Today: We Embarked on the Way

Today we walked our first miles on the Camino de Santiago. It was only a few miles because most of the day was spent in transit from Madrid to O’Cebreiro Pass. Walking to the taxi stop, taking taxis to the first bus, five hours on the first, a final hour on a second bus. We didn’t arrive at our starting point until 4 pm, so we began walking in the heat of the day.

Brenda gave us a lesson in the proper use of hiking poles, gave us advice for using a resting step when walking uphill and modeled the best way to rest on our poles when we needed to stop (leaning downhill). We all double checked our gear and set off. It was a beautiful span of The Way, a wonderful place to begin.

Within just my first five or six steps, I felt choked up. I don’t know if it was, “Fuck this is finally happening after years of planning to make it so,” or if it was the power of the path itself or the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have walked these same paths before over the course of centuries. Whatever it was, I felt it and I got very quiet.

Oh my God, finally, I’m really walking the Camino.

When we arrived on in the little town where we would sleep, we got our pilgrim passports stamped and then settled on the lawn near a sprawling tree and shared a writing prompt, “I’m standing on the edge of…” It felt good to write and read together before settling into our hotel for the night.

Here are some scenes from our beautiful day of transition and beginning. I took some of these shots (below and above), but at dinner, with 15 of us sitting around a wooden hewn table eating thick crusted bread and olive oil, ribs, platters of salad, French fries and almond olive oil cake for dessert, I invited the group to send me their best photos of the day.

They began to fly into my phone through airdrop, and some of them will be in this post, but airdrop doesn’t designate who’s picture belongs to whom, so I’m sorry I can’t identify the individual photographers—except they’re members of the best group ever!

Tomorrow is our first serious day of hiking—8-11 miles (depending who’s counting).

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