Today´s camino brought us through many very tiny villages, farm country and beautiful woodlands. We saw few pilgrims today and wondered what happened to the crowds that had gathered at Portomarin. We encountered our first rain today as we neared our destination Palas De Rei, a mere 43 miles from Santiago. It is very difficult to describe the sights, sounds and smells on the Camino. It is unlike any walking tour we have been on. The Camino winds through real places and allows the pilgrim the unique opportunity to enter the lives of the real people who inhabit northern Spain. For the most part, these people are rural dwellers who make their living raising livestock and growing vegetables. Potatoes and corn are major crops. As we walked we saw many small farmers milking their cows, tending their gardens and working in their fields. The path was strewn with the manure of the many farm animals who also traverse the Camino getting from one field to another. The smells of animals mix with the smells of wood burning, food cooking and the fragrance of roses, which are planted so abundantly here. The natives in this area are people of modest means, yet they celebrate life with gusto in the way they tend the earth, plant so many beautiful flowers and enjoy fiestas! In our travels we have passed many roads in Florida, California and the Southwest that are labeled the Camino Real. They are usually very majestic roads decorated with flowers, well-maintained and popular with tourists. There are two very different meanings to Real in Spanish. One refers to the Camino for Royals. These are the Caminos that often attract tourists. However the other meaning of Real is just like the English, the real Camino, the camino where real people live their lives; The Camino real is not a showcase but a humble path through the lives of ordinary people, like us. It is a great gift to travel the Camino de Compostela for it is the real Camino. Jesus spent most of his life on the real Camino, encountering the small people, the people who had no power or prestige in their world. He brought the good news to these people. He told them that God did not come to earth to travel the Camino Royal, although God is the King of Kings. Jesus told the people that God wants to travel the real Camino along side of us, just where we are. It is interesting to note that the only time Jesus traveled the Camino Royal was when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. It was on that Camino Royal that he was tried,crucified and died for us. How blessed we are to travel the Camino real, the road to Santiago. How blessed we are to travel a road that hundreds of thousands of searching pilgrims have traveled before us. Each day we encounter the Lord on this Camino just as he encountered the people of his time two thousand years ago. Buen Camino to each of you as you travel your Camio Real with the Lord as your companion.
Camino Real and the Real Camino May 30, 2011