Stage 33, Oct 8, Hospital Alta da Cruz to Melide, 27.1km, total time 7:05 hrs

The belt is coming short of holes to tie up my pants. With the Swiss Army knife I managed to drill a few more, in the attempt to maintain a dignified posture holding my pants up. I am not sure of how many kg I’ve lost, but from the baggy appearance of my pants, I guess I’ve shrunk by two sizes at least. In relative terms I probably eat one half of my normal  intake, and I do 10 times more exercise. If my metabolism has not radically changed since I started, I run the risk of exploding by the time I resume my ordinary and sedentary lifestyle.

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There are situations around certain people or places, that you can immediately relate to aN extraordinary radiating energy. Often words fall short in being able to describe what is the special atmosphere surrounding such people or places, but you can sense the superior spirituality which springs out of some open spaces amidst secular oaks, or certain monoliths covered with mildew stains as they were placed there much before the dawn of mankind by some foreign presence.

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Likewise it happens with certain people who, if I were a stronger believer than I actually am, would probably be incarnations of angels. They look at you directly into the eyes, and you immediately are connected to them forever.

I met Father Xavier casually through common acquaintances and we exchanged just a few words. After I started my inner work on the 7DS, I was in the need to compare my notes with a shepherd of lost souls, and so Xavier seemed the best opportunity for electing him as my sponsor for the dissecting project of my own human nature.

When I met him the second time at a crossroad, he was consuming a frugal meal of fruits. He looked at me with half banana still in his hand, while in less than a minute I vomited upon him all findings so far and my anguish and anxiety to receive a feedback on my research on the forces motivating the sinful behavior in the human nature.

“Xavier, I said, I am confused since I draw a lot more joy and happiness from sinning than I have from practicing a life of virtue. All these “good” behaviors, seem to be unnatural and paved with enormous probation and sacrifice. How can this generate joy?”

“Roberto, he answered, what you are describing is an attempt to attain sainthood. There are much smaller steps to be taken.” He then suggested to reflect on my experience to realize that the joy and happiness resulting from indulging in a sinful behaviour is of materialistic nature and often of short duration. On the contrary, the practice of the virtue, is of higher intensity and longlasting. “For instance, he added, your sharing with me your doubts is an act of Humility which is indeed helping me in facing the doubts of my own”.

Later he made me reflect on how the concept of sacrifice is often associated just to a forced abstinence.  Unless you can attain “sobriety” from a particular DS and therefore freedom of choice, your mind will always pull you down to the fake pleasure of sin. He used expressions often associated to the psychological dependency from substances. “Yes, he concluded, sinning is like taking drugs. You know they will kill you, at least spiritually, but you often cannot break free on your own will. What you need is a spiritual program that can guide you out. May this Camino be the spiritual program that will help you to break free from your own patterns”.

These comments are now shaping up my program. It is somewhat clearer now. I took a simple quiz on the Internet which highlighted which of the 7DS is representing my typical sinning pattern. I have to do some serious work: I have 1 DS as very high, two as high, two as medium and two as low or negligible. Will I be able to make it now that Santiago Is only 51 km away?

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Stage 32, Oct 7, Barbadelo to Hospital Alta da Cruz, 29.4km, total time 7:45hrs.

In broad terms, if the Meseta region after Burgos can be paralleled to Hell, then Galicia is undoubtedly Paradise. This is not only in reference to the superb green and hilly landscape compared to the desertic dry wheatfields of the Mesetas, but also with reference to the attention and respect for the pilgrims and their needs.

For one is the milestone system provided by the land administration that marks with no fail every 500m on the trail. With a sudden relief, I realized I could actually switch off my own GPS tracker and  use the public system to measure my progress, and cut off the endless discussion of which system is most accurate. After all, who cares of precision in a life that is timed by the position of the sun in the sky and the thickness of the dust layer on your shoes?

Today I feel in peace with God and myself. I am fit and strong and despite some late showers last night, the day is clear and sunny.

Last night was one of those nights, in which I felt very uncomfortable in   joining the communal table for dinner, because of the noise and the superficial small talk. I was ready to eat in a corner a leftover of stale bread with some chocolate squares, if it were not for Marivel, a girl from Panama but living in Madrid, also annoyed by the confusion in the main dining room, who was able to negotiate with the restaurant to let us use a small table in the kitchen. With a simple and nice gesture she then invited me and another couple to join her for dinner. Maybe this helped to set my mood for today’s walk.

I took so many pictures today but I will be able only to post a few to document the various shapes of the Camino trail in this magic countryside.

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Need to say though that as small villages are very charming with their stone houses and comfortable front yards, the major cities in Galicia are often ugly and totally lacking personality.  So are so far Sarria, Portmarin and Melide.

The frequency of crosses and milestones decorated with pilgrim’s offerings is rapidly increasing, and the abundance of stone as building material is seen at almost every corner with small tabernacle or remnants of medieval inscriptions.

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Tomorrow I will elaborate further on the key encounter of today, Father Xavier, a French ordained priest who studied philosophy and theology in Rome and spent two years in L’Aquila after the earthquake to help rebuilding the ruined churches and also the devotion of the local people in trusting again God’s ways.

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Without doubts he has been the most influential person encountered so far, and being a modern priest admitting his doubts, he draws a lot of respect.

Unfortunately he opted to stop in Portomarin for the night, while I kept on going until Hospital Alta da Cruz. Later through email he informed me about his intentions to quit the Camino for personal motives. For sure I will keep in contact with him and possibly I shall organize a trip to visit him in his community near Le Puy in central France.

Santiago is now only 71.8km away.

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