Each and every day of the camino comes with a new adventure. Day ten of Camino 2018 was full of beauties. Beauty of sharing, beauty of caring, beauty of fellow pilgrims, beauty of nature, and even the beauty of graffiti. After a restful night, day ten is full of positive vibes; tomorrow will be the last day of walking till Camino 2019. It’s a glorious day and everyone in the group is full of excitement as we pull in to the same parking lot where we picked up the amzaing peeps who walked the full nineteen miles yesterday. Castle Castrojeriz, a ninth century Romanesque ruins, has been in our sight for the last several days is now behind us. Ahead is Alto de Mostelares, the highest peak along the Meseta. The ascent up is close to 1050 meters (3,444 feet) with a 12% uphill grade, the reward for the climb is a magnificent sweeping view of the surrounding area.
With plenty of time, both myself and my foot injured peep could have tackled the zigzagging monster, however this day we opted to bus around allowing relief for my friends blisters and for my turtle pace. There is no shame in this decision and it is the right one for us. I feel obligated to repeat – there is no shame in how one walks the Camino. Listen to your body and do not let the agenda or strengths of others determine the validity of your needs or your accomplishments.
The majority of the group heads off to conquer Alto Mostelares and our group of two bus around the steep hill. The bus drops us off at Fuente del Piojo, english translation is Fountain of Fleas, lets not ask… lol. This is a lovely shaded spot with fresh flowing spring water and shade allowing the weary a well deserved rest after overcoming the steep hill. Bypassing the hill gave us a three mile lead on the rest of our peeps. Our pace will be slow today so we scurry on down the road towards Ermita de San Nicolás.
Ermita de San Nicolás was not far, it is a medieval Hostel restored and ran by La Confraternita di San Jacopo di Compostella from Perugia, Italy. The fraternity strives to provide hospitality and comfort to pilgrims. When we stopped in they had water, tea, and coffee for visitors. This is a rustic, no electricity, six bed Hostel. The hosts the day we stopped in were a mother and daughter team that included the daughter’s two children. Their english may have been limited but their kindness was bountiful, we truly enjoyed our short visit.
Near the hostel we walk across the Itero Bridge taking us into the Province of Palencia. The bridge with its mixture of Romanesque and gothic styles has eleven arches, (not all visible), and is one of the longest bridges on the Camino. The view from the bridge was picture perfect.
Just under two kilometers (1.25 miles) is Itero de la Vega where arrangements had been made for our lunch. It’s mid morning and we are not in the mood for lunch foods, the good news eggs, meat, and fries are common on the pilgrims menu. The pilgrims at the next table to us waves, we recognize them from a few days ago. Just like at home you see familiar faces who are happy to see you!
As we walked through this quiet village I notice what appeared to be a marble vestibule, as I reached out to determine if it was marble or not I turned my ankle and fell. As I lay on the ground, hoping I fell as graceful as a butterfly landing on a leaf, I hear the sound of feet running towards me. From a full street away a “burly knight” in techno pilgrim attire charged towards me, pulling me to my feet all the while scolding me in Spanish and broken English telling me to be careful and watch where I step. It is reassuring knowing caring pilgrims watch out for each other. These are the moments that remind you friends, family and sense of home can always be found in your surroundings; you then carry those new memories in your heart where they mingle with all of your other friends, family and home memories.
Just outside Itero de la Vega, graffiti on a vacant building.
As we put the village behind us we are again surrounded by the vast openness of the Meseta . All around us we see harvested wheat fields and dried up sunflower fields. Since we began our walk some thirteen days ago we have been shut off from the ongoings of the “real” world. As a Catholic group we have been aware of issues concerning the leaders of our church which saddens us. As we approach a beautiful spot where a bridge crosses over a creek, the two of us feel it is a perfect place to pray. We take time for some personal meditation then together, outloud, one with nature, we recite a Prayer for Priest written by Richard Cardinal Cushing (1895-1970), Archbishop of Boston . That prayer has since become one of my favorites to pray during Adoration.
It’s funny how the Camino seems to put certain people in your path. This morning a young man begins to pass us and slows his pace to chat with us while his Mama catches up to him. This lovely Mother/Son team are Polish, the son speaks perfect English and Mamas is limited. When the son introduces us to Mama she gives us a big hug and cheek kisses all around! The commonality of the Camino makes us instant family. Their story is so sweet, Mama’s daughter walked the Camino last year; to celebrate her retirement Mama decided to walk this year. Son leaves for University this fall and decided he would have one last “hurrah” with his mama and walk with her. Tears came to my eyes when he looked at his mama and said, “I now know we are going to have many more great adventures in the future”. The Camino blesses the families that walk together with a totally new appreciation, a new perspective of their love one. We were blessed to come across these two along the path.
As our (my) pace is slower than our new friends we part ways with a piece of us in each others heart. Once we reach Boadilla del Camino we decide to wait for the group and finish the remaining five km (3 miles) in to Frómista with the group. Just as we leave Bodilla del Camino a family of five biking the Camino pass us. Dad, Mom and one child on their own bikes, Dad is also pulling a child trailer with two younger children.
The pleasant walk into Frómista follows the Canal de Castilla (Channel of Castile) . The man-made canals were built during the enlightenment period, late eighteenth century. The canals bring a pleasant change in scenery, an unexpected sight was a gentleman trapping crawdads wonder if he was going to make étouffée. Taking a footbridge where the Camino crosses over the canals we have reached our destination for the night.
Look for my future blogs, “Last Days of Camino 2018” and “Reflections of the Camino” where I look at the last few days of Camino 2018 and I reflect more deeply on this day and the over all impact of Camino 2018.
A Prayer for Priest – Richard Cardinal Cushing
O Almighty Eternal God, look upon the face of Thy Son, and for the love of Him who is the eternal High Priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.
O Jesus, I pray Thee for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests; for Thy lonely priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in purgatory. But above all I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me; the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted, and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me, or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly N. O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy Heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.