Tuesday May 22 Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis (Day 9)

Today’s route takes us to Caldas de Reis, 22.2km/13.3miles, which is in the same ball park as Fitbit’s measurements. We started at 7.30am and arrived at 2.15pm. We had a longish lunch stop as a threesome from Nestle were interested in conversing on tech and USA.

The realization hit that we have only 3 more days of Camino. We see more pilgrims on the trail as we near Santiago. Many start from Tui, which meets the minimum of 100km for the Compostela certificate. For our schedule, that’s six days of walking from Tui to Santiago. We even met someone today, who was jogging on the trail, albeit with a day pack.

There was one major uphill trek today, which we managed to reach them summit by 11am. Fortunately, this was largely via a forested trail with lots of shade.

There was a smallish section when we had to walk on paths near a major arterial road that was leading out to town. Cars were zooming by at 45-55mph. I have a simple proposal. All drivers before getting their license, have to walk by an arterial road so that they ‘feel’ the jet stream hit them as cars zoom by. Also, how scary it can be when such cars are typically passing within 2-3 feet away. Or trying to cross such an arterial road, be it at pedestrian crossings when cars don’t seem to slow down when they are 30-40 feet away! There was even a driver accelerating down a slope, when I felt compelled to signal him to slow down as there were walkers behind me around the bend.

I had noticed this several days ago, but will share in today’s post. We were passing a wooded section when there was a cacophony of chirping birds. To most, it’s pleasant background noise or music. I asked Joon a simple question – how many different varieties of birds do you think are chirping away? We think it’s likely to be 4. Trying to answer this, requires one to really ‘listen’ as birds do call to one another. If we practice this skill on the Camino, perhaps we can better hear each other when we converse.

The thought occured to me, what happens if a bird loses its voice box, as humans sometimes do. How would the bird communicate with its brethren birds? Would its purpose in Life be comprised if it can’t chirp and sing?

Walking the Camino is a great way to connect with our fellow creatures. I stopped by a pond that had concrete walls, as I was taking something out of the backpack. There were frogs in said pond croaking away (though this was high pitched, and not deep and low as ‘croaking’ would imply). As Wing Woman Joon caught up to me, I noticed a frog making its way towards me, croaking all the time. He/She probably made its way about 5 feet towards me, when I took the below picture. It stopped, and all the frogs quietened down when a large group of pilgrims neared the pond, as they, the pilgrims, made a racket.

Frog is about 12 o’clock from the top of the three green shoots at bottom of pic. Use the ripples in the water to help you locate the frog’s eyes.

Thought provoking question – Do we ‘scare off’ other people as we live our lives in our usual way, without being aware?

We had seen horses on several days of our Camino. One day, there must have been some form of competition as there were horse riders along the trails, along the roads, and horses tied up around trees. Obviously, there were horses in pastures. This was a lovely horse, that just stood by the path and wondered why there was a procession of pilgrims walking by.

He/She could be sleeping since he/she didn’t move much as I approached and passed. Being in Spain, it could be on siesta. Horses can sleep standing up, they can also sleep with their eyes half open, open or close. So, Dr Google informed me.

This goat is a ham. He actually approached the fence as we were walking past it, and showed off the best side of his face for the camera!

As we passed farms, it was clear that the elderly continued to be active maintaining their lands. They were not in their rocking chairs. Rather they were:

  • Clearing the weeds.
  • Tilling the land.
  • Pushing a wheel barrow with fertilizer (old lady in her 70s?)
  • Chopping wood (wife was holding one end of the wood, husband was wielding the axe and chopping the wood on the block).

I love how the farm equipment seems custom made. You cannot walk into a town dealership and order something as shown below.

Does this generation have anything to teach us? Do they stress over waking up on Mondays? Does the labor give them a sense of Purpose?

We passed a stretch when a motivational coach was in the vicinity. See his/her handiwork below.

Isn’t it great to point out this sign when we have someone in our company that is losing it? But perhaps a better way, is the sign below.

Let’s share about dreams, past & future.

Cyclists have been passing us on the trails with some regular frequency over the past few days. Some are on the Camino, others are day cyclists in their group outings. We share the trails with them. NONE of these cyclists have the traditional bells to ring and warn us walkers. Since when have bicycles stopped being equipped with bells, and bells became an optional attachment? I informed Soul Mate Joon that she can use this cycle bell learning to warn me when I raise my voice with her.

Yesterday, there was a route option, by the river along a forested trail or along the tarmac roads. There was a big signboard outlining the options and trade offs, as the river route was 1km longer. The choice would seem a no-brainer, yet we saw a couple of guys, opt to go via the roads. One definitely can walk faster on tarmac than over dirt paths, and thus, one arrives earlier/faster. In Life, when there are options, what ‘signboards’ can we refer to help decide between the options? If signboards come in human form, do we recognize them? If signboards are our intuition, our inner spiritual compass, can we hone them to serve us well? Or is it a throw of the dice when we come to Life’s cross roads?

Walking the Camino is not easy by any stretch of the imagination. There are loose gravel stones, rocky paths, the heat of the sun, the coastal winds, the steep climbs. There are stretches by freeways, up and downs among residences, past bleak industrial zones. The tough sections can wear one down especially when one’s body suffers physically. A group of 5 Polish Camino pilgrims were leap frogging us over the past 3 days. They walked briskly, and yesterday, we were encouraged by their example to say the rosary during the walk. Today, the group passed us, and I asked the last person, what happened to the 5th person in the group, a tall sturdy guy that was typically the lead walker. His feet were worn and bloodied, and he remained behind to recover. Here’s a prayer that he will regain his health soon, to complete the Camino.

Our Polish pilgrims that kept leap frogging us (we start earlier, we have shorter breaks!).

In Caldas de Reis, we couldn’t help but notice and appreciate some of these art murals on building walls.

At the Iglesia de Santo Tomas Becket, there was this angel sculpture holding this Madonna picture. It’s something that my mother had in the house that I grew up as a child.

Our walking tips:

  1. Start as early as you can in the morning.
  2. Have a decent breakfast, and enough rest stops to fuel and rest your body.
  3. Go at your pace, never mind that everyone seems to pass you. I would estimate that at least 100 people have passed us, if not more. We don’t sweat this, we greet everyone.
  4. Engage all your senses, your mind and your spirit.
  5. The Camino is your walk and contemplation, not carrying a backpack. Carry as light a (day) pack as you wish.
  6. Apply sun block on the back of your neck too!

That’s my chain mark.

Fellowship on the trail itself is difficult to find. We engage in fellowship when we see people resting by the trails, when we stop at cafes. Expecting to strike up a camaraderie while walking requires two to tango, and the majority are not expecting to, as it requires synchronizing the pace. But if the chemistry is there, the synchronization will happen.

Finally, the Spanish siesta means that most businesses are closed in the early afternoon till 4.30pm, so that employees can go back home and have lunch with their family. Rushing to one’s destination allows one to avoid walking in the heat of the day, but most business and sights are closed. Balancing the time to enjoy the journey is also important.

Happy Camino Walking.

Author: Ben & Joon

Residents in the great Pacific North West. Living life as it happens, learning our purpose and trail blazing our own paths. Namaste.

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