[연재] 사랑하면 산티아고로 떠나라, 그녀처럼

[Serial] Leave for Santiago Trail if in Love like Her

13. Unexpected goodbyes

Written by Su-a Lee, assistant principal cellist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra

입력시간 : 2019-01-08 06:22:49 , 최종수정 : 2019-01-12 21:26:47, 편집부 기자

Burgos to Hontanas


Overnight in Burgos proved to be quite eventful, for everyone except me. In bed by 9pm, I had decided to take a sleeping pill, as I had only managed 2.5hrs of sleep on the previous night in the monastery, and we were planning a long day today of 32kms!

I had my best sleep in months! Meanwhile, as was reported to me the next day, there had been a commotion on our floor, with a sleep walker who was wandering around each bed whilst having a bizarre conversation with himself and making weird and ghoulish noises. This was terrifying for those who were woken. After quite some time of putting up with this, it was Osi who took charge and gave him a piece of her mind. Not before recording some of it first! (I am hoping to get hold of this evidence at some point…) Other midnight witnesses were very grateful to Osi, as they had been lying there, petrified.

This morning Olaf decided to walk 12kms of the Camino with us, before taking a taxi back to Burgos for his lunchtime departure to Germany.

I was behind him and somehow couldn’t catch up. I was sure I’d missed him, as I was already approaching the third village (Hornillos del Camino) which was some 20kms from Burgos and hadn’t seen him. Then I saw a taxi approaching me from the village and so I blocked its passage! Sure enough, it was Olaf! I was overjoyed to give him a final farewell hug! He had been on such a roll, that he’d continued on to do a further 10kms than planned that morning!

I had stopped in the first village (Tardajos) for a quick coffee and to bandage up my calf which was still painful from yesterday. When I checked my phone, I realised why I hadn’t seen George and Jade since she’d been chatting on the phone to her sister some kms back. 


They had headed back into Burgos after receiving tragic news from home in Australia. Jade’s best friend had suffered a sudden death in her family. They needed to decide whether to continue on their Camino or go back to Australia.

There were many things that went through my mind. Firstly, I wanted to provide comfort. Secondly, I secretly hoped that her best friend at home had enough support there (and was a good enough friend), to insist that Jade stay in Spain to finish her Camino. 


But ultimately, it struck me personally how devastated I was, at suddenly losing these wonderful new friends. These past two weeks have been incredible and Jade and George have been a big part of it.
Even if they stayed on the Camino, my day’s headway would make it very difficult for them to catch up.
I found myself in tears.

I left Chiara, Francesco and Hartmut, who had kindly donated his bandage and knee support, in the cafe, whilst I forged ahead (actually to try to catch up with Olaf before he got his taxi).

I walked the next 10km alone (before I caught up with Olaf…) filled with thoughts of loss. The suddenness of Jade and George’s departure brought it home to me again, how fragile the connections in, and with, life are.
I was sad that I hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye.

In Hornillos del Camino, I caught up again with Hartmut, Chiara and Francesco. Hartmut provided us all with cold beers, Francesco gave us each a bag of dried figs, and I dished out muesli energy bars! Such is the way!

Francesco and Chiara are a couple I met on the first day arriving into Roncesvalles. We were sharing a bunk bed “chamber” (partitioned in groups of two bunk beds). They are Italian and charming. My Italian is rusty but they were accommodating.

We have overlapped on many stages of the Camino and I am always delighted to see them. I have to admit to thinking that she looked very young for him, but didn’t question much beyond that. Imagine my surprise when I discovered last night over Olaf’s farewell dinner, that they were in fact father and daughter! Many more things made sense and I marvelled at my ridiculous lack of social acuity.

So, if the 20kms I had walked today until Hornillos had felt manageable (dare I say it, even easy?!) despite my sore shin, knees and ankle, the next 15km of the day felt infernal and interminable! (At the time I thought there were only 10kms to go, but Antonio, our Spanish Camino veteran told us later that, because of a long detour, it was a further 15kms!)

My shin pain was agony and my pace slowed dramatically. With no albergue to speak of until Hontanas, I gritted my teeth and focussed my mind on other things.

I considered something that Hartmut had mentioned the other day. He spoke about the tradition of carrying a stone during one’s Camino which represents a burden, sin or trouble which you can cast off at the Cruz de Ferro (an iron cross, some 550kms from SJPDP). He suggested that I might like to think about doing this.

Later that day, I had seen a perfect rock which I picked up and placed in my pocket. I say “rock” because it was indeed quite large, though smooth…and felt more substantial than a stone. It had great chunks taken off two of its corners. The imperfection of it pleased me.

I had been speaking over the past days about my “deskie”, David. He is a huge inspiration to me in so many ways, not just for his consummate musicianship, but also for his deeply perceptive mind and ridiculous humour! I am devastated by the fact he has been unable to play with us since New Year, so that he can fully address his recent diagnosis of scleroderma and pursue a course of treatment. This is not only a huge misfortune for the orchestra, it is a palpable and profound loss for me. I hope his absence is only temporary.

I decided that I would like to carry this stone for him.

Later on that day, when I told Hartmut that I had picked a stone, he seemed pleased and asked if I had decided what it represented for me. I told him I was carrying it for David. He then gently questioned my decision by saying that the stone could rather embody some burden of my own that I would like to leave behind me. He suggested that I might like to dedicate an étape of my Camino to David instead. He also observed that I spend a lot of my time doing things for, and thinking about, other people. 


I appreciated his thoughts and decided I would consider the dedication idea, and spend some time reconsidering what the stone might represent for me.

It was also interesting to note his observation about my thinking of other people. This is something my friends and family often charge me of and they insist that I need to be more selfish and do more for myself. I maintain that I am only happy if the people around me are happy.

I do think however, that recently I have been doing more things primarily for myself. At Christmas, I decided against my natural desire of seeing family and friends and booked myself a yoga/detox retreat. And now (although fundraising for charity), I am on a five-week journey, essentially for myself.

At this point in my thoughts, there was a sign saying that I had 5kms to go until Hontanas! Argh! I couldn’t believe I still had that far to go! My shin was agony, though I found it good just to work in tandem with the waves of pain.

 
I was even more horrified and destroyed when I thought I must surely nearly be there and came upon another beastly sign saying I had 2kms to go!
Purgatory!

The village of Hontanas appears quite suddenly in a dip. I have never felt so relieved to see a village. The first beer provided by Hartmut, who had arrived there some time before and had sent a couple of messages of encouragement, was heartily consumed and thoroughly deserved!

35kms in one day is a personal record and one which I’m sure I won’t beat in a hurry.


Su-a Lee

 



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