Today started at 5am when 2 people in our Albergue decided to snooze their alarms twice. Tell me, what’s the point in setting your alarm for 5am if you’re not going to get up straight away eh! Oh well, that’s the Camino and luckily my earplugs blocked out any other noise.
We didn’t have far to go today, only 20km and we had booked ahead, so didn’t get up until 7am and felt like a lie in. We only had a few biscuits left and the nearest town was 8km away, but we were soon tucking into Tortilla Patata and cafe con leche. After that we all had freshly squeezed orange juice. I had drunk most of mine, when I noticed something wriggling in my glass. I dished it out with a spoon and put it on a plate. It looked like a small maggot and the guys named it Freddie. Needless to say, we left the rest of our orange juice on the table and left.
Feeling in need of another drink, we stopped at a cowboy bar in the next town.
After examining our feet and applying vaseline, we set off for Rabanal del Camino for what, for me at least was to become a highlight of my Camino.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m not religious at all, but what happened to me, I just can’t explain properly, but I’ll try.
On the approach to Rabanal, there are wire fences in which previous pilgrims have made makeshift crosses using branches and sticks that can be found on the ground. The fences go on for an extremely long distance.
Well, I don’t know why, but I somehow felt compelled to pick up a stick and make a cross in the fence. It took me a while to arrange it, but once I’d finished and was walking away, I felt this feeling of complete happiness wash over me. I know I can’t explain it, but it felt so real.
Not long after, something else happened, I suddenly felt very light, like someone was carrying my backpack for me. I could still feel it against me, but it felt so much lighter.
The next thing that happened that afternoon is a total mystery. The path started to go upwards gently and the path split in two, as it usually does, with a row of stones down the middle, presumably where the rain drains away. This split seemed wider than most and I was presented with a choice to take the left or right path. I didn’t have long to choose and somehow felt a strong urge to take the left path. One thing that sprung to mind as I was making thus choice was that Lucifer sat at God’s right hand, so I should choose to left path. Don’t ask me why I thought this, as I’ve no idea.
Anyway, what came next took me totally by surprise. The whole path was not that wide, so I could easily switch if I needed to, but I stuck to the left path no matter what, even when the right path looked far easier and less rocky. I remember there was a patch if mud covering pretty much most of the path and keeping to the left saw me pass it easily. I also remember seeing on the right side some burnt looking scrub land, yet on the left where I was walking, it was all green with abundant flowers.
I don’t know why or how, but walking on the left gave me some kind of additional strength. As the hill’s gradient increased, the quicker and easier I walked and completely left Sandra and Denis behind. I wasn’t out of breath and wasn’t tired, I just felt so alive. I thought I should wait for them and became a little worried when they didn’t appear after a few minutes. I must have waited for over 10 minutes before I saw two women approaching. They could see I was looking and waiting for someone and told me a young woman fitting Sandra’s description wasn’t far behind them. I was so happy to see her as I really had no idea how I’d gotten so far ahead.
That feeling of being so alive, still hasn’t left me as I’m writing this blog, I hope I can sleep and I hope I still feel like that tomorrow.