Monday, May 6
Awakened early by other pilgrims unzipping sleeping bags, stuffing backpacks, rustling their clothes, moaning and stretching sore muscles, I'm on the Camino a little after 6:00 am. I'm still adjusting to sleeping in a room with lots of strangers, but my new routine of 1/2 sleeping pill and Mac's awesome earplugs after my evening dinner's 1/2 bottle of red wine does the trick. Don't dream much, but get enough sleep, since I'm usually in bed by 9:30 pm.
Loving my morning readings: Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (my 4th? year of reading, but always on target) and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis (friends back home are reading along, which ties my heart to theirs). JC's contemporary language reads easily and directly to my heart, while IC's 14th-century language attunes my heart to the medieval road I travel. God's language is truly timeless.
Basking in brisk sunlight, hunger makes me stop at about 10:30 at a bar (aka cafe) for a cafe con leche (ubiquitous Spanish cappucino) and a bocadillo (dry baguette with meat, cheese) which has some spicy, greasy red sausage reminiscent of chorizo -- yum!
Reenergized physically, I soon spy an ancient church off the road and feel compelled to go see it up close. And personal. As I walk closer, I see it resides in a grove of olive trees, and its open door invites me inside. Completely alone, I slowly breathe in the smell of centuries blended with more recent handwritten notes, pictures, and rocks worshipfully placed on the altars before the hanging cross.
I sit on the cool stone bench along a wall, turn on my iPhone and allow Susan Boyle's "Amazing Grace"to engulf me as it rebounds from the beamed ceiling and hallowed walls. I recall JC's words this morning: "Come into my Presence with thanksgiving, for thankfulness opens the doors to My treasures."
Reenergized spiritually, I continue on my journey. At the first albergue I reach in Estella, who greets me but Phillipe France, a dear older gentleman I met a day or two earlier. He wants me to stay, but I am learning to trust my gut, and even though that place is fine, it isn't right. I walk all through town (pretty big at pop 13,000) to a youth hostel, but don't even go inside, as it isn't right either. Walk even further to a bedroom community and arrive at San Cipriano de Ayegui, an albergue that is literally part of the local sports hall, with a neighboring canteen serving dinner and breakfast, and this is it!
Share dinner with Irina Russia, a young woman in her late 20's bicycling her Way from Pamplona to Santiago. Eat an incredible "mixed ensalada" with lettuce, onion, shredded carrot, corn, tomato, and tuna with balsamic vinegar -- and that's just the first course of my Pilgrim's menu. Ahhh, I'm home for the night.