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Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking 3

The last of DZel's reflections:

After the second day I stopped counting the days, kilometers, hours, and milestones we had to complete before reaching Santiago de Compostela. I soon realized that the entire walk was no longer about the finishing point, but about path taken to get there. I will not lie, and confess that I had to make the effort to keep myself from drifting into a state of mindlessness and force my presence in each step I took. I had to constantly remind myself to raise my head high and experience every moment with all my senses. The truth is that I stopped few times to take pictures, because at times I felt that the pause would distract me from living the moment.

Another reason that it was difficult to capture more images of theCaminowas because there were lines of people walking behind or in front of us, so it was sometimes hard to stop the flow of pilgrims to take a shot. It being a holy year, Xacobeo, floods of people came from around the world to complete the pilgrimage and receive their “Compostelana” from the Catholic Church. While I fully enjoyed the entire pilgrimage, I will be say that I believe I would have enjoyed more of the spiritual purpose of the pilgrimage had there been less people. At times the masses of people overwhelmed me and many around me due the stress created over reaching an albergue and finding refuge for the night. Because the stress was so overwhelming we decided as a group to call ahead and reserve at the private hostels for a couple extra Euros a night to assure a bed with some clean sheets and a disinfected bathroom.

I witnessed an example of the stress produced by the crowds through a woman from Bilbao who we bumped into in each town we stopped along the way. The first day we met her she informed us that the last albergue she slept at was infested with “chinches” (bed bugs) and that she didn’t get any shut eye due to the itch all over her body! Then we saw her speed walking on the third day in an effort to be the first in line to get a bed at the next stop albergue. When we finally caught up to her, she informed us that she walked a total of 8 hours without stopping to eat or go to the bathroom. Just listening to her stressed me out; but for some reason I got the impression that she got a high over the stress and was proud of her suffering. I guess some people interpreted the Camino as a penitence for which they had to suffer through to be redeemed?

I should add that there was another man like her on the walk that carried a 20 pound, 5’7ft statue of Jesus Christ on the cross on his back! He said that he carried the Christ on his back to redeem the spirit of the Camino and educate foreign pilgrims what it was truly about. Most Spaniards were in shock over this man’s act, some even taunted him; but coming from a Mexican background, I’ve witnessed plenty of Catholics who have done something similar. The poor man attracted so much attention that day that he became the talk of the town. While sitting in a bar, the bartender and owner of the hostel laughed and explained to us that when he stopped at her business in search of a bed she didn’t know if he needed 1 or 2 beds: one bed for him and another for his Christ statue. I should say that I was torn between the impulse to laugh and at the same time honor him for his sacrifice. I mean, while it may sound ridiculous for those who perceive such acts as fanatical and overboard, I respect the sincere act of people like him. After all, for some, the decision to do the Camino itself might be interpreted in the same way. Who decides to walk miles over various days?

Thousands! Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of people around the world complete pilgrimages to different destinations. And for immeasurable amount of purposes people decide to depart from their homes for a destination in hope that during their journey they fulfill their souls with purpose. I should be honest; I still ask myself what my purpose was during this journey. There are so many causes that motivated me to walk: my prima, Estela; my parent’s; my goals; Jose Luis and Femi; and my hopes. My strong desire to walk and walk to a destination was symbolic of my constant drive to pursue new goals and support causes. Also, my heart and soul still maintain faith in God and his will to alleviate the pain and suffering of my loved ones. I still believe in his/her power to cure where there is hope. I maintain esperanza in life and superhuman powers intercept when our souls are weakened. So I pray, I walk, I meditate, and attempt to recover from my faults with the goal of finding a balance in life and existence.

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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