The End: Somewhere in Between

If things had gone according to plan, I wouldn’t be here.

I wouldn’t be sitting in this tree, or picking fava beans from a garden to eat for dinner, or petting this cat that thinks I have food.

I wouldn’t be sleeping in a 12th century monastery with a monk who walks around slowly and in silence, except to tell those who will listen that God is inside of us and what’s inside of us is eternal.

I wouldn’t be cleaning the mold spots out of this refrigerator. Continue reading

Day 26: When the Storm Comes

I’m sitting in a cafe, drinking more red wine and sneaking pieces of bread from my bag of groceries under the table. I don’t believe the woman working here would refill my glass if I knocked it over, nor would she probably appreciate my consumption of outside food (nor did she seem to approve of my ordering wine at this most reasonable hour).

Some American movie dubbed in Spanish is showing on a television in a corner opposite me; dramatic music plays over the hum of the refrigeration system.
It’s just before 6pm. I’m in Mondonedo, Galicia. I arrived around 2:30, and it was like walking into a ghost town. There was no one anywhere.

Now that siesta is over, I can see that Mondonedo is full of youth; there are teenagers everywhere, and I just had an insight: teenagers make me uncomfortable. It probably has a lot to do with my after-walk appearance: lime green socks pulled over my tights and Teva sandals. I look strange.
Continue reading

Day 15: Talk of the Temples

I walked in my dreams last night. I walked up hills along the coast, and watched as waves rolled in and turned white and crashed against giant rocks.

I looked around in awe. Everything was beautiful. Walking was effortless, no matter how steep the hill, and there were no shin splints, no pain. But I didn’t want to walk in my dreams.

I woke up and tried again.

Still I walked and walked.

It went on like this until 3am. Then I gave up on sleeping and scrolled through instagram.

Continue reading

Day 13: What Doesn’t Kill

I guess this is how it ends. They’ll probably have to amputate. No more walking for me. Goodbye left leg, thanks for all the good times. You were never quite as coordinated as the other one, but you did your part–

My brain goes to a dark place when it registers unfamiliar pain.

Today it was shin splints. The little pain grew and grew until mile eight, when it began to feel like the tiny man in my shin was cutting his way out with a jagged knife (he typically asks to be let out and we have no problems).

Only ten more, I said to myself. But throwing an “only” before the miles ahead of us didn’t work today. I couldn’t walk 10 more miles.  Continue reading

Day 10: Some Kind of Church

I just knocked over a fresh glass of wine. It spilled all over the table and chair next to mine.

I was too embarrassed to go inside and ask for another, so I decided it was a sign from the Camino Gods. No wine for me today.
But as I was cleaning the mess with tiny napkins, the guy working at the cafe came out with the bottle and poured me another glass.

I’m pretty happy right now.  Continue reading

Day 8: Westside Highway

We spent most of the day walking on the side of the freeway. Whenever I had a chance, I climbed to the other side of the metal barricade to increase the space between my body and the occasional car that zoomed by.

It was the first day of rain we’ve had since staring El Camino. We looked like fat grim reapers with black ponchos over ourselves and our backpacks.

It was all a little depressing. And my thoughts were as dark as the sky. I realized that even though we’ve walked more than 100 miles now, we’re still not even 1/4 of the way to our destination. I got uncomfortable thinking of all the days and weeks we still had to walk.  Continue reading

Day 4: Get What You Need

I spent the first half of today’s walk trying to figure out if I felt something different, having walked all this way and seen so many beautiful places.

I woke feeling burdened, being behind on my writing.

Last night, I had planned to write but instead I had dinner with Akash and a young German couple interested in her studies with Osho. They had brought a bunch of food with them from Germany and needed to drop some of the weight, and so offered to share it with us. It was the best pasta I’d ever had.

Then I sat on a big rock with Ty, a former Marine from Riverside who everyday wears a shirt that reads “IDAHO” in big letters. He’s always complaining about being sore. “Wait til you turn 25,” he says. Continue reading

Day 3: The Coastal Way

Sun shot in through the stained glass windows and hung in the air. The room smelled like an old, damp book. Modest, wooden chandeliers hung from the high, arched ceiling, and single flame burned in an orange glass at the front of the room.

Bird songs and distant Spanish echos seeped through the thick walls. Then sometimes it would all stop. Silence.

We went to church this morning. We had to be out of the hoste early, so we took some time to look around the city. Continue reading

Day One of El Camino

Thin grey steam billowed from the silver canteen I held close to my face. I watched the taxi ahead of us and tried to gage the best time to take a sip. It wasn’t really working; I kept spilling hot tea on my face.

My shoulder still hurt a little from walking into the glass hotel entrance door on our way out. I don’t think anyone saw. Continue reading