the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 30; June 30, Thursday.
Day sixteen: Santillana del Mar.
Answers will come, and the questions seem less important.
Baby Doe 1 here. I’m sitting in a little café across from the Claustro Románico De La Colegiata in the little Spanish town of Santillana Del Mar. I’m drinking coffee, and wondering if I just had a breakthrough, as people occasionally talk about, as if, something new has come to them, changed them, made them a better person for the future, given them insight as to why, why, why, all the things that have happened to them, happened to them. And so I sit here thinking that I’m ready, finally, to put the past behind me. Finally, so much anger, coupled with sadness, with loss, with regrets, with unknown and unorganized feelings, that are better left behind, with no longer a need to organize, because they can’t, and even if they could, it would not cause healings, but possibly just more regret.
This Claustro Románico De La Colegiata, is to some, just an amazingly beautiful church, with so much history, but for me, sitting there, and really taking my time to look up at, God, I just started, well, hearing His voice, and then, feeling some healing come over me. And now as I sit here in the café, I’m blessed to be sitting next to a group of teachers, and one has started to talk to me and has offered to show me around the town, and I feel so blessed as all these wonderful teachers take an interest in me. Me, such a little nothing, as my friend Tempie would fondly say about herself, and they ask me if I’m doing the Camino, and I say “YES!” with such excitement in my voice that I didn’t recognize me. Who was that? That said “Yes!” Who was that, that was sounding so happy. And I recognize that it was me. And I suppose that was the very first time in my life that I could say to myself, with no one listening, that I was happy. And so today, before noon, I’ve had two breakthroughs, and I’m hoping to go back to that church and thank Who it was, that spoke to my heart.
I’d like to say something about my friend, and Tom’s friend, Carlos de la Camara. There is such a warmth and presence about him that I feel changed just by knowing him. His constant guidance and free spirit of helping people is much to admire and appreciate. I hear him tell Tom about his desire to eventually lead groups of troubled youth to and along the Camino. Oh my, I hope and pray he fulfills his dream and that God provides all the means and signs to fill him with the courage to do it. My life has been forever changed so deeply on the Camino, and I’m only sixteen days into the journey. I’ve suffered blisters, sore feet and legs, a hurt knee, several falls, cold rain, heat prostration, some sunburn, some bug bites, and extreme exhaustion, and yet, although I am, in joy right now, and at peace, waiting for my tour, I can’t wait to get back to walking the Camino. Thank You God for bringing me here. And thank You for the chance to really get to know so many beautiful people, that are really “teachers” such as Carlos. Amen.
I’d like to say something about my friend, and Tom’s friend, Leo Schlienger, from France. We all met Leo in Irun where we started this incredible journey of the Camino de Santiago, the Northern route. He is Hindu, can you believe it? A Frenchman, and Hindu. He always has something good to offer in a spiritual discussion, and we all enjoy trekking with him. He says he’s either going to be a monk, or a teacher. That’s a Camino issue he’s working on, step by step. Whatever he does, he will bless people with his kindness and insight. Oh, and his crazy passion for soccer. The Euro Cup is going on and the passion he has for France is intoxicating. I’m now supporting France to win the Euro Cup. I love to join him in shouting and screaming for the French during a game, and there are more to come! A French monk, who loves soccer, which makes sense because soccer is life.
And so my new teacher friend walks up to me and says in perfect English, since, of course, a totally uneducated person like me certainly doesn’t speak Spanish, that he will show me around the town. And just then, Tom walks up, and after meeting our guide, who introduces himself as Jose Manuel Gutierrez, Tom says he’d like to join us. So, then Jose Manuel (he always uses both names), me, and Tom, begin our tour of Santillana del Mar.
Jose Manuel obviously knows everyone. As we walk the streets he is greeted often and doors open as he proceeds to show us the town hall and other government spots where I take pictures and think, that prior to coming to the Camino, I had never been out of the Los Angeles area. Never in my, approximately 32 years of life. I’m a trash baby, so I shall never be really sure when I was born. I only know roughly where, and where I was deposited. And I’m making the final final touches on dealing with that and putting it behind me, as Jose Manuel takes us back to the church, the Claustro Románico De La Colegiata. And in some quiet moments sitting there in front of the altar, I make a pact with God, and I will keep the secret until a designated time, when, something amazing and exciting will happen, something that has been told to all of us, me, Tempie, Nick, Harold, and Norm. Norm is already working on this story, the sequel to his book, The Problem Solver.
. . .
Tom here. Let me kick in for a few paragraphs. Indeed, I’m still in a backliner state of mind. All the trekkers have left town this morning, trekking out of Santillana del Mar at about 6:30 a.m., but I hang back and run into Baby Doe 1 who has decided to join the backliners. And so I join her and Jose Manuel Gutierrez on a tour of Santillana del Mar. Yes, the tour of the church, the town hall, the local palaces of the historic figures of the town, the tower, and on and on we went. It was wonderful, but even more wonderful was meeting this wonderful and giving Spaniard, and later for lunch, his wife Begoña and their daughter Diana. Jose Manuel invited us to his house in Caromdia de Pielagos where we had lunch with his family. But even before that, we went to a small village, Sau Pedro de Rudagüera, and visited his parents who were both about 87, and adorable and friendly as they offered us cookies, which we ate, and very much enjoyed. And this was such a chance to see how a typical Spanish family lived. Jose Manuel, a school teacher, his wife Begoña, a physical therapist at the local hospital, and their daughter Diana, a high school student who played us a song on her guitar, showing not one bit of shyness. She just launched into it, and it was beautiful.
We talked life and politics, and of course realized how similar we all are, and also how separated we feel from our respective “governments” that run and control our lives. That there always seems to be nothing we can do about it, that the politicians just always seem to want power and control, but who of them really cares about us, the average person, trying our best to navigate our lives around all these problems that they, the politicians, seem to create.
And all of this over an amazing lunch that Jose Manuel prepared as he waited for his wife to return from work at the hospital. Lunch was at 3:00 p.m. and so, Baby Doe 1 and I saw that we were totally blessed that . . . indeed, undefined and unplanned, we were going to spend another whole day in Santillana del Mar, and get behind our other trekker friends, and by doing so, we felt . . .
way, way, way ahead of them.
I, personally, felt this was my best day on the Camino. Meeting this wonderful family, seeing this amazing Spanish town, being in joy, and knowing that, as we continue on the Camino . . .
answers will come, and the questions seem
And so, I hear Pacabel’s Canon in D, in the background . . . ah yes, a harpist in the square . . .
. . . really, am I seeing Harold Rosenberg? Yes, he has joined the local musicians, and he has borrowed a harp. Heaven is upon us.
And backliner fever has taken over.
. . .