An open letter to my dear peregrinos:
And so I am back exactly one week. I have relived the moments of our journey together this week as I write. The wi-fi was iffy on the camino and somehow my grand plan of doing this on our journey never materialized. So, as soon as I arrived home I started my recreation of our journey with my notes, my photos, the Erkosi website and Google Earth all to help me retrace our footsteps and relive each day.
Looking these over I can see the steep hills and feel my labored breath as I place one pole in front of the other to help climb the rocky paths before me. I can conjure up whiffs of the Galician cow’s “le fleur de merde” as we walked through those sunny fields. I squint and can see the valleys below me from the hilltops under the bright Galician sky, so blue that it hurts to look at it. I rock myself and I am buffeted by the cars and trucks roaring by us on our highway stretches. I feel the rain, the drizzle that first coats me on the outside and then mingles with my sweat in the hot rain-gear to make it all indistinguishable when the layers are finally peeled off. I sense the cool of the shade under the high, green canopy of the forest as we walk next to the myriad of mushrooms peeking out at us from piles of leaves and from under fallen stumps. The constant meandering of the camino unfolded breathtaking vistas and small hamlets with new things to explore. It continually offered up interesting people to meet and new experiences to have.
I find that that I curiously miss waking up in a strange bunk, gathering up all of my possessions into one backpack to set out once again, to leave this place behind for yet another. Each day was new yet the pace dictated by our boots meant that every day held at once both more of the same and at the same time something different. All to be easily experienced as we strolled, shuffled and climbed our way towards each nightfall. Our goal may have been simply to get to the next albergue but our purpose was to take in and experience the world around us, to reflect as we walked and to share our lives with each other. And indeed, that is what we did.
For the brief time that we were on the camino, time in the world back home stood still. Now that I am back in Mantua again, like you for me time has rushed back in. It is a rising tide, filling that hole that we all dug in the sands of the camino at the water’s advancing edge. The waves of now are passing over and swirling it with the sand of the present to smooth it out: All to wash our reality back to the open sea. The beach is now our present, smooth once again but for our memories.
It is these memories of what we have collectively experienced that I want to share with you now, so please post your recollections, addendums, comments or whatever. Some things I may have blurred together, but they are all pretty much here as I recall them. This is our collective experience and every moment of it is unique.
And now I think that it is time for me to put on my boots again and go for a walk. A long walk. My boots have somewhere that they want to go and I must follow.
Nov 11th, 2012