Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, Granon, pilgrimage, Spain, Tosantos

September 11th, Day 10: Granon to Tosantos – ‘The Camino Is Not About Being Alone’

Clouds parting just outside of Granon.

We leave Granon as a group and with renewed energy. The sky to the left is black and to the right, sunlight reflects on the mountains in the distance. Fields of sunflowers surround us on all sides.

Within minutes, the clouds begin to part. It’s as if someone somewhere is in control of them, winding them back and away to the west. The fields ahead now glow gold and the sky being unveiled is bright blue. Farmers are working in the fields below, planting new crops, but aside from them, it’s just us pilgrims and the sounds of our footsteps.

I have dropped back and have the path entirely to myself. I pass a few small, sleepy villages, and keep thinking I will stop for a coffee but can’t find an open cafe, despite it approaching mid-morning. Cats perch on windowsills and flowerboxes adorn every home.

I catch up with Tammy a couple of towns later and moments later we find Gill waiting for us atop a haybale. We stop for a coffee on the outskirts of town, but decide to keep walking to Tosantos before having lunch and calling it a day.

Ermita de Nuestra Señora de la Peña

I have to find an ATM, so Tammy and I make a detour. I make my withdrawal, but no money is dispensed. This detour turns into a debacle and we lose about an hour in town. I eventually get my money and luckily it’s a short and relatively easy walk to Tosantos, but when we arrive Gill is concerned as to how long it took us and whether or not we will get a bed at the donativo.

We fortunately get beds in the last room, settle in and make our way to the cafe across the street. Tosantos is the smallest village I’ve seen so far. It’s a blip on the map – There are a handful of houses, this one cafe and up in the hills above, an old church carved into the mountainside. We have been informed that we should attend Mass at the church before dinner.

We spend our afternoon at a table outside the cafe, soaking in the sunshine, and enjoying vino tinto and ham and cheese sandwiches. A few other pilgrims are nearby, and soon, Jacobo (the Italain) and his friend Clara (from the Canary Islands) join us.

The view from the hilltop church down to Tosantos.

We’ve arrived early enough that I take advantage of the daily stipulated siesta before Mass. Mass turns out to be more like a narrative on the history of the church, but it’s structure is impressive, and in the back pews, we’re showered with limestone dust crumbling off the ceiling.

We head back to the donativo and I help to prepare salads in the kitchen with a few French pilgrims. I pop over the street to buy some 3 Euro wine as a contribution and spend a little time writing before dinner.

Pilgrims helping to prepare dinner.

Dinner is a hearty lentil stew, enjoyed by about 25 pilgrims sitting at a long communal table. Afterwards, we head up to a small room on the second floor, and we all huddle in for prayer and reflection. Pilgrims are asked to take turns reading messages that have been written and left behind from previous pilgrims and the stories range from happy to sad. Some are about physical pain, some about emotional pain, and others are stories of happiness- of people letting go of things, overcoming hurdles, having personal revelations.

The pilgrim’s dinner at the donativo.

The man leading the activity, Jose,  reads a prayer, and the opening words are, “Do not be too proud and be alone.” It makes me reflect on my own Camino, which I set out to do alone. During the first few days, I was alone, but my Camino family was taking shape now and what I was learning about myself through my conversations with others and from hearing of their own trials and tribulations, was nothing short of profound.

Jose takes such pride in leading this lesson and he stresses that the Camino is not about being alone, but about the lessons we learn from other pilgrims. I am realizing how right he is. He ends our evening with a pilgrim’s blessing and asks that everyone hug him goodbye before leaving the following morning.

A few of us gather in the reception area afterwards for a nightcap. I find it hard to believe that ten days on the Camino have already passed. One phase, the initial phase, the one everyone calls the journey of the body is basically behind us. Blisters are healing, aches and pains are fading, and our bodies are now accustomed to the long distances we are walking. My pack no longer feel like a weight on my shoulders, it simply feels a part of me now.

We are only a few days away from the start of the Meseta- the section of the Camino people call the ‘journey of the spirit.’ I have no idea, here, on this tenth evening in Tosantos what lay ahead.

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