Day 26 –Mansillas de las Mulas to Leon

We woke up this morning – allowing how we felt in the morning decide whether we were to catch the bus or walk into Leon.

We had read up on the walk into Leon and it really seemed a little discouraging and adding to the sore foot and muscles, we figured we would give our bodies a chance. The more we pushed ourselves, the more likely it may inhibit us or be more detrimental down the line. One of the golden rules: Listen to our bodies!

Before we started we had given ourselves a “wildcard” to use for a taxi or bus if we ever needed it. And we chose today to be the day.

But anyway, we don’t need to justify our decision or actions to not walking today. We all have free will and are entitled to choose how we embark on stages of our lives, and it is no different on the Camino.

Despite not walking, we still experienced some rewarding moments that have reinforced things we have already known.

Humans speak a common language but we sometimes forget that we do. If we tuned in, observed and take the time to interpret, we would recognize that body language is our common language. Doesn’t matter where we are in the world – we have always found that body language can, most of the time, break any verbal language barrier.

There shouldn’t be any barriers between people in society to communicate and we have definitely learnt that in our travels but it has been reinforced on the Camino.

The Spanish people of the towns we visit are so welcoming, open and caring. Every time we pass someone in the town, they will wave, say “Ola”, smile or wish us “Buen Camino” – if people are in their car, more often then not, they will wave or bow in acknowledgement or stop and let us cross the road. Then the joys of trying to order food and even have a conversation – we have had many laughs with the locals and we guarantee that most of the time, we haven’t really understood what they said and vice versa but we get the gist of one another. Thanks to body language!

Don’t get us wrong, we are practicing our basic Spanish and we don’t expect them to be able to speak English. But we have a blast conversing in this way – we have in fact bonded with quite a few people (locals and pilgrims).

This morning when we left the hostal, the older gentleman who owned it, bid us farewell. But in his eyes, smile and his touch, we could feel the sincerity in his heart – we actually felt sad saying goodbye despite only knowing him for the two brief encounters we had. As we walked up to the end of the dark street (possibly 200 metres away), we turned back, he was standing outside the door, watching us and he waved. When we got to the corner we turned back one last time, and he was still there and he waved one last time. We will probably never see him again, but there was something about our interaction that made us feel like we had known him forever and we were saying goodbye to a dear friend!

Our second encounter today was when David got his haircut – the hairdresser could speak a little English and we managed to have an absolute ball talking to her. We discussed travel, reasons why we were doing the Camino, the history of Leon and how family-orientated Spanish people seem to be. It’s funny how things work, we had tried at a few barbers/hairdressers earlier but because it was approach 2 pm (siesta time), we were unsuccessful with getting David in for a hair cut – yet when we came across this shop, her son was more than happy to slot David in.

Just these two encounters show how easy it is to break the language barrier – we can all get along in this world. We need to show one another respect and with a few genuine smiles, handshakes and pats on the back – we can really reveal who we are. It is like people can feel the goodness in one another and connect!

In the busy life that society has become, we connect but in cyber space – we need to bring it back to basics and say hello in person! Why can’t we do that on the streets of Sydney without people thinking we are mad? Have we become that much of an isolated community?

Let’s open our hearts and reach out more to one another! Prove that no matter where we come from, what verbal languages we speak that we can still connect and build fantastic friendships.

 

Day 25 – Bercianos del Real Camino to Mansilla de las Mulas

Okay – 26 km three days in a row is NOT good for the body! We’re just saying.

Le’s foot is back to swollen and our shoulders are wrecked and we are just weary!

We gave ourselves a wee bit of a sleep-in and left around 8am which is the latest we have ever left and the sun was just peeping over the horizon. The road was rather lonely again today with us running into only maybe the same dozen pilgrims over and over again. There was no cloud cover today and the warm sun was out once again 🙂

It is tricky because we don’t want to overeat and end up consuming more than we need for the walk but in the same token we don’t want to be under consuming and actually putting unnecessary strain on the body.

