June 2, 2007

6/2/07 Monte do Gozo Spain

"If we ask the right questions, the answers will come. If we seek the grail, we may find it. For, as I keep learning the mysterious grail is hidden in people, in races, and in experiences."
Jean Shinoda Bolen in CROSSING AVALON

There is a festive buzz in the albergue, now that we are so close to Santiago. Lots of people stayed up late into the night. I got up once and the full moon had a halo of mist, a beautiful sight.

I knew I had a long day ahead of me, so I didn't wait for Alexandra and the rest. Basically, today was a repeat of yesterday, walking, walking and more walking.

Pilgrims walking in the early morning fog

At one point, I passed a couple pushing a stroller. John and Roseanne are from London and their precious cargo is Antonia. It is a good thing they started in Sarria because John says pushing the stroller is a lot harder than it looks.

One happy family of pilgrims

We had great weather, not a hint of rain. About half the time we were in the shade, but unlike most of the last week it was pretty warm out in the open. Ended up wearing my shoes for about half the day and finished in my sandals.

Camino de Santiago

A few people have commented that since I haven't mentioned my feet lately, that they must be better. Sorry if I gave that impression. The entire Camino is on rock, concrete or asphalt. These are not good surfaces for human feet, no matter the footwear. The few patches of soft ground are revered as holy places by us pilgrims. It's just that after a couple of weeks, you just get used to the pain and discomfort. You can always tell the pilgrims walking around town because they always look like walking is painful even though they have smiles on their faces. It's all part of the Camino.

I love the mix of colors

Such a peaceful forest

The only blemish on the day was walking through a mile of clear-cut forest. We are so lucky in America to have our trails protected. But the Camino, while being an international trail, has no protection. Basically it is just a line on paper.

Walking through a clear-cut

Entering the city limits

Finally arrived at the gigantic albergue (it holds over 500+ pilgrims) just outside of town. Final tally for the day was 38km, almost 25 miles, in 10 hours. And, man oh man, my feet are sore.

Monument at Monte del Gozo
commemorating a visit by Pope John Paul II

Mostly, I tried to relax waiting for friends to show up at the albergue. I eventually made it to the pilgrim monument at the first place that you can see the cathedral in the distance.

Our first glimpse of the catherdral

Later, the pilgrims took over the Restaurante Labrador for a great 6€ pilgrim menu. We didn't have a curfew but I did my best to get into bed by 11PM. But I was almost to excited to sleep.