Why the Journey or…Days 8-10: May 17-19


A couple of hours into my walk the morning from Maneru I was well into the countryside. Somewhere in memory are steep climbs. I’d just pulled myself up one of those when an older Spaniard with a white goatee slowed down alongside, speaking to me in Spanish. I got about half and cocked my head. He said it again, “A woman walking the Camino alone. You have much courage.”
I didn’t start out meaning to walk alone. It’s happened that way. I didn’t think I would walk so slowly. At first it was the Pyrenees and the pack. But the Pyrenees are past and the landscape more even. The pack on my back now seems almost a part of me. Still, the paths are often arduous, the rocks being most problematic for me. Imagine angled uneven trails with cobblestones but not human-made…off and on for miles. Most everyone passed me up. I didn’t care about that. From the beginning I was never in a race or on a schedule. I wanted to get to Santiago in one piece, enjoy the scenery, collect material for later artwork and any new revelations the way may bring.
Oscar was always well ahead. I had no problem with that. I was often with my own thoughts and practice anyway. And he’s more prone to strike up conversations with other pilgrims. He’d stop around lunch to wait for me or we’d meet at the closest 20 km point to find an albergue for the night.
By the time the Spaniard came upon me I was starting to have problems. My pace had slowed to that of a snail rather than the tortoise. A tendon on the top of my right foot was straining and my left knee was also talking to me. I’d felt the foot the night before but thought I could walk it out as I’d done a number of different aches and pains since we started. I couldn’t. Both were more and more insistent. I hadn’t twisted anything. I’d been very mindful of how I placed my feet. I think all the big rocks just finally had their way with them.
The trail was pretty much empty. I just toddled on. Another older gentleman, this one French, checked on me in passing, “Ca va?” In the middle of nowhere there’s nothing to do but go on. He must have taken a break somewhere because later he whispered as he passed again, “Courage!”
Wazifas were my steady companion and likely what got me through. I finally entered the town of Estelle. Luckily, the municipal albergue was the first thing I saw and checked myself in. Oh luxury, I was assigned a room that probably had 16 bunk beds but I was the first there. I went horizontal, shoes off. Soon the room was filled with chattering, mostly French and Italian. Later I was able to find a farmacia to get some high dosage ibuprofen. I could barely walk.
Why am I telling you all this? People tend to romanticize things. The Camino de Santiago is not romantic or airy-fairy. But it is a choice. As I walked I imagined medieval pilgrims with heavy robes and inadequate shoes, maybe no shoes, little food. Accommodations not what they are today. The paths were much less than they are now. None of the present-day pilgrims I’ve thus far seen are having an easy physical time. I’d say most better than me and some I’ve encountered are having more difficult times.
And with all that, there’s a reason people undertake this challenging journey…any such journey…with many returning to do it again. After all is said and done…it does something to us.
That’s why I made the choice. I don’t know where this will take me any more than I’ve known the outcome with all the similar choices I’ve made in the last 20 years…after I woke up. But I know it to be true and right for me.
Back to the storyline…. I never saw Oscar that day but we did reconnect via email. He was in the same town in a different albergue.
I decided the smart thing for me to do was bus ahead to Logrono, equivalent to a couple days’ walk, find a pension with a room to myself (ah, bliss) and stay off my feet a couple of days. I have done that. A quiet (more bliss) clean place across from the Catedral La Redonda. Below you’ll see the scene directly eye level out my window. It’s my first attempt at sketching using Art Set Pro, an art app I downloaded to my iPad. It’s tricky using a stylus on a screen. The mark doesn’t always go where I attempt. Learning curve. Probably a lesson in that, too.
Last night I went into the cathedral for a short time and found strong energy. This morning I returned for a couple of hours and took my prayer beads. Wazifa practice was extraordinary there for me. From some depth two wazifas that I’d forgotten came swimming up … Ya Shafi! (O Healer) Ya Kafi! (O Remedy)…
I now feel ready to continue on tomorrow.

