Friday, 16 September 2011

A true pilgrim; day 28

Last night when we were staying in the albergue Aitzgenea in triacastela a man arrived with that look in his eyes. I often say you can tell the pilgrims who walk both to and from Santiago de compostela because they have one of three looks; 1) a serious/deeply contemplative form of enlightenment look 2) a blissful/innocent full of love form of enlightenment look 3) a crazy look. They are usually one of the first two. This man was dark from the sun and skinny from lack of food. He had black eyes that were as deep as the forests we were walking in. And he had the look of pure innocence and bliss about him. Like he understood something most of us did not and hadnt been tainted by the ways of the world. He was beautiful. As soon as I saw him I knew he was a 'go and come back' pilgrim. When the host of the albergue saw him, she greeted him like he was her long lost son. She asked him how was Santiago. I wondered whether he had done the camino more than once. Was this the second time he had stayed at the albergue or were there many times? Was he permanently on the camino? He said very little and yet his silence said so much.
In the morning Liz found him busy in the kitchen frying what looked like dough balls in oil. He was making a whole pan full of them. We agreed this was somewhat incongruous with his underfed appearance. As all of us shuffled into the front room of the albergue he arrived, bearing a huge plate of his just-made pastries for us. He wanted to feed us. He made them for us. He knew he would never see any of us again, we were going in the opposite direction, we'd never be able to return the favour, and yet he did it because he was overflowing with love. This is what it's all about. This is the real magic that the camino reveals.
This act stayed with me for the whole day. Humbled me. Broke my heart. Makes me cry as I write this now. Here I am getting ansie with the pilgrims that are just here for the last 100km, who want to stay up all night and stop us from sleeping. And in one simple, quiet action I was shown what it is to be a person of love. And it's a beautiful thing. A quiet, gentle, unassuming thing. But deeply deeply powerful.

We continued the climb up to Sarria today. Walked past small farming villages brimming with cows, sheep, horses, dogs and hens. We were in the mists of Galicia. The trees rained on us as we passed and the bushes and cobwebs sparkled with dew. We ate almejas and pulpo for lunch and talked about the navajas and percebes we want to try. We walked through forests so ancient the trees seemed otherworldly. Huge, beautiful all knowing trees that had seen hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. We stayed in a beautiful new albergue in Barbadelo and dined with reniere and Julia. A conversation in a mixture of English/Spanish/Dutch/italian had us in hysterics. The place is completely buzzing with pilgrims now. We bumped into old friends we wondered if we'd ever see again including father and son: George and Michael. We are just over 100km away now. 4 more days. It feels strange. In some ways sad but celebratory as well. It has taken me most of the camino to 'get it' and now that I have it's nearly over. Is that all part of this very carefully planned camino?
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Location:Triacastela - Barbadelo

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