Last night the man next to me was forensically exploring the line between snoring and shouting, whilst the guy opposite me was diligently and ceaselessly sawing through an endless plank of wood. I managed a little rest until shoutysleep man woke up at five and – (by the sound of it) – started crunching up crisp packets and inflating a space hopper. Knowing that the rain started at 12, I dragged myself up and out just in time for rosy fingered dawn.
The morning was gorgeous, hiking through perhaps the last of the classic Galician countryside before the suburbs start. I was alone again, and enjoying the peace and the beauty. It’s a lovely, fertile, wet part of the world. Shortly before noon I arrived at Tia Dolores biergarten, and got undercover just as the rain descended. At Tia Dolores they sell Peregrina Lager by the locally brewed bottle, and you get a white pen. Once you’ve finished you can write something on a bottle and add it to the collection.
People write all sorts of things on walls and signs and bottles along this route. Some of it is great, some incomprehensible and some trite. It’s scattergun. There’s enough variance that something will appeal to everyone. Leonard Cohen’s Anthem is an incredible song, and when I first heard his “crack in everything” lyric I wept. But I’ve seen it written so many times in different forms since I started this journey “everything is crack so for make light in” that it has faded in potency. I now prefer the home grown ones.
Here’s the Camino Slogan Generator. Start with something universal in our experience on the Camino, so “Life”, “love” or “the Camino” are good examples. Now pull a random noun from somewhere. Anything will do. Compare them both and try to make it sound profound. Win. Using themes from my camino blog so far: “The Camino is like clams. You have to crack the shell to get to the tasty bit.” “Life is like a piggypillow – it’s ridiculous and arbitrary but you can still learn to love it.” “Love is like a cheap blue poncho. Even if it doesn’t do what you hoped, it’s your attitude that determines your happiness.”
The first thing I saw, back in Lourdes was “Va vers toi meme.” Go towards yourself. That resonated with me, and even if the next 8 people who saw it thought it was trite, all it needed is that one hit. I’ve said it to a few people since. I’ve been going towards myself ever since.
I wrote something on my lunchtime beer bottle and stuck it with the others. Then I took a deep breath and dived into the waiting deluge. We’re coming into the suburbs now, so we’re walking down main roads. On the main roads huge logging trucks go past at speed. The roads are flooded. Imagine the spray. I could’ve been laminated and still would’ve ended up with squelchy boots after the first couple of trucks had had their way with me.
As when I was ejecting high speed liquids all night in a freezing Filipino convent, I found myself wondering what it is specifically that I need from this bloody cold swimming competition. The Camino is supposed to give you what you need not what you want. That’s what they write on all the sign posts along with personal stuff like “To Stacey I love you very mrummble nurr grmm”.
I tell myself I needed the norovirus to get better at parenting myself. I’ll probably find out soon enough why I need a 60km land-swim with squelchy boots on.
It’s 20km to the cathedral and I’m going to get my Compostela on Sunday morning not tomorrow, so I’m under no pressure to front crawl to the finish line. A leisurely breast stroke tomorrow, and then on Monday this crap is supposed to ease off.