Day 22 – Cuerres to Sebrayo

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We left early and hiked through the small village of Cuerres and then into another small town where we found and stopped at the first coffee shop open. Grace needed an espresso. There was a wild group of locals in this bar, who were loud and raucous. They were still celebrating the holiday from which we had seen the parade a couple days before. We discovered they had literally been up all night drinking. A party of three, two men and a woman, came out and stood by our table leaning in toward us, too close, sharing in blurred speech and alcohol breath of their antics. As they went off staggering down the road, we chuckled, finished our drinks and then began our hike. We had 22 miles to go on this day.

Because the hike was rated as easier, we packed our boots and wore casual walking shoes today. Those were the ones that we had usually only worn around the albergues.  This made a huge difference on my feet. For the first time since I began this walk, I had no pain today other than normal muscle pain.

The walk was beautiful. IMG_8644IMG_8645IMG_8646How was it possible that this place could become even more beautiful?  The landscape was incredible. Rich hues. Varied vegetation.IMG_8670 It was Lovely, with cows, flowers, houses of many colors. Then there were mountains that cascaded down to the ocean. It was majestic, rugged, spectacular. The beaches were simply idyllic.IMG_8660 It was incredible.
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I learned that there was this immense gift to traveling with this adventuresome Grace!

She noticed everything. Flowers beckoned to her and she stopped and took their pictures.  The animals she saw around us, thrilled and excited her. She would greet them, saying, “Hey, looking good squirrel! Love the hair! It looks terrific.” She pointed out the colors of buildings and commented on the sounds that the birds were making. She loved the beauty of the hydrangaes and begonias and some other waxy window flowers. But mostly Grace delighted in the people.

She announced on this day: “Latin women are the most put together and the most beautiful of all women in the world.”  I loved this observation.  It felt so random to me, and was certainly not something I had noticed.

Because of her comments, the things she saw, the way she pointed out things to me, I noticed life around me so much more. Through her words, my world came more alive.  It was simply great walking with her. She tried chocolate milk that day at one market in Las Vega and we discovered, it tasted fantastic.  #chocolateaddicts

The village of Ribadesella boasted cobble stone streets. IMG_8651It had it’s own unique beauty. I ran out of vocabulary to describe the beauty seen. Colors everywhere, splendor, beaches, rivers.IMG_8648IMG_8649 We walked through and out of the town on roads and then paths. We eventually wound down a country lane into the town of La Vega. There someone had painted multiple wall murals.  They were splendid.

There was a market there and we bought some fruit and chocolate!. We decided to go to the beach to eat and when I saw the water I had to get in. So leaving Grace with our thiings, I dove into the surf and swam. It felt wonderful. Then we ate and I polished the sand off my feet and got shoes on and we started off walking up this path that wound up this mountain alongside the sea. IMG_8656

This was the longest walk through towns, countryside, up steep hills and down to the beach and into cities. We passed La Isla and went up away from the beach to Colunga, where we bought groceries for the next day, and then hiked through the countryside to the villages and met a woman from Philippines who walked with us a ways, clicking along with her two walking sticks.  She wore a variety of bags over her shoulders.  She had decided while on vacation in Spain to walk the camino, so had gone to the equivalent of a dollar store and outfitted herself.  She was a remarkable, ambitious walker, dwarfing us both. She had walked one 60 km day! We wondered how that could ever be possible, staggered by this our 40 km day.  .

Our companion walked ahead, and we stopped for a rest, when Grace said:

“Dad, you need food.”

I’d had the snack food at the beach about two hours earlier. That was plenty, I thought, so I answered:

“I think I just need a beer.”

She said, “No, dad, you need food.”

At that we came down a hill and saw a fancy restaurant. I said,

“Look there’s a peregrino menu at this place.”

We stopped and sat at this outdoors table with our packs next to us as people arrived from the town dressed up to come eat at their beloved restaurant. The food was incredible. After eating the beautiful beef and potatoes and salads and bread and yogurt, along with two beers, bottles water and tea (all for less than 25euros) I felt like 1000x better. Grace was right: I needed food!

The walk from there was long.

