Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guest Blogger: Wanderwoman136

I am so excited Wanderwoman136 has accepted my request to have her as a guest blogger! Currently she is on an amazing journey along The Camino de Santiago! I got to see her a couple days before she left on her pilgrimage and have been following her each leg of the way. And now, without further ado...may I present her most recent post, "A Rest in Leon".

A Rest in Leon
(by Wanderwoman136)

I sit here again, not knowing exactly where to begin. My journey is more than half way through and yet I feel I am only beginning to walk “my” camino. In a way, I feel like the first 500km (give or take a mile) has taught me everything I thought I knew but didn´t really have a clue. It´s taken a while to get the city off of me, so to speak. I´ve battled constant issues with my right leg and the hamstring of my left, heat rash, digestive issues – partly the chlorine in the water sources (have switched to bottled water recently and it´s helping) and partly stress related, as well as many less than restful night´s sleep.

I´m learning to listen to my body more and less to misconceptions and what others may think. There are many “camino experts” out here – purists they may consider themselves – but the truth is there is no right way to do the camino. I´ve had to walk nearly 500km to learn this first hand; to learn to push pride aside and slow down and shut up long enough to really listen to what my mind and body want to tell me.

I have met people from all over this amazing planet, all walking for various reasons and yet each one of us the same. Several people that I´ve met, who have walked from greater starting distances than St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, have all commented how “different” the camino in Spain feels as compared with France for example. I too have felt my time on the camino here in Spain to feel rather touristy, yet there have been some true gem-like experiences along the way. One such highlight was sleeping inside the church of the Confraternita de Santiago di Compostela in San Nicolas de Puente Fitero. There was no electricity, so you ate by candle-light and the hospitalitarios blessed your feet in the evening and sent you on your way with an Italian blessing in the morning.

As far as the albergues go, most of them are very nice, whether you pay a set price or simply a donation. Some are simply mattresses on the floor while most others are bunkbeds, some are simply one giant room with 50-100 beds while others are divided up or provide smaller, more private rooms. Some albergues provide you pilgrim meals and breakfast while most do not. I´ve taken to paying a little extra for the smaller rooms or even inexpensive private hostels/B&Bs when I feel I really need rest. This is yet another lesson I´ve learned…the body needs sleep to heal! Unfortunately when there are 50+ people sleeping in one room, even with ear plugs and an eye mask, it´s not always possible (for me) to sleep. So, camino purists be [darned] – there is no rightway!

Pushing aside the difficulties that I fully expected there to be, this has been such an amazing journey thus far and I will be so proud if I am truly able to finish. I believe I will but have learned the need to slow down if I am truly to see this through, especially considering my walk will not end in Santiago de Compostela as I had originally intended, instead I will walk the additional 90+km to Finisterre/Fisterra, aka: The End of the World. After that…who knows?

Wanderwoman136. Posted here with permission.)
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