Friday, 19 March 2010

Going Alone. And just Going.

Gastroenteritis tends to color your world-view. 

Be warned. I have a bad attitude today. Something has gone wrong with my tripes. My innards are all crampy and painful, and I cannot remain very far from a bathroom for very long. Which is not a happy situation if you´re trying to walk 20-plus kilometers across wild country each day.

So far I am walking this camino alone. As noted above I did make a couple of nice friends early on, but after one fun evening of beer and instructions on the difference between a "dumbass" and an "asshole," we kinda lost each other. Maybe I will find the Dutch guys again. They are a trip. And they are traveling with a full-size Gouda cheese. (This one of the earmarks of  a True Kindred Spirit.)  

There are a few reasons I am going alone a lot. One is my evident devoutness. I promised a bunch of people I would pray for them on this pilgrimage, and I am doing it. To keep myself focused I use a big old black Rosary that once belonged to a Canadian nun.  Hiking along with a rosary swinging from your hand is a clear signal to fellow believers that you´re kinda busy right now. To non-believers, it might as well be a live grenade. They steer well clear.

I am not a bang-you-over-the-head Christian maniac, just so  you know. But I figure this trail was a Christian pilgrimage for a lot longer than it´s been a hiker´s cheap holiday. I have a right to be here, doing this. And so I will. ( I realized yesterday I am really quite devout, and I shouldn´t feel ashamed of it.)

The other reason I walk alone may have to do with a diet rich in apples, oranges, bananas, nuts, and lentils. And tripes that are unhappy. But I won´t go into that.

Walking alone (between rosaries) gives you lots of time to think and observe. One thing I think is the people who plot the Camino trails are not hikers, and they dislike actual pilgrims. Or they are hit-you-over-the-head Christians who think salvation can be earned through suffering and frustration. Today, for instance: I was still smarting from being over-charged in Puente la Reina, when the trial took us down a long, beautiful valley, past a fragrant sewage-treatment plant, round a quarry and up a very steep hillside... all of this with the new arrow-straight highway to Estella in plain sight overhead. I know they strive to keep pilgrims and motor traffic seperate, and that is a noble pursuit. They try to send us over historic Roman or medieval paths that Pilgrims Of Old probably walked, or among trees and fields and flowers.

All of which is nice. The Pilgrims Of Old wanted to get the heck to Santiago, and the road they walked was probably the only one available. Today´s 21st century pilg demands something different: Good footing. Scenic vistas. Wrinkly peasants and cute donkeys to take pictures of. Safety. English-language menus, signs, and directions. Good food. Perfect cleanliness. Heinz ketchup. And all of that for 10 Euros or less.  (Oh, and NO tourists! No one hates a tourist more than a pilgrim. Except maybe other tourists.)

I want Gouda cheese, and a more direct path, too. Got that, trail planning guys? 

Anyway, today I am in a very clean, safe, scenic pilgrim albergue in Lorca. It is raining outside. I rolled into town just as the downpour began, and the bells were ringing for the Mass of San José. Lucky me! A church, open and lit up, with people inside singing! Spain is full of knockout beautiful churches, but they are rarely open. And a church with a service going on is a church in full operation, I think -- you see it in action, doing what it´s designed to do. This one was great. I met a German guy who lives here. He and his daughter asked me to come over to dinner, if I´m staying in town. And so I am. (thank goodness for them. I am running short of cash, and tomorrow is the next ATM machine..) 

And now I do not have the albergue to myself -- two very tall Germans just arrived. I think they want to use the Internet. And so I go. To the bathroom.


The Solitary Walker said...

Great post! So refreshing, direct and honest. Makes a change from all the earnest, pseudo-mystical Camino stuff one tires of reading...

Trail/trial! Loved it.

But do stay off the fruit...

ksam said...

Definitely keeping you in my prayers! COming from a household filled w/Crohns and other gastro issues...I really do feel your pain! In you... I'll do one on my white rosaries...luring in one of the pockets of my purse!! Buen Camino, Karin

ksam said...

