Walking Alone

Sunday Night Musings (more journal than record – read at your own risk)

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More proof of me not being dead!/ Cool statue in passing town of Mansilla on Sundays journey.

I set out this morning from La Burgo Ranera at 7 am in the dark for the second time and by myself for the first. Once I turned off my headlamp, I realized I could still see the stars. It was very freeing to know I could stop when I wanted, go at any pace I pleased, and eat whatever whenever wherever I wanted. I stopped twice – once for coffee and a croissant and once for tea. I arrived at the albergue by 1 pm and was thrilled see the German school group’s large van parked next to it. I no longer had to wonder where I would be eating dinner! And as usual, it was filling and delicious.

In the last 20 minutes of my walk I met a woman named Kirsten, from the Seattle area who was traveling with her 22 year old son Ky and an newly adopted friend Kara, a 23 year old recent graduate of University of Florida Law (Go Gators!). They have proven to be very interesting company. Kirsten is a firefighter, and Ky is working as a swim instructor with many students with disabilities.

Kara is a large personality who has travelled all over the globe in South America, Asia, and Europe (East and West). She is walking the Camino as only one piece of a several month adventure involving a lot of couch surfing in France, Portugal, and Spain and endeavors in something called deep water solo rock climbing. Intense! I don’t have quite the same extreme wander lust and adventure fever as Kara (who informed me she found the Camino quite boring), but believe her courageous and trusting spirit is to be admired.

Of all her travels, Kara told the month she spent in Southern India volunteering in an orphanage was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, reminding me both of my former convictions and desires to go India and study Hinduism and my more recent musings about Mother Teresa and her experience of poverty in India. She had spent her a winter holiday there as a undergrad after contracting an independent volunteer coordinating company. Kara suggested that  India is safe for young American women so long as you stay in the South. Her account has inspired me to not write India off my list of places I intend to travel to in the future, and I look forward to researching potential volunteering opportunities. (Sorry, Mom).

When I asked Kara about traveling alone or with a companion, she made a very interesting point. Traveling alone gives you the advantage of trusting your gut and not having to explain why you want to avoid a certain place or suddenly leave to anyone else; from her experence, traveling with a companion, especially male companions, can often lull you into a false sense of security and lead you into situations you would have avoided if you were alone. I had never considered that perspective before, but imagine it is absolutely true. I intend to rely heavily on my gut as I continue the rest of my Camino with renewed energy!
Tomorrow I head only 14k to Leon and hope to reconnect with Melissa and Mandie at the municipal albergue in the city center before continuing on the way.

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