the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 530 miles.
Post 49; July 18, 2016, Monday.
Day 34: From Melide (where we did stay) Stage 12 of the Primitivo Route,
past Arzúa, past A Calzada, all the way to O Pedrouzo (where we stayed), in
an Albergue called “Edreira.”
The Day I Fell into The River, and almost died, but didn’t.
In life, you always keep trekking.
I fell into the river today.
But, it is so engrained in my head: no matter what, on The Camino, on The Way, and in life, you keep on trekking.
And, I suppose it was like a baptism of sorts. Finally, the Camino was going to make sure that I had every experience possible on this journey. I fell into the river, up, over my head, backpack, trekking poles, everything and all . . . went into the river . . . and I started flowing down and because of the wall along the river, I couldn’t just—get out. I could tell my hat was still on because of the band that was so useful when the wind blew, but right now, under the water, it is the water that blew and carried me along, but at least my hat was on. And so, I lifted my hands up, above my head, and out of the water
. . . and I drifted. Wondering how this was going to end up . . .
A moment is a lifetime. The water seemed thick. And dark. And I felt helddown by my hiking boots, backpack, and body weight. First efforts to pull myself out looked immediately like they would fail. The wall along the river was there and nothing to grip onto. And so I flowed. I made some more efforts to get out. I was at peace. Whatever. It would all work out. And so I flowed . . . and my boots felt the bottom, and I heard the monks chanting . . . I was okay with this.
And so, I decide it is time again to lift my hands up out of the water—and then I felt the firm grip of someone, or several people . . . grab my hands. And I could feel this slow lift as I came out of the water. And I could provide no assistance. I was dead weight. Soaked, muddy, blinded, trapped.
No. Of course I didn’t die. But some things did die. And that’s what’s so good about the Camino. Letting things die and go. Putting things behind. Philippians 3:13. “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal . . .” A good dunk in the river is the best reminder. I know the things . . . to put behind, and what . . . to strain toward.
Wow! This feels so good to have happened the very day before we reach Santiago. Wow! Thank You so much. Amen.
The mechanics of the fall into the river are simple. Somewhere between Arzua and A Calzada I was trekking along with some of my friends and was hit from behind by a biker and as I swung around to see who hit me, the weight of my backpack or the momentum of being hit caused me to lose my balance and I fell off the bridge and into the water. Yes, occasionally, there are bikers on the Camino. And a lady somehow lost control of her bike and hit me and that was it. And in the water, when I lifted my hands up, it was the great Willi Ochs and Carlos de la Camara that grabbed my hands, and anything they could hold onto, and lifted my body out of the water. And there I stood next to the lady and her bike as she apologized to me, and me just making sure I wasn’t injured—because we are too close to Santiago . . . and—I wanted to keep on trekking. My friends unloaded parts of my backpack to get my laptop out, my cellphone, my Apple watch to check their condition. But, the day was sunny and hot at that point, I think it was about 11:00 a.m., so I figured everything would dry and in no time, I said . . . let’s go
. . . let’s keep trekking. Because, in life, you always keep trekking. There were about eight of us. I was truly soaked, and as I started to trek, it was my soaked and muddy boots that were the hardest to deal with, but I’ve been through this before.
Just an hour later, we stopped for lunch somewhere near A Calzada and at that point I took out my two passports to dry out. Geesh! I was afraid that all the stamps I had received along The Way would be lost. So I laid the passports out on a table so they could dry. And it was hot and the sun was blazin, so they were going to dry. And so was I.
By the end of the day, the story of me falling into the river was everywhere. I was “the guy that fell into the river.” And there were many fun and exaggerated versions of the story, my favorite being that because the lady ran into me, she herself did not fall into the river and die, and because she is going to find a cure for cancer and save the world, I myself, who saved her, get partial credit for saving the world. And drinks to me were hoisted.
It’s late now. And, it turns out my laptop survived falling into the river. The sealed compartment I put it in protected it. And I type these words feeling so exhausted I hurt all over, and it is so hot, and my little bunk bed in this little albergue in Edreira, is next to a window, where hot breezes flow in, and I look out at a bright moon and stars, and am so thankful I wasn’t injured and can carry on. Earlier I was shown a picture of me. When I got to the albergue late this afternoon, I collapsed and passed out on my bunk. Apparently I reached up and tucked my fingers in the slat that held up the mattress on the bunk above me and then passed out. And the picture says it all. I was wiped out. But later, my friends got me up for a needed meal, and now much later, I’m back at my bunk
and it is quiet, and the lights are out, and I’m dirty, sticky, sweaty, sore, beat to crap wiped out . . .
and I’m so happy
I just don’t get it.
. . .