Sunday, May 11, 2003

October 30, 2001
Santiago- French border (sunny)

Got up an hour late this morning because my alarm did not go off. I still woke early enough to walk to the train station. I was going to take a taxi but I decided that since I walked into Santiago, I should leave the same way by walking as far as I can. When I get to the station I see Ian and R and two of the German guys. We are all catching the train to the border. The train leaves on time and I settle in for a long ride. I have a book to read, drinks, and food and snacks to eat.

As the train moves through the countryside I think how it seems to be ages ago that I walked though this same countryside in the opposite direction. We leave Santiago at 902A and we arrive in Ponferrada four hours and 21 minutes later. It took us seven days to walk the same distance. At 238P we stop in Astorga, a nine-day walk from Santiago. At 314P we reach Leon; 11 days from Santiago. About a half hour later we are in Sahagun; 13 days from Santiago and two-day walk from here back to Leon. We arrive at Burgos about an hour and a half later at 503P, 17 days from Santiago. It had taken us four days to walk from here to Sahagun. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this information. My walk is being reversed at a speed that is frightening to me. I have a crazy thought that by traveling back over the same ground I am erasing my walk. I want off the train but of course I stay on. After Brugos the train starts heading in a more northeasterly direction away from the Camino and this calms me down.

The rest of the ride to Hendaye passes slowly and at one point I pull out my map of Santiago and examine it, still trying to understand it. All of a sudden something clicks and I see how the map is laid out and where certain streets are relative to others. Seven years ago my husband and I moved to a little town in Kansas from Denver. Since then I have always wondered why we picked this town. As I look at the map I find the street that my hotel was on and see the street's name is the same as the town I live in now. Is this why we moved to this town, so I could begin and end this walk at the same place?

We arrive in Hendaye at 850P and follow a yellow line that leads to customs as the recorded announcement tells us. The only thing, there is no customs and we walk through without stopping and into the train station. The train to Paris does not leave until 1045P so Ian and R, and I sit down to wait. The German guys have different trains to catch, and we say goodbye to them here. The two hours pass slowly and I am hungry but there is nothing open at this hour. Then Ian saves my life and pulls our a cream cheese and onion sandwich on dark bread and offers it to me. Thank you Ian.

Later they announce that the train to Paris is ready for boarding so we walk to our cars. Ian is surprised to find out that I am not in the same car as he and R and I say goodbye when we reach their car. Ian says they will see me in Paris. I walk on to my car and climb up. I am in a bunk sleeping car. Each room has six bunks, three on each side, and when I find my room I see that I am the first one there and that I can pick any bunk I want. I look around and see that there is storage space behind the upper bunks so I pick one of those and climb up and put my backpack in the storage area. I also try to put my walking stick there but it does not fit so I lay it on my bunk and climb down.

Soon the other passengers show up. Four people and a baby. The baby belongs to an African couple and is no more than two months old. The other people are two Spanish men traveling together. The couple take the two bottom bunks and the men take the two bunks above them. The baby is awake and starts fussing. The father says something to the baby in a sharp voice but the baby keeps making fussing noises. I say to the baby, "You're to pretty to have Daddy talk to you like that. Tell him, 'That's no way to talk to me. I'm to pretty'." The baby quiets down and looks at me while I am saying this and after I stop talking, she stares at me a little longer and then starts fussing again. We all laugh.

The two other men and I have been standing in the hallway and, when the train starts moving, we go into the room and climb into our bunks. I am relieved to have no one in the bunk across from me because it give me more breathing room. As I wiggle into the cotton sleeping bag that has been provided, I am thankful that I spent the extra money for a bunk instead of sitting up all night. I will sleep better lying down. Tomorrow I will wake up in Paris.

No comments: