Friday, 15 June 2012

El Camino Day 5 Arzua to Pedrouzo - 20 kms

El Camino Day 5 Arzua to Pedrouzo - 20 kms
Once again we head for breakfast at 0730 and am one of the first of our group to appear with my roommate Fonsi, who is the undisputed fastest and fittest of the group. He is an ideal person to share lodgings, clean, flexible, polite and most importantly quiet! He is also experienced walker so is an important member of the group. All the group members came to India in 2008, on my birthday party and thats a bond that unites us in that we are comfortable in the company, even though there are minor irritations as in any large group. There are ten of us, two couples, four women and two men without partnrs. 
Getting back to breakfast, I notice a woman sitting in the corner of the bar, finishing her food. A little later she gets up and as she passes by she stops and says hello to me. This is not unusual, given my appearance, which attracts attention in most parts of the world. 'You are from India, right?' and when I agree she says 'I was not sure because you look so white'. Not a very good opening but it emerged that this Italian woman lived in Switzerland, had spent some time in an ashram in India, had done some pilgrimages around Dehradun and had walked all the way from her home in Switzerland. We exchanged experiences and stories, she had been walking for two months but finding it less spiritual than India. I had the opposite experience even though we have been out for only 5 days. Having lived in Dehradun myself it was a very interesting encounter.
We started walking through a haunting landscape in woods with tall sycamores in howling wind and rain. A blackbird followed me for virtually the whole walk and I began to get into a trance with the sound of the wind. Remembering the writings of Castaneda, I began to let the wind take me flying up through the trees and to my folks. I imagined being with Dad and Mom, Mamaji, Marisol, and Jito. And I would have sworn that I was hearing Beeji (Grandma) and Angel (father in law) who may have been smiling at me walking along the Camino.
Suddenly someone passed me and wished me 'buen camino', looked at me and although I was totally hidden in a rain cape, said 'are you Indian?' Once again I agreed and discovered that he was too. Vikas, a young man of about 30, from Delhi and his Korean friend were like me following a spiritual quest.    He was a bright Management type from an IIT in India headed to Stanford to continue his studies!  Comforting that others like me believe that the Camino is universal, even though all the symbology and themes relating to it are predominantly Christian.
Only 18 more kilometers left and tomorrow we will stand in front of the splendid cathedral at Santiago de Compostela.

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