11 thoughts on “Why the Journey or…Days 8-10: May 17-19

  1. Snails probably always see more than others. going slow is still going. glad you are still going, even if part of it is on a bus. your feet will always find the footing they need. we are all rooting for you back here across the ocean. XOXO Julianna

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think of you every day…and this posting really speaks to me and specifically to my feet. On our last walk I remember your describing the pilgrimage as evolving in thirds, the first third as the part when the focus seems to be on the physical. Sounds like you are right on track. 🙂 Glad you are listening to your body!


    1. Ruth, Camino blessings shower upon you. You must be next… Yes, I’m quite ready for the next phase. I did have an easier day today, and it’s interesting how I barely notice the pack. I’m smack in the middle of wine country now. Fields and fields of vineyards.


    1. Yes, Carla – no pressure as to what is supposed to be next or what “success” is – you are walking your path and in your way and time….opening to what is next. Inspiring for all of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Carla,

    Sorry to say, my first looking at your blog! But thats ok, too. It is your journey after all.

    I am inspired today by reading this entry. I resonate with your thoughts about the pilgrimage, its difficulty, even the curious reasons why we undertake such a journey. I am feeling much the same about life itself. A pilgrimage away from the One Reality, back to the One Reality. With all the curious experiences in between. Of course, from one point of view, there is no ‘between’. And all this experience, simply dynamic energy arising from the emptiness, its existence more ephemeral than the clouds in the sky. Yet here we are, undertaking this pilgrimage of life. And it seems pretty damn dynamic and real.

    Yesterday, I got a tattoo. My first. A beautiful Kwan Yin on my left forearm. It hurt. I wasn’t sure why I was doing it, but gave it a good long consideration, and the impulse never left. I think, in a way, it is like getting my backpack for my own recent pilgrimage, the one of retirement from the pharmacy world. Pharmacy has been a safe haven for me, really, for all of my life. Dad was pharmacist, Grandpa, too.

    Now I am a little like a turtle who suddenly finds himself on dry land, the sea no where in sight, and a little tired from all the swimming. Our turtle just sticks his head into the shell and hangs out there for a while. Been 6 months for me. Lots of sleeping, reading books, watching movies. Not a total hermit, but pretty much. Guess I am a ready to stick my head out of the shell, and take a look around. Its nice to have Kwan Yin with me. Proud to show her to the world. Something I could not or would not do in pharmacy days. Maybe a bit like coming out of the closet.

    Anyway, sorry for the long ramble, but I know from my own pilgrimages to India, that receiving a nice long email from an old friend back home can be pretty sweet. Hope this is for you. I love how you are using the wazifa. Also a very nice ‘backpack’ for the journey. Lately, I am working Ya Jamia, Ya Quddus. Jamia is the Gatherer, and means on one level, ‘no part left out’. All of ourselves, all of everything, is a part of the One Reality. Ya Quddus is a kind of ‘opposite’, as it guides us to the One Reality, helping us to see/experience that everything is ephemeral except our true nature, which is always right here, right now. La Illa ha Il Allah.

    So we gather everything together, cherishing it all. And by not attaching to any of it, we begin to see that which cannot be described as the unseen essence of all. At least this is my current understanding/experience of these two wazifa.

    Safe travels!


    p.s. a friend suggested I might begin writing, so I thought I would start a blog, inspired by you. Already registered with WordPress, now I have to figure out how to use it, and how to announce it to the world.


    1. Yaqin, you and I are such old heart friends that I know…you if anyone…will understand about pilgrimage. I’m glad to hear you’ve started this particular one of yours. Writing does help clarify things and much more deeply than if it’s in my mind. I bet you’ll find the same. You and I will finally have that long discussion, well overdue, after I return home. Btw, I so appreciate you telling me about Shada’s et al Physicians of the Heart. I’ve worked with wazifas a lot–and on this journey–and this guide helps deepen the process. I’ve also got Saadi’s Sufi Book of Life along.


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