June 10, 2015, Villafranca del Bierzo
So today’s trek out of Ponferrada was just under 14 miles and significantly easier than the walk there. It rained fairly hard for the first couple of hours which makes for more quiet and solemnity along the Way. All the pilgrims are in ponchos or other rain gear that covers their heads. Packpacks, always an easy identifier, loose their distinction as they too are covered in plastic pouches or part of the poncho the pilgrim is wearing. With the rain, pilgrims are focused on their footing and most interactions are limited to “Hola” and “Buen Camino”. But this does give each of us travlers an opportunity to reflect on how far we’ve come, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
There was a group of pilgrims, maybe 20 or so, sort of bunched up as we ascended a bit of a grade out of Cacabelos along today’s path. I have a tendency to power up hills, that is to say I walk like I drive – more likely to pass than be passed. Well I got to the crest of the hill in front of the rest and was faced with a fork in the road and not especially clear yellow arrows. Well I chose “the road less traveled” or the “scenic route”. I must have been the only one because for the next two hours I didn’t see another pilgrim. The reassuring yellow arrows were present but appeared only every 20 minutes or so. I did go through a hamlet that I think had only three older ladies as residents and they did say “Buen Camino” as opposed to how ever you say “What the hell are you doing here?” in Spanish so I took a little comfort in that. I did finally emerge out of the forest and vineyards to spy my destination. Other pilgrims began appearing, the rain had stopped and conversations resumed.
But I have to say that the day of quiet reflection was rather nice. I may have even gotten some clarity and dare I say insight that was quite nice. These types of days are easy for us who are blessed with wonderful relationships, fantastic families and friends because no matter that we alone with only thoughts, we are never lonely.
Buen Camino and keep me in your prayers. You are in mine.