Xavier and I were warned that the water between Burgos and Leon is contaminated with farm run-off, so we were advised to buy bottled water. Immediately, we emptied our water bladders and did just that.
Tonight, in Mansilla de las Mulasone, another young Aussie, 16 year-old Patrick, is now sick. They think it’s heat stroke or possibly his appendix. He is off to the doctor right now. Hopefully he will be ok.
All of this makes me wonder if it’s the water, or even the stomach flu which would pose a new threat – germs. Coming down with the flu could set me back a number of days and the thought of that scares me.
Today, was a good day. The Meseta was so colourful bathed in the morning sun.
I made a conscious effort to think about the Roman slaves who traveled this road carrying rocks on their backs during the reign of Augustus. It came up at dinner last night. We discussed how each of us dealt with the long, boring, straight stretch of road.
Each way was different. Some thought about the Roman slaves, but my way was to daydream about orange, banana and raspberry sorbet. I’m sure none of the slaves were lucky enough to get even basic nutrition and here I was fantasizing about ice cream. Terrible isn’t it?
So, as I walked today I thought about how lucky I was to be able to strap a light eight kilo load to my back and to have poles to take pressure off my feet.
I am also lucky to be a modern pilgrim and not a slave with nasty Augustus breathing down my neck. I have it pretty easy. No worries about a ‘thumbs down’ from Augustus for me!
It feels surreal to be walking in the very same footsteps as the Roman slaves who built this road more than a thousand years ago. There is nobody, aside from the many busy ant colonies, working on it now. Every now and again I had to watch my step to avoid squashing lines of ants as they crossed the road.
The red, rocky road was barren of any vehicle traffic, so I felt quite comfortable to plant myself down in the middle of it to eat my snack and again later to eat my lunch.
I was alone for a while, but then Alex, the New York lawyer, and his Russian companion appeared over the horizon and laughed when they walked by. Two Austrian men walked passed and laughed too.
I contemplated today about the people I have met so far, their reasons for walking, their physical ailments as well as their time restraints to make it to Santiago. It reminded me of something Øyvind, a five-time Camino walker from Norway, said to me back in Castrojeriz when I first developed my shin splint. He said, “The destination (Santiago) is inconsequential. The journey is home.” He said that Santiago is really just a place which isn’t really important. It’s the journey that counts.
He is right. So often we rush through life focused on the destination and we forget to enjoy the journey. It’s the same along the Camino. Øyvind’s words are a reminder to slow down and enjoy each moment out here.
His words also struck another chord in me. Over the last few years I have searched for that sense of home or of belonging somewhere. It has been a challenge. I expected to find it in a physical place like Chilliwack, but I am discovering that the sense of home I seek can only be found within.
This evening, in Mansilla de las Mulasone, I met a new group of people in the courtyard, including poor Patrick who is sick.
We all enjoyed a couple bottles of wine and then dined together. I expect we will all get together in Leon tomorrow evening.
I can’t help, but miss my early Camino friends though. I heard from Andrew. He’s one town past Astorga right now, approximately 75 kilometres from here. He says his feet really hurt, but he’s powering through. I’m happy he’s making it, but I miss my Camino buddy.