Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Silence is golden: day 18

A symphony of snoring, paranoia about the outbreak of bed bugs that has infiltrated some of the pilgrim albergues and painful hip, knee and ankle joints kept me awake most of the night. The bunk beds were so close together and creaky that every time I moved in the bottom bunk I hit the base of the top bunk where Liz was sleeping badly. At one point during the night my middle toe was so sore I woke up and hobbled to the communal toilets to try to burst a new blister using my iPhone for light. I gave up in the end and went back to bed hitting my head on the bunk just for good measure. Eventually I fell asleep but it felt like minutes later pilgrims were stirring, preparing for an early start pre-sunrise.

One of the slightly undignified aspects of being a pilgrim is the need to find coverage when nature calls. Nature calls quite a lot when you drink 4 litres of water a day just to stay rehydrated. Today nature called where there was no foliage to disappear into so I scurried round a corner hoping no cyclists would speed by. Seconds later the deed was done but I'd peed unceremoniously down my left trouser leg. While I'm trying to hide the evidence the two Irish guys from the group waltz round the turn looking all chirpy and un-splashed. I hide behind my rucksack, pretend to find something deep within it and thank god they hadn't turned up a few seconds earlier.

As a pilgrim you find yourself doing strange things; peeing in the open air, rejoicing at the sight of a moderately sized supermarket, talking obsessively about your feet and your foot wear, finding albergues with unisex bathrooms luxurious, weeping with joy at fluffy hotel towels and a bed that isn't the width of a kitkat.

Today I found myself walking with Jose Maria; a very sweet guy from Madrid who could talk the hind legs off a donkey. While it was interesting to hear about the history of the camino, practice my Spanish, discuss opera and contemplate the differences between different European cultures, by the time we got into town my ears were melting. Mean though it is, I kind of hoped Jose would stay at the municipal albergue and I could disappear off into the monastery that Liz had booked a room for us in. Jose had other ideas. I needed chaperoning. After an interesting conversation with the lady (sister?) at the door she realised I was not with Jose but with Liz who was already upstairs and therefore could be admitted. Jose decided he was going to stay there as well so while his details were being sorted I shot up the stairs to find Liz and our ever so welcome private room.
Company is very good on the road, no doubt about that. But I need to feel free to walk in silence when I feel like it; which is often. Some people are afraid of their own company and some people are too polite to tell others they need a bit of time out from the chit chat. These two types of people can end up together and that's when things get awkward.

There's a Spanish guy and a german guy on the road that don't speak a word of eachother's language, nor share any other language in common. They look like brothers. The only words they seem able to exchange are: Santiago, camino, sant Jean pied du port and cafe. They remind me of shrek and donkey. Shrek is always trying to lose donkey because he just wants to be on his own. In the end he's grateful for the company and the friendship. I think there's a lesson for me in there somewhere. Maybe I need to get a bit more comfortable talking and others need to get a bit more comfortable sharing silence. Perhaps a self enforced day of silence is called for? Perhaps I just need to surrender to the circumstances, (like the huge monastery bell clanging repeatedly every 15 minutes all through the night) go with the flow and prepare for my ears to be melted every day.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:calzadilla de la cueza to Sahagun

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