Arzúa to Pedrouzo
In Arzúa’s hostal, I slept well until the early morning. Instead of being awakened by the rustling of pilgrims, there were other noises. The sound of scuba gear, for example, with all the oxygen tanks, being dumped into showers upstairs. A body dragged across the floor. An entire roomful of furniture being moved across, scraped on, and dropped on the oddly uncarpeted tiled floor on which the hostals here insist. Then everything was moved back again. The body propped up in a chair.
Once again we walked a long way in the dark, using Carrie’s wind-up light. The going was slow. My thoughts went to the surprising, and large, prepayment penalty I’d just been assessed on my home loan. I thought it might have been avoidable if I’d given the matter more of my attention, but before the blame could really lock in I reminded myself that I had juggled a superhuman number of things before I’d left for the trip, and I decided to let the money go, which is to say, to forgive myself. Besides, when we hold on to money, we are trapped in a mindset of scarcity. You don’t have to believe in something called a law of attraction to grasp that thinking money is scarce and hard to come by will create a self-fulfilling prophecy.
We were very hungry, and Mom needed to rest. But there were no places to stop, other than stones on the trail. We kept walking. At about 7 kilometers, we saw up ahead another mirage – a site for Second Breakfast? Yes! I began to hum, and then to whistle, “Ode to Joy”.
I stayed there a while, and Mom and Carrie went on ahead. I find that I prefer to start from behind and then catch up. I may have falsely accused myself of competitiveness the other day. I just feel better at 5 to 7 kilometers per hour. I don’t get sore, and my bones, legs, and feet don’t hurt. So, for the last time on this trip, I turned it on, and it was good.
Think of something funny, my boss said. For the blog.
I got nothing funny. Trying to walk here.
Then do profound.
Also not. (Now my boss had me using German grammar).
Instead, relieved of the pace of 3 kilometers per hour, I was free to sing to myself, and also to the black-and-white Hereford cows I passed:
She’s got style
She’s got grace
And she’ll squirt milk
in your face
cause she’s a caa-ow
You who judge me, or dismissively recommend a karaoke exorcism, simply reveal the depths of your own ignorance. It so happens that at my stride length, “She’s a Lady” offers the perfect rhythm for walking 7 kilometers per hour. Go ahead. Measure a three-foot stride, walk for an hour, and see if you don’t cover seven kilometers.
The Albergue Porta de Santiago, in Pedrouzo, was one of the most modern we’ve seen, and one of the most attractive. It is one of perhaps three albergues on the entire trip that has motivated me to take its picture. I especially salute the designers for the happy Feng Shui of their glassed-in plants, and for using solid, well-constructed wooden bunks in place of rickety aluminum, and wooden slats in place of springs. (Noise control, however, would be much better if they used walls that went to the ceiling. As it is, there is no way for pilgrims to pack or even exit without pilgrims on the other side of the eight-foot partial wall hearing them).
Rene was already there when we arrived, resting his sore bones inside his sleeping bag. Next to the Feng Shui area, naturally. He grinned at me every time I passed, which I did a lot in order to get on the free wi-fi. The proprietor gravely informed me that the password to the wi-fi was “un secreto,” and only he could type it in. Rene grinned really big when he saw me with my laptop. He assumes that the only thing that can be done on a computer is work, whereas I live much of my life on it, including 46% of the fun parts.
The next day would be our last on the Camino.
The Demise of the Beautiful
Before Julio and Marie Anne had to leave us, Julio said that Marie Anne would be sad once she got back to France. “She is always sad when a walk ends,” he said. And indeed she was, as he reported a few days later. There’s something interesting here. She was sick during much of the trip. Over the summer she had fallen out of her usual walking shape, with the result that she struggled every day and was always falling behind. And of course she slept with the masses, and ate food designed for them too.
So what did she miss? The camaraderie? The slowing-down mindfulness of walking? Freaking Julio?
Carrie, too, said she was already sad at the prospect of the walk being over.
I don’t have this. On the other hand, I did at least enjoy myself while it was going on. In working with clients (not to mention myself, my most intractable client), I often think of Freud and a colleague walking in the evening, or perhaps it was morning. Freud pointed out the magnificent sunset, but his colleague did not want to look. He said something like, “It will only go away, and then I’ll be sad.” A lot of us, a lot of the time, live our lives that way.