May 31, 2007

5/31/07 Casanova Spain

"We can do no great things - only small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

We had quite a rain storm last night, shaking the windows at all hours. It was a perfect morning to sleep in, and we did. I don't think anyone got up before 6:45AM.

It was kind of a surprise to leave in the morning without rain and even a little bit warmer than yesterday. But the winds kept pushing the rain clouds our way. Raining one minute, then clear, the occasional sunlight, then rain again.

Still damp this morning

By the time we got to Palas de Rei, it still wasn't looking like a good day to be walking. I stopped with Judy and Kathi for a warm drink, and later bought fresh supply of chocolate.

Later, as the sun started to shine more and the rain decided to leave for a time, I saw Alexandra just as I was going to break out that chocolate. And Alexandra loves chocolate. [smile]

A very old cross with the Madonna

Scarecrow in the garden

Here comes the girls from Alaska, Judy & Kathi

Green, green, green

We reached Casanova about noon, but it didn't seem like the same place the guidebooks were talking about. The hospitalera lives across the street and she says there are a few more people living here. But, contrary to what the guidebooks say, there is no bar, no restaurant or store here. So, as you can imagine, not many pilgrims are stopping here.

Martin is a young guy from Germany who studied Spanish in Argentina. He had a long day and needed to give his feet a rest. The hospitalera said if we wanted something to eat, she could call someone for us. We said why not.

The view from the albergue

We were picked up by the owner of Albergue A Bolborete who drove us the two kilometers to his place. The food was wonderful and he said we could eat as much as possible. And the surprise came when he told us the cost was only 6.50€. By far the best meal for the price on the Camino. When I told him it wasn't enough, he only said he was keeping his prices low because his was a new albergue.

Once we got back, there were quite a few more pilgrims checked in. I know four of them are going to the restaurant on our recommendation. I met Alfredo who asked if I wanted to go explore one of the village churches we passed today. Seemed like something to do.

Alfredo is Basque, recently married with a little girl at home. He says he is excited to some day take his family on the Camino. He loves nature and history and his wife likes history. We talked the whole way about Spanish history and about culture on the way back, all in Spanish. I had a good time even though we could not find any one to unlock the church for us.

One of the church windows

I think these last days can be a turning point for a lot of pilgrims. Sometimes the goal-oriented lifestyle we left behind has a chance reassert itself as you near Santiago. For others, they resist that return to 'normal' and that can be as painful as it is confusing. Even I have had thoughts of what I want to do when I get back. But also for me, I don't see the Camino ending.

Maybe that's one of the biggest lessons of the Camino - that the journey is the important thing, not the destination. Those things that made the Camino special can be carried back with us to our 'normal' lives. That is the real value of the Camino - to share the path with all our fellow pilgrims on the Camino called life, and to accept them as brothers and sisters on our quest.

Just 60km (37 miles) to go. I should reach Santiago on Sunday.