When I first walked the Camino back in 2013, I likened the 800-kilometer journey to a “mini life”. There was something magical about it. It was like a microcosm. I felt like I was born into it somehow and the further I walked, the more I felt it. Finally, my thoughts came out in conversation while dining with Sue, from New Zealand, in Sarria. You can read my 2013 journal called A Metaphor for Life to understand my thoughts at the time.
The Meseta, for me, represented the mid-life contemplation stage of this mini-life. It’s where my journey turned inward and where the Camino really started to work on me. Outside of that microcosm, I’m in the same stage; in the midst of my mid-life contemplation while I move through the latter half of my mid-forties.
The Camino and the Meseta were catalysts for the greatest changes in my life that have led to my emotional independence and self-acceptance. This is why I’ve called my blog MyMeseta. It’s about what the Meseta represents for me; my walk through my mid-forties including the major events, happenings and my thought processes along the way. That’s why not everything in my blog is about the Meseta, or the Camino even, but more so about the stage of my life that the Meseta represents.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that after returning to the French Way too soon last May, I learned the hard way that you can “never dip your toe into the same river twice”. Tears would stream down my cheeks as I walked sometimes and, finally, in the tunnel leading under the highway out of Logroño, I needed to stop. I returned to Santiago to pick up my suitcase and to figure out my next steps which involved, at this point, returning to the Meseta.
I felt uncertain about returning to a place that had so much of an impact on me during my first Camino. I didn’t want the magic that I remembered feeling back then to evaporate like it did when I began walking the French Way the second time. After leaving Santiago on the bus, I wasn’t sure how I would feel once I got to Moratinos, but it was wonderful.
The Meseta was green this time.
Vast fields of long grass swayed and danced in the breeze.
Moratinos was small, quiet and peaceful.
I remembered some of Moratinos from when I walked the French Way the first time. It might have taken me five or ten minutes to walk through it back then, but I still remembered the blue doors and windows and the earthen walls of this building.
The Shire-like bodegas nestled into the grassy hillside, where wine is stored, were familiar too.
Santiago was a long way off from here.
I stayed with a couple, Rebekah and Patrick, and their family of cats, dogs, and chickens for four days. A man by the name of Oliver was staying there too.
Rebekah and Patrick run a special albergue in Moratinos called Peaceable Kingdom. It’s a place of retreat for pilgrims who have “crashed and burned”; a place to drop the pack, put aside the poles, shed the boots and rest the mind for a little while. They also take pilgrims in if other albergues are full. I received an invitation from Rebekah to stay with them after I posted my thread on the Camino forum called “Lost in Santiago”.
They took good care of me, fed me, gave me a place to sleep and were excellent company.
Rebekah, who is an author, gave me advice about writing. I had tried to write while I was there, but had trouble. She suggested that I wait and then lent me a book to read. In it, the author likened a writer’s mind to a compost pile and said that it’s best to let experiences sit for a while, so you can mull them over and fully understand them. Ideas become rich and fertile then.
So instead of writing, I walked a little of the Camino in both directions, relaxed on the patio and cooked a little.
I helped Rebekah pick out flowers at the greenhouse for a community garden and assisted setting up for the pilgrim’s mass in the church. I also helped her reconstruct an old labyrinth along the Camino. We drove around in her small pick-up truck collecting rocks, then got out the gloves, shovels, and pickaxe and began working.
Building a labyrinth was a perfect job for someone in search of answers. A labyrinth is a spiral path that leads to a centre, our own centre metaphorically. When walking a labyrinth, one needs to imagine what they want in their life. Then they should pause in the centre and reflect. On the walk back out into the world, they should visualize all of it taking place in their life. It’s kind of a tiny pilgrimage. Building a labyrinth with the wish that others will benefit from it was a rewarding experience too.
Eventually, our first pilgrim stopped by and gave it a go.
On my fifth day, I left Moratinos. The previous evening, a friend from home, Eric, had coincidentally sent me a message from Terradillos de los Templarios, only a few kilometers away. I suggested that we meet for coffee on his way through, but when he stopped by in the morning, I already had my pack on, poles in hand and I was ready to walk again.
This time, my plan, as per Rebekah’s suggestion, was to walk the Camino San Salvador route from León to Oviedo, north through the mountains. Rebekah had helped way-mark it herself. In her opinion, it was the most beautiful Camino. I would soon find out myself.
To see more photos of my stay in Moratinos, visit my Peaceable Kingdom album.