Walked today: 7 kilometres
Total walked so far: 224.2 kilometres
A night’s rest didn’t really improve my knees to any great degree. There was no way I was going to be able to walk a full day in this condition. So I decided just to go to the next town and stop there for a ‘rest day’. For the second time on this trip I said good-bye to my friends, not knowing if we would meet up again. While the first time this had happened I had felt a bit lonely and lost, this time there was something almost freeing about it. I knew whatever happened, I would be just fine.
I arrived in Granon before nine in the morning, having had a late start and a slow stroll into this lovely town. Ironically, my knees felt better after the seven kilometre walk and for a brief moment I toyed with the idea of going on. But no, I thought, I really needed to give my body a break, so I stuck with Plan A.
The albergue was unlike anything else I’d stayed in. It was in the bell tower of a church (my knees could not believe it when I told them this and said they would need to climb multiple stairs to reach their final destination). I went inside and even though they were in the middle of cleaning, the people who ran the albergue stopped to warmly welcome me and check me in (most albergues don’t allow people to check in until the afternoon).
The facilities were very basic…my bed was a mat on the floor. But the atmosphere was so special that it didn’t matter. The kindness and caring so apparent here would make a slab of rock feel like a royal bed. This was another one of those albergues where a night’s stay, dinner and breakfast was all provided in exchange for a donation.
After I had dropped off my things, I went back out into the town to have breakfast. Then I returned to my room where I laid down for a sleep. I was still the only one here and the quiet was wonderful. It was only broken by pigeons cooing outside, and the bread truck that had just announced its arrival with a long honk. As I lay there I imagined the scene… all the women, some still in their house coats, pouring from their homes to buy their daily loaves from this store on wheels.
I must have slept for some time (I didn’t carry a watch with me on the Camino so I can’t say for sure) because when I awoke other people were starting to arrive. My friend Clara was among them, so she and I decided to go find some lunch. We went to a bar where a sweetheart of a woman made us potato omelettes. She didn’t speak English but clearly wanted to chat with us, so we played quite an elaborate game of charades. She had a smile that could light up the whole Camino.
Back at the albergue, there were now about 40 of us, and we were all put to work helping to prepare dinner. It was like Santa’s workshop…some were chopping fruit or veggies, others were peeling potatoes or cutting up sausages, and still others were washing and drying lettuce. It was one well oiled machine that resulted in a delicious meal of potato and sausage soup, salad, and fruit salad for dessert. Then the whole process started again in terms of the clean-up.
In between the dinner prep and the actual eating, most of us went to the Pilgrims’ Mass in the small chapel downstairs. Although not Catholic, I ended up going to quite a few masses. Some were quite lovely, with the priest usually calling all the pilgrims up to the alter at the end of the service to bless us and pray for a safe journey.
At this mass, the priest told us we would meet three entities along the way: ourselves, the other people travelling with us, and God. He said no matter what our purpose for walking the Camino, we would be called spiritually and would be asked to do our bit for the betterment of mankind. He said we would never be the same after this pilgrimage.
After mass, dinner and clean up, I went right to bed, lulled to sleep by someone playing the guitar and singing Marley’s “No Woman No Cry”.