July 3 Samos
We are sitting in the monastery in the town of Samos. It is one of the oldest and biggest in the western world. I am not sure when it was built but we are about to go on a tour of it so maybe we will find out.
We only walked about 10 k today because we are going even slower to wait for Hayden to catch up. We love the slow pace though, we get to talk more and take even more pictures and videos. I think I am over 2000 pictures and over 300 videos so far. The other good thing about short walks is that we can attempt all of the Camino. We can go up every trail that looks even halfway decent because we know if it gets too rough, we can just turn around, go back to the start and find a road. If we have to go over 20 k we usually need to travel entirely on the road so the chair can make the distance and we usually don’t get in until after 6:00.
For these last days that is just way too late. Since from Sarria on is the minimum distance for a person to earn the Compestela many people will only walk from there, especially people on a limited time frame. The guidebooks say the number will increase exponentially from this point on. If you walk too late there may not be a bed left in the town. We met a South Korean man who had walked over 45 k because there were no beds when he wanted to stop. He wound up walking until 10:30 but was totally at peace with it. We think we would be in trouble if we couldn’t find electricity.
We have come into several towns that were almost totally booked by youth groups. They will bring about 70 or 80 kids and book whole albergues. At first we were worried and felt that this was unfair to other walkers but we talked and walked and came to realize that everyone has the Camino. If they were 70 individuals who just happened to come into town together, the same thing could happen. Our guidebook even cautioned about the feelings of intrusion by the walkers of the last 100 km onto “My Camino”. Many of these first time pilgrims are already nervous about the starting and the last thing they need is jealousy on the part of old time Peregrinos. We remembered meeting Cindy outside Astorga and really enjoyed our time with a new pilgrim. It is so cool to see them and think, “That was us a month ago. It is amazing what 30 to 40 days on the way can do for you and your self esteem.
I know that I have changed physically, mentally and hopefully spiritually. While our Camino started out as something for Deb and I to do together, something to prove to ourselves and others that anyone can do, it has slowly evolved into something more. Something bigger, and stronger maybe. I don’t know exactly how to put it into words but maybe it is a spiritual thing. We see God in more and more things every day. In more and more people every day. From the hospeteleros to the people we see on the road, He just seems to be everywhere. I am sure he is back home too, but maybe we are just too busy to see him in the every day, in our every day lives. I hope that when I return I can bring much of this feeling and understanding with me.
We were told several different things about the Camino:
- It is a metaphor for life, beginning, middle, and end.
- The first third is physical, the second third is mental, and the last is spiritual.
- Most of the people who stick it out for any period of time are on the same frequency.
- The Camino is like being born in the Pyrenees, you first get there you have no idea what you are doing, you don’t speak the language that everyone else is speaking, you don’t know what to do and you are dependent on others for almost everything. That was my favorite analogy of them all. When I got to Roncasvalles, I believed we had made a horrible mistake. I thought we needed to find a plane home. I couldn’t let Deb know how I felt because she would have freaked out too. But I prayed about it, and talked to some other people and they convinced me the worst part was over. The towns would be closer together and the chair could start making it. Luckily we stuck it out.
Well back to the physical. The monastery was built in the 6th century but was destroyed almost entirely by a fire in the early 1900’s. They saved much of it, but the only thing left from this time was an arched stone doorway. The tour they told us would be in English, so we talked to several people who were very excited about it. There were many stairs into the monastery so we didn’t think Deb could go but a monk saw me and showed me a back garage with a ramp for her to go into. We paid our three euros each and started on the tour. The girl who gave the tour spoke limited English but did a very good job on the tour. She would say most of it in Spanish and then some of it in English, the highlights of the tour. I watched the other people and I don’t think anyone spoke Spanish but no one would say so.
Some of the people on the tour we had seen before, John from Ireland, we had seen him on the road into Samos. We got to the crossroads of the Camino and the highway and we saw a taxi stop and let out a young man of about 30. He saw us and came over to talk, maybe to explain the taxi. We never judge a taxi we have taken several. But he had broken his Camino several days before at that exact spot. He had spent 8 days walking with a young lady from Russia and I think they were smitten. We have seen this several times over the past month. Hayden met Nowlenn, Quinn met a Spanish girl he liked, but this guy really had it bad. When she had to leave to go back home, he had left with her to the station. After she left he came back to restart where he left off. We spent time later talking about all sorts of things, I really liked him and enjoyed our talks. I love the Irish accents anyway.
There were also a father and his three sons from South Africa who were doing the entire Camino, one of the sons gave Deb his albergue pillow last night, he had brought his own. Also a gentleman from England and his friend from Germany, who spoke such good English everyone mistook him for an Englishman.
While we were awaiting the tour, with a young lady who worked at the tourist office, the local chapel and the albergue, she was our interpreter. Two monks came up and offered Deb and I a room in the monastery for the night instead of the albergue. How often does an opportunity like that come along. Let me think, an albergue, though very nice, with 80 people in one room or a private room in one of the oldest, and largest monasteries in the western world. Charmed life.
Unfortunately later just before mass, we all realized the doors to the rooms in the monastery were too narrow for Deb’s chair so we wound up in the albergue after all. It all worked out though it would have been colder upstairs than in the room with all the people.
We had a delicious meal right across the street from the albergue. There was a little bar that served Caldo Gallego which Javier and Maria the young Spanish hermano and Hermana had told us we just had to try. It was very tasty, then we went to bed in our little corner by the plugin. I always like it when there are snorkers in the room because then they don’t focus on D’s breathing machine. Well we were in luck, there were a few who majored in snoring in college. The next morning the people all started getting up at 5 or so, I just pulled the covers over my head until the lights came on at 6. I lounged until almost everyone was gone then got D up and ready to leave by 7. John was at the other end and felt just like me. These early risers are crazy. Take your time and enjoy.
While I was resting in, the Korean girl from yesterday brought my towel back. I had seen her opening her pack, it rained buckets yesterday evening, her credential, the book we get the stamps in for our Compestela, was completely soaked. These are the most important things for a pilgrim and this was not the first one we had seen get wet. The stamp ink will run ruining the paper. She was very upset and I gave her a towel to try to dry hers out. She laid it on it in the sun for a few hours. She didn’t say whether it worked.
Deb and I went and got a hot tea, and I talked to John before we left for Sarria.