This is an interim update which I may extend on later, but I have a few minutes in the afternoon to just recount the events of the day so far. Eventful it has not been, but a test of endurance it has.

The forecast has not been great and yesterday was, I thought, a taste of what was to come. How wrong I was. Someone said yesterday that the Camino doesn’t give you what you want, it give you what you need. The only reason I needed to walk 20 kilometres in a torrential downfall that I can think of was that I haven’t been taking enough cold showers. I’m here at Sarria and slowly drying out, a process that includes my pack, my wet weather gear, my boots, socks, shorts, shirt and jocks. But wait, you say, nothing to complain about. Hah, says I, I can’t even go for lunch because I have to dry out my money. Everything that was in supposedly waterproof pockets got wet, except (thank goodness) for my credencial and passport.

I suppose it was somewhat self-inflicted. There are two ways to Sarria, the road via Samos which is 7 kilometres longer, and a woodland path that looked a lot more inviting. I saw Dennis at breakfast and he was also going to try the short road, but I didn’t see him again. I had thought it was because a kilometre up the track the rain came down and visibility dropped to 50 metres. Silly me. Most of the pilgrims today chose the road, leaving me and a select few to battle it out with tracks that rapidly became raging torrents.

Mind you, in this sort of weather it was no better on the road, so some familiar faces have chosen the same albergue and the major issue on everyone’s mind is, how will I get everything dry?

If there is a silver lining on today, it was the fact that I knocked off twenty kilometres without a break, something I would have thought impossible a week ago. My shoulders are a bit sore, but that’s about it. Last night was a good idea. I slept really well and awoke rested.

Spain, like most of the Spanish-speaking world, is in the grip of All Souls’ Day, so even while there are few pumpkins around, most if the emphasis is on the visit to the church and cemetery. As a consequence, things are a bit quiet around Sarria, which is the biggest town since Leon. I spent some time yesterday on the trail thinking about this, because in Galicia, every little village has a church with a shrine to a local saint, a practice probably going back to pre-Christian days. The locals, who remain very devout, would not feel comfortable without the presence of their local patron. All the round of life and death that must be so familiar to these hill farmers is focused on the church, free-stone and slate roofed. So different from the insulation that surrounds most of us in the west.

I was trying to think of a way of encapsulating this in a reflection, and then realised that Dylan Thomas had been here before. So much of life is spent refusing the awareness and opportunity offered by each day. Few of us will face death with a serenity that everything that could have been done, was done, without an acceptance of the limits of what we try to do. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. Live each moment in grace and awareness.

For All Souls Day.

Do not go gentle into that good night
— Dylan Thomas

– Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.