For the past two days, I had been carrying in my pocket a stone that Joe had given me before I left home. I had been looking for someplace to leave it; somewhere relatively high with a good view of the mountains; an area that was reminiscent of the Dempster Highway. I came to a spot that seemed to fit the bill. “It’s time,” I said to myself. But a part of me didn’t want to leave that stone behind. While it was with me I felt that Joe was on the Camino with me. That little stone gave me comfort during the times I felt tired or on the few occasions that I doubted I could complete this journey. So it was with a bit of sadness that I put the rock down on a large stone bench and said my good-byes.
Just then the South Korean fellow who’d stayed at my albergue last night walked by. I told him what I was doing. His response surprized me, particularly the intensity of it. “No, no. You must not do that. Instead, you need to take the stone with you and take photos of you holding it all along the way.” Then he was gone and I never saw him again during my entire Camino.
A feeling of relief came over me. What a great idea! The Camino gods seemed to think so too, since just a moment after leaving that area, with Joe’s stone carefully tucked back in my pocket, I came across some beautiful heather. Joe loves heather (it is a symbol of his heritage) and it’s rare when we don’t have a sprig of it in the house. I didn’t realize it grew in Spain, but here it was!
I picked a small branch of it and pressed it in my journal to take home. Then I slung my pack on my back again and practically skipped down the trail towards Burgos.
Note: I did end up having many pictures taken of me and that rock. I’ve posted some of them below.