Near Lescure, France – February 15, 2017
The Pyrenees slip closer, now a wall of white snow and black rock hanging off my left shoulder. I’m off the highways, back on the maze of one lane roads, dirt tracks, and cart paths between villages.
It helps my feet, but they still hurt. The new shoes rub the skin in different places than the old and the bruised pain on my right forefoot still twinges underneath every step. It is lighter than it was, but still there, reminding me that I am not invincible. Maybe it will work itself out over the next few days like so many little pains before it.
I catch the end of a market in a small village and buy a bit of bread before everything closes for the afternoon. I’m not in Spain, but the siesta tradition has leaked over the mountains here. Doors and windows close, gates and shutters cover store fronts, streets empty out, and everything goes still for a few hours except for me and the barking dogs that mark my passage from one side of a village to the other.
Near sunset, I pass the ruins of an old church. Nothing but the tower and a ragged outline of the building remain. I think of camping in the broken walls, but my mind fills with ghost stories so I press on and find a strip of forest to hide in.
My law school roommate catches me on my phone. I’m about to sleep and his day is just starting. He asks where I am and I give him a nearby city. Then a nearby town. Then my GPS coordinates. He pulls up satellite images and finds the very trees I am under. It’s an odd feeling, imagining him on a computer in Los Angeles staring down at a picture of my exact spot taken by a satellite soaring around the planet.
We catch up for a bit. He wanted to make sure I knew about a fountain of wine somewhere on the Camino. I ask him for a list of books to read, ones that will make me think, that will make my mind work to understand them, the kind that will start churning old, rusted gears and sharpen dull knives that haven’t been used for years.
It’s a good, calm day, the kind that doesn’t have a defining moment. It just stacks along with the ones before and after. A bit of food. The mountains coming in. Catching up with an old friend. And walking. Chain enough of these together and you can cross continents.