We arrived at our destination at 740 pm.  We had been on the road 12 hours.
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There was a food truck that came so we bought a few things for dinner. I felt exhausted. By then, my feet were complaining.  There was no internet in the community, so no possible connection with home. At this place there was also no drinking water. All the sinks, showers, clothes washing stations had signs that warned against drinking the water. We bought bottled water. I washed my things out but there was little chance they could dry. It was a cool evening.

As I was hanging them out in the dark, our Filipino walking companion from earlier that day went tapping by saying she had found a place to stay that was only 6 km down the road.  She was like a walking machine!  Nothing stopped her.  By the time we had arrived in Sebrayo, I could not imagine taking one more step.

During the day, we had talked about Grace’s work at her salon.  She was making great choices with her business and her finances.  I was impressed by her.  We also began to dive into questions for me.  Grace asked what I would like to change when I returned home. And we talked about my life and what I longed for. I had not considered her questions before.

So at the close of the day, I found myself pondering:

What do I hope will change in my life!  Attitude? Focus?

How have I been impacted by and learned from the people I have met?

Then, and even more so: How have I been met and changed by the Camino?
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About Camino Way 2016 Shimer

On August 22, 1981 I married this wonderful woman, Karen, who has consistently blessed and changed my life and days. We are still in love, all the more with the years. We have four daughters, two sons by marriage, and three delightful, wonderful grandchildren. So, that makes me a husband, father, and grandfather all in those sentences. But mostly just a guy who loves my family. Today Karen and I planted beautiful plants in numerous pots. She had come home with the plants and that experience reminded me how much I enjoy simple things and simple pleasures -- like digging in dirt to plant a flower, like sunlight through glass on a spring day, like clean windows -- just washed ours today -- like a melody that won't escape from my heart. I've been a local church pastor for 30 years as of this June, a number that staggers me for I feel about that age on the inside, but clearly that's not the case. Back in 1988 I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary with an Mdiv-- a time of schooling that has been a foundation for years of ministry. But it is mostly in the building upon that foundation, that has most changed my life. I love people, love seeing Jesus work in people's lives. One of my favorite joys is to pray with someone through some horrible place of memory and see Jesus walk right into their memory world, and turn on the lights in a way that sets their soul free and brings healing. There's nothing like this privilege and I have been there to watch it happen more times than I can count. Between 4 and 7 the associate pastor of my family's congregation sexually abused me, first grooming me, then repeatedly violating my young self. This marked my life. It changed my bearings. It ripped at my faith. It wounded my image of what it meant to be a little boy, and later a man. It has been a point from which I have been in the process of healing for many years now. I'm a survivor, but more than that, I am one who lives beyond what was done. For in the middle of all that stuff, Jesus was calling me, speaking to me, bidding me to follow him to bring change to people's lives within the realm of the very office that was used to harm me. Only Jesus can make light from darkness, hope from despair, and healing from brokenness. I love Jesus. He really is alive, no matter what others may believe. And his life, his presence, his words into my world, his healing power have continued to be the foundation point of what it means to experience life to the fullest. I love writing. I don't really know why on that score for really writing has never been a central tool in my world, nor has it come easily. But I love seeing how words released heal. And I love the way words can connect me to other people's worlds. So, that's why I started blogging. It began because I was planning to blog on a weekly basis when I went to walk the Camino de Santiago last fall. And in order to be able to blog while walking, I knew I had to begin to practice blogging before I was in another country. A friend told me that. Friends are good to help us find ways to live more authentically into our daily lives! So, I started. But what I have discovered is there is something powerful about sharing the story of life with others. So, I have continued. And I love the connections being built through those words. In 2011 I experienced my first seminar in Simply the Story, a bible story telling method that involves those listening in discussion and I decided then -- "this is what I plan to do when I retire." But really-- "why wait until then?" -- so I use this method while I continue pastoring. It sets people free and allows the Word to take root in ways that preaching never has. So again and again I am practicing asking questions and that is good practice for me, because I am frequently better at "telling" than "asking." This has been such a freeing gift. I love training others in this skill. So, a storyteller would certainly be true of me too. Years ago I discovered my mission in life is "the joyful transformation of people's lives through the person of Jesus Christ." And that continues to be where I find my home base, in joy. Where there is joy, I find, there is Jesus, and there is the possibility of transformation. Of course Jesus is in places where there is no joy as well, and once He is there, the place kind of changes because of Him. I love that.
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