Wednesday, June 2, 2010

200 plus miles

We past the 200 mile mark two days ago. I think we´re on our 17th day of walking. The routine is becoming very regular. We´re usually up by 5a unless there is some wild snoring that no amount of tiredness can overcome. We eat a quick breakfast of grocery store food from the previous day and set out. In my mind I break the walk up in stages, or a reward structure based around food. After about 2 hours of walking we stop in a small town for real breakfast: café con leche, chocolate croisant, and organge juice. After another 2 hour leg we stop for another café con leche and a tortilla, which is this dense caserole of potatoes, cheese, and egg that is cut like a pie. Then its a short walk to the destination town where we check into a hostel, find a bed, unpack, shower or do laundry, eat, go grocery shopping for the next day, take a ciesta nap, eat dinner, go to bed before 10p.

I hoped that my mind would develop more profound ways of dealing with the walk, like new ideas or savy future plans, but the present seems more powerful. I find my thinking to be more a live feed with an occasional projective thought: step...step...step, look at that flower, look at that flower, my bag feels weird, my hand is cold, put my hand in my pocket, I want to do rally car racing, step...step...step.

The best thinking I´ve done so far was the morning of the 'rhino'; a woman pilgrim whose snoring was so loud it woke most of us in the hostal. Almost simultaneously we all woke up perplexed by the noises coming from below zack's bunk, who was sitting up in his bed laughing. The cart-pullers were already up rustling around (they're a husband and wife duo who pull a bicycle-wheel cart behind them like draft horses), so we figured it was no use in trying to sleep through the commotion. Ellen and I were on the trail at 5a using our headlamps to navigate. It was pitch black except for the washed out spotlight of the headlamp on the trail, which we both focused on like moths. There were no distractions, just the pale ground, and clear thoughts that were almost dreamlike in their discontinuity. Focusing on one idea seems to be the most difficult thing on the walk. The mind is more like a messy desk of papers that you endlessly shuffle, never figuring out a good filing system.

The terrain is now completely flat, and usually straight, which makes the thinking more apparent. When we were in the mountains each little hill and turn unfolded like a narrative that kept your attention and obscured the passing of time. Now the walk stretches forever and time slows down when you can see miles and miles ahead. You notice yourself more, your body, your thoughts, etc. and you feel the distance.

The flat farmland has very little cover to hide yourself when you pee. This is a little more difficult for the ladies, who wait a mile a more for a decent bush. I just wait for a good space to build up between myself and the person behind me and 'pull over'. The good pee spots gross me out because everyone else thinks its a good pee spot too, and this shows by little squares of toilet paper left behind.

...there is only one computer at this hostel, and other pilgrims keep poking their head in...and now one is waiting, so I'll wrap it up now.

over and out.

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