Today is dedicated to D. It’s the idea of Philippe that the Camino is too much and strong just for yourself, so you have to give it away. So from time to time he makes a day for someone else who for whatever reason is not able to walk the Camino.
Today is for D: the bright, chilly departure with glad and relieved hearts that it’s not raining, the clean, green wet smell of muddy fields after soaking rain, the bracing morning air in an open landscape washed clear and filling the nose and lungs. Cool blue skies patterned with clouds, drops of water like jewels on the wire fences, the patterns and texture of dry-stone walls. Even a puddle on the path perfectly reflects the sky. The yellow arrows to show the way are on stones, telegraph poles, trees and curbs. They are just there when you need them.
You would love and marvel at the landscape here and be curious and want to touch it all and look at all the tiny details and meet every friendly cat and dog of which there are many today! And cows with their wooly sweet calves, and sheep and the odd black sheep, all with their tinny bells making jingle jangle music. There are so many textured smells, and more as the day warms up (very slightly!). Animal smells and straw and rich fermenting things, wet soil, green smells and wild thyme so strong it turns my head and makes me go hunting for it. I picked some for you, and took a small rock of white quartz from the path.
There are magnificent, huge evergreen oaks with lichen-fringed bark, big thick trunks and you just know their roots are not just anchored and anchoring, but are inseparable from the fertile and old, worked, walked earth of this place. Flocks of birds, tiny ones, sparrows, make a choreography across the sky, swooping and wheeling in huge groups, hundreds of dancing beings separating and regrouping. Freedom and the joy of flight.
My prayers and thanks to you who have been a guardian angel to me, an inspiration, a blessing. It is a privilege to know you.
The first view of Salamanca, a gracious and grand city lying there a shining sight in the patchwork of coloured fields and lit by an unseen sun. It is still a good way away, and now it is patience and perseverance that are needed, just step after step after step after sore-legged step. The towers of the cathedrals are visible but keep ducking below the horizon as the path wends and winds. A long way. Then suddenly it’s close and we’re under a bridge filled with rubbish and clagging our boots with thick, sticky yucky mud. Horrible! But you still have to keep walking, clean your boots as you can and put it behind.
And here we are. Across the Roman bridge with a cheerful local guide who has joined us for the last kilometre and is pointing out all the best sights. Oh, there are many! The university here is the oldest in Spain, having been founded in 1218. Almost unbelievable, I know. Yes, we are following a very old tradition, a humble and small participation in an endeavour that is quite magnificent even if it only itself a small facet of the jewel of life.
May your own Camino be richly blessed in every way my way-faring friend. May it be sheltered and guided, enriching, provoking and graced, offering rest and nourishment for the soul most especially when the way is hard and the landscape bleak. Go gently, with a trusting heart. Don’t be afraid. You are blessed and a blessing.