Oviedo –> Grado –> Salas –> Tineo –> Sumblismo –> Berducedo –> Castro –> A Fonsagrada –> O Cadavo –> Lugo –> Ferreira –> Castaneda –> Amenal –> Santiago de Compostela
Dear Friends and Family,
I hope this note finds you happy, healthy and full of love and light! The walk today was going to be a long one, ~33 kilometers or ~20 miles, but the weather was expected to be perfect for walking, with a range from 68 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. I decided to get going early and as I walked through small villages and fields of corn, a feeling of overwhelming gratitude washed over me. I thought about how fortunate I am to have such a loving family and how, while I missed them, I could be on this pilgrimage knowing that they were all okay and in their right places. I thought about how grateful I am for my friends, from all around the world, met over the years in work and play, who enrich my life in immeasurable ways. I thought about how thankful I am to be healthy and able to experience the world this way, walking from village to village, feeling strong and joyful. I thought about how blessed we are to have a world filled with beauty and wonder, a shining sun in a blue sky, beautiful flowers, abundant fruit on the tree and happy children.
Finally, I felt a deep sense of appreciation for my faith and the spiritual journey I am on, as I try and determine how to spend the rest of my life, pursuing the second mountain, the sacred dance. While this is not just a lesson from the Camino, it really was a powerful feeling today, this feeling of gratitude for all of my blessings.
The walk today was like many of the other walks, although I did experience for the first time a real traffic jam on the Camino:
It was so fun (and funny) to watch these dairy cows go by, and the farmers got a kick out of me filming them. Since I have been on the Camino, I haven’t once thought about the traffic on highway 101, yet this procession and this one brought me back there: 😉
It struck me that this farmer seemed to employ a bit of “technology” (the tractor and the dogs) to make this work a little easier on him.
After the Camino 101 I began to do the major climb for today which was simply called Alto (“high”) on the topo map I was using. Given the terrain I had climbed through on the Hospitales Route this was not that high (~710 m or 2100 feet), but it was fairly steep and when I got on top of the ridge the view was lovely:
As I kept walking along the ridge, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks: I saw two rock formations that symbolized David Brooks metaphor in his book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life.
The gratitude I felt for being able to walk the Camino and think about a second mountain in life soared. And while I haven’t exactly figured out what my second mountain is yet, I do know that it has to be centered around giving back to those less fortunate than I. This is the real purpose of my Camino.
As I walked down Alto, enjoying the sunshine and breathing in the fresh air, I started singing and before I knew it the 6 kilometers to Melide had passed and of course I had to stop at the famous Pulperia Ezequiel, one of the original pilgrim restaurants on the Camino that served Galician-style octopus in olive oil. People sat at tables on benches, family-style, and the restaurant had full maps of the Camino on the wall. Although the sign said buen vino (good wine), I stuck with the Camino staple, Estrella Galicia beer.
This was a wonderful respite after 23 km as I still had almost 10 km to go. Melide is a pretty cool town with much to see and I don’t think I did it justice. Melide is also where the Camino Primitivo intersects the Camino Frances, and for these last two stages I would see more people than on the entire Primitivo.
I left the restaurant and meandered through the town, snapping pictures and dragging my tired body to the small and non-descript village of Castaneda.
As I walked toward the setting sun and my little casa for the night, I again reflected on the day and the gratitude I felt simply to be alive, walking the Camino and experiencing life to the fullest. I think this feeling is something I will remember from this particular day on the Camino, that of a full and grateful heart.
Peace and love,