Saturday, April 05, 2003

October 13, 2001
Sahagun- Religos (cloudy/humid)
18.9m/30.2km - 256.7m/421.8km

I found out two things last night that made me happy. First, 7.8m/12.5km after we left Carrion de los Condes we officially reached the half way mark between St. Jean and Santiago. Second, T is here. When I came out from the showers I found T sitting at the table in the kitchen area. I was so happy to see her I gave her a big hug. We all started out walking the Camino together but we kind of lost T after Granon. I think she decided to do most of the walk alone at that point, which is OK, but I do miss walking with her. I was delighted to hear she is sleeping in the same cubicle as us. Just like the good old days.

This morning I'm not sure if I want to go on, yesterday took a lot out of me. We are walking through the streets of Sahagun and I am agonizing about whether or not to keep going or to quit. In my head I plead for someone to tell me what to do. Do I go on or do I stop? A couple of minutes later, on the back of a stop sign, I see a yellow arrow pointing up with the initials of my name written underneath it. I take this as a sign to keep going.

Today we go slow and make sure to eat at all major stops. I still hate this plain we are walking through. No matter how long you walk it feels like you have not made any progress. The path we are walking has benches lined up along it and they are spaced so far apart it looks someone put a bench out in the middle of nowhere for reasons know only to them. At one rest stop we are sitting on one of these benches when I glance up the path and see a man about three city blocks away walking toward us.

When he gets closer I see is a big man. He is wearing a pilgrim's hat (a black wide brim hat with the front of the brim folded up and fastened to the crown by a cockleshell pin), a dirty "I walked the Camino and only got...." type of souvenir T-shirt that stretches tightly across his belly, a pair of shorts, and sandals. He is not wearing a backpack but he is carrying a shepherd's staff with hourglass shaped gourd (used for carrying water) hanging from it, in his right hand. He is also surrounded by a yellow glow that shimmers around him like heat coming off a stove. I also "see" sparks shooting off him in all directions like a lit sparkler. As he gets closer I mentally beg J over and over not to talk to him. The look on this man's face is one of either extreme bliss or craziness. J is very gregarious and loves to talk to people but I do not want anything or anyone stopping this man.

When he reaches us he looks nine feet tall to me and I glance down at his feet to make sure they are touching the ground. He walks past us with his eyes focused off in the distance and without saying a word. Whatever he is looking at we can't see. I don't think he even knows we are here. As I watch him walking away from us I know he is walking all the way back to St. Jean and that when he gets there he will turn around a start walking back to Santiago. He will never stop walking. I look at J and B and see that he has disturbed them too but I don't say anything about what I saw because I am not sure what they will think. I haven't told them anything about yesterday for the same reason.

Later, when we take another break, we hear a train whistle and then see a train streaking across the plain off to our right. We know there is a town up ahead so we climb up on the bench to see if we can tell how close the town is by watching the train. Maybe the train is going to the town. Maybe we are closer to the town than we think we are. No such luck. The train just keeps traveling across the plain until it is no longer in our sight.

I hate this. I hate this. I hate this. When is this torture going to end? I am turning into the Glowing Man and will be walking in this nothingness for eternity.

Another rest break at a bridge over a small creek that has widened into a pool. I lean over the bridge and look at the water, I am sure I can see tiny fish. I spit and watch as the spit droplets hit the water. I create a tiny fish feeding frenzy. I tell B and J there are fish in the water and they drop small rocks and pieces of gravel in. Each time they do the fish come up and check to see if what hit the water is food. B goes down to the pool, finds a stick, and starts poking it into the mud. J follows her and starts chucking big rocks into the water to see how big a splash he can make and I keep spitting off the bridge and watching the fish react. We have a great time acting like kids for ten minutes and then reluctantly put our packs on and start walking again.

We finally reach the refugio in Reliegos where we are rewarded for our perseverance. We have a room that sleeps 26 to ourselves. Tomorrow we will be in Leon.

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