Conjunctions And Orbits

Like many other Peregrinos, my first images of the Camino came from “The Way“, the thoroughly gorgeous Martin Sheen film which turned the standard road trip movie trope into a very long walk, with four disparate characters coming together in unlikely fashion to walk to Santiago in unison.

Much as I loved the film (it’s pretty much the reason why I’m here), I didn’t really expect to find such a group of people that I’d be walking with in such close concert.

So it has proved.

My experience so far has been much more meaningful. Over the last two weeks, there has been a multitude of significant conjunctions between me and my fellow Pilgrims, which burn brightly in shared experience and common cause – and then – just like a planet or a moon on a different orbit, we slowly part company again.

What’s absolutely incredible about the Camino is the unbelievable frequency at which these soulful conjunctions repeat themselves, often at highly unexpected locations or after unlikely intervals.

After the relative drama of Martin’s illness on the route out of Villafranca Montes de Oca, the likelihood of reaching Burgos on Tuesday had receded and I found myself walking with Janet of South Australia (another responder) and we settled on Cardeñuela Riopico as our albergue for the night.

For a while, it looked like we were the only ones who would stop there, until Gythlian and Elizabeth, an indomitable pair from New Zealand, appeared.

I’d first met them on Day 2, from Roncesvalles to Zubiri – and here they were again, with plenty to tell of the intervening days.

Spending the night in an albergue with just seven guests was a rare treat – it meant lots of time to really enjoy the power shower and an extra pillow too.

Burgos was just an easy 12km away the next morning, with a noon arrival at our chosen albergue where we were warmly greeted by Marie Noelle, the fabulous Frenchwoman who ran the Emaus church refuge with charm and authority.

There I reconnected with Lea from Germany (from Day 2), Melina from Germany (Day 5) and Tereza and Victoria from the Czech Republic (Day 6).

It was wonderful to see them all again for the communal meal and pilgrim blessing that evening.

I wonder how many more of these conjunctions I might have though, as I’ve elected to rent a bike for a couple of days to cross the Meseta.

This is Spain’s breadbasket – a high plateau of generally flat, open wheat fields, stretching on between Burgos and León, often subject to high temperatures and lacking in water fountains.

The idea of pushing through this area on a bike gained strength as Janet and I approached Burgos, so when we saw a bike rental firm, the die was cast.

So Wednesday saw us leave Burgos at 8.30 and arrive in Frómista, some 66km further along the Camino at 5pm.

We’d covered three 20km walking stages in one day, even with plenty of stops along the way.

It’s an entirely different thing to ride a bike on the Camino, after 13 days on foot.

The advantages are clear – it’s getting us between villages and water fountains more swiftly and we’re carrying less weight on our backs.

But we’re somehow seeing less – partly due to the careful focus on the path ahead and partly due to that increase in speed.

Puzzlingly, that increase in speed doesn’t prevent my Fly Escorts from keeping pace with me, the little gits.

That speed has fundamentally changed my trajectory, compared to my fellow Pilgrims from earlier days, although I did also see Alberto from Italy again as we approached Frómista.

Janet and I have already agreed to reduce our pace and range over the next two days, for that reason.

Some regard using a bike as “cheating”, but I’ve said before that everyone does the Camino as they see fit – and that holds.

Getting too far ahead of friends made earlier on this path is the thing that plays on my mind the most.

I hope our paths will cross again.

Health Report:

Blisters: 0 (9) a relative day off for the feet

Trips, Slips and Falls: 0 (1)

Applications of Factor 50: 4 (67)

Filling of Water Bottles: 2 (31)

Guidebook Left Behind At Scene Of Medical Emergency: 1

Guidebook Located After Medical Emergency But Not Returned Due To Finder Getting Lucky The Previous Night And Not Being Able To Meet Up To Return It: 1

Unsuccessful requests for Parmesan cheese: 0 (1)

Unrequested dish of Parmesan cheese presented: 0 (1)

Wrong turns taken: 0 (2)

Mobile phone chargers left behind: 1

New mobile phone chargers bought: 1

Number of times “Buen Camino” was said: Way up – at least 150/200, based on our ability to whizz past people at 12-15km/h

Unlikely Song Repeatedly Played By My Brain: I Will Wait by Mumford and Sons

The Song I’d Have Preferred My Brain To Repeatedly Play: If I Should Fall Behind by Bruce Springsteen

Poncho deployments: 0 (2)

3 thoughts on “Conjunctions And Orbits

  1. Connie Ramage

    Dear John, This is my first “dear John” message,  (:  I just wanted you to know that I am thoroughly enjoying your daily Camino updates.  I continue to travel daily distances with Craig and Haydee from Atlanta  whom we shared paella with at Casa Magica, along with 78 year old Bill from New Hampshire.  We have not encountered him again—YET. You just never know! Tonight we are in Hornillos at THE MEETING POINT  ALBURGUE.  Such a small village with BIG pilgrim history.  I stayed here in 2015, and recommend it. Please say hello to Janet for me. She, Barb from Auckland,  and I walked together into Zubiri AND Pamplona. This afternoon I ran into Barb at the tiny tienda! It’s so good to see members of our Camino family again after a week of separation.   Good luck on the bicycles! And BUEN CAMINO! Connie from OHIO Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Connie. This is Janet. have also met John. I am hoping we catch up a bit further down the track. I will probably slow down a bit now as not under time frame pressure now that John and I have been riding a cycle for a few days. Hope you’re still having fun! I love your great attitude on life.. you’re inspiring! xx


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