Day 26. O’Cebreiro to A Balsa. 23.84km
Often referred to as the “Way of the Common Person,” the Camino de Santiago is truly a simple experience and one that can be accomplished by anyone. In fact, it is its simplicity that makes it so incredibly extraordinary.
With two legs and bags packed with only necessities, millions of pilgrims over the centuries have walked towards the western boarder of Spain. Dotting the landscape with their seashells, they follow the ancient markers that lead them to Santiago. Stopping when necessary. Eating when necessary. Sleeping when necessary. Drinking when necessary. A pilgrim moves at their own simply and humble pace relying on the company of others to assist them when necessary. The only thing extraordinary about the way of the pilgrim is that they defy the lie that humanity is guided by fate alone and not their individual free will.
As we pilgrims move, we slowly recognize how basic our existence has become. We wake. We walk. We eat. We sleep. In that uninspired movement we come to discover what has always been obvious. It is the same revelation that God revealed to us through Jesus, that within our shared humanity rests the mystery of our sacred divinity. A mystery that inspires us to walk our own path, not one predestined by fate, but one discoverable when we walk the way of the world towards the inner workings of our heart.
On the lighter side of the Camino:
- Wifi passwords generally only have a few possibilities: santiago, buencamino, the name of the hostel, or the name of the wifi signal. If it’s anything else, you’re either screwed or you’ve found a place too fancy for your budget.
- Every time you pass a bush, tree, or break on the path you consider how good of a location it might be for peeing.
- Speaking of… Talk of peeing is common, as we all laugh about the odd places we duck behind in hopes of privacy only to find ourselves making eye-contact with a fellow pilgrim midstream.
- Snacking is practically constant as we all reach for a portable treat or fruit without a single care of its effect on our figure.
- Meals too are frequent as we pass through towns stoping at the first (read: every) bar for a coffee, pastry, sandwich, or tapas.
- Picking at blisters, examining your feet, and adjusting bandages are common place and seen as socially acceptable behavior at most bars and restaurants.
- As the sun rises before 6:30am and doesn’t set in Spain until after 10pm, “What time is it?” is often a frequent question as what appears to be 6pm could easily be 11:00am or 9:30pm.
- The 600mg ibuprofen purchased over the counter for no more than 3€ is often jokingly referred to as “pilgrim candy” as its readily dished out to anyone who asks.
- Asking a Pilgrim if they plan to walk the Camino again is like asking a women currently in labor if she would like to have another child.