In Seixon, we are to turn north through the town of Miraz, in the most secluded and remote territory inside Galicia, where the route climbs up to Altos de Mamoa. At the end, we will have climbed up 900 feet in altitude.
Except, I didn't.
I had suited up, ready for another long day in the pouring down rain. I had on my pink "waterproof" jacket but I also put over it my yellow def-waterproof poncho. I was wearing my waterproof pants over my hiking pants. And, of course, my amazing waterproof hiking boots.
I was ready to rock and roll on The Camino.
I made it less than the first kilometer when my stomach, which had been queasy since last night (I only ate 1/2 my dinner), started to rock and roll.
Apparently, I have been felled by some sort of stomach virus. Or, perhaps, the altitude.
Or, a comination of both. At least those are the three major theories.
There was nausea and retching, dizziness and . . . um . . . gastric distress. With absolutely no bathrooms available along the route, it was considered the greater part of valor to take me back to the Parador where I was allowed to rest.
"Here, senora, allow me to lightly butter your toast. Or, would senora prefer olive oil?"
"Ah, senora chose well. Green tea. Allow me to pour."
"Ah, senora, sip, sip, sip the tea. Sip, sip, sip. Like so. Yes! Good!" Take your time. Relax. No worries, now. You are here. You are safe. Okay? You are pale but you gonna be okay, yes? You let me know if I should call the doctor, yes? Okay. Remember: sip, sip, sip. Relax. No worries. Okay?"
Except, I fretted about lots of things: Not being with my fellow peregrinos, for one. I fretted about what I might have eaten that caused this wretched condition. Or, what "unseen baggage" I was carrying that caused my body to respond in this way.
It's all metaphor, you know.
But mostly, I fretted about not qualifying for the Compostella certificate.
I have finally settled on the fact that I did not dream and plan and prepare and walk this much of The Camino for a piece of paper.
I am doing The Camino not to prove anything or to accomplish anything.
I am doing The Camino for my self.
I am doing The Camino for my soul.
I am doing The Camino so that one day, perhaps, my grandchildren or great grandchildren will look back through their family tree as I have, attempting to discover, perhaps, why it is they have this yearning to discover - or uncover - or recover something about themselves and their lives.
Someone suggested that my Camino passport could be taken along and stamped for me so that I could still receive the Compostella certificate.
Someone else responded, appropriately, "But, that would be dishonest."
Someone else - someone with a Roman Catholic childhood - added, "Yes, she will not have deserved the certificate."
Even in my haze of dizziness and temporary misery, I found myself inwardly chuckling.
Dishonest? Yes, of course. But, I appreciate the sentiment.
Deserving? As a former RC, I recognized the concept immediately.
Worthy is its second cousin, twice removed by Guilt.
I have always loved that line in the Eucharistic Prayer, ".... we are made worthy to stand before you."
Indeed. No groveling. No bowing and scraping. No fawning. No sniveling.
Yes, "deserving" applies to the Certificate of Accomplishments. Of course.
I will still receive a Certificate of Distance. That will be sufficient for itself.
I am a peregrina. That will not change. Ever.
Sort of like being in the Olympics. Winning a medal is great, but the thing is being an Olympian.
I remembered that wonderful poem, Wild Geese, by Mary Oliver:
I am here. I am on The Camino which has taught me that I will always be a peregrino.You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
I still have my place in the family of things. The world has not stopped. My vocation has not ceased to call to me.
God willing, I will pick up my walking sticks and walk tomorrow.
I just set out my clothing and rain gear for the morning. My walking sticks are set at their appropriate height. My boots and socks are in their proper place.
I am recovering. I am ready.
I may have room service tonight - just a simple broth and, perhaps some tea and toast. I think I'd like to be pampered again by that dashingly handsome waiter who treats his guests like royalty in a Parador which used to be the castle of Fernan Perez de Andrade.
Tonight, I am a 'princess peregrino'. I will feast on tea and jam and bread and, perhaps, some broth for strength.
Muchas gracias, amigo/a. I am so deeply grateful for your company on this journey.
I hear you, fellow wild geese, honking to let me know you're right behind me in formation.