Basking in Basque Country

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(Day 8: 21 KM)

Los Arcos – Viana

I thought I could escape the use of KT tape for my knee this trip, but it appears not to be the case.  My knee has started to act up again.  I think it may be the hard tac ground and stone streets we have been walking upon.  The supply of tape I did have, I have shared with an Aussie gal, Sherri, who we met early on and was in a quandary as to how to treat her blisters…and be able to continue walking.  Having had a previous knee injury, she was beginning to have knee problems again. (Sherri once worked for the police force in Australia and resigned her position when they would not give her the time off, even without pay, to walk the Camino…their loss as far as I’m concerned).   So my quest for now has been to find more KT tape or leukotape, so I duck into every open farmacie (pharmacy) looking for it.  Today I have struck gold and found the last known roll in all of Spain thus far.  Funny how it costs the same here as it does back home.

We walk through Torres de Río Plaza and look into the Santa Sepulchro, which is a 12th century octagonal church linked with the Knights Templar.  The interior is simple and unadorned save for the crucifix of Jesus.

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From here we continue on and come upon another small town on a hill, whose church steeple beckons. Later on we see Maureen, who is a jovial woman, whose zest for life is infectious.  I hang back with her and we walk and talk for a good distance.  She is solo on this adventure, but in no way feels alone.  She tells a story of her 2nd day out of Orisson, over the Pyrenees on her way to Roncesvalles.  Near the top, late in the day, she found herself completely by herself.  Overhead were giant buzzards circling overhead.  A bit of fright overcame her.  Thinking and feeling as if the buzzards were waiting for her, she then shouted at the winged carnivores, “Not today boys!  Not today!”, and toddled on until she reached Roncevalles well after dark.  I learn she is a survivor of cancer and mersa, and her remaining jaw is fashioned out if her left tibia, but only after I pull it (the story) out of her.  She says people tell her she is courageous and inspiring.  She does not think so.  She tells me, “Me having cancer is nothing.  I am older and have lived a good life.  A child, or a parent of a child, with cancer or a disability, now that’s something.  The strength they must possess is inconceivable.  My heart goes out to them”.  Hardships are all about perspective, we surmise, and maybe the lessons to be learned are for those who live with or around those “suffering”. We laugh heartily and talk of healing and how perspective is everything, and what a rye sense of humor God has.  We talk of miracles and I share my story of Austin, the progress he has made thus far, and my daughter’s successes as she battles through the pain of fibromyalgia.  Maureen tells me she will add my daughter and Austin to her prayers.  We talk of how proud we are of our sons, who happen to be the same age, and commiserate about the fact we assume we will gain weight on this Camino as apparently Spain has not gotten the memo that gluten is bad for you…as there is bread (a LOT of it) with each meal.

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Eventually we part ways, wishing each other ” Buen Camino”.  As she walks into a cafe, loud hellos and laughter errupt. Everyone seems to know Maureen.

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We continue toward Viana, through the best of Basque Country…almond and olive orchards; vineyards in the midst of being harvested (by hand); “ruins” of shelters built of nearby stone frequent the countryside and were once shelters for “ancient” pelegrinos and Basque shepherds.

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We come upon an impromptu “shrine” of sorts.

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It appears that pelegrinos have felt inclined to leave a memento of some sort relating to their journey.  Some are meaningful, while others are whimsical.

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When we started this morning, I felt a little “off”.  Melancholy, like I was in the doldrums, and for no reason.  It wasn’t until later on that I realized today’s date was 9/11.  How is it that my body and mind is attuned to what has become a day of reverence and remembrance.  Such a sad and world changing day.  Then, as the day went on, out of nowhere and without contemplation or design I suddenly feel light and carefree as if all is right in the world.  Worries and even regrets have evaporated.  My spirit is light. I am whole.  God is good…All of the time.

Buen Camino!
Be Strong!  Austin Strong!

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