requejada……..to comillas

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titi, comillas: 2015

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the walk into requejada the day before (see post titled “wind”) is something i try not to dwell on. when i look at my notes from that day, it reads:

Shit day!

and so it was….and so it had to be, for what would this experience be like if i didn’t have a day like that every now and again? the wind and the rain have done their work dredging up  some kind of undefined emotional sediment that had settled in a hidden cave, deep down below. now it is time to move on. i go to bed in requejada tired and just wanting to wipe the slate clean so i can begin again the next day. sleep ~glorious sleep~ gets busy massaging the rough edges away until they are smooth again……i will awake ready to walk. smiling.

the following day, the sun is shining and it is not so cold. the bar across from the albergue opens early, so i go in and have a nice croissant and a café con leche, along with some conversation with a couple of guys who are at the bar… fuelled up, I start the walk. today i am walking with mona, a finnish pilgrim i met the day before, and together we follow the yellow arrows out of requejada, past a really ugly refinery of some type spewing smog into the air, and over a bridge, until we are once again walking through picture perfect green landscapes, complete with rolling hills and cows. the sky is an endless blue, a stark contrast to the day before and i give deep thanks to the timeliness and for the luxury of this gorgeous weather……..

the camino takes us through santillana del mar, an intriguing but quite touristy medieval town where we stop for a coffee…. just before the following town, we split up and i walk ahead. mona is grappling with her feet, which seem to have decided to become blister production machines, and she needs to walk more slowly. i wind up at a bar in orena, where I eat an amazing bocadillo de lomo, queso y pimientos and get into a hilarious conversation with the bar owner…

continuing on, the camino then leads me into a town by the name of ciguenza. walking into the town, i am enraptured by the tinkling sounds of a beautiful stream, and grand stone houses that lie in the outskirts. as i walk into and out of this town, i suddenly catch a strong and familiar smell being carried along by the breeze- of course! this whole coastline is rampant with eucalyptus, and i allow the smell to connect me to Australia and my life there, which up until that moment has seemed so very very far away. hot on the heels of thoughts of australia come my nephews sol and xavier and the bittersweet realisation that seeing them again is a delight that I can only enjoy when i return. oh god, the return…….the past few months have whizzed past in a blur ~so much has happened in so little time. even on this camino, this pause within a pause, when i reminisce about the first few days of walking, it all seems like it happened a lifetime ago…… i am experiencing strange shifts in perceptions of time, zipping past, the infinity of each moment full to the brim. walking has taken me into the hyperspace of no time……

my footsteps through this cloud of eucalyptus reminds me that the time is drawing near when i will make the journey back and then all of this will be behind me, becoming a new addition to the memory toolkit. what shape will these memories take? will there come a time when i don’t remember this experience at all? or is each second that passes leaving a subtle imprint, deeply transforming the future experience of my life at an imperceptible, molecular level? all of this inspires me to send voice messages to sol and xavier, telling them that i love and miss them. i tell them, as i always do, that i wish for them to enjoy every second of their lives, whatever is going on. and i believe that they do enjoy their lives, well, at least it makes me happy to think this……the smell of the eucalyptus trees is so powerful that it takes me back there, to them, to my morning walks in brisbane, to the air, clean and fresh, and to australia ~my home~ welcoming and safe.

i make it to cobreces that afternoon and am really happy when mona limps in an hour or so later. the albergue is situated at a monastery and it has lovely gardens, so we sit in the garden and take care of our feet before going for a beer and something to eat. we are joined by a hilarious italian ~rosario~ and a korean pilgrim ~viviana~. that night i sleep like a baby and am woken up with a cappuccino prepared by rosario. to this moment, i still don’t understand how he was able to produce this cappuccino at the albergue (no microwave, no stove) but he is a testament to the resourcefulness of italians when it comes to food and coffee!

heading out of cobreces and towards comillas, the camino gives us the gift of delightful sounds, blue skies, and gorgeous scenery. i am in seventh heaven walking………i visited comillas with gerry the last time i was in spain two years ago. it is a lovely village, well worth visiting for a couple of days. especially “el capricho de gaudi” – the first house he designed. we get into comillas and head straight to the albergue (a reformed building that used to be a women’s prison), where there are already a few pilgrims waiting for it to open. i see michelle, the french pilgrim that i have now run into a couple of times since my wanderings through euskadi, and i am so happy to run into him again. “michelle!”, “cate!”, kiss on the right cheek, kiss on the left cheek, kiss on the right cheek. he looks tanned and happy. like most of us, he has taken to this walking business like a fish to water…backpacks lined up, we wait for the hospitalera to come. there are 20 beds available, so i am happy that i have a bed for the night in this place………

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