Day 18 – San Nicolas del Real Camino to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos, 13.61 miles
During this morning’s walk, we passed the halfway mark of the Camino Frances. The official landmark in Sahagún is more like 9/16ths, though. The true halfway point is closer to San Nicolas del Real Camino, but I’ve talked before about how it seems distance measurement is more of a philosophy than a hard science in Spain.
Passing through Sahagún, we came upon a confitería (donut shop, pastry store, heaven) and stopped to celebrate “half-way” with breakfast here. This place was amazing, they brought tray after tray of pastries, it was hard to resist. After a few thousand breakfast calories, we were back on the austere Way.
On the outbound side of Sahagún, the Camino splits – the left fork follows the highway to Bercianos del Real Camino and El Burgo Ranero. The right fork follows Trajan’s Way, an old Roman road, through Calzada de Coto and on to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. On my 2017 trek, I took the left fork and ended the day in El Burgo Ranero. This time around it was the right fork, it was the right fork. It is a much better walk in my opinion. Less highway, more countryside.
We ended the day in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos and stayed at the Albergue Via Trajana. It was another great place to stay. It was family operated (father, mother, daughter) whose ethic was hospitality. Like the albergue in Boadilla del Camino, they were more focused on serving the pilgrim than collecting the money. A special late lunch of bacon and eggs, sure. Access to beer and wine and the kitchen while they were at siesta, no problem. They trusted us and we them. At the end of their busy day, we settled accounts.
There’s a curious saying of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of John, it says:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life and may have it abundantly.”
I’ve heard a lot of teaching on the first part of this, usually related to the things I shouldn’t do. I’ve heard very little about the second part, life abundantly, and most of those lessons were focused on the afterlife. Neither of these types of lessons satisfy. The prevailing cultural definition does not satisfy either, if anything it dulls.
What does this good life consist of?
I’ve given this question a lot of thought on this Camino and I still don’t have a good answer, but I know it when I experience it. Like the good pastries in the confitería. Like the good wine and beers with pilgrim friends at the end of a day. Like the good conversation with the Swiss pilgrims that walked from their home in Switzerland, across France, and through Spain to that evening in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. Like receiving hospitality. Like serving others. Like being grateful.
P.S. – A couple of notes on Jesus’ words above. The original word used for life is zōḗ, and it means more than having a pulse and functional lungs; it means being alive physically and spiritually, having a vitality, an existence that is real and genuine. The original word used for abundantly is perissós. It means all around (holistic), more than, beyond what is anticipated, extraordinary, uncommon. So, Jesus says that he has come to give us an existence that is animated and full, and it is more than that, beyond what we can anticipate.
The Camino de Santiago gives us occasional glimpses of this life.