Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Camino is about the Journey...

This story I found in my old blog is another reminder that the Camino really IS about the journey, not the destination. I was walking the Aragones Route this particular year and decided to take a turn off to see the monastery of San Juan de la Peña. 

Photo from Internet
I learned if you focus too much on "getting there" you may not arrive. Just go at a comfortable pace and enjoy the walking and the countryside.... you'll get where you get… and you'll arrive when you arrive.

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This morning I left Jaca about 7 am and took the turnoff to San Juan. Someone had written in my guidebook that it was about a 2 hour detour, and someone else had told me it was only about 2 km out of my way...


When I first turned off to the left, there was a visible trail. That trail disappeared after a few kilometers and became a rocky scramble up a hill that often had me on my hands and knees.  Soon, I saw a village, and hoped to find food and water, but there was no tienda or bar in town.  

Five long HARD hours later, I ran into a car with a sign on it that said, "PELIGRO... NO PASAR" and indicating there were hunters in the area... "Great.." and to top it off there was a big old pitbull guarding the turnoff.

I want to tell any of you who are planning to attempt this hike that in my opinion, it is worse (and more dangerous) than the route up to O Cebreiro. The path is washed out and VERY VERY steep. It is a scramble up some very steep terrain covered in loose rocks.  
Once I got up over the mountain and got my bearings, and by the time I walked back to town after finding the hunters, the churchbell was tolling noon.

I met a couple of Spaniards who told me not to worry about the sign... it was required by the government and that the Monastery was "only about 2 km, and then Sta. Celia is about the same" So I walked on for an hour and a half.

Wrong again.

After walking BACK to where the hunters were and going another half hour, I ran into a french couple and asked, "How far to the Monastery?" They replied, "At LEAST 1.45 to 2 hours and it is very very hard climbing."

Ok.. well.. at that point, I have to admit I was near tears. There was no way I could make it another 2 hours, visit the monastery, and walk into St. Celia, which was not 2 km, but more like 12.

So... they offered me a ride to the main road and I took it. They drove me the long way back to the main road and took me right up to the Camino. They gave me half a loaf of bread and both hugged me before they left. That, along with my exhaustion brought me to tears, and they told me it would be ok.. just walk, St. Celia was only about 2 km away-

Wrong the third time!

As nice as these Camino angels were, it took me another 2 hours to get to St. Celia. That does not include the bar where I stopped and had a HUGE 15-Euro lunch and a cerveza con limon.

I am sad that I was so close and still did not see the Monastery. In the alburgue tonight is a German boy who walked from this side today. He said it took him about 4 hours to get there and 4 hours to return. I just do not think I have it in me. . . I may try to hitchhike, it will depend how I feel tomorrow and how my feet are doing.

The alburgue at Sta. Celia is lovely, cozy and costs 10 Euro. Great kitchen and 20 spaces. The dorms are not co-ed; women and men each have their own.  There are only 4 of us here tonight. Me, the German boy, and another French couple. It should make for good sleeping since the French lady is sleeping with her hubby in the male dorm.

Despite the problems, the walk today was incredible. I figure I covered about 30 km, which is more than I think I have ever walked. The Aragones is a good route, for those of you considering it.

But ignore those posts about the climb to the Monastery. If you want to see it, find a bus, or hitch a ride. The taxi, by the way, costs 25 Euro one way and the same back... not 5 Euro as someone said.

Moral of the story is CHECK FACTS. Do not depend on what others tell you.

No bedbugs on this route so far... people look at me funny when I mention them.

THAT is a GOOD thing...

Buen Camino, Pilgrims
See you on the road.

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Note: The following year, I was able to take a bus from Jaca to the monastery. It was well worth the cost, and since I'd already walked that section, I walked directly to Sta. Celia from the monastery. You can also take the bus round trip from Jaca to the monastery and back, and continue walking to Sta. Celia the next day.

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