On my 64th birthday….   Leave a comment

Last year, I kept hearing the Beatles singing…”Will you still love me will you still care when I’m 64!”  I also kept singing, “Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto…” The entire day’s walk was offered in gratitude to the Universe for the past 64 years on this earth and for all the blessings in the form of family, friends, and good things that have made my life’s path such a joy!

This year, I turned 65, and I was sick and not feeling like myself. I now think it was a way of molting, shedding my old skin for a new one! It makes being sick so much less painful to think that there is a real purpose to it all.

But, a year ago, we walked past the most beautiful fields and  had the most splendid walk of the entire Camino as every step reminded me of the many steps “de mis pies cansados” as the song Gracias a la vida says. I also kept humming that song and remembering the versions I love, Violeta Parra, Joan Baez, Mercedes Sosa, and on and on.

The morning frost greeted us as we followed the arrows past a rest spot outside of Villagranca Montes de Oca.


As we walked and chatted, Becky and I spoke of coming back, perhaps not to walk the entire Camino again, but to at least compare how these fields and forests would be like in the spring or in the fall. She is especially interested in coming back to Viana and dreams of moving there. I am not sure I would be as daring as that, but I certainly want to come walk some etapas in the future. Visit with my new found friends in Estella and yes, compare the view at different seasons. I was just very glad that it was not raining and that tonight we would spend the night in an albergue where we were the only ones. We did run into Solano again, and we joked whenever we saw the tangerine peel on the road because he bought several kilos of the fruit to take with him. In fact, he gave us some of the fruit and we enjoyed the tangy cold squirt of the fruit as we walked, peeled, and ate.

The albergue is a simple one but there is a washer and a dryer!

Albergue El Pajar

And, there is hot water in the shower! Here is what I wrote in my little black notebook after we had done laundry, eaten and checked e-mail on the internet:

I woke up with joy. We are at El Pajar Albergue, cost 10E plus 4 to wash and 4 to dry. I took a hot shower, Lovely! the day was long and beautiful . I don’t feel 64, but what does 64 feel like? I went on internet and fially answered some messages. I had 75 FB b’day wishes–I feel blessed to have so many wishing me good things for my b’day. All I could do was post “Gracias” on my status …Mañana en Burgos, I will celebrate.

Then, I worte my resolutions–I’ll summarize: Physical, walk daily–take care of my body all the time. Spiritual: Daily meditations; attend spiritual retreats. Social: Dance! go hear music with friends; go to movies more often. Emotional: heart-to-heart talk with each sibling; interview my cousins; be open with everyone about my feelings. Financial: be debt free and enjoy the fruits of my labor. Mental/Job: finish publication projects, do crossword puzzles. And enjoy life.

Right across the street from the Albergue is the Church of Sta. Eulalia that the guide book claims was an important site where the King of Navarre, Done Garcia was interred after he was slain by his brother King Fernando I of Castilla in 1054 at the battle of Atapuerca.

Church of Sta. Eulalia

But his remains are now in Najera and not here. We didn’t even go into the church as it was closed when we tried to visit.

The private albergue was cold, and we were the only two pilgrims staying there. We saw the other pilgrims when we went to get some food to cook. There were slim pickings at the tiny grocery store that we found. They were staying at an hostal. My birthday dinner was hot miso soup from the powder Becky had and excellent cheese and left-over tortilla francesa bocadillo from lunch! Half a cookie and some dates for dessert! Delicious! This year Elsa prepared a ham and told me that it was just going to be us and my good friend Norma Alarcon for dinner. But, a few other friends had also been invited to celebrate with me. I was still feeling sick, though, and I probably was not much surprised to see my sisters Geri–and her kids Lydian and Dorian– and Mari, my friends, Marta Sepeda, Laura Rendon, Vijay and Patricia Quijada come to Elsa’s. But, then I went back to the house to get some bottled water and when I returned, they were all wearing party hats and yelled surprise! I blew out the candles–two one 6 and a 5! My wish was to go back to the Camino before I  turn 70.

MEDITATION FOCUS: This year, I turned 65, and I was sick and not feeling like myself. The illness had lingered since the 23rd of December, over the end of the old year, and into the new one. I now think it was a way of molting, a shedding of my old skin for a new one! It makes being sick so much less painful to think that there is a real purpose to it all. The idea of shedding the old year, the old me, the old attachments appeals to me–now I can welcome the new year, the new me, the new that this Camino that is my life will bring, has already brought me! Gracias a la vida, indeed!


Posted January 9, 2012 by normacantu in Uncategorized

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