A Quiet Day Before I Launch

Allow me to introduce Crystal Hartford, a ballerina profiled a few years ago by the Washington Post in a story about the difficulties artists face in getting work.

I find this picture amazing because she made this stunning leap not on stage, not with a running start, but in her apartment! And yet, her execution is perfect. My immediate thought was “Nothing is impossible!”

And so this photo has been one of my inspirations in walking the Camino. I’ve kept it over my desk for years and have it with me here now. I’ve never met her, but thanks, Crystal.

It’s been another beautiful day here, and I watched this morning’s pelegrinos set out, wishing them the traditional “Buen Camino” greeting.

My hotel is just down from the official Pilgrim Office, where volunteers from all over the world provide guidance, weather forecasts, and encouragement. I got some good advice from a Canadian volunteer.

It’s also where I got my first stamp, or sello, in my Pilgrim Passport, or credencial. We carry this booklet and get it stamped at various stops along the way as proof of our walk. The Cathedral office in Santiago requires it before they’ll issue a completion certificate and it’s our admission pass to many of the pilgrims-only hostels on the route.

As my time here comes to a close and I prepare to launch on my Camino, here are a few random observations:

  • I ordered a cappuccino and was presented with a cup of coffee with whipped cream in it. Very odd.
  • I see many women, of all ages, heading out on the Camino, alone and in pairs. Bravo!
  • I’ve seen backpacks worn in all sorts of odd ways: with the waist belt unbuckled, lift straps completely loose, etc. The staff at REI would be aghast.
  • In general, I’ve seen a lot of people smoking (yes, even pilgrims) but no e-cigarettes.
  • I’ve seen a lot of pilgrims on bicycles, including electric-assisted bikes.
  • The only motorcyclists I’ve seen have been on the regular streets and they have all worn the full kit: leathers or protective clothing and full-face helmets.

Tomorrow morning after breakfast I’ll top up my pack”s hydration reservoir, check out of the hotel, and start my personal pilgrimage. I hope you’ll come along by reading these posts and that we’ll have a “Buen Camino”.

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