Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
That’s what I wondered all day as we planned and eventually rejoined the Camino de Santiago we began last summer.
Getting back on the trail was no simple ordeal. Last summer, we left Logrono to make our way to Madrid and then to Barcelona for a few days of chaos before we went back home
Before we left, we sat looking at the Cathedral in the town square and promised, we’d make our way back.
But getting there was not simple. In a modern world of work and obligations, its never easy to skip the light fantastic, departing from historic time and work back into the world of mythic time which seems to take precedent along St James’ way. It would take us a year.
There were detours through work and climate marches, as well as sojourns to Sheffield England, Mexico, New York, and eventually back to Madrid where we spent another two delirious days before catching a train to Logrono. Simple right?
Not that simple. Leaving Madrid, we walked through Madrid, passing by Casa Blanca along the Calle Santa Crux, passing our friends at the Reina Sofia and Prado before arriving at the station, where we greeted the turtles who live there.
We love Madrid.
We waited in line for tickets, eventually requesting tickets for the 12:30 train.
“Completo,” the station attendant told us, shaking her head.
All the trains were full.
So we’ll rent a car, we thought. Simple enough? No.
Just finding the rentals was a struggle.
But eventually, we found ourselves on the road, zipping our way out of our beloved Madrid, where Caroline plan to retire, on our way north to Logrono. The landscape was truly the stuff of Man of La Mancha, like the set from a cowboy western, red clay on the dirt, looking alternately like my native Georgia, where we used to have a farm, Puerto rico, and Jushua tree.
“I keep misplacing myself,” noted Caroline, waking from sleep.
As we drove the landscape became more and more wondrous. The way always leaves surprises, if we are open to see them. But this is rarely smooth. It means abandoning plans and expectations for all the uncertainties of the road, which is not always easy or comfortable. But the rewards of the process are countless.
It took us till five pm to arrive in Logrono, where we’d have to make our way to our Alberge, drop the car off, and then back to the cathedral, where we’d renew our vow to finish the Camino, picking up where we left off the day before.
Looking at the cathedral, at the Plaza del Mercado, we toasted the road, and our lessons and experiences on it. We hope to enjoy what it has to offer us, enjoy the good and don’t let the nuisances take over the best of days.
The woman running our alberge had suggested we attend the pilgrim mass.
So we dropped by, only departing when we were told only “true Catholics can take communion.”
Whats that I thought – the child loving priests, those opposed to women’s and gay rights.
“Now I see where all the gold from the new world went,” noted Caroline reflecting on the gold decorating the church.
After mass, we had a good laugh, enjoyed an early 9 pm meal, and wandered home.
Like last year, we couldn’t sleep much the first night of the journey. I’d leave half of my clothes in the hotel on the way out, the Camino reminding me I was carrying too much anyways.
I know a place where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over canopied with luscious woodbine
With street muskroses
We read Pucks ‘s announcement:
Captain of our fairy band,
Helena is at hand,
And youth mistook by me,
Pledging for a lover’s fee
Shall we their fond pageant see?
Look what fools these mortals be
Walking out of Logrono, we talked about the ways we wander out of our mundane, crossing into that bridge to something out of the profane, that bridge to tarrabethia of make believe. Ducks and bugs howled at a pond just out of town. Spirits high. You learn about home on the road, with memories reminding you of people and far away moments. I had a dream about being invited to a cool night club the night before, later realizing the person inviting me in the dream was a man with HIv I knew two decades ago, probably no longer here. A sadness accompanied that odd memory of another life and its invitation to a nightclub somewhere else.
“We need a riverbank for our faeries,” I chimed in, to number two, referring the play we’d been reading.
“There’s one right there,” she chimed in, pointing to another creek to the left.
Some days its completely beautiful. Other days are interminable.
The mornings lovely, the late afternoons peaceful and sometimes slow. Over the next week we'd walk from Ventosa to Burgos with stops along the way in alberges in tiny towns, making countless friends, along the meandering way.