Thinking about Stories: Estella to Los Arcos

(Please note that the post for 4/17 was missing from the blog.  It is now posted with photos together with the post for 4/18.  I invite you to go back and look.)

4/21

As of today, the walk is dedicated to the people of the Cherokee tribe, who were forced to make their own long journey, the Trail of Tears. They were evicted by the 1830 Indian Removal Act and forced by the government to migrate from their homeland of North Carolina and Tennessee to Oklahoma so that settlers could take over their valuable land. 4,000 members of the tribe died on the way. Our walking efforts of the next few days are devoted to them in recognition of the injustice imposed on them and the consequent suffering they underwent.

We left Estella at 8 a.m. to begin the day’s 21 km walk to the town of Los Arcos, passing through the towns of Azqueta, Villamayor de Monjardin, Cruce, and Puente along the way. It was an up-and-down route this day in mostly chilly conditions. Most of the area consisted of farmland.

Farmland between Estella and Los Arcos.

Weather reports had predicted rain, and we encountered a little of it (we were lucky; much have Spain had been deluged during the last 36 hours) but it seemed that as soon as we put on rain gear, the weather improved. At one of our first break stops, we met a friendly gentleman from Toronto named Bill O’Brien, and not long thereafter we ran into another man from Toronto whom we had met before, named Peter James, and the incredible development that occurred at this point was that we introduced Bill to Peter and it turned out that they had already met by e-mail and phone in Canada before they left because they had a friend in common who had done the Camino and encouraged them to meet. But they had never met face to face and here they now were standing in front of each other, very excited and amazed that just by chance they now could see each other in person. They are both fine, kind, intelligent men who us the rest of the walk this day, providing humor, great stories, and intelligent conversation. We also met a mother from South Korea doing the pilgrimage with her two teenage sons, all of whom were very nice and also on the way to Santiago de Compostela.

With Vic, Peter James, and Bill O’Brien.

Los Arcos is a small town with a beautiful church and narrow courtyard at its center just across the street from the Odron River that runs through it. The pilgrim dinner we found was a veritable feast and just what our drained bodies needed: pasta with shrimp, bread, eggs, ham, and dessert.

Sleeping quarters at Casa Alberdi, a pilgrim hostel in Los Arcos.

The thoughts that occurred to me for this day were the result of listening to all the fascinating stories from the lives of Bill and Peter, who are both knowledgeable about many different subjects and have traveled all over the world. It seems that if we are open enough and patient enough to listen to others, we find out that each person has a story, each person’s life is a story, and each one is interesting, even if the teller might not think so. What seems even more important than how interesting the stories of each person are is how much there is to learn from them. We can learn something valuable from everyone we meet, especially if we shrink our egos–or better yet, leave them out of the picture altogether–and truly listen. We can be each other’s teachers and each other’s students at the same. With that many teachers at our disposal, all of a sudden the educational opportunities expand almost infinitely, which can only be a good thing, I would think.

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One Response to Thinking about Stories: Estella to Los Arcos

  1. gwmacke says:

    I think the Trail of Tears is an appropriate dedication. I grew up in Southeast Missouri and with family who are Cherokee. It is an incredible story and truly one of the dark moments in U.S. history.

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