Monday, June 30, 2008

Day 4 Larrasoana to Cizur Menor

Temperature: cool in the morning, quickly heating up to 80s by mid afternoon

Mood: Rested and social

Last night I made it to Larrasona about 5pm and finally got to hang out with other pilgrims. We were all staying at the ¨refugio or alberque which is basically made up of one large room and one large bathroom. If you haven´t done it before, its an interesting experience to share a huge room filled with bunk beds with complete strangers. Some refugios have two rooms for men and women, but not this one. Also the bathroom - get this - we shared this one too! Strange to see a 60 year old woman getting into a toilet stall as a 16 year old boy is brushing his teath. Hey, but we are all kindred spirits on the road. In the end, it was all really easy to get used to.

I loved last night because I spent several hours hanging out with a young couple from Cataluna and a another 30 something guy from Chicago. We were all speaking castillano, a second language for all of us. We had dinner, shared some wine, laughed, hung out.

I got up this morning at 6am and started my daily journey. It was sad to say ¨buen camino¨ to my new friends as I knew that I probably wouldn´t see them again - all of us travelling at different speeds. But I do sincerely wish them a buen camino and that they safely reach A. Compestela in one piece.

I thought I´d have to walk alone again but God brought me a travelling companion for the day. Her name is Valarie, she´s French, and spoke English very well. Valarie is amazing. Her left leg has a pronounced limp and her left arm is curled into itself. Plus, her right eye was permanently shut. Although she walked a little slowly, she trudged along quite valiantly. Everyone who meets her is blown away.

We talked about so many things as we walked together. She even sang me a few Edith Pilaf melodies. We stopped for lunch, talked about the existence of God, our jobs, ex-boyfriends (you know the conversation is going to come around to that), our families, etc.

After about 6 hours of hanging out together, Valarie told me about what she termed as her disabilities. Valarie is 36 years old and about 12 years ago she had been in a horrible car accident. She had been in a coma for about 3 weeks and when she came out of it she had been left temporarily paralized on her left side.

And, here I was thinking of the blisters forming on my heels! What a joke that is. Gosh, in meeting her I was so inspired. She plans on walking the entire journey to A. Compestela. No cheating - no taking a bus to Burgos or Leon, no cabs through the big cities. Nothing. And she said that the trip will take as long as it takes, even if it takes her a couple of months

God sends us agents who speak and live his message. All we have to do is pay attention. I thank God for bringing Valarie into my path so early in my journey.

It was hard to say goodbye to her in Pamplona. By 3pm she had enough walking and needed her rest so she decided to stay in the local alberque. I continued on to the final destination point of the day´s journey - Cizur de Menor- about 6 kilometers outside of Pamplona.

Of course, I wish her a very Buen Camino. I know I´ll see her again.