I am a summer girl through and through. Ten times out of ten I’ll choose hot over cold, regardless of how hot, how dry, how humid, when, where, all those details… I love the heat. I thrive on it!
But Saturday, 13th August 2016, is apparently an exception.
Italians have a brilliant way of overexaggerating everything. They use their faces, their eyes, their hands, and words that are ridiculous in that context normally, but they somehow make it work. For example, when we had to cross the bridge to go to the supermarket for dinner supplies just now, I was told by Andrea, “This is catastrophe”, complete with the shaking of hands and head.
If I was as gifted at finding the wrong words to fit as he is, I would come up with something better than onerous, grueling, or formidable. But my brain just won’t go past a good description and those words are pretty on point for the day we’ve had.
Okay, okay, the afternoon we’ve had. This morning we were all smiles as we waltzed through towns, laughed at trying to take ‘good’ pictures (note my mid-sentence “Do I look like a model?” shot – complete with a stuffed alpaca sticking out of my bag, and our sixth attempt at trying to line up my finger to point at Australia someone had grown into the side of a hill), and my pride at being the only pilgrim to swim in a creek we passed. Granted, it was as cold as that glacial creek back in France, so I don’t entirely blame anyone.. Just couldn’t go past the chance to jump in myself, even if only for a few minutes.
It was so flipping hot it was stupid.
Pilgrims were torn between huddling in packs under whatever shade the few sparse trees made in places sporadically along the path, whilst knowing that standing still only served to lengthen their time spent in the stifling conditions, and heading back out under the fury of the sun with land baking from underneath..
Somehow, we got through. We got to Estella, got beds for the night, and first thing I did was get under a cold shower.
Not everyone was so lucky.
Part of the adventure of the Camino is never knowing where you’ll lay your head for the night. Albergues are first come, first served, so if it fills up before you get there, too bad. Keep walking to the next one. And then to the next, and so on. I had romantic notions of this; thinking that it adds to the story and gives you laughs down the track and creates more memories. That was until today, when friends that we’ve made along the Way started coming into town and being turned away.
With the heat and the number of pilgrims searching, the lady here at least offered to help a little.. Jess and Christina were able to reserve beds at a private home sometimes open to pilgrims – a further seven kms down the road. Granted, seven doesn’t generally sound too much if you’re belting down the highway looking for the next exit or ducking down to Woolies for more eggs, but when you’ve walked 130km in the past five days, it’s early afternoon and you’re now facing more of the unforgiving desert, seven kilometres is heinous.
I don’t even know where the others are all staying. Iley and Glen left still unsure of their next move, so could even be camping.. I’m sure we’ll all be swapping stories when we cross paths tomorrow!
If you’re a prayer, please lift one up for all those unsure of their beds for tonight, and peace and grace for Glen and Iley. If not, send them some good vibes from your heart instead.
I am grateful for my cold shower. I am learning more and more the significance of gratitude, and being thankful for things I otherwise wouldn’t even register.
Woah, that was cool!
As I was sutting on the steps writing this, I looked up to see a weary man asking for a bed and heard an Australian accent. I went over to say hi, and was able to translate between he and the chick on the desk to call around and find him a bed for the night. David has just walked an extra nine kilometers from where he planned to stay due to full hostels, so that seemed like a divine moment that I was able to chirp up -and that he got a bed!!
I am grateful for the opportunity and ability to bring a smile to someone’s face, refresh a weary heart, and be a ray of light when hope is waning.
Signing off now to go and learn how to cook pasta by eight Italian men. I’ll keep on making those memories 😉