CDHi President’s Blog – Walking on the Camino Ingles for CDH – April 9, 2024

April 9, 2024 – Betanzos to Presedo

On the road again! Yes, I sang that in my head. Did you?

Walking and overthing. My brain never shuts off.

I’m very big on analogies, and I think God uses analogies often with me because that’s just how my brain works. So this is what I’ve come up with today. It could be complete bollocks, or maybe not.

I’ve seen a few backpackers so far today. I was walking with a nurse from Germany, Teresa, for a little while. Very nice, and her English was great. It was her first Camino as well. But she’s young and healthy, and I was holding her back, so I politely told her to just go ahead without me because I wanted to make sure that she made it to her stop, which is much farther than my stop today. So she smiled, and she been pardoned from trying to be with me, and we wished each other Camino. But it was nice to have company for a little while again.

I came across quite a few other pilgrims, who only spoke Spanish, a lot of men especially. We wished each other Camino and all went our different paces.

For a long time this morning, I was by myself, walking through the woods. I don’t understand why, because the weather is absolutely gorgeous today, but maybe people just walk faster than me and they were already way ahead of me.

I’ve been carrying around with me a little travel guide for the Camino Inglés. It has been a godsend. It is giving me so much information about hotels, restaurants, hostels, and even told me when the Camino route has been changed. Quite a few places the government has moved the route from old roads to new roadways.

I don’t like that.

I said I wanted to go the same way as the Camino pilgrims have for centuries, and that’s what I’m doing.

Right after the village of cars and Santiago Iglesia, another church named after Saint James. The old Camino continues down a small residential area and into farmland, and the new Camino stays along the highway. According to the guide, the distances are the same. I am not a fan of walking on the highway, as often there is nowhere to walk but directly on the road with traffic. I much prefer a better view than trash cans, and electrical boxes, transfer trucks, and stores.

I would rather see what Spain looks like. I want to experience the ancient Camino Inglés.

So the guide warns that there would be no markings on the old Camino as they have all been removed and that you have to have a GPS if you’re going to attempt it. I have GPS on my phone, as I decided to leave my old Garmin in my suitcase back in storage to save weight in my backpack. I looked at the map in the guide, and I’m not sure which way the route is, so I decided I was just going to let God guide me, and if I figured out where the route was, I would go, and if not, there was probably a reason He wanted me to follow the new route for my own safety.

So that was the plan.

I saw the sign to the smaller Santiago Iglesia. I knew that was the road, so I went!

I had cell service, so I went ahead and I put in the name of the town that I am going to stop in tonight so that it would be on my phone and hopefully continue to guide me there if I got lost. If not, I have three different maps, and I’ll be fine. I was grateful when I saw the first seashell sign about a third of a kilometer in because then I knew that I was on the right way. And though the guidebook said that all the markers to be erased, I’m still finding one here and there to let me know that I am on the right path.

Isn’t that just like life?

Everyone is trying to point you to go to the new place and do the new things, even if it means you’re going to see nothing but ugly highways and a lot of danger, when there was absolutely nothing wrong with the old way, and in fact, it was much more beautiful and safer.

I am quite fond of the old way. I hold onto my morals and my ethics with all my might. I’m not set in my ways by any means, and I’m fairly flexible to learn and am current on everything: news, music, movies, books, slang, fads. I am definitely not so old-fashioned that I am intolerant or incapable of change.

But as I’m walking down this ancient Camino and looking at its beautiful views, making conversation with adorable lambs and huge cows (yes, out loud – you would too)….. I am so grateful that I’m able to experience this and see the things that I am seeing and do what I’m doing. I am so grateful that I did not follow the other pilgrims because no one else is on this route with me.

Thousands and thousands of pilgrims before me created this route for hundreds of years. Why do we always assume that the older generations never learned from trial and error? That’s how civilizations are created. Groups of people learn what works and what doesn’t work, and they build upon what works over and over again until they create something incredible, a society that’s highly functioning.

And then some young person comes along, decides they’re going to bulldoze everything, put blacktop over it, call it the new Camino, and insist that everyone goes that way so we can enjoy the view of petrol stations and concrete walls.

What’s the point in that? That sounds miserable to me. That does not sound like an improvement. Maybe the road is in better condition, but it’s certainly not safer. In fact, it’s much more dangerous. I just don’t see the benefit of it except to follow the crowd.

I definitely have never been one to follow the crowd. I try to stay ahead of things, and I’m constantly learning how to do new things, especially with technology. I am able to bend and swerve with the times. And I definitely push the charity to stay on top of everything and to blaze new paths. Do we want to do what everyone else is doing? Absolutely not. Why? I prefer what works and has been proven to work over what is new and shiny.

I have a very strong moral, ethical, and religious foundation. I am so grateful to my parents for that. I am stubbornly rooted in that foundation, to the point where I’m sure it drives most people in my life crazy. My thought process is that if people have tried things and situations millions of different ways over thousands of years, why wouldn’t they have narrowed down what works best? What works to help the most people and hurts the least. What avoids the most pain and the most wars. What feeds the most people and keeps the most people sheltered and safe. Once civilizations veer off that path, they always decline.

So, as I’ve been walking this Camino and pondering life, faith, charity work, and questioning whether I’m on the right path or not, I think this detour onto the old path today has really affirmed that I am on the right path in life. Stability, strong foundation, respect for what works, stay kind, stay honest, stay vulnerable, believe in yourself and in miracles, stay authentic, work to get to the top, keep moving forward. That’s how I’ve always enjoyed success for myself and watched the charity grow and be successful as well. Cling to the values that matter.

And when you do that, there are rewards like this.

Looking at the map, I indeed have taken the high road over the low road. Ha! The old adage is very true.

Another thing that I have noticed today is that I am starting to depend on these walking sticks, and I’m finding myself leaning over and moving slower, like a little old lady with a walker. Why am I doing that? I can stand up on my own. It’s only because I’m hiking, and I don’t want to hurt myself, and it does help a little bit to get to the top when I need it. But I could do it completely on my own without them, granted it might take me a lot longer, and I may injure myself. In a few days, I’ve become dependent on these things.

I guess that’s another analogy of life, isn’t it? How easily we can get dependent on things that make life easier instead of doing it for ourselves. Also, how foolish it would be if we didn’t take advantage of the help.

I am grateful for these hiking sticks, but I am going to try not to use them as much unless I really need to. Depending on them is definitely not helping my back. I am pretty tall, and they’re definitely tall enough for me, but I’m just letting my posture go to hell.

I need to remember to stand up straight and use the sticks correctly, not as a crutch, but as a tool to assist me on this challenging journey.

This walk is definitely teaching me a lot about self-reliance and the importance of using resources wisely, without becoming overly dependent on them and learning to let go of things you don’t truly need.

The Camino provides, indeed, not just in material needs but in lessons and revelations that I will carry with me long after this journey ends.

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