Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from a blog the author kept while walking the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, accompanied by a friend also named Peter.
Our original plans called for us to rest on Lord’s day each week. Well, frankly, the original plans were as unrealistic as say things like, “The end of history” or, “Instruments that take the risk out of investment.” We have stayed at more pension or posado than originally planned. We have walked different stages than originally planned. So in keeping with dropping “original plans,” we decide on a short day and a long afternoon of rest at a monastery that we’ve heard has an albergue for peregrinos. It is only 10 to 12 kilometers away.
The walk is euphoric. Pete and I chew on theology, sex, politics, family, church, and 60s TV. We sing. We laugh. We pray aloud, thankful to be alive and walking through the Spanish counrtyside.
A walking tour is an intimate view of a place. You come slowly upon a village, seeing it across the valley. It goes out of view at a turn of the road against the side of a hill. It comes back into view again as you cross the bridge on the valley floor. As you walk through the village, the houses are close to the narrow lanes. Laughter, television, arguments, and the sounds of life pour out in five second bursts as you pass. The tavern owners greet their customers by name (or not — grumps live in Spain, too). The bread truck delivers baguettes in the morning like the milkman of my youth. Some houses — no, most houses are adorned with well-tended roses and other flowers. Apartment balconies drip with potted plants. In houses with yards we see lemon, fig, and apricot trees. The figs and apricots aren’t ripe yet, but lemons are hanging in their hundreds, huge and yellow. In a backyard next to the Camino a fellow with a large scythe is cutting his grass. He wishes us “buen Camino” and we stop for a chat. He has a trellised vine we’ve never seen. Our pidgin Spanish meets his pidgin English, and we think he is growing kiwi. We converse about his lemon trees and how he uses the abundance of fruit. We chat about life and the Camino and take our parting: intimacy available to all, you just have to leave the car.