To be honest, we have probably been under consuming. As we walked today, we thought about what we had been eating for the past few days. We are only really having one proper meal a day.  And in that meal, we have probably been eating more carbs then anything (breads, pastas and potatoes). Admittedly, they are more than readily available. We are possibly ok on protein (from the eggs we are eating) but when it comes to any other vitamins and minerals we are probably deficient. Which may be causing our extra weariness! Over the past few days, we have noticed that we just want to sleep more and more. We are sleeping much earlier and finding every morning a struggle to get up which is a far cry from how we were in the first 2 weeks. Is that first signs of fatigue settling in??

Along the Camino, they have these pilgrim menus which is usually between 8 Euro and 15 Euro for 3 courses. An awesome bargain for budget travelling. There will be choices for each of the courses but after consecutive days of eating like that, we want a change up. How we are craving noodles, stir-fries and sushi? So maybe this causes us to become a little lazy with eating….

We are not coffee or tea drinkers, well maybe the occasional tea, but not at breakfast. Every morning without fail, everyone seems “stunned” that we say no to their offers for coffee or tea. Sometimes we are certain they think we must have misheard them because after bringing us our toast or muffin, they ask us again…. And when we say, “no thank you.” The hands come up and sweeps across their body and they say, “Nada?” With a bewildered look in their eyes as if we are crazy! And we can’t help but smile every day at what has become a little ritual.

Anyway, back to our dietary issues, for lunch today, we ordered a chunky piece of steak each and a garden salad. That might have given us a bit of a boost for the final 6.1km we had, along with some more singing, we arrived in good spirits! Weary but in good spirits!

All this talk of food has a point, we are thinking about how lucky we are to have the food choices we have back home in Australia. We have grown an even greater appreciation to a hearty home-cooked meal. Fresh fruit, fresh vegetables and variety of choices at the supermarket. We are so blessed to be able to have all that at our fingertips.

Once we get home, we will be sure to continue our culinary experiences and be more vigilant with good food choices – not only for our own health but also from an ethical perspective for animals and farmers. At the beginning of our Europe trip (back in July), we had met a few farmers and so we have grown a greater appreciation for the source of where the basics of our food comes from.

Together with what we are experiencing now and the things we are reading, we just want to be sure that we are more aware and conscious of what we place in our mouths and to also think and consider how it came to be placed in front of us to eat!

 

Day 24 –Terradillos de los Templarios to Bercianos del Real Camino

(yesterday’s post that we couldn’t get online)

When we left this morning – it was still pitch black despite it being almost 8 am. The dark clouds were looming but we managed to escape any rain – thank goodness!

We could be hitting the wall right about now. Although we manage to do the 26-odd km on back-to-back days, we are finding that today was really hard on the body. Tomorrow is 26 km again, so it will be interesting to see how we hold up.

Each step seems to be taking slower and the body seems to not want to cooperate. But at the end of the day- we get here just like any other day so far.

It’s been a couple of interesting days on the road. Seems like the hordes of pilgrims are dispersing into their own rhythms now as we are seeing fewer and fewer. And once again as we have had a rest day, we are walking amongst the next lot of pilgrims so are not recognizing anyone… back to making new friends! 🙂

Today we reflected whether this walk would bring us even closer together. We only had our 6-year wedding anniversary a week ago and so are still very early days into being veterans at marriage but we have lots that we are proud of. We are no experts nor are we saying our marriage is perfect but we talked about the strengths of our relationship and what we were happy about it.

What is it that we think we do good?

  • We are more than just husband and wife, we are best friends, we are a team!
  • We work through things together and we talk about everything. There is literally no topic that is considered taboo between us.
  • We are open about our feelings, we call a spade a spade to one another – there is no tippy-toeing and there is no right or wrong when it comes to opinions!
  • Every night, whether we are on holidays or at home, we make sure that we climb into bed together. And we greet and farewell each other with a kiss and a cuddle.
  • We appreciate one another. We are married and we consider ourselves as our own “family”, so we place US first when we make any decisions.
  • We do things together because it makes us both happy.

Yes, we disagree/argue/fight or whatever you want to call it. But we never go to bed angry, we never walk away from a fight and we never argue on the phone. Our arguments are always face-to-face. We make sure there is a clear end or resolution to the disagreement and then move on. We don’t revisit those discussions or dwell on them.

