Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Pilgrimage Day 28: Tricastela - Sarria
Today I decided to go to Sarria located only 17 km away. It is almost a resting stage. Outside the house, I meet a young Japanese man early in the morning. He asks if we can walk together the first part through the wooded area, which I of course said yes to. He says he is afraid of all the homeless dogs that he has seen. It can be a bit annoying with wild dogs, and that is also a good reason to have a walking stick. The dogs are usually harmless, but they can be a little aggressive sometimes in their search for food. The road enters the forest and becomes fairytale-like. We go along for 2 hours and he says that he is a economics major student at the University of Madrid. His family in Japan is poor and he is the first in the family who has left the village which he comes from. His father wants him to take over a small shop that the family has run for several generations in his village. My new Japanese friend thinks this is difficult. He has great respect for his father and will probably take over the store but would rather have other goals for his life.
The forest disappears and the landscape becomes more open. We say goodbye to each other and he goes off in front of me. This open countryside leads me fairly quickly to Sarria. No villages today. Just a walk in the woods. For me it was a pleasant trip, under 4 hours. After my Japanese friend left me, I thought a lot of the difficulties in having too much respect for ones parents and what parents convey of expectations to ones children. Children often look up to their parents and want to make them happy and content. I look at my shadow and say that we must think more about this. Our children are ours for only a short periode in life, and we have them only on loan. They must find their own paths in life, their own direction, their own Santiago de Compostella, who they want to go with and determine their own pace.
Sarria proved to be a very beautiful city. Beautiful narrow streets with many street cafes. Here I quickly find a perfectly lovely privately run guest house. Beside the entrance is a beautiful statue of Alfonso the 7th, who I've heard talk of since before León.
I get a bed. There are 3 bunk beds in the room. Coincidentally, I meet again my Dutch friends from Triacastela here. The wife is now so worn out that she is sitting in the bedroom and crying. The daughter tries to console her. She says that she and her daughter take this journey only because her husband has wanted this so badly for over 10 years. She thinks the whole journey is just exhausting. Her husband is well trained and puts overly long legs for his wife and daughter every day. She says she need more rest but does not want to disappoint her husband. He is sitting in the kitchen drinking his coffee and I go and take a chat with him. He says he needs some advice from me about what I think he should do. My advice is to let his wife and daughter determine both the speed and distance every day. And take some days to rest. Why not be an extra day in this beautiful city? If they do not arrive to Santiago de Compostela in time this year, they can take the very last part next year. This simple solution, is something he had not thought of. He has seen more on the goal than on the road. I ask him to think that it is the road that is the goal. He goes to his wife and daughter and they are very happy for his solution. I take a cup of coffee with me in the beautiful garden behind the house and enjoy the garden area.
Then I take a stroll around the city streets and parks. There is much to see and incredibly beautiful. It is wise to have plenty of time to enjoy these beautiful Spanish villages along the way.
I find a great park where there is plenty of shade. I see four pensioners sitting in front of me. A man and 3 women. The women are talking all at the same time and the man is sitting silent. I smile and think that soon I will be sitting on a bench in retirement. It's only 10 years away. Maybe not so long even, if I live so long. I start to think about how I want the years ahead to be. They will be good years I say to my shadow. And then I order a bottle of wine at a cafe in the park. Here I sit for the rest of the evening and just enjoy the atmosphere, the sounds, people and notice that I'm smiling. The road is really the goal.