All systems working… well ALMOST all…

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Well go figure… all that sneaking around and hoping the mind wouldn’t tell the body that it is time to be tired, didn’t exactly work but now a new theory has come into play….

It seems that no matter the distance, it is ALWAYS 6 1/2 hours of walking.  Maybe subconsciously, on shorter days, when we make our mid-morning stop for breakfast, we relax just a wee bit more and that’s how the times always work out to be the same.  6 1/2 hours of walking, no matter how you pace it out.  It is what it is.  Another observation along the same lines is that whenever one of us is checking time or distance remaining, it is ALWAYS 10 kilometers, or 2 1/2 hours.  No matter what.  So, even if the town we are headed to is in plain sight (which means being able to see more than the cathedral tower), we’ve learned to still call it 10 kilometers.  Granted, when on the meseta, and a town pops up on the horizon, we used to get so excited, but have learned over time that those horizon towns can be hours away.  Not exactly a mirage as they do surface eventually, but a lot farther off than we originally thought.  Even if we’re only walking 10 kilometers (which isn’t going to happen once, but for example’s sake…) and we’re 1/2 way there, we’re still 10 kilometers away.  No. Matter. What.  Seems to be another pattern running here…

Then my train of thought shifted from time to the physicality of all of this.  I thought a lot about our bodies and how hard they are working, day in and day out.  The feet are the main prize winners on this, still remaining blister free (in part I think as the temps on the meseta have been “unseasonably” cool (75ish) which in turn keeps the feet a bit cooler.  And then there are the legs, certainly contenders for MVP’sas they are lifting the heavy boots (we’re guessing over a pound each…) with each step.  Included in that system of course would be the knees and the hips, who are working non-stop to keep all the all the folks below them running smoothly.  Then there’s the back…. one can’t discount the work of the back that has 20 plus pounds hoisted up onto it (yes, we’re no longer calling it 18, simply because we are carrying fruit and Mars bars daily, none of which are featherweight).  The back is the work table with all the goods piled on top of it.  Go back!  You’re working hard. As are the shoulders, who are kind of the assistant managers to the back, while helping to hold up said 20 pounds of loot.  The arms keep the pole (we each only use one) where it needs to be, while the other is at the ready to grab the camera if need be.  There’s a lot of teamwork going on here, with no slackers in the bunch.  Oh… well ALMOST no slackers. The breasts.  We’ve concluded that they are simply free-loading as they’re doing diddly squat and they even require their own outfits, which by the way don’t dry near as quickly as all the other clothes.

So head to toe scan, that’s what we’ve come up with today.  Lots and lots of work going on with all the body parts (except two), which of course includes the head, as it’s keeping me immersed in thought as I pace through the Camino.  We’re on the meseta for approximately 10 days and it is said that this is the part of the Camino that is mental, the miles preceding being the physical part of the journey.  The landscape is hauntingly beautiful (said from a gal who was raised in Kansas, who has its own share of the “meseta”) but in its vastness, there is little else to look at…no distractions of buildings, or lakes, or trees or  signage or really anything but the pilgrims in your line of sight and the fields that meet the sky.  A cloud is a welcome sight.  I’m finding a real connection to the meseta as I’m someone who likes to hang out in my head quite a bit, but I certainly understand the challenge.  At first I felt like plugging into my iPod would be cheating but we all make our own Camino, and the “rules” that go along and my rule is go to the music until the battery dies.  Besides a bit of a distracted of time, it adds a lot to the already beautiful landscape.  Daniella Romo, my favorite Mexican singer, got me across much of today’s meseta.  Gracias a Daniella and apologies to those walking behind me given what they had to hear and witness.  My hiking pole was swinging to the beat…a pole dance of sorts, I suppose.  This is not an all day thing for me though as I find the quiet to be quite inspiring,especially in the early morning hours.

The monotonous days are teaching me patience and living in the moment, while the moments or hours or days of breathtaking beauty are teaching me the importance of gratitude.  The amazing pilgrims I’ve met along the way are reminding me that kindness, compassion and caring for others are thankfully still very much alive and well.  All you have to see is a fellow pilgrim limping along and each and every person who passes him, stops to ask if he’s OK.  I witnessed this today while on the final stretch into our town.  I’m continually touched by such acts of kindness and compassion.

A “hospital of the heart” that we walked past early this morning while on our way out of town…a place to go for quiet thought. I wish we had discovered it sooner…What a beautiful idea.


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