I left Astorga walking the cobbled streets of the ancient town. Being from California where anything older than 50 years has been torn down and replaced by a strip mall or McMansion, it was cool to step out onto the street and see this:
Well, it would have looked like this if it was light out. I walked out of town, and once again the city turned to fields. It was still dark out, so of course it sent my mind to wander. But, I was out here to wander.
After about 5 clicks, I reached Muruias de Rechivaldo. The town was quiet as I walked through. At the end of the town was a fountain and a little square, and a place to have breakfast. I stopped for a cafe con leche and the waitress was singing to some fine ‘Merican rock and roll. It was so cheery, albeit the internet slower than a sloth on quaaludes, I decided to stay and finish my previous days post.
I walked off with the sun directly behind me, casting my shadow directly on the path, and my future, the sun throwing a beautiful yellow/orange hue on the yellow and greens in the fields around me.
The camino reminds you that the only certainty in life is the footstep you are taking, in the moment. Behind you is the past which has taught you some lessons, but also given you wounds that haven’t healed, that you’ve been hiding, you’ve only bandaged, and not fixed. The future is still a choice- the choice of healing those wounds, or simply carrying on. It’s up to you.
Around Santa Catalina de Samoza I met up with Michael (as I refer to him) and Maciaj (Hebrew for “gift from god”) his wife. In case you forgot, I referred to Michael as “the polish dude” in a previous post.
Michael did more of the talking than Maciaj, partly because his English is impeccable, and partly cause he’s got a lot to say. Michael reminds me of the Kerouac quote: “The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars”. So of course I love conversing with him.
We got off on a tangent talking about the West Coast Jazz movement of the 50s and 60s, which was big in Poland, artists such as Chet Baker et al. One of the places it gestated in the states was The Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach. My dad, who lived in San Bernardino at the time, used to travel to Hermosa and go to The Lighthouse back in the 50’s, which i didn’t know until after I moved there. Theres a large picture inside of 4 cool looking guys with shades. I swear one of them could be dad.
Michael was also a font of information about the camino, and informed me that the first American to understand the cultural significance of, and walk the camino, was a woman who did it in 1917, although John Adams mentioned while hanging out on the Galician coast, said that he always regretted that “we could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella.”
After awhile, Michael, Maciaj, and I moseyed (finally, an opportunity to use the word “mosey”!) into to El Ganso to check out the Cowboy Bar. Yup. Shit howdy. There were no cowboys. There was a bar. And a sign with that said “Cowboy Bar”. It did have some western shit on the wall, and there was a dude out in front plinking on a banjo. I thought of asking him if he knew any Boxcar Willie but then thought better of it.
The three of us moseyed on. Both Michael and Maciaj are smart, funny, and great to walk with. After being with them for awhile, I noticed how Miciaj lightly and laughingly ropes Michael back in when he goes off on a tangent for too long. They seem to have a great relationship, you can just tell from their banter. We walked together for awhile longer, talked about more of everything under the sun, and had a great time. I knew I would see them again.
After awhile i walked on ahead alone, through a shady grove, past a homemade fence with wooden crosses constructed from branches lashed to it. Sometimes when I’m out here I feel at peace with myself. I feel like there is nothing negatively affecting how I feel and what I say. Life just flows. Like it’s supposed to. Its the good, the right, the free person – you’re speaking and acting from the heart. Hopefully that feeling will stay with me, and inform my soul, and maybe even lift up those whose lives I touch when I get back home.
I walked another few kilometers to Rabanal del Camino. The camino always goes by the church. The church is always at the top of a hill, the town having grown around it. Rabanal del Camino was not exception, so I stopped for coffee and OJ on the street heading up to the church. Otis Redding was blaring in my ear. I tried to order but the guy at the counter was on the phone (maybe the girlfriend, or perhaps bill collector) and the wife came out from the kitchen and helped me, while giving her husband shit in Spanish, looking at me and shaking her head like I was a sympathetic ear. I didn’t understand a word she was saying but I smiled and nodded my head in empathy.
Clive and Jerique were there, and Asia showed up, so we got caught up, and then she moved on. I finished up and joined Clive and Jerique on the camino. We began to climb. The trail was dirt with a lot of shale, making it hard to walk. There were a lot of butterflies. Clive and company moved ahead, I lingered, walking at a leisurely pace.
After walking through brush, Foncebadon emerged. Hmm…a very rustic town. The few buildings that existed were sparsely situated along the road. I checked into one, taking a lower bunk below a young girl from Wyoming – Aviva. It was nice to meet another American /English speaking person, besides the fact that she’s a cute, young kid (ok, young adult) with her whole life in front of her. And she was walking the camino alone. That probably says more about the kind of person she is than anything.
Anyway, I went across the road to eat and write, then went outside to finish my wine on the deck, and watch the show that was the remains of the day. There were clouds out west, so there wasn’t much of a sunset, but there was a cheerful South Korean guy named Lakchung who spoke pretty good english (bad grammar intended- supposed to be funny).
I shared some of the bottle of wine they had plopped in front of me for dinner (even if there’s only one of you they plop down a bottle in front of you). He kind of reminded me of a sunflower. You can’t help but be in good spirits and humor when you’re with someone who loves to laugh and smile like him. We shared a few stories about our journeys, and bid each other goodnight as we finished the wine. I went back to my bunk. It was cooler up here in the mountains, and I drifted off to sleep easily for a change, dreaming of dueling banjos and sunflowers.