Monday, June 22, 2015

the pilgrim

I've been asked more than a few questions about my wife from friends I have met through this blog.  She has appeared a few times in posts, but only rarely as I consider her life to be private.  I do however like to write about adventures, mine and those of others.  And since my wife is on her own adventure now, I will, with her permission, mention it here.

As friend Barry has pointed out, she is one of the Elizabeths, along with a river and the city just across the state line, in my life.  I have said in the past that an adventure for her was staying in a hotel without a wine bar in the lobby.  I was of course joking, but you get my drift.  So I was a little surprised a few years ago when she decided she was going to walk the Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, and then more surprised when she came home with boots and a backpack, soon spending weekends hiking back and forth over the one tiny mount we have in our area.

She is on the trail in Spain now with a cousin of her father's, somewhere in the middle third of it, an area known as the Meseta.  Nine days now carrying everything she needs in a backpack, with a few more days left before she has to return home.  And she is loving every minute of it.

In brief texts she mentions walking 20 kilometers in a day, sleeping in bunk rooms at ancient monasteries, hanging out clothes to dry after hand washing in her room, searching out tapas on the town square in little villages.  There has been a little rain, a little heat and a lot of beautiful weather.  She has walked through vineyards and fields of sunflowers, taken routes alongside rivers where she hikes in the shade of the trees.  There's the high desert, muddy boots, wheat fields and stone bridges across the water leading into town.  Churros and rich coffee on morning breaks, dinners of squid, octopus and croquettes, with cheap, very dry and very good wine.  Reading her notes I sometimes wonder if she will come home.

Today she mentioned walking on a road built 2,000 years ago by the Romans, and meeting another pilgrim who wanted to bring his dog along on the hike.  The dog food was so much extra weight that he brought along a donkey, above, to carry the dog food.  Who carries the food for the donkey?

It is a grand adventure and we are all very proud of her.  She spent months training and planning, carefully selecting gear and making those hard decisions of what to bring, what to leave behind.  She tells me that some of my cruising gear, you might recognize the sun shirts and buffs around her neck from my cruises, has worked very well on the camino.  

She will not have time to walk all the way to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, where the journey ends, on this trip.  I suspect as soon as she arrives back home she will unpack her gear, clean it, stow it and then begin making plans for the final leg of the pilgrimage.  Can you blame her?


Rich said...

Very cool! Good for her! (And you!)

steve said...

Yep that really is pretty cool
It is on my list of things to do when I retire
Drive around Italy for a year, walk some of the above
Sail from plymouth up the Thames to lechlade....
Well done to Elizabeth
It really is a cool achievement