October 13: What a day it has been! We had a very late start. We got up as usual at 6:15 planning to hit the road about 7:00, stopping for breakfast at O’Cebreiro, but as I was lying in bed I thought about the last few km we had come the day before, how treacherous and full of cowshit it was, and I thought that it would be downright dangerous to try to negotiate more of that in the dark. So we waited around until our restaurant opened for breakfast at 7:30 and it was about 8:20 when we got underway in the growing light. As it turned out, the trail was much better these last two km to the top but we did not regret our decision.
The views back to the east were spectacular in the pre-dawn light with hills folding into hills and valleys shrouded in fog. We had our cameras out as the sun rose in spectacular fashion and after that the vistas just unfolded one after another all day. We were told that the beauty of Galicia, which we had entered shortly after starting out, was second to none. If today is typical we have to agree. The pictures don’t really do it justice.
It was a shorter walk today, about 22 km with short ups and downs (we are in the mountains) and we managed to get to Triacastela a bit earlier than we have managed of late. The weather was beautiful, sunny all day without being hot. Perfect hiking weather.
Galicia has a much more intact traditional culture than the other regions we have been through. This is a region of small farms and frequent, tiny communities. Unlike the seemingly empty communities we encountered earlier, these villages are filled with real people going about their lives. Several times we encountered old farmers (no young ones) herding a dozen beautiful, brown cows right through the village, assisted by their dogs. Barnyard smells were never far away and you always have to watch your step. But it’s a much better feeling than passing miles and miles of corporate land with hardly any people.
You may have picked up that I spend a lot of time thinking about suffering and today was no exception. For those of you familiar with the Enneagram personality type system I am a 7. What Sevens repress and avoid is our pain and suffering. In recent years I have learned that to be healthy and whole I need to allow myself to be aware of and even embrace my own suffering. Paradoxically, when I do that I experience more joy.
So this leads me to think more deeply about the place and meaning of suffering in everyday life. As I’m walking the Camino there are many times when my body would be happier if I just sat down and decided I’d walked enough that day. Even these days when my body is handling it very well, there are times when it’s just difficult. But I don’t give in to that, I just keep on going to my destination. No one walks the Camino thinking that they won’t experience suffering, but they do it anyway and usually experience joy as a result. At no time has it seriously occurred to me to quit. I am continually inspired by people who are suffering much more than I and who are determined to get to Santiago.
I believe that real spiritual or even psychological growth happens mainly as a result of suffering, when our usual ego structures are not working for us anymore and we have to dig deeper or to surrender to something greater.
Tomorrow we reach Sarria where I will have a rest day, bussing to Santiago Airport and back to pick up Susan.