I wanted to write something about my experience at the albergue in Foncebadon and the following journey to Ponferrada. Foncebadon, looked like a something out of the hollywood set; it looked as if it just went through an air raid! All (I kid you not) the buildings in the town (except the albergues) are partially, if not completely in ruin! But we found an albergue where a faint front door light was shining. We walked in and a man who looked like he just had awakened from a deep slumber welcomed us. We soon found out that this albergue not only offers a place to sleep but also provides meals since there are no other options in the town. We had a wonderful dinner prepared by Filipe, a different hospitalero than the one who welcomed us when we checked in. We filled our stomachs with a plate of paella, salad, wine and homemade yogurt. We enjoyed our meal in front of a blazing wood fireplace, which did its best to warm everyone in the building. Later I found out that Filipe is a yoga practioner who asked me to join his morning practice the next morning. I enthusiastically agreed. The next morning we awoke to the sound of a storm, hammering the already battle weary village. Filipe and I moved to the attic for our yoga session. We started out with a set of gentle warm up poses and moved on to more vigorous poses to gently awaken the seven chakras. During all these, one could not help but notice the sound of the storm. It cried like a beast and it sounded like that the roof of the building will lift off at any minute! When I moved into savasana Filipe wrapped my feet with a blanket. I rested there in the midst of the storm. And the storm, at that moment, sounded like a cry of the beast within me and I, somehow found enough courage to say that I love all that is within me, the good and the bad and all that is there. The storm continued as we left the albergue and carried on long after we reached Cruz de Ferro. I stood there, tears and rain drops streaming down on my face, under this simple iron cross emerging from a mount of stones that have been offered by pilgrims who passed by this point. I thought about the first man who offered his stone, many centries ago. And thought about what is the difference between him and I, as I offered my small stone in 2011. Time stood still in that moment when I realized that there is not a thing different between him and I. The author of the guidebook we have for the camino, John Brierley called this journey, “a way of collective awakening”. Perhaps, he is right that we are all in this journey together, hoping to reach the home which we never left. I thought about that first stone, deeply burried in the mount under the iron cross. I had a sudden realization that the only way to find the path home is to go deep within ourselves. J and I continued downward to Ponferrada – a long and hard decent from the highest point on the camino, all the while accommodating my tendinitis. I was smiling, all the way down.
p.s.) Sometimes the pain gets the best of me. The only thing I can do is to let it and wait for it to pass. Because, if I fight it, I know I will suffer. I found that a combination of letting go, a sprinkle of my friend Judi’s holy water on my ankle coupled with Advil seems to work wonders.