Sitting here digesting a huge lunch of fish, chips and salad; a small feather from my down vest was floating gracefully to the floor in the sunlight of the nearby window. I coughed at this moment which disturbed the feather and caused it to change its course and speed towards the ground a lot faster than before. Once it was free of the draft I’d caused it slowed again to its original graceful speed and continued to the ground. I wondered if I hadn’t coughed, if it would have still landed in the same spot. This got me thinking about how interactions with others and chance encounters can change your course so easily and so unintentionally. Does each interaction change the course of our lives completely or do they just take us on an alternative path to the same destination?
The Way has made me think a lot about the course we choose to take in life. On this trail you can choose how much control you take of your direction, how fast or how slow you move, where you stay, who you speak to and when and where you eat. None of this changes your destination, but it will ultimately change your course and your experience. There’s times when you follow the Way and regret its lengthy detour in the wrong direction, then there’s times when you choose an alternative to the direction of the Way and regret the straight boring road. The only obvious consequence is the level of your enjoyment, unless something drastic happens on the new path you choose.
Two nights ago there was a guy snoring so loud in the Albergue in A Carida that I set my tent up and slept on the grass outside. Tonight crossing the border from Asturias into Galicia to the town of Ribadeo, the Albergue was actually full. I have to say I was relieved as the additional 20 euros to stay in a private room is often worth it, especially considering that snoring man was likely there again. I’ve started to walk in the same stages and rhythms as a few other hikers, but yesterday all of a sudden 100 additional pilgrims entered the stage from A Carida to Ribadeo from Granada on a fleet of buses to complete a shorter Way to Santiago. I suddenly realised the days of walking in complete solitude are over. Luckily the transition has been a gradual one over the last few weeks, but soon the Northern Way will also join the Camino Frances for the last few days heading to Santiago on Easter weekend!
Today the folks from Granada must have had a day off or taken a different route because I was totally alone on the trail for the first 27km until I reached the town of Lourenza and stopped at a bar to ask for directions after losing the Way. There was a pilgrim sitting outside, and when I approached and said ‘Hola’ he said ‘Hello Rosanna’. At first I thought I must have heard wrong, then I thought maybe I’d met him before. I asked his name and then introduced myself as Rozanne. He said ‘I know, I’ve been following your blog since the PCT.’ My jaw dropped an he started laughing. He said he was only joking and had heard about my blog from Ignace (the Belgium guy I walked with to Cudillero) who he’s met many times. Alvaro is from Spain and is walking with his beautiful golden retriever Baloo. He kindly bought me lunch and while we were chatting Carlos caught up and joined us for a beer. We then continued onto the gorgeous town of Mondonedo, where we sat and admired the view from the hill before completing the 35km day to the town with the best pastries in Galicia.