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Day 11:  Silently finding the “Camino Way”      

Learning as a passive observer how to appreciate the journey (Candace)

Santander to Santillana Del Mar

Distance: 20.2 miles (32.5 kilometers)

Total Ascent:  180 meters

Difficulty:  1

Calories Burned: 3,577

We slept in this morning and then Andrew went to the lobby to get some breakfast.  When he didn’t return for a while, I went down to find him writing a letter to a dear friend.  As he read the letter to me, I longed for him to post it on this blog, because he did such a great job of explaining our journey in a way that I just don’t know how to.  I think he’s considering doing something similar, so fingers crossed.

However, he went on to read me a follow-up message where he explained that I am more comfortable disclosing more than he would otherwise, and that he wants his accounting to have “more depth” than mine.  I was sorely hurt by these words, and we talked about why I felt discounted in his email. 

I know that my writing will not likely go down in the literature hall of fame.  But I also know that I’m honest, and that I share my truest feelings and experiences as I’m feeling them. 

Does that mean that I lack depth?

I came out of that conversation deciding that my intention for today would be to appreciate my day in silence.  And, except for a few accidental words here and there, I spent more than 12 hours silent today.

I noticed that, for the first few hours of my silence, Andrew was far more talkative, entertaining even.  I think he may have felt slightly uncomfortable in the silence.  But then we met up with our German friend, Kirsten, and then our two Spaniard friends Alejandro and Angel for lunch, and he seemed to ease a bit more into my silence.

I also noticed that, when I couldn’t respond, I became a better listener.  And when Andrew went on to elaborate, I noticed when I would have otherwise cut him off to insert my opinions.  I hope to take this consciousness into the remainder of my trip.  It reminds me of a day when I was a freshman in college and was always first to raise my hand.  My favorite professor of all time, Dr. Russell Proctor, asked me to “count to three” before answering. 

A good lesson to be reminded of.

At lunch, we stopped at a beautiful outdoor café in the country and had a proper Spanish lunch, with three courses, wine and two hours of conversation (sans Candace).  Alejandro explained that this is the point of the Camino.  It isn’t to reach your destination each day, check into your Albergue and sleep the evening away.  Instead, we are meant to meander, to take our time, to appreciate the moments along the way.

He then went on to ask me why I was practicing silence, and since I couldn’t respond, he guessed that it was a form of meditation for me, and that I was probably enjoying my new way of listening. 

Quite astute, young Alejandro.

After 22 miles of hiking, we just checked in to the Casona Solar de Hidalgos, and it feels like we’ve taken a trip back to medieval times. The hotel feels as if it has been around for centuries, and we have everything from old paintings to a first edition telephone in our room. What an amazing departure from the awful Hostel de Mexicana yesterday (and it was only 30 euro)!

We took a nice, long bubble bath, complete with removable shower head so we could wash one another’s hair, and enjoyed our castle room until dinner.

Andrew and I then toured this beautiful little city, quite hidden from the main road (If we didn’t know to look for it, we would have missed it. And what a shame that would have been.), found a harpist and some friends on the main square, and then went to a romantic dinner for two in one of the many quaint boutique garden restaurants. We talked about what our professions might be when we return from our trip, and had one of the difficult but wonderful conversations that we’ve grown to love so much over the past year.

What a meaningful ending to a long-walked day.

(Side note, we learned a valuable lesson today.  If traveling as a couple, request a single private room, not a double.  You will pay half as much and are more likely to get a double bed.  Duly noted.)

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