Day 8: Camino del Santiago

Mileage: 17.4
Total distance: 141

  • Pulled in two directions.  

The idea of a path can influence so many decisions and mentalities that may control and shape the way you handle your journey and development along the way. I for one always have viewed my paths to be a means of proving myself. Not necessarily to others, but I honestly still don’t know what for directly. My mentality has always been to get my way no matter the cost whether it affects me or others negatively physically and mentally. I have hiked with anxiety and stress about mileage and time and money and weight and pains that I have had a hard time finding time to truly rest in the opportunities of growth and development that surround an experience like hiking. I feel pretty stubborn when it comes to pushing myself to the limit and it takes a good amount to get me to the point of accepting the obvious and releasing control. Today I reached that limit. 

Last nights fiasco was one of the most memorable experiences of my life; music, wine, fire, friends, laughter, shrimp boats, ocean swells, soft wind, wieners and baguettes. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day. I woke up around eight this morning and slowly gathered my things while my friends continued to rest off the late night. After saying a short but sweet goodbye and beginning my hike alone again, I stopped in a small shop to charge up my phone battery when our German friend caught up to me and asked to hike along for a few miles before we chose a different path to Laredo. I gathered my things and off we went. 

Trail today was nothing but highway roads with inches of asphalt left to hikers. The German and I split under a bridge after talking about driving fast on the Autobahn and good stretches to do for plantar fasciitis. I my didn’t take long to get into Laredo, but my heel was doing it’s throb thing and I came to a conclusion of finding a bike shop and finding a used bike to finish out the Camino. I have a lot left this summer and realized that burning out on the Camino is something I did not want to do. Unfortunately, all the shops were closed until 4 pm so I went inland to another bike shop two miles away but found that one to be closed as well. 

As I waited I found a small cafe and ordered a coffee to pass the time. My phone was dying so I plugged it in, but still it continued to die. I worried the chord maybe broke some how so I decided to go buy a new one, but after going to another cafe and buying a pintxos (a small sandwich) to use their outlet and the phone still not holding a charge I returned the chord. I now thought it was the plug so I bought a new one and tested it out in the store with the help of a very sweet younger Latin women with broken English and a calm, but genuine care for my apparent stress. The phone turned on but then lost the charge and died. 

Before I left on this trip I had my screen replaced by Staples not once but four times because each time something new was wrong with their screens. Never use Staples to fix your iPhone. It should have seemed obvious to me in the first place. I worried that my phone was glitching from all those repairs and that this was the end of its life. I felt very low and a little scared to be phone-less and off-trail not knowing what to do about that situation, but now to the bike. 

I decided to head to the bike store and then ride to Tyler and Naomi to see if they had any ideas of what I should try. I got a little lost trying to find the shop, but eventually did and walked in and waited while the owner worked with another customer appearing very short and direct in his expression. Eventually he spoke with me and after a tough time communicating my needs of a cheap used bike he informed me that it would be very hard to find a bike for what I am doing for as little as I am willing to spend. I said thank you and walked out. 

At this point I felt the defeat sink in and my ability to control the situation evaporate like water droplets on a black car in the middle of a Texas summer day. My body felt over worked, my phone is potentially out of commission and I have no idea what I am going to do. So I decided to walk. 

I walked fast. I walked angrily. I walked aggressively. I walked with my shoes untied. 

A million thoughts were racing through my head and all I was trying to do was to figure out how I could get control back and feel powerful over my entire situation, but every outlet seemed to be useless, pardon the pun. However, I began to notice my heel didn’t hurt as bad when my shoe was loose from not being tied. I walked for almost ten miles straight and the longer I walked the less it hurt. 

Eventually I got to the ferry getting over to Santaño and tried my phone charger again, but it only got two percent batter and died again. And then… 

I found myself at the hostel my friends were staying and was ready to vent about my day and figure out what I was going to do, but they were out at dinner and my phone was dead so I had no way of finding them. Instead I sat down in an empty bunk room and tried my phone again with some hope things would work, but it didn’t. As I sat there feeling what I imagine you could assume I was feeling, an older woman walked in and went to her bunk. She asked me if I spoke English and told me she was from Norway. Her name was Benta. We sat in silence a moment and I tried my phone one more time. Benta began to talk with me about Norway and her life and asking me about mine. She had a welcoming and open/mystical energy and slowly we began to work our way into some deep conversation about our personal struggles emotionally and socially. She began to tell me different things she has worked through that resonated purely into my current position in life. She brought up insecurities I struggle with about people’s perception or issues we have that we need to transcend and grow out of and ways we need to learn to heal and not blame others for our mistakes. We both began speaking of examples from our personal lives and this atmosphere of peace and understanding began flooding the room. I felt wrapped up in all my worries and stresses by her words as if she was opening my ability to see clearly and process without distraction or stains. We spoke for an hour before my friends showed up and the conversation shifted with new energy. I looked down at my phone and saw that it was at 43% and had been charging since I tried again when Benta came into the room. 

I just finished writing a letter to Benta thanking her for our talk this afternoon. Not often in life do I feel like I am being guided into situations that are so clearly meant for something because of my controlling and anxious nature, but after feeling defeated over and over today I released my concern of what this trail would look like and accepted whatever may come my way and Benta entered my life. I felt like I was supposed to be in that room with her. It felt very powerful and renewing and I left feeling as if my soul and body finally rested in harmony. 

So I’m going to hike this trail the way I am led to hike it, or wherever my phone charging decides I’m supposed to be. Nah, but for the first time in my hiking life I am not putting any definitives on my ending place, my pace, my resting place, my mileage or my means of transportation. I wanted this summer to be healing and a time to develop into the person I want to be for people I love deeply and hiking the way I have been has not enabled that reality to exist and I am the only person with the ability to end that and today I feel so free in my decision to rest in the current of the Camino and not thrash around in the water to control my experience. What an opportunity to live in joy and peace. 

Sorry there aren’t many pictures, my phone was out of commission for most of it. 

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