Day 27 – Physical Manifestations of a Spiritual Journey

LA FABA-

“Steve, the Camino is just a physical manifestation of your spiritual journey.” – John from Arizona.

I was struggling up the long O Cebreiro hill, when a man named John came alongside me to walk together.  I say walk together, but mostly I was laboring to keep up.  John had already walked further that day than I had the last two, and now he was passing me on this hill effortlessly.
I didn’t think much about what John said until after tonight’s Pilgrim’s Meal. Martina (from Germany) told how Santiago pulls her along the Camino.  “Each morning it is like Santiago takes my wrists and walks,” she said hold her wrists out, “helping me along.”

It was a lot steeper than this photo makes it look.

Let me say that has not been my experience so far.  If what John said was true, could the spiritual part of my Camino be manifested with a difficult physical journey?  In other words, am I having a hard time of it physically because I’m either having a difficult time of it spiritually, or not doing the work I need to?

This Camino is just for walking, and for a few hours no bikes (yeah!)

Today is the climb of the last of the big mountains of The Camino, and it is looking like I will be unable to finish it today.  What started out as a short nap in the cool church, was followed by another on a stone picnic table outside in the shade.  By 3pm, one of the German volunteers told me I must stay here for the night.  I looked around, there was a nice kitchen, good beds, and an ecumenical worship service at 8pm.  And then Sister Marsha walks up, and I thought I really should stay here, reminding me of something I heard:

Your Camino is measured by friends, not miles walked.

Friends I can do, miles or kilometers, not so much, plus Sister Marcia is an interesting Camino-friend (read her very good Camino Blog: https://rsmmarcia.wordpress.com/).  This is her third Camino, and she has a more complete understanding of what she is walking by than I do.

Steps lead up to the field built right in

Later Freda, from Holland showed up.  I had not seen her since my last day on the Mesada. Rena her Dutch friend was lost, somewhere behind her.  We decided to cook together, and then attend worship.

Freda – praying, as Uver looks on in the shadows

Worship was led by Uver (sounds like Uber) and another German, both volunteers.  Completely in German, another worship service I can’t understand, but now in German instead of Spanish.  I wasn’t the only one thinking that, nobody but our leaders got a word of it. The service ended with a foot-washing, which was appropriate.  I feel sorry for the South Korean who washed my feet.  P.U.

Uver – leading German Worship.  Look upper right for the space where a statue is missing.

Packing Lists and Equipment

It is a good day to talk about Camino mechanics such as packing list, and equipment for posting from a mobile phone.

Steve’s Packing List 2017

  • 2 short sleeve shirts (Eddie Bauer Travex fast drying)
  • 1 long sleeve cotton shirt*
  • 1 pair cotton long walking shorts*
  • 1 pair nylon light weight pants (Columbia)
  • 2 pair boxer shorts
  • 2 pair wool ankle high socks (Darn Tough)
  • GoreTex Rain Coat
  • Keen Sandals
  • Keen ankle high boots
  • Samsung Phone J2
  • Olympus Tough TR-4 Camera + case
  • Plastic tripod
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra reading glasses
  • Toilet kit
  • First aid kit
  • 4 nylon packing bags (cloths, electronics, night stuff, extra)
  • International electrical adapter with USB, USB cables
  • 2 power packs (2600)*
  • USB Headlamp
  • Earplugs (custom made)
  • Wide brim hat
  • Osprey 36lt backpack
  • Scrubba Washing Bag (and Key soap)
  • Silk sleep sack
  • Walking stick*
  • Bluetooth Keyboard (to connect to my phone and write these blogs)

* bought in Spain, along the way

All together it is about 15-17lbs when I have two small bottles of water, and some emergency food.

Early morning trails

Most days I set out between 6.30 – 7.30am after having slept in my walking clothes.  My first stop is in the first town for a Café Americano, and then it’s another 5-10km before stopping for breakfast.  Miles before noon are free, miles after lunch…painful.

See how steep it is?

Between 2 and 4pm, I try to find a place to stay.  That said, I’ve walked as late as 8.30pm, and stopped as early as 12 (as in today).

When I do stop for the day, I shower, wash clothes, and grab something to eat if I’m hungry.  Then I write for a few hours, and eat dinner, (ideally a communal meal).  After dinner, if there is no pilgrim’s blessing, I add pictures, post the blog and go to bed.

Metal bunks beds are not the best. Wooden…much better

I take pictures with an actual camera. The camera connects to the phone via wifi. I use the Microsoft Word app on my phone, with a bluetooth foldable full-size keyboard to write.   After the blog is written, I copy it to the WordPress app on my phone, insert pictures that were transferred from camera to phone, and then post either by public wifi, or the internet on my phone (via a Spanish SIM chip).

The right tools for the job

I’m quite happy with how everything works. At night I plug in my phone and the camera to recharge.

This Church is locked (most are)

Final Thoughts

I go to sleep tonight thinking about John, was he even real?  I mean we walked together for maybe five minutes, and he dropped that physical/spiritual quote on me and then I couldn’t keep up.  Was he sent to deliver that message and then move on?  This seems like just the kind of thing The Camino would do.  This ought to be easier, and maybe if I focus more on the spiritual, the physical won’t be so painful.

The view from the Altar looking toward the entrance

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