Wednesday, May 4, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Day 12:

A windy, rainy day today!  They can’t all be sunny, eh?
So my verse to walk in today:  ‘faith + patience inherit the promises.’ (Heb 6:12) 
You have to plant seeds of faith first, then you must water and wait for them to grow.
Patience only comes into play after you’ve stepped out of the boat in faith; then you learn to walk on water.
I don’t think I actually walked on water through today’s 19km as much as I waded.
And that’s only a surface appraisal: opposing winds and waves challenge more than merely physical conditions.
This morning’s wind was in an inconsistent mood: at one point gentle and then all of a sudden blustery!
I walked for a while with ‘K from California’ and as I mentioned, each peregrino has a story. Hers was remarkable! K had walked the first half of the Camino last year and now had returned to complete her final portion to Santiago. And it seemed like everything that I had prayed would not happen to me, had happened to her.
Her checked packsack had not arrived at Madrid airport; IberiaAir didn’t even have an idea where it was?!
But rather than just wait there, she’d gone ahead to Leon, where we’d also started, with only her light carry-on.
She didn’t even have the basics to start walking: no change of clothes, runners, raincoat, or personal toiletries, etc., but the nuns at the convent where she stayed gave her everything she needed to continue.
Then she went to buy additional items and discovered her credit card had been compromised and had to cancel it.
But those were not her biggest issues: she was walking the Camino to find her faith restored.
During last year’s segment, she’d walked a number of days with a young American woman from Phoenix who’d then suddenly disappeared. Later, through other peregrinos’ FaceBook reports, K found that her friend indeed had gone missing and police were searching for her. Unfortunately, 5 months later they found her body; she had been lured off the Way, robbed and murdered near Astorga. Police finally arrested a young Madrileno (man from Madrid) whom locals had noticed frequenting the area. 
So now K had returned to finish the Camino not only for herself, but her murdered friend. I admired her bravery!
However, we became so distracted in our talking and walking that we lost track of following the yellow arrows!
We’d somehow taken a turn off the main route and now other peregrinos were coming from another direction from a village we’d just passed through and … I couldn’t see Michael anywhere!
I figured maybe he’d stopped in the village for breakfast and a café con leche, so I needed to retrace my steps.
K decided to keep going, but I turned back and good thing I did!
I found him just a short ways under a restaurant shelter, waiting for me with both his cup of cafe and one for me too!
What a good son! What a lost dad!
Another benefit of turning back: I finally met the ‘old man’ who’d kept on showing up. He was probably one of the only ones older than me on the Camino and he didn’t walk very fast.  We’d smile, wave and pass him, but then later in a town further along, we’d see him again and he’d smile, wave and pass us.
Now here was my opportunity, so I stopped, introduced myself and met Javier, a Basque from Bilbao, a region of northern Spain known for its independent spirit. He’d already walked the Camino 22 times– always alone!
Well-educated, he spoke very good English: ‘Walking the Camino has taught me to live consistently,’ he stated.
‘I can see that.’ I agreed. And he didn’t really have to say anymore: his walk revealed even more than his talk.
The rain stopped for a while and we stopped for lunch; but right after we’d reached the restaurant, it began afresh. Sheets of rain poured down!  Drenched peregrinos rushed in, fleeing like refugees from the deluge! We tried to wait out the storm before venturing to finish our last 4kms, but it never let up and finally, although it was still pouring, we decided to brave it. But the wind and rain only intensified and the storm unleashed its full fury on us!
The wind blew so hard it pushed the rain at us horizontally and threatened to blow us right off the road!
However, we overcame and in just over an hour, arrived at O Pedrouzo and found an albergue with a heater so we could dry out! I crawled into my sleeping bag to get warm, we had supper and played our 3rd chess game: I think I won the tie-breaker!
We also changed our plans for the next day’s journey. Rather than stay overnight just outside Santiago, we decided to walk the extra 5 kms right into the city. It  would mean a longer day walking, but it also meant we’d arrive  a day earlier, on Easter Sunday even, and hopefully to a hotel with a dry, warm room!?

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