Way back in the donativo in Bercianos I said to my fellow peregrinos that I was doing the Camino to prove to myself that I’m not dead.
As we approach Pedrouzo I feel more than simply not dead. I feel completely alive. My 56 year old legs have walked 1,000,000 steps on this trip and they feel great. This is what they are supposed to do. Walk. Move.
I follow Jen through the hills of Galicia in the rain. We are in amongst a huge group of new pilgrims, doing the Sarria section. They are a strange combination of slow and competitive. Small groups of young men see Jen approaching and they try to speed up to avoid the ignominy of being overtaken by a girl, and a 5ft 4in girl at that. They can keep her at bay on the downhill and on the flat but on the uphills they have no chance. Jen powers on by with Hamish and me following in her wake. We’ve been walking for five hours now and haven’t been overtaken once. It makes me smile.
Cartesian dualism be damned! This body is me and I am this body. We are one and the same. This bag of bones and skin and organs is working like a Swiss watch. Everything is in its place. The rain is making the path slippery but the eyes send messages to the brain and the brain tilts the leg and the foot just… so… and the foot hits the ground in exactly the right place. And again. And again. Thousands of times.
And suddenly I think of the two members of this family who are not here, whose bodies do not work like a Swiss watch and who will rarely, if ever, feel such utter joy in simply walking.
There’s Muriel, who has turned a life blighted by ME into a shining example of how to deal with adversity. And then there’s Alister…
Oh Lord, Ali…
I am grateful for the rain as it hides the river of my tears.