Oh...I need spell check soooo badly! I meant Lurking...not luring although perhaps it's luring me to prayer??? K

verena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
verena said...

hey, buen camino!!! :-)

also stayed in lorca last summer, on the right hand side albergue & liked it a lot...been a lovely evening there. so tomorrow you might go to the dutch place on the top of the hill i suppose, the richest breakfast on the camino :-) there's also a nice panaderia, which feels very female in a way, for tomorrow's breakfast half way to estella. don't know why i write this *g* just been enjoying it so much last time, the 10 days with leena from sjpp to azofra and love to think back to it :-) and feel sort of camino homesick quite often...

pilgrimage and praying: i know what you mean.... spent hundreds and hundreds of miles enjoying the silence, meditating, means accepting thoughts and emotions an d physical perceptions passing by, so often had to remind myself not holding unto them, not judging them (even if sometimes the thougths watched were judging, for example fellow peregrinos and their behaviour...),
doesnt matter in the end, thoughts and feelings come and go and not a single one has ever stayed, luckily :-D

but You always stay,
and You Are
the Prayer

hope robert doesnt think this is pseudo mystical what verena-fingers wrote here *G* just cant help...

much Love:-D

Kiwi Nomad 2008 said...

Oh shit. My *worst* day was like that. Plus there was a forked lightning storm and I got drenched. Hope you are over that soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update - keep going through these tough first days. Mass for you tomorrow,


claire said...

Hoping your stomach settles and the camino plotters take you straight to Santiago.
Thank you for taking us with you :-)

John Wontrobski said...

Hmmm....if the rosary signals "leave me alone, please," should I be writing to you here or leaving you alone, as signaled? I guess it's always your choice to seek out a computer.

Enjoying your walk vicariously,


The Solitary Walker said...

Verena - I forgive you ;)

Really, though, I was thinking of the Shirley MacLaine & ilk stuff when I made that comment.

Pilgrim Nell said...

Thanks for the post made me laugh (but in an empathetic way) and my goodness it brought back memories of many a desperate search for a 'shrub prive'...
May Santiago take away the tummy bug or at least provide abundant shelter for any off road episodes.
There's a series of English tv shows called 'Grumpy Old Men' and 'Grumpy Old Women' in which people 'of a certain age' get to vent/rant about anything they like to dislike no holes barred. And from my own experience and reading your blog I think there's scope for a 'Grumpy Old Pilgrims' version so keep the invective coming!
I found it odd how one sometimes felt almost apologetic about ones faith or at least kept it sort of covert so as not to offend other pilgrims.
Out of sheer bloody mindedness I am also proposing a KCC movement.... that's Keep the Camino Christian/Catholic......joking!

AnnieSantiago said...

Rebecca, unless you have giardia, I promise this will work.

Mix a cup of applesauce with a cup of yogurt. Try to find some cinnamon and put in about 1/2 teaspoon. Your guts will feel better in about 2 hours. Eat nothing but that for 24 hours after the runs stop.

The yogurt puts good bacteria into the gut. The pectin in the applesauce binds your bowels a bit (notice all those B's?) and the cinnamon warms your gut and helps it to stop spasming.

Good luck.. You're in my prayers.

Rebecca said...

LOL sounds like you are going through a detox in all manners of the word! Hope you have found relief.

Keep well.

Johanna said...


So have to admit I haven't kept very up to date with your blog in the last month, so when I started reading just then and realised you were actually on the camino at the moment I had to do this little happy dance thing just because it made me happy. Hopefully it is making you happy too. And hopefully you will start feeling better soon. I spent last week throwing up, so I can empathise a bit...

Anyway, did I say YAY! for the camino? This is so exciting.

You know, it's funny that everyone always says that when you're walking you think a lot, mostly about somewhat meaningful things. I don't know if I did something wrong or not, but I never ended up thinking deep and meaningful things while walking. I only ever thought about pretty banal, everyday things. Or along the lines of 'aaarrgh my ankle hurts.' But maybe because I wasn't really alone much. Hmm.

Buen Buen Buen Camino!!!!
Hugs, Jo.

Virginia ("Ginn") said...

I love to read your posts! Thanks for taking time to share your adventures and thoughts ( if not the gouda) with all of us back "home".

In Sunny Santa Fe

AnnieSantiago said...

Haven't heard from you in a few days... you feeling any better?