We started out early in a group of three with the Magician and my Brother. We passed a selection of rocks glinting in the sparkling sunrise. When you walk, people mark their passage on walking routes by placing a stone in a pile. This early on made me very sad as people had placed notes in remembrance of people. People walk the Camino for a lot of different reasons. One of these can be to work through the grief. I saw my father ghost in all the pictures of men in their middle ages, and personal messages of love.
I slowed my pace and left my Brother and the Magician to walk alone in the morning across the red dusty path. I needed to be in my thoughts. It was a short week till my 35th Birthday. My eldest brother was 50 today, and the anniversary of my father death suddenly at 52 of a heart attack was close. One of the most common saying after someone significant dies in your life is, just give it time. Time heals everything. I hate this phrase. Simply put, because it was 15 years before I stopped crying around my birthday. The ache from losing him is still there sometimes, in the resemblance of my brothers, in men who die ‘young’. I know now, that time has a massive impact in the healing process. It doesn’t make it any easiest to re- live those memories though. But I can say now I remember in some of these moments that this is a memory of that pain. Its my choice in how I react to this. I can choose to be sad for the gaping hole his death left. Or I can be glad that I knew this man with a childish sense of humour, who taught me how to paint, a man who carried two confused teenagers and my mother through an accident that left her bound to a wheelchair (without a mis- step or complaint), or someone who could move his school to close on the day for his funeral (as so many wanted to come and honour him). At this point in my morning I chose to be glad to have had him in my life. But the tears still echoed in my eyes.
Re- grouping with my Brother and the Magician, we continued to Viana, with its historical churches within. This town is seeped deeply in history, and when I say seeped, I mean there are churches from the 11th through till 18th Century. Stopping for a few minutes in one of the older churches, our feet danced lightly in the bright warm sunshine of the day. It seemed the Magician and my Brother had a serious morning as well, discussing the philosophies of life and the pursuit of love.
Walking on from Viana, our conversation became a lot more childish, making the standard dirty jokes. I needed this to lighten my mood. To bring laughter brimming out of me, after encountering my childhood ghosts all morning. Our steps only became lighter all afternoon as we were going to finally meet up with a friend the Magician and I met weeks earlier. This French man we’d had the typical deep intimate personal conversations with.
Our final destination for the day was Logroño. This city is the capital of the La Rioja wine region and has a main street where the majority of the restaurants serve (and are well known) for their tapas. This city is on the edge of the Rio Ebro and has been a well established town since the Romans were here. The ‘Gronio’ in Logroño, is thought to be from the Celtic word for ford. And for those who don’t know, there is a significant amount of influence on the northern part of Spain from the Celtics. This makes me think of trying to transplate Ireland in the middle of Spain though. Not really what you expect to see….
During the evening we caught up for a dinner of tapas with our friend we’d met in Lectoure (France). We tried a few of the different restaurants and drank late into the night. Although the Magician and I were trying to be vegetarian, we gave ourselves a break for the night. We tried a variety of foods here, including pickled octopus. Octopus is a specialty here. But I can honestly say I have no idea why pickled octopus is. If you’ve made it once, I don’t know why you’d ever make it again… Yuck!