Left Roncesvalles at about 7:30 am by myself. After striking out with a campsite last night, I was forced to sleep in an old time prison camp! At least this is what I imagined them to be like. About 150 bunk beds side by side, literally face to face with a snoring stranger who was joining in with the tabernacle snorers. It was wall to wall people and in an open room the size if a gymnasium. Oh my lands!the snoring drive me insane!! It was like listening to a bunch of tiny street racing cars rev their engines.
I walked immediately out of Roncesvalles through a dark, foggy, enchanting forest called Sorginaritxago forest. It was a creepy, early morning walk. Once out the other side , I was captivated by this big white, stone, medieval looking cross that stood about 9 feet tall. It was erected at the entrance, my exit, in the shadow of the ominous woods. Come to find out that this forest was home to a bunch of witches. The Oakwood Witches. They were burned at the stake in XVI century. The cross was placed there to keep evil spirits from returning.
The next village I walked through, after stopping at this encantador restaurante for breakfast, was simply fairytale like. It was lined with white ginger bread houses. The streets had two 1 foot streams on either side of the road. It’s as of Deutschland had uprooted and moved to Spain. I could really see myself living here. So friendly and inviting. Matter of fact, I stopped into Hotel Burguete, same name as the village, and read that Hemingway used to bring his wife to this hotel and town one month prior to bull fighting season in Pamplona each year.
I met Don Draper, aka John Michael in the “witches’ woods” and we walked about three quarters of the day together, most times in silence lost in our own thoughts. We stopped outside Zubiri at another make shift food truck with tables outside for an orange and a beer before descending into town. In town he snagged a room and I a glass of vino at a tienda down the way.
After twenty minutes of sipping on my beer I ran into Team Brasil. We caught up from their walk that day and I decided to mount up and keep walking with them. We trekked another 7km into Larrasoaña. We stopped at a waterfall outside of a magnesium pit and climbed half way up. It was a good way to cool off and break the monotony of the flat trail. We rolled into town and found that there were no beds at the only Albergue. The next town was 9km uphill and its was 6 pm at this point. We were spent for the day. We were directed to a private hostal on the outskirts of town. The surprising and cool thing about this place, not only did we find 3 beds, the proprieter had loads of pictures on the wall of her, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez from the movie, The Way. They stayed there when shooting the part of the movie in this town. They even used her son as an actual cast member in the movie. It’s a very homey house that she opens up when the Albergue is full.
After we all showered, we went into town and had a reunion with most of our bus mates from the drive down from Bayonne. Meteor John (www.azmeteorites.com)was there; the mother and daughter from the Faroe Island, Herit and Hevor were there; the Scottish couple that saved me from missing the bus at the Bayonne train station, plus a few lesser known characters were there too. Food, wine beer and religion fueled the conversation. Not too late though. We all had plans to start walking at 6:30 am.
Had a great conversation with a lady last night about my loss. Older lady that asked about my team Lindy Lou shirt I wore the day before. She talked me into tears. She brought up some good points that really made me think. I told her I don’t believe Lindy and I’s narrative ends with her death. And, as long as I keep her memory alive by celebrating her life she will never be truly gone. This is not what made me think. It was some truly personal statements made that have ignited much deeper contemplation. I thought, wow. She is really insightful. Then I found out, as we were leaving the bar, that she is a psychologist. Nice lady.
Only a few more days of the walk and homeward bound I will be. I had some major breakthroughs in my quest and I can’t really articulate them right now as they are still thoughts in progress. I do know that this strange road to Santiago is much like life: some steps hurt; some steps are relaxing, some bring flashes of another life; some hills are steep and a struggle to climb; some hills, the steepness is gradual, only to look back down from the mountain top and think wow. I climb that? Look how far I have come. Some stretches are mystical; some terrain can leave you imbalanced; some legs can cause you to walk in a fog; some people you meet for a reason, other people you meet just help you understand yourself more. The trail has endless meaning. The meaning I am looking for has yet to reveal itself and it may not. I like how my bible study partner, Cory McCord, put it to me before I left. He said that the little things are the big things and Gods grandiose plan for you may be 5 moves away. Don’t look for a big move. Look for “what’s next, no matter how small”. I have thought a lot about that today. I felt that out of such devastation would come grandeur in my life. Just need to trust God more with EVERYTHING and leave my ultimate plans in his hands. My cousin, who baptized me, sent a scripture that summed Cory’s thought up. Philippians 1: 6 Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus return. I don’t need to go searching for answers in a far off place. I need to stay still trying to learn to be strong and listen for my destiny.
As I wind down my night at 11 p.m. in this ladies living room, I am thankful for so many things and people. The one I am thankful for the most right now is my wife. If it weren’t for her I wouldn’t be able to search for these things about myself. What a great and wonderful person she still is. I had a thought tonight. I might have completed something in her that allowed her to go home to be with God with a sense of Thanks and fulfillment. She felt so much love from me, unlike anyone else including family, that she achieved her last goal. I am not sure if this is something that only makes me feel better, but who cares. It’s a beautiful thought and one I can muse on until the day I die and see her again to ask her myself.
Good night from Navarro Country, Spain. Pamplona by morning God willing.