It is my mom’s birthday and I offer my walk to her. Her dementia is such that while she knows I am in Spain, she confuses this trip with others I have made and she repeats the story of how she wanted to come visit but my father would not let her and now it is too late. She will die con el deseo de visitar España. As the day wears on, and I tire from the walking, when we rest in the afternoon, I feel her presence and my siblings as no doubt they are gathered to celebrate her day in the family home on San Carlos Street inLaredo, Texas. That house that is full of memories and that she claims is full of our youth, our childhoods. She hears us laughing in the nights cuando no consigue el sueño. Since my Dad’s passing in 2004, she has deteriorated physically and mentally. I pray for her wellbeing and that she find joy in her memories fleeting as they are. She who gave her all for her eleven children who is now alone in the house built with love and joy but also full of sorrow and want. I know her path has not been easy, and now she erases that past and remembers fleeting images, sounds, and makes up the rest. Asi es.
We begin walking after cafe con leche and a croissant, and along the way, we find delightful villages with a different kind of grannery, conical structures that dot the landscape, cabeceiro in gallego, for storing corn we are told.
In Leboreiro I take the photo of the fascinating receptacle and of the church. The style is Roman, I guess with a weather worn image of Mary and the belltower. Typical of so many along the Camino, it is in need of repair. At one time I imagine it being in its prime with the pilgrims stopping along the way and a bustling medieval community praying three times a day and certainly on Sundays, the center of all communal activity.
Corn. That essential of Mexican foodways found its way to this village in norhtern Spain. The corn receptacle, leads me to think of my mother chastising my father for growing corn in our small back yard. Corn. One of the many foods he planted and harvested. Watermelon, squash, and tomatoes, of course. Our yard made small by all the plants growing there along with the herbs, manzanilla, cilantro, romero, and a huge lemon grass plant for teas. In many of the villages, I spot backyard gardens of leafy greens I don’t recognize.
As we continue our trek, we come across beautiful scenery. I can feel that we are getting closer to Santiago. No doubt in the summer this path is overrun with pilgrims. But for us, it is still quiet and peaceful. We are the only ones on the path for most of the time now that Jose has gone ahead with the young students who sent their mochilas ahead in a taxi and walked much faster than we. A more traditional grannery, called an horreo, suddenly there right before we get to the cemetery. These structures fascinate me.
I think I already mentioned how our Brazilian friend was fooled by an old man along the path who told him that it was where they kept los restos de nuestros antepasados and that according to tradition, he was to tap his walking stick on the ground three times each time he went by one of them. Well, of course, he did so until a priest along the way asked him what he was doing. When he explained, the priest laughed and told him that the old man had been pulling his leg. There was no such tradition and that the horreos held grain and nothing more. We all laughed as he told the story, but we also became immersed in our own thoughts of what we had heard along the Camino and wondered how much of it was false and how much was true.
We learn to discern truth from falsehood by listening to our bones. Yes, our bones. I can feelwhen things are not right, when something rings false. I have learned to trust that feeling and it has never failed me. En el Camino I have learned to trust and to allow the truth to unfold. There are many truths and I can only discern what is true for me.