Early morning start,
walking with friends and strangers,
shadows behind us.
We all have a reason for walking the Camino and some of us want or need to articulate it more than others.
Early this morning, for the first time this year on the Camino, I heard the call of a Cookoo bird. I recalled last year wondering if people at home thought me cookoo for walking 500 miles across a foreign country. I smiled at the thought of those same people thinking me now insane for walking it twice. It is difficult to convey what the Camino means to those who have not walked it. This is an ongoing challenge, which most likely will be amplified upon my return home after walking it a second time. Along the way, walking with those who are experiencing what I already have helps to alleviate this challenge and welcomes conversation and perspective.
Today was the earliest and coldest start of any day I’d walked. I started out solo but around the first corner ran into Mike from the Netherlands, with whom four days earlier, I'd spent time enjoying tapas in Pamplona. We walked together comparing minor pains and lamenting the distance to the day's first café. An unusual pain on my right anklebone was causing me concern, so I was wearing my sandals to relieve the pressure my boots put on that spot. I was glad to have run into a friend whose pace was a bit slower. Walking with others helps to distract and redirect focus from myself.
Later in the day, I would again meet up with Helle from Denmark, a couple from England, the familiar face of the owner of the hotel in Sansol where I stayed last year. All were welcome companions on the day's long walk.
Olive groves and vineyards became more plentiful and feathers sparse. I was in the Rioja region now, looking forward to a nice glass of red.
So far, I've only found one feather along the way. Feathers are a token for me; a reminder there is someone looking out for me, urging me on; keeping me safe. Finding only one reminds me of my responsibility in this. I ultimately am accountable for my well-being. I can't rely on tokens of any kind to substitute for the role I play in a successful journey.
Whatever motivates people to walk the Camino can be left behind, like shadows in the early morning.