Camino_blog 3There has been a big gap since the last blog on the Camino…and I know why. To write the next couple of installments I have to look as something subtle within myself and I am reluctant.  Like the natural cycles of a personal relationship, a group or organization we cycle through the greet/connecting stage to the conflict/complexity stage to then emerging at a level of mutual connection that is deeper.  Here I have to begin to look at the conflict/scratchy parts of myself to understand my Camino.

We left off the story here where I came to terms with the humility, challenge and simplicity of the pilgrim life and the beauty of the land:

“By the middle of the night, when I woke to crawl over bunks and bodies to make a bolt to the outdoor toilets, I knew that I loved and needed the body, the collective body, of my fellow pilgrims.  They had made the room warm enough to sleep on a freezing night…and we, had collectively dried 50 pair of pants and soaking wet shoes with our body heat alone!  Onward, Ultrea! To walk the land.

So I walked on in the rain, literally sliding down some parts of the muddy trails falling in love with the mountains and the little mountain villages.  I kept gazing at glorious stone houses thinking “Oh this one my son and his wife should buy…no this one..oh that one!”.  I felt like a family house should be here.  At the moment, before we had all gathered for their wedding later that summer, I had no idea there was a blood line from this exact part of Spain in Laura’s Mayan lineage – come in through the door of conquering and oppression in Central America one could say.  At that moment I kept thinking – oh we need a house here where we will all visit in summer times…

At some point the rain stopped and my mud caked pants dried just as I came to the very end of the mountain region to a church where pilgrims pray before crossing a bridge towards Pamplona.  I stopped and sat in pews thinking gratefully about the passage over the mountains and feeling a bit of trepidation to enter a big city – would the beauty of the Camino now get lost in slogging across vast dry plains?

In the small town just beyond there were many places for pilgrims to stop and avoid staying overnight in the City.  I was tempted but decided no Pamplona had too much mystique to miss.  Fortunately the path into the city was gentle, running us through attractive parks and side roads to gently let us into the bustle of the city only as we reached the glorious ancient ramparts around the old city.  Rather enchanted with the great walls I entered through a gate into the inner city’s narrow streets.  Wow – how scary to be in the running of the bulls here where there is nowhere to hide in a narrow street unless a kind shop owner opens a door!   Through medieval streets to the huge seminary where we the hundreds, about 500 of us pilgrims, were to sleep that night.  Here I had to make a decision that seemed simple enough but somehow it had a strangely archetypical significance…