Yesterday and today mean something different depending on your time zone, as well as the language you are speaking and writing. My travel to Spain, by shuttle, plane and train and now on foot, transported me here successfully without delays. Very lucky. I’ve learned to ask questions, to look for clues, try to pay attention, which is a challenge, navigating certain money and business transactions not in my first language. More on that later.
Just a note to new readers of my blogs: there is a bit of poetry going on in my travel notes. Not exactly a travelogue. So be prepared for a little philosophy, possibly a sociopolitical comment or opinion and stream of consciousness writing. Not chaos, but a comfort zone of reality. Today’s is long, because I have time in the early morning hours to write.
From the Madrid airport, I found my way to the Renfe fast train to León. I was able to exchange my pre-purchased ticket for a two hours earlier departure. I had to work hard not to sleep through the less than three hour train ride to the majestic, as well as modern city of Leon. It was a lullaby I almost resisted. Passing a Frontera Blanca on a lake, arched bridge, dark tunnels, reminded me of my first trip to Spain years ago. The pictures from a train are a blur.
For a blink I lived life from a speeding train. You see it, but do you know what it is? The inner dialogue has no punctuation. Silos tractors fields churches crops orchards farmland signs in español. And ask questions that have no answers at that moment.
Irrigation huts green houses – why do those trees have spindly trunks – a town of brick high rises.
I closed my eyes and saw hundreds of wild horses. They were not there. I wondered if any of my train route was on the Camino. I love seeing Wind turbines in the fields. The I-phone camera has its limits. And jet lag might be real. So much of life to take in.
I thought the train voice called Valencia, but he said Palencia. More experiences to misinterpret. It may be cliche to call them lost-in-translation moments, but they are.
My view is through my eyes and my understanding through my language and experience! And empathy, compassion and respect. Every minute I am reassured that the Camino calls my name for all these lessons, to learn to travel lighter on this earth, to meet new friends, to feel the warmth, joy and kindness beyond the familiar, beyond borders. To be humbled.
As soon as I was off the train I spotted a woman with a scallop shell on her backpack, just like mine. It’s a kind of communication, just like my Camino patches my daughter sewed on my pack. Here’s my backpack from the Charlotte Airport, sitting on a rocking chair.
We ended up spending the day together, finding our way from train to hotel, asking often for directions. She’s an American who has been hiking for many days, starting from SJPDP as I did last year. We spent time together at the Cathedral de Leon and the square. Before our amazing Cathedral visit, we took a taxi to a clinic, where she had a troublesome blister checked out. And then walked back in time to a Cathedral of magnificence. It is breathtaking in size and beauty.
Walking from Train into the city of Leon.
Catedral de Leon Square
Inside the Farmacia.
Later, I walked to Plaza de San Marcos right near my hotel. I love how people stroll and visit all over Spain. It’s evening and time to get together.
I’ve already met many pilgrims, including a mom and daughter from South Africa traveling together and two pilgrims from San Diego who wanted to walk the Camino for years and here they are ready to leave today.
As reported earlier and to me so important, the transportation system works for both Spaniards and visitors. With a little help, I was able to navigate my way from Madrid airport to Leon by train, to walk around the city and find my way to the hotel. Still there are moments when not being fluent or bilingual can cause misunderstanding or misinterpretation. I ended up with a SIM card that was supposed to help me on the Camino, which it will, but doesn’t include texting locally. How could that be? Note to myself: you can never ask too many questions. Life has many answers and questions. Next time.
Buen Camino, with a little jet lag and a lot of joy, Irene