Today I was horrible.
I will have to atone once I get to Santiago.
First, I'll explain the day: I stayed overnight in Astorga in an €8 a night albergue. It was crowded, and noisy, and there were a couple of furniture rattling snorers.
I left early with Ivan the Terrible and his wife, the lovely Giovanna. We had breakfast in a cafe on the outskirts of town, and were on the way by 7:30am.
Today we headed into the mountains. The last big range before dropping back down into Galicia, and the home stretch to Santiago.
Some of the pilgrims who've been together over three weeks now are starting to get sad. The end is in sight. Even though it's been tough at times, some strong friendships, and a couple of romances, have formed.
As we were leaving Astorga, we noticed a big bus pull up and disgorge a large number of pilgrims.
I felt great today. All my pain has now gone, for the moment at any rate, and I walked swiftly and strongly.
In fact I didn't realise but I walked 22 kms straight without stopping, or a break. Five hours. Towards the end I got a bit spacey, because other than a croissant at 7:15am I hadn't had anything to eat at all. But it put my head in a very interesting place. I had a robotic rhythm going with my walking, and I started to free associate with my thoughts. It was wonderful.
And then after 22 kms I stopped, went into a small store, bought two apples, a small bread roll, a wedge of cheese, and two cans of diet coke. I found a bench on the edge of town and sat down and had lunch by myself.
I then had a further 6km, a stiff climb, up into the mountains before ending up at Foncebadon, which is where I am now.
There's no wifi here so I will only post a couple of pics.
But, getting back to me being a horrible person today…
I'd been walking a couple of hours, was deep in a meditative place, when I heard these shrieks of laughter, and yelling and chattering behind me. I turned and saw this group of about fifteen pilgrims coming towards me. They were clomping along, and were making a huge racket.
I turned back and tried to zone them out, but I could feel them coming up fast behind me. They were like this boisterous tide – rolling along with their noisy laughter and the yelling and shrieking.
They got up alongside me and I looked across and said: Where are you from?
From Madrid, one of them said.
And where did you start the Camino, I then asked.
We started this morning, in Astorga, the bloke replied.
Ah, I said. That's why you're so loud.
The guy looked miffed.
Where are you from, he asked.
Australia, I said.
And where did you start?
From St. Jean Pied de Port, I said, trying to conceal my air of superiority. And failing.
Somewhat subdued, they moved on. Talking quieter.
I realised that in that one moment, I'd blown all my 21 days of Camino spiritual development.
I'd been a complete dick.
I shouldn't have begrudged them their first day's exuberance. The excitement at the start of their journey. And when I started to analyse why I'd reacted the way I had, I came to the conclusion that it had nothing to do with me being peeved that these people were coming into the Camino for merely the last third, and hadn't done the hard miles that we “true” pilgrims had done.
It had to do with the sacred nature of The Way.
For me, this path has become a place of contemplation and meditation. It has become sacred. It was like they'd walked into a church and started laughing and shouting. Same thing.
I was reacting to what I saw as disrespect for The Way. My sensitivities were heightened too because I'd walked about 15 kms non stop and I was a bit zonked.
But even so, I shouldn't have got annoyed. I should have been more tolerant. I should have beamed over at them beatifically and wished them love on the journey.
Instead I sniped.
I'm a horrible person.
I think I'll have to do the Camino again.