The great Lemony Snicket may have originally written ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, but I’m going to plagiarise his genius and name my blog the opposite- because I’m at a moment in my life where I’m learning to see unfortunate events as somewhat fortunate events. Which means, perhaps sadly, that this blog won’t include any villainous cretins named Count Olaf, nor will it include any octopus-shaped submarines or unreasonably intelligent babies (apologies if you never read his literary genius as a child, as this will make zero sense). But, what it will include is the tale of a twenty year old Australian traipsing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, multitudes of Spanish cats, and a touch of subtle whinging about a knee injury. If that tickles your fancy, by all means, read on!
Last time I wrote, I was sitting on my bunk bed in a lovely little albergue at Puente la Reina, about a week ago. This time, I’m sitting at a table at a Spanish café in Nájera, a teensy one hundred kilometres and five hundred metres further along the Camino! I’m constantly overwhelmed with gratitude that I’m here on this adventure. From Puente la Reina, I had the brilliant idea to walk thirty-three kilometres to a tiny village called Villemayor- though it actually did turn out to be a brilliant idea, because I met beautiful people along the way, and stayed at a homey little Christian albergue! To give you a little idea of how hospitable the volunteers were at this albergue, they gave us an Epsom salts foot bath on arrival as well as little glasses of cold water with lemon. How lovely is that?! God was cradling me in his arms, I think, as I stayed at this albergue that provided us with a home cooked meal, a Jesus meditation session, and brekky in the morning that included the utter luxury of muesli and yoghurt!
In other news, that day I’d felt a few funny twinges in my knee- that escalated to the point of my limping my way around the albergue that night. The next day, my knee decided to really let me know it was unhappy, and continued to hurt like a very bad word for the next two stages of the Camino. In the midst of this pain, however, were so many moments of beauty. I walked with a French nurse at one point, who gave me some anti-inflammatory cream and sound advice, and stayed at a fun little albergue where the host gave me an icepack and escorted me down the stairs to dinner! I ended up going to the doctors surgery in Logroño a few days later, where they told me I’ve likely damaged/torn my meniscus cartilage from continuous walking- a diagnosis that my surgeon back home agrees with. In fact, I had surgery for the same injury on the same knee a few years back, and it will likely need surgery again to repair it! I limped out of the doctors with tears running down my face, and feeling rather angry with everything and everyone- mostly my knee, for throwing a spanner in the works of a journey that I feel I’ve given up a lot to be on.
But, in the spirit of turning unfortunate events to fortunate ones, I needed to remind myself of my original purpose for doing the Camino. Was it simply to walk a crazy amount of kilometres? No. Was it to have time to refresh and refuel? Yes! I’m thus trying to purposefully find the good in the situation- the situation being that I needed to have three rest days in Logroño, to try walking for another few days with a knee brace and painkillers, and if the pain still remained, to stop walking all together. And, there really have been so many good things!! On my rest days, I met a girl from Israel and we went out for lunch together, I had a chance to journal and reflect, I was able to stay in one place for more than a day, and none other than my Swedish pal from day one, Dave, waltzed through the door of my hostel, and a group of us went out for tapas together! I then eased myself back into the rhythm of walking, and have walked two short days now.
Last night I stayed in little Navarette, a medieval town with the most awe-inspiring church I’ve seen so far. And, I stayed at a family run albergue, that owned no less than five cats! One of them was a beautiful black Spanish cat called Leo, and funnily enough, I have a beautiful black non-Spanish cat at home called Leo, so there you have it. The rest of this blog could be about these cats, but perhaps your eyes are already glazing over, so I’ll spare you the glorious details. I will say, however, that today I walked sixteen kilometes from Navarette to Nájera with wonderful company. I walked partway with a lady from Taiwan and a lady from South Korea, who call themselves the ‘snail sisters’ because they walk so slow! They adopted me into their little group and we had lots of laughs and good chats- what a blessing.
The issue with my knee and these two days of walking have helped me to make a decision- and decision making does not come easily for me! Before and during my walk, many people have suggested that I visit the Taizé Christian community in France, but I didn’t have enough time. Taizé, from what I understand, is a community that offers space for reflection, fellowship, and spiritual growth- encompassing many of my reasons for doing the Camino- and now that I suddenly have some time, and I’m very close to France, I think I will pause my Camino to go there, and return to the Camino for the final one hundred kilometres! Gosh, how plans can change.
My experience so far has been overwhelmingly humbling, and I’m slowly continuing to be reminded of the importance of seeing the good in situations that at first seem wholly bad. And, that concludes my series of fortunate events. For now x
Love from Madeline xx