It was interesting to observe my notes from this day. Looking back at the photographs, I am in awe that I was really there walking through this stunning landscape and I wonder why my state of mind couldn’t match. But then again does one always feel upbeat and positive when their surroundings are beautiful? No, not all the time. Experiences are often coloured by one’s thoughts and emotions which are not always easy to change or ignore. So even though one may think I should have felt happy walking an ancient, spiritual path through the beautiful Spanish countryside, in actuality, I didn’t.
In contrast, my thoughts and emotions this day were a mixed bag. I appreciated the beauty enough to photograph it, but I was also trying to understand why I felt so differently about this Camino than my last one. In all honesty, I didn’t know why I was walking it again. I had a perfectly beautiful experience the first time. Not only that, but some parts of the Camino I really didn’t want to repeat.
As I passed certain places, I wondered why I remembered them with such rosy-coloured glasses. I didn’t see things, or feel about them, the same way that I once had. Some of what I saw, I didn’t even remember, like the city of Estella aside from the big church and the wine fountain. I chalked it up to the fact that the city wasn’t pretty or that I must have been talking to someone at the time that I walked through it.
I spent much of this day in my head observing my surroundings objectively – the path, the road, stores, people and the landscape – comparing them to my rosey-coloured memories.
It was definitely worth waiting out the rain overnight in Mañeru, for both the Camino spirit and the brighter sky. Even though it was overcast, the morning sun broke through the clouds. Cirauqui appeared like the rising sun itself nestled on the crest of a hill. It looked beautiful framed by the lush farmland, olive groves, a young vineyard and the moody sky.
Again memories flooded my heart. This was where I tasted my first bitter uncured olive. Back then the vineyards were ripe with fruit so it was easy to clear my palate with sweet flavour.
My Camino buddy and I had plucked bunches of grapes along this section to snack on while we walked.
Memories and nagging questions monopolized my thoughts. “Why am I walking?” I repeatedly asked myself. “I had a perfectly good journey the first time. Why do I feel like I need to do this again?”
It was interesting to see places that I had romanticized in my mind like the pool below which my Camino buddy and I had tried to convince each other to jump into one late September day.
It’s funny how the mind remembers things. I was thinking today that I must have had rose-coloured glasses on when I saw some of the things I remember. My memory of the pool was of a grassy bank that gently led to a concrete pool deck. Also, that Andrew and I had been following a dusty dirt road when we noticed it.
In actual fact the pool appears right after walking through a tunnel under a highway. Rather than a gently-sloping grassy bank there was a concrete drop-off. It’s funny how we can glorify fond memories.
Colourful graffiti painted on tunnel walls along the Camino always caught my eye, but also the bright scene at the end.
I remember seeing the graffiti, YOU ARE IN SPAIN, along my first Camino. Back then it reminded me of where I really was and what I was trying to accomplish. An overwhelming feeling of awe filled my heart. It was my first experience outside of North America and my first time traveling alone.
This time the word “NOT” was written in the middle of the message. It took one short word to change the meaning. Maybe there was truth in the message for me. My mind really wasn’t in the present moment. It was clearly in the past.
Much of the walk through Estella felt foreign to me except for this large church and the wine fountain up ahead.
At the wine fountain, instead of mixing wine and water in my water bladder like the last time, I poured just a small amount into my scallop shell.
Wild roses were beginning to blossom.
Many of the fields were bright with blooming mustard.
The peak ahead drew my attention. There were ruins on top. I had noticed them before while walking through Villamayor de Monjardin, but I had never stopped to visit them. This time I would. My goal was to stay in different places and explore new sights.
The Albergue de Peregrinos in Villamayor de Monjardin had a toasty wood burning stove – comfort after a day walking in a mixture of cloud, rain and sun. A few of us sat around it warming our hands and feet. A woman, Leyla, from London, England sat down beside me. We connected instantly. She was also curious about the ruins, so we hiked up the hill together.
The view from the top was stunning!
The ruins were of the Castillo de San Esteban de Deyo. Before being taken over by a Spanish king in 914, it was a Muslim fortress.
The view of Villamayor de Monjardin down below…
The communal dinners along the Camino Frances were something I had missed along the Norte route. It felt good to be part of this again.
The view from the dining room was incredible!
The meal was good and hearty.
Although my thoughts had been clouded with memories and questions during the walking part of my day, the evening ended with positive feelings. The next morning I planned to walk with my new friend, Leyla, and her group of three. Before bed, a special meditation was held inside a cozy room with candles and lots of pillows. It was led by a man who, coincidentally, I would later meet in an unusual place.