Professor Higgins had got it wrong and I can testify to that. As we set off from the hotel the rain began to descend and descend and descend. Anyway, travelling the Camino is about travelling through life and in life it rains and sometimes it pours.
So we got our wet weather gear on, our walking boots and everything that we thought might help us keep dry and we got out of the coach to see the funerary church at Eunate.
It is a lovely building from the outside (that is all we could see, it being Monday, a day when all museums are closed) octagonal in design with strange but beautiful arcades round the edge. It was decision making time however and people needed to decide if they were going to walk in the rain along this section of the Camino or go back on the coach and just drive to Puente de la Reina. I suppose in the end half of us braved the weather and set off.
The walk took us through lovely countryside, past vines (this is on the edge of Rioja) and through a couple of little villages. As the rain suddenly got heavier I was wondering, why am I doing this? Is this a kind of penance? Although I can see that it could well be, my question was, is that the kind of God I believe in, a God who would think more of me because I was prepared to get soaking wet? To be honest that isn’t my concept of God. But at the same time there is something about achieving a goal that you wouldn’t normally attempt, and for a deeper purpose.
We arrived at Puente de la Reina and it was worth the journey. This is the place where the various routes from France meet and become one Camino. It is therefore a good place to meet other pilgrims. We met one young man from Salzburg. He had 25 more days walking to do. It was lovely to talk to him. Why he was making the pilgrimage I don’t know, but he was on the same road as we were, in that sense he was very much a brother.
After a restorative coffee we walked towards the medieval bridge, stopping at the beautiful church of Santiago where there is a lovely statue of the saint. We got to the bridge, the place where the routes meet and crossed on the one, united Camino.
The coach was there to meet us and we then drove to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Along the way, as we drove parallel to the Camino, we kept seeing groups of pilgrims walking the Camino. It was incredible to see. Since the medieval period I can’t imagine that there has been such a golden age for the Camino. A constant flow of pilgrims, each for their own reason, each travelling the Way. It is very powerful and very moving. I suspect that there is something about walking the Way which meets modern people’s spiritual needs. You can walk at your own pace, in your own way, for your own reason, yet you are in touch with something deeper.
As we sat down for a long lunch it was food for thought.