Friday, July 10, 2015

CISVAAA Principals' Pilgrimage to El Camino:Day 5

Day Five: Sarria to Portomarin

We have now completed more than half of our pilgrimage journey; we passed the 100 kilometre mark and now have 89.5 kilometres to walk before we reach Santiago.  Some might say that we are now seasoned pilgrims, but we wonder if there really is a point at which one becomes a seasoned pilgrim.Doesn't a pilgrimage mean that, no matter how many times one completes it, one finds a different experience each time? The more people we meet, the more we realize that truth.

There are many more pilgrims traveling the road now, as many start the journey in Sarria, at approximately the 100 kilometre point. We began our day at breakfast by talking to a group of women from Ottawa who were just beginning their journey today.  They asked us for some tips, which we shared happily, but  we realized by the end of the conversation that the most important advice we could share was to enjoy the journey, and with those words, we departed.

On our way, we also met a woman from Torino, Italy, who was traveling with her granddaughter, who appeared to be approximately eight years old. We learned that this woman has walked the Camino numerous times, both forward and backward. With this particular journey, she said, she is training her granddaughter to walk it as well.  To see this pair walking, with kerchiefs on their heads and walking sticks in their hands, they could have come from any time, and time seemed to melt away. The Camino transcends the generations.

We met a tired-looking man who asked the name of the next town and the distance to it. When we said that it was Portomarin at 2 kilometers, he looked so relieved. He had walked from Triacastela that day, which was a journey of forty kilometres. He said that he would stay in Portomarin tonight. We thought that was a very good idea.

Throughout our day, we met diverse people, coming from places such as Boston and Northern Ireland. Each shared their story with us as we spent a short time with them, ending each conversation with 'Buen Camino' of course. Once again, we met the Spanish school group, led by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. They are such a happy group of people, and they told us that they enjoy chatting with us to practice their English, which is considerably better than our Spanish!

All along our way, we have come across many animals, including numerous cattle, roosters and hens. Today we even saw an ostrich and a peacock. It is the dogs and cats, though, that lend charm to the countryside. They are able to roam free, unleashed and unfettered by cares. They walk the Camino as they please, making friends with the pilgrims (especially Brenda) and enjoying the freedom.

The walk was beautiful, with more pastoral scenes punctuated by areas of farmland, cornfields and other crops. Upon entering a lightly forested area, we heard the faint sound of pipes. It seemed incongruous, but we have realized that anything is possible on the Camino. In a short while, we came upon a piper in traditional dress, playing the Galician pipes. We stopped to listen and appreciate his music, and then moved on, the spirit of Galicia ringing in our ears.

Through our day, with all of its aches and pains, we forged on happily. We know, of course, that our journey is far more than simply following arrows on a path through Spain, and as the days roll by, we continue to feel the gift of this journey. It is a journey of the soul, and that knowledge propels us onward toward our goal, as it has done for centuries of people following in the footsteps of Saint James.

Saying our morning prayer together, for the intentions of our CISVA community.

An early morning start.

Our Galician piper.

Walking through fields of crops.

In the Chapel of the Clouds at the entrance of Portomarin.

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