Sunday, 17 May 2009

Something to walk on

We got away a bit earlier today because there was further to walk: about 30km to the city of Logrono. We made it just after 1, with a walking time of around 6 hours. I think we're getting fitter and the blisters, though still present aren't much of a hindrance anymore. We are moving out of Navarre and the scenery is changing. It looks and feels a lot like Central Otago with rocky outcrops and a certain clarity about the light which is hard to describe but anyone familiar with Central will know what I'm talking about. The path wound up and down a bit but nothing to get too excited about and the last 10km through the less scenic part of Lorgrono lying in all its splendour under the hot Spanish sun with a bit of a drudge.

All the way we were guided, as we have been every day by the little yellow arrows. The track is wide and well worn but sometimes it joins a road for a while and sometimes there is some ambiguity about which way next. At this point there will always be a yellow arrow. Sometimes they are flash store brought ones neatly embossed on plastic and attached to a fence. Sometimes there is a purpose built cairn or pillar. Sometimes there will be a cast bronze shell artistically attached to a wall instead. Sometimes it is a stylised yellow shell on a blue background. Sometimes it is a roughly painted arrow on a lamp post or a drainpipe. But it will always be there, the little signature of the Holy Spirit guiding us through the decisions of the Camino if only we take the time to stop and look. Sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, but always there. In this way we are guided, without a word across Spain, in the footsteps of countless others who have trod this way for centuries.

Mostly the path is just that: a path; gravel underfoot or hard beaten clay or soft mud, winding its way around fields, through vineyards or forests, up and down hillsides. It always seems to find villages and makes its way past the village shop, tavern and church. For short sections it uses public roads, but only because the road has been built on the top of the path. The path was there earlier. Much, much earlier. It is a comparitively easy path. It's wide and the surface is usually good, maintained by local Camino societies, and it is sometimes easy to see when you are passing from one jurisdiction to another. On the most challenging day it climbed about 4,000 ft in less than three hours walking time, but mostly the rise and fall over the course of a day is a few hundred feet. Days average 20-30 km which sounds daunting but is perfectly manageable: one step at a time, one foot after another. Just like the rest of life.

2 comments:

Alden said...

Ah, now that is a very good sentence of yours -

- "Days average 20-30 km which sounds daunting but is perfectly manageable: one step at a time, one foot after another. Just like the rest of life."

Amen to that I say.

Noelene said...

"One more step along the world I go" (these old lyrics have come to mind often recently as I am walking along smooth, asphalted Highgate,thinking of you treading those ancient pathways. Did you know "One more step along the world" is up there with "Make me a Channel of your Peace" in the All Time Top 20 of Hymns and Songs for assemblies!! Actually, although some may think the words clich├ęd and stale, I was prompted to find out more about Sydney Carter. From his Obituary in the "Independent on Sunday"(3/04):
'That two of his most popular lyrics, "One More Step" and "Travel On", should invoke the concept of journey was indeed no coincidence. In this voyaging faith of interrogatives, the creed lay in the question mark, often of a Zen-like paradox. In 1974, he wrote:
Faith is more basic than language or theology. Faith is the response to something which is calling us from the timeless part of our reality. Faith may be encouraged by what has happened in the past, or what is thought to have happened in the past, but the only proof of it is in the future. Scriptures and creeds may come to seem incredible, but faith will still go dancing on. Even though (because it rejects a doctrine) it is now described as "doubt". This, I believe, is the kind of faith that Christ commended.'

So from the old things to the new, may you keep travelling and having inspiring revelations. And may the pain of the blisters be decreasing. Take care.