To quote Alanis Morissette:
You live, you learn
You love, you learn
You cry, you learn
You lose, you learn
Hard to believe after so many months of planning (Especially for my sister, the wizard of travel) and dreaming about this adventure called the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) that it is finally here. Are we nuts? Can we actually do this? Who are we kidding? Too late now so we must at least attempt this feat.
The main question I am asked when explaining the fact that we are walking on a pilgrimage in northern Spain is “Why would you want to do that? Besides that, you aren’t even Catholic!” I answer, “Because it’s there and I can.” What better way to get up close and personal with history and a culture than walk through the small towns, large cities and the countryside. We all have our own reasons for attempting any particular challenge. The bonus of the Camino de Santiago is that it is a pathway with walkers from many reaches of the earth. So, we not only walk with the Spaniards; we walk with the world. For my husband, Randy, the experience provides people from around the world to greet and share experiences even with the added challenge of the language barrier. If he ever becomes a Walmart greeter, he will be the best EVER!
So on the night before our departure it’s Buen Camino!
Our starting point is Astorga, Spain which was the main city in northwest Spain during the Roman Empire. This is extra credit since we only needed to start in Sarria to be legit and get our Pilgrim diploma signed and stamped. I would say that we are over achievers except for the fact that we met others on the path that had started in France, so I guess not.
No hot water in the hotel so we were treated to a complimentary breakfast of tostadas (toast) jam, coffee and juice. Yay, for cold water!! Free hot coffee made up for it.
So, here we go…ready or not!!
Along the route we often find little monuments marking the path. This one lists the towns from Astorga but this energetic team had its aim today on Rabanal which is beyond El Ganso.
We often find embellishments added to markers. Some wish to share inspiration while others merely mark the fact that they were here.
It didn’t take long to pull out the Sherpas since it was drizzling and continued to do so most of the day. What is a Sherpa, you ask? A handy rain poncho with a light blanket lining for extra warmth and durability. Bonus feature is that they were $2 with a rebate at Menards!! Almost didn’t bring them due to weight but they were well worth it. Glad I packed plastic bags for everything, especially my camera. Dry items weigh a lot less than wet ones.
Above we find the ghostly village of El Ganso. I’m guessing it becomes a stopping point in the summer when more of the albergues (hostels) and cafes are open. I wish I had noticed the huge bird nest on the steeple to zoom in for a shot. Rain clouds are looming ahead of us and we will find ourselves thankful for rain gear.
We each bring our own story to the Camino along with our individual strengths and, as the path wears us down, our weaknesses are unveiled. For now we just put one foot in front of the other and drink in the sights until the rain starts to fall. This is day one as we begin this journey…