I didn’t want to get up today at 5am but everyone else in the room started getting up and it’s hard to go back to sleep with the noise. There was another great view of the snowy mountains and markers counting down the number of kilometres to Santiago.
I was in a hurry all day as I had my hopes on getting a bed in a church that had been highly recommended, but only had beds for 40 pilgrims. I had 28 km to cover so each stop was brief and rather than relaxing and talking to everyone I passed, I stormed on thinking of everyone as one of the possible 40 pilgrims taking my bed – this IS NOT the camino spirit and I hated what I was doing, I was also terrified of not having somewhere to sleep again after walking so far (sleeping on a bar table will do this to you).
I walked faster than I’d ever walked and got a space at the church on a mattress above the office. There were 16 people in my room and the others were also on mattresses but on the ground floor.
They asked pilgrims to help with dinner at 6:30pm followed by mass in the church at 7pm before dinner at 8pm. When in Rome… I went to the bar with some camino friends and enjoyed some Spanish wine (possibly too much as I hadn’t eaten much all day). Then I went to help with dinner, cutting up tomatoes. Then I went to my first mass. I sat in the back row next to two elderly Spanish men and followed their lead at standing and sitting at various times throughout the mass and then at one point everyone in front, next to and behind me shook each other’s hands. Toward the end, the Spanish men next to me gestured for me to go to the front of the church as the priest was about to say the pilgrims prayer. There were about 30 or so pilgrims in the church. The priest said the prayer and the mass concluded with the rest of the congregation singing a hymn. I don’t know if it was the wine I’d consumed or a spiritual thing (I’m not religious) but it was very emotional. Mass then ended and it was time for the communal dinner in the church. Most of the pilgrims had been at the bar so there was a very jovial atmosphere and grace was sung along to the rhythm of “we will rock you” with everyone banging the tables, it was not at all what I had expected of staying in a church hostel! Dinner was very lively and the hosts made most people sing a song from their country, luckily Australia was skipped. I’m glad I had the church experience but I feel guilty for all the other people who missed out. I’m not enjoying the “rat race” side of the camino.