I’ve just come from Uluru.
It’s flat out there.
Here in Tuscany and Umbria, it’s hilly.
It worries me.
Soon I will have to walk it, or rather ascend it, and descend it. I will have to do this with vigour, aplomb, and derring-do, because I’m leading this tour group and I’m meant to be the guy out front that shows how it’s done.
I should have trained more.
I didn’t do enough Mt. Miserys. (I think that’s the correct spelling in this context.)
In fact, I only did one Mt. Misery, which in the whole scheme of things, is pretty damn miserable.
I feel like I’m under prepared, physically, and that wouldn’t ordinarily be a concern, however I have one half of the Landers Express on this tour – Peter Landers – and he’s going to rib me mercilessly if I pike out on any of the stages.
I know I won’t. I’ll walk every kilometre.
No, let me correct that – I will walk most every kilometre, and stagger the rest.
Today before we left Sansepulcro we went to a museum and saw one of the great religious works of art – Polyptych of Mercy, painted by Piero della Francesca in 1445.
It was pretty cool.
As we were leaving I saw a member of the museum staff carrying a very old statue of Jesus into another room.
I was somewhat taken aback at where his hand was –
Fortunately he was wearing a glove…
We then met up with Elena at Pieve Santo Stefano, one of our stage stops.
She was giving the van a test run, to see if she could reverse park it up a hill in a narrow lane. She couldn’t, but that’s ok.
It was great seeing her again, and she will be a wonderful asset to the tour.
Also I spoke at length today to Ivan the Terrible, who is married to his Beautiful Wife Giovanna. They will be joining us out of Sansepulcro, and walking with us for three or four days.
Those of you who have read my book – The Way, My Way – would know that this wonderful couple featured prominently on my Camino Frances. They are delightful people, very funny, and I’m thrilled that they’ll be joining us, even if for just a few days.
Later Jennifer and I drove south to Gubbio – another stage stop – which is where we’ll spend tonight and tomorrow night.
We spent the evening wandering around the cobblestone streets, and had possibly the best meal of this current trip. Magnificent home made pastas, eggs with truffles, all beautifully prepared. We’ll take the tour group there when we come back to Gubbio.
I thought today about the ethos of the pilgrim.
When I first started out, I was a bit narrow minded about all that. I was a bit of a hardliner. I really felt that you had to walk every step, you had to carry your pack all the way, you couldn’t catch a cab, you couldn’t catch a bus – you had to be a true pilgrim.
Now I realise that’s all nonsense.
None of that matters.
I had to go through that at the time when I walked the Camino Frances, and subsequently on the Camino Portuguese too, and I’m really pleased I did. But I’m much more relaxed about those things now. It’s not that important.
The only thing that’s important is your intent.
What’s in your heart.
The real reasons you’re walking a pilgrimage route.
All the rest is pride, ego, and things that in fact get in the way of you being a true pilgrim.
As you walk more Caminos, and as the need to prove stuff to yourself and to others gradually dissolves, the true growth begins…