October 2nd, Day 3, 30km
It was a very interesting day today! Last night the albergue was abuzz with hard day`s walk! mutter mutter 30 km! mutter mutter four hours of road walking! mutter mutter a HUGE hill for the last km and a half! mutter mutter hot and getting hotter! mutter mutter. I know how it goes and probably pilgrims and walkers will always and until the end of time be sharing conversations like this. But I wasn´t having a bar of it. I know from my Bibbulmun walking, know it of mind and feet and by watching closely, that the `ooh, ooh, hard day` vibe becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The energy spent bracing oneself for what is going to be a tough day or a tough section is energy not being spent walking.
So I simply prepared well the day before, got up early (6:15) – with the rest of the albergue, mind you -, drank my litre of water, ate breaky, packed my lunch and was gone by 7:10. It is the absolute dead of night at 7:10am in the south of Spain. It`s still daylight saving and the sun doesn`t rise until 8:30. So I`m out there in the gloriously cool streets under the glowing gibbous moon. I decided, just this once, just for this morning, for the 16km walking on the road, to be `girl walking`… no commentary, no strategies, no entertaining any other thoughts. Especially not the `ooh, ooh, hard day` thoughts. It´s not that I´m not susceptible to them, I just know that they create no joy and increase the hardship.
So I let the thoughts come and go and was a hundred reminders to myself to, no, don`t go down that train of thought, stay here. No, don`t listen to that one, stay here… No, you don`t know that it`s going to be like that. Stay here. And it was a real mental discipline because the thoughts kept pouring in as they do. Yet somehow, the focus was clear, and didn´t I have the most utterly delightful morning as the sun rose behind the roadside oak trees and I walked up the mountain road. Breathing was rhythmic on the uphills, you know, like in for two, out for four, and when I noticed it was getting all huffy and puffy I just made it soft again. The funny paradox about deciding NOT to try hard on a difficult section, and let all the anxious thoughts go, is that of course, you fly along: body smooth and poised, breathing good and attention focused. The road wound upwards through a sparse landscape of cork trees and when the sun finally rose an hour into the walk, everything turned rosy gold.
At midday I ate my lunch in the ruins of a little village in the Sierra Norte national park into which the Camino deviates about half way through the stage. I watched the seven Professional Spanish Pilgrims walk past and realised they must be doing a clever pack in the taxi run, as they were only carrying daypacks. Good for them. Cado uno su Camino.
And there I am walking along and out from behind a hill flies two huge birds of prey that begin circling high above, then another three, then another two, and they´re pouring out from behind the rocky cliff until there are twenty of them, brown and cream birds, eagles, maybe, soaring, soaring. Not a flap of those wings to be seen as they lie poised on the thermals. It is a wonder and a joy to see them. A stop walking and stand with mouth open moment.
Wishing you a moment of wonder at something that arrives on your path today.
PS. The HUGE hill to finish the section was steep indeed, but all over in eight minutes. Goes to show you should be careful who you listen to!