‘This is not a race,’ said Michael to me as I got down at Sarria station early morning in the middle of September 2010. I nodded, we had coffee together and he said, ‘All you need to do is follow the yellow arrow marks.’ he told me about the Passaporte every pilgrim needs to carry and get stamped on the way to Santiago. A Wiki article said the distance was 112 kms, the road planner he was carrying broke it up into 130+ kms and the woman at the coffee counter provided me a blank Passaporte. I was all set.
But no. The mind, it plays games. I stepped into Sarria and wanted to find the Informatio Centre. Why did I want to find it? Because I thought someone needs to give me directions. But I had directions. Can’t be that simple, my mind played with me and I did a couple of kilometers in the light rain. Thank God! JJ had asked me to use Cargoes instead of Jeans which would have been wet by now. I knew so little. Edith had given me her smaller bag; still I had stuffed in too many clothes. I was learning. After a few kilometers of wandering I realised that I was making a fool of myself. I remembered: this is not a race, follow the yellow marks.
I started in the general direction pointed to by locals who knew no English and yet were smiling and helpful. The sidewalk had ceramic tiles in the shapes of the Compostela, the Pilgrim’s stick, and I reached an old bridge on a creek where two yellow arrows beckoned me. They were clumsy, their paint had dripped, and I thought that is how I will walk, slowly, clumsily, but since it is not a race, I will reach at some point. I had enough days and I was planning about 20 kilometers a day.
The walk started with an uphill climb of about 8 kms. At the wood shack we self stamped our Passaporte and I met N who was with a friend and had been walking for almost 25 days, a total of 500 kms. She said she was from Luxumberg. It rang a bell, I knew the name of the country or city from Geography text books, but I could not place it in my mind. I moved on and might have covered another 7-8 kms before a Cafe Bar showed up. I was just ordering fresh coffee and sandwich when Michael showed up again.
‘Archangel Micheal, you got late?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ he said. ‘Been having problems with my bag. Too many wet clothes.’
‘How are you doing?’
‘Holding up, but beginning to get tired.’
‘The hard part for today is over. Now it is downhill.’
‘I consider you Archangel. Do you mind?’
He smiled and wished me, ‘Buen Camino’.
To be continued…
For Santiago pictures see …