The weather has been rainy for the last two days and nothing says I’d rather be home in a nice warm bed than walking in a pouring rain for a few hours and not having an option to stop. There is nowhere to stop. Yesterday the albergue was another few km up the road and the rain just came down harder. I don’t remember feeling like this the last caminos. Or maybe it’s selective memory. There has been some spectacular views. Yesterday was hard, lots of climbing, but also a weird realization. I remember thinking at one point, wow, this is so nice, it’s just like hiking at home. And then the irony hit me. I flew through nine time zones so I could be happy walking somewhere that was like what I had left.

But I have had the luck to meet some interesting people. I was walking along the road this morning and said hello to an older woman walking the other direction. We stopped to chat about why I was walking by myself, and she indicated she lived closeby. I had some questions about the town and rather than try to explain she accompanied me into town. She kept a brisk pace and then said she wouldn’t go on a camino because she wasn’t as young as me. And how old do you think she was? Eighty four. Booting it along the road, talking to everybody.

I met a couple from South Africa who moved here some 30 years ago but still don’t feel as though they are fully integrated, although their daughter is. Another couple who met on the camino last year, although him living in London and her being from Australia makes things a little difficult. But if you asked me where I stayed last night I might not be able to tell you the name of the town. I could tell you about the albergue and who I shared it with, but nothing else. It’s all just blending together.

So what does this mean? Am I just tired, although I’ve only been walking ten days? Am I not paying attention to what’s around me? Or are there just bits and pieces, isolated moments of those things that lift me up? Like the bird feather I found today, an iridescent green along one edge. The shades of green and orange in the ferns. The mist rolling in over the edge of the hill I had spent the last hour climbing. These images, although I have seen similar ones, keep the joy in this camino. But for the most part, I would be happy doing this by myself, with no intrusions from other people. It feels like I am looking toward home.



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