a wandering woman writes

Sunday, December 16, 2007

My favorite Camino story, by Erin C


The Camino de Santiago is a tricky beast. It'll gladly step up and transform itself into whatever you will it to be: a sporting event, a step in a relationship, all the space and time and silence you need to test your own assumptions about yourself and how you meet the world around you, a spiritual or religious quest, a 30 day meditation, a social event.


You'll discover, as you walk on the Camino, just as much as you are open to finding, I believe. No more and no less. It's a voluntary, renewable resource, that walking trail.

Pilgrims like to say we each meet who we are supposed to meet on the Camino. If that's true, it would explain why the chance meetings and memories I treasure most from my walk to Santiago involved people who, like me, had met a Camino determined to be a dopeslap-a-minute laugh riot. A wise guy. Our Camino handed us a tiny note every day, through a chance meeting, an unexpected adventure or an annoying inconvenience. And every day the note read the same:

"Yeh, like you didn't already know this..."

My favorite Camino story belongs to a young Swiss nurse who walked from Basil to Santiago. I met her in Sahagun, when the grandmotherly owner of a hostal where she'd been holed up sick for three days decided we would walk together to El Burgo de Ranero. I ignored my American instinct to politely inform the hostal owner I preferred to walk alone. By this time, I had learned not to resist Camino hints and opportunities, and a grandmotherly stranger putting another stranger's hand in mind and announcing we would now hike a full day together was a loud enough hint not to ignore.

And so I had one of the most enjoyable shared days of my Camino, walking beside a flu-weakened Swiss nurse.

When I shared my "I sprained an ankle Day 2 while cursing the cruel injustice of my first blister" story, Natasha gave me what truly is my favorite Camino anecdote, if only for its simplicity.

Somewhere in France, Natasha landed top bunk several nights in a row. Now, top bunk is a pain in the neck, unless you're the tall, gymastic type who's mastered that graceful, quick swing to the floor I have yet to execute without waking the dead. Natasha, like me, is far too short to appreciate the benefits of scoring top bunk.

The morning after the second night, while grumbling and complaining in every language she could muster about how the ladder rungs dug into her feet with every step of every ascent and descent, Natasha swore she hated ladders and wouldn't put up with that entirely undeserved discomfort again.

Next night, our wandering Swiss nurse again arrived at the albergue long after the bottom bunks were taken. She sullenly claimed a top bunk.

Only something had changed. This time the ladder wasn't a burden.

This time, there was no ladder.

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2 Comments:

  • Loved this ... thank you.

    I've been waiting and waiting and waiting for these so patiently and quietly.

    By Blogger Di Mackey, at 11:41 PM  

  • Ah . . . so simple, so clear. Thanks for this.

    Listing to the great playlist on the Screamers blog . . Cesaria Evora, right now. Another thing to be thankful for.

    By Anonymous Ann in KC, at 5:57 AM  

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