The other thing that irritates us so much is when marriages are described as “give-and-take” or “happy wife, happy life”! We know these phrases are used in good humor but not only are they inaccurate, it is so overused and BORING!

A marriage is not about compromising or negotiating. We don’t give and we don’t take from one another. We don’t need to buy one another gifts. We haven’t celebrated Valentine’s Day since the first few when we started dating. We don’t buy birthday presents or Christmas presents for one another as we would rather experience something together to mark those important dates (i.e. a musical, a nice dinner etc). And as for our wedding anniversary – it is probably the most lavish gift we give to one another and that is to always spoil ourselves with a trip away! It’s become a tradition for us 🙂

Everything belongs to us so we decide together what we do, what we want, what we need, what is best for us. It isn’t about a trade-off… it’s not about bargaining…. It’s about knowing and understanding what is important to the other person and being supportive and happy for them if they are happy!

Bottom line, it is about doing what makes us both happy and constantly showing our love for one another.

The Camino has definitely brought us even closer together. Although, we are having tough and draining days, we are having so much fun and can still smile knowing that we are doing this together. We wouldn’t have it any other way! As we walk; when the going gets tough, we stop, have a sip of water then cuddle! A big cuddle is the best re-charge ever 🙂

Day 23 – Carrion de los Condos to Terradillos de los Templarios

It was probably one of the tougher days today. The first 17+km had nowhere to stop or refuel! We needed to be super prepared with our supplies! Water and food bought and packed 🙂

We find that on our longer days, when they are broken up into smaller bite sizes because of the towns… it makes the day more manageable. So hence the difference today, made it a little tougher, probably mentally more than physically.

The path was straight and flat with nothing more than just fields on either side. Guess we could call it boring but we would be insulting it. The scenery once again was beautiful and we chose to look around rather than just at our path ahead…. This helped us to push on as we usually would.

The feeling of absolute relief and bliss rushes over us, the minute we lay eyes on a town of any sort as this means we are not far from civilisation.

To help us throughout the day, we decided to go for the distraction tactic once again. This time we revisited memories of our travels. Not necessarily good memories but funnily enough, we recalled a lot of random moments. Moments that were not captured in photographs or diaries, but moments that obviously added to our fond memories of our trips.

It is important for the mind to reignite those happy memories so that they can stay current in the memory bank. It is easy for us to sometimes dwell on the negatives and for our own inner health, we should keep the positives fresh!

Why do we even retain any negative memories? Especially when all they do is make our blood boil, cause us to relive things we would rather forget or make us upset. What does that achieve? Absolutely nothing. We should wash them down the drain when we shower! Rid ourselves of the negative energies.

Treat each day as a new day and although we revisit the good memories sometimes, likewise, we shouldn’t dwell on them! We should invest our time in making more great memories 🙂

There is so much more to live for when we live for the present. The past makes us who we are but it shouldn’t define what our now should be.

Day 21 –Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condos

We had a really slow day getting from Boadilla del Camino to Carrion de los Condos. But it was fun, we enjoyed ourselves and felt like we really achieved a milestone by completing 26 km without any pain or complaining.

The recommended path was to go via the scenic route which added about an extra 1.5 km to the “senda” (which isn’t much but with Le and her niggling ankle, we thought it would be best to travel the flattest and shortest route).

Once again, it [the senda] was the less conventional route as majority of the pilgrims, it seemed chose the scenic route. The route we chose was right beside the highway and although was not the most aesthetically pleasing route, it did the trick for us. It also passed through a few small towns which were really lovely for us to see.

This path got us thinking about the “real world” for us. The world outside of the Camino – we live in a fast pace world, with technology, cars and highways. We need to get use to them and learn to live at peace with the constant noise and pace of “real life”. So for us, walking beside the highway was actually bringing together the life we will be returning to (i.e. city life) and the life on the Camino. It was showing us that we can bring the two together and actually achieve the same feelings of peace and serenity even when the noise of trucks and cars are within earshot.

It shows that we don’t need silence or nature to feel like we have “escaped”. It is how we manage that feeling from within. We are capable of slowing down even if our surroundings are traveling at a faster pace. It is not necessarily about blocking out the noise, it is about learning to live with the noise and not letting it bother us or encroach on our mindfulness!