Greetings from wine country! Today was rainy and damp, which surprisingly made for a really pleasant walk after so much sun and the embarrassing fact that I'm nursing a pretty nasty sun burn. The sight of so many pilgrims with ponchos covering their packs was enough to keep me giggling for the whole 20K.
Cirauqui to Estella to Torres Del Rio, and now in Logrono.
I am learning, every day in every circumstance, to listen to myself, and at times have learned it the hard way. There is no shame on the camino: how slow do you need to walk? Walk that pace. Do you need to stop for water again? Go ahead. You can't make it to the next town today? You'll make up the distance tomorrow. I made that mistake a few days ago, pushing through when I was hot and burning and tired, and I should have stopped. I still feel like I'm paying for it, it's been a tough slug, especially on the descent, but it really brought home the importance of honoring your needs. I am already surprising myself each day with doing more than I ever thought possible; I am learning the difficult lesson on this road to take care of myself no matter how dumb one looks with walking poles and knee braces and sun hats and ponchos and stopping to put SPF 30 on even though the group stopped five minutes ago for a water break.
Some highlights from the last few days have been making vegetarian pasta with Luke and Leah, an adorable Australian couple with great senses of humour and then sharing crazy amounts of bottles of 2£ wine at a common table in Estella; meeting Luke the writer, a funny Londoner who likes to call Stefanie (the other 23 year old Canadian from the same hometown as I) and I the "leggy blondes", which is particularly great for the ego when all I feel is sweaty and achy and clunky; talking with Shari from Virginia about nursing and her kids and all of her adventures; Will and Charlie, sweet 19 year old best friends who are game for most anything; Tatto who is learning about happiness over success; sharing drinks and food and laundry with all at the end of a long day; loads of discussions about why we're all here and what grips our hearts. If you are looking for a trip to be encouraged by the beauty of people, this is the trip to go on.
The scenery is simply breath taking here in the countryside. The grass is wild and long and so green, and we are getting into the Rioja wine region (YUM). Today in the rain I walked through vineyards for 6 hours. I stayed behind the group and all you could hear was the sound of the lightest rain on leaves and birds singing like crazy, and my stupid walking poles hitting the ground. As I get used to the routine and can better predict what my day is going to look like, I feel my mind switching from worrying about the practicality of walking so far (will there be a fountain ahead, are my feet going to be wrecked at the end of this day, am I going to have a bed in the next town) to reflection and wondering about my life. I am excited about having all the time in the world to really hash out my brain that can move at such rapid pace that I miss half of what I've got stuck up there. We have already started to discuss what we may be like at the end of all this (half the bets are on being totally and completely insane), and I can only imagine it will at least be the most rewarding adventure imaginable; it already is.