Today I left Cordoba. I left my backpack at the Youth Hostel, carried only a small pack with water and a picnic lunch provided by the Hostel in lieu of breakfast, and was on my way around 7.00 am. My destination was Cerro Murriano, 18 kms away, mostly uphill, including a steep climb. The guide book suggested leaving the pack behind, completing the walk, then catching the bus back to Cordoba, returning to Cerro Murriano the next day to continue the walk. It was a very good suggestion.
My outing began with some frustration. The Friends of the Camino had assured me that the way out of Cordoba was clearly marked. They even gave me a city map and marked on it the roads to follow. I followed their instructions faithfully, but there were no arrows on the route they had indicated!! After a short while, I was at a loss. I tried cross-checking with the pdf guide, which helpfully directed me to follow the arrows!!! I checked with the guide book but it was difficult to correlate street directions with the map. I didn’t want to backtrack to the beginning to start all over again. Eventually I asked someone, who didn’t have English, matching my lack of Spanish. But I was able to indicate what street I wanted to get to. He used his smart phone to show me how to get there! From that point, I used my i-phone too. I eventually found the street and a camino marker and was on my way at last.
It was very frustrating. Over the past few days I haven’t minded the walking. But walking purposelessly, walking in the wrong direction, having to backtrack, is a big drain on the mind and body. I felt I had lost an hour. It probably wasn’t quite that much, chronologically, but when I count the cost of nervous energy expended needlessly, it probably wasn’t much short of the hour!
Still, rather than grumble about it, I considered the following:
I had arrived at the point I needed to be and was on the way.
I was grateful to the man who had guided me, especially reminding me to use my own IT equipment.
My i-phone had brought me to the precise junction where there was a camino sign.
It was a good day for walking, clouded over, so not so hot.
I didn’t have my full backpack.
I had all day.
So I had much for which to be grateful, and set off in good spirits.
The frustrations were not entirely finished. One guide said, “Leave the Roman bridge on the right.” The other guide said, “Cross the Roman bridge.” The arrows indicated crossing, so I crossed. I was to discover that neither guide was totally accurate. One was very specific, but sometimes, as above, the arrows contradicted its specificity. The other was very general, “follow the signed path” – so not much help with specific details – turn left/right here or go straight on? It did not even mention a large housing estate that I had to pass through, so that I wondered whether I was on the right path at all! I stuck with the arrows and followed them as closely as I could and never got lost for the rest of the walk (thought I did have a few anxious moments when I hadn’t seen one for a long while!).
When I was walking in the hill country, away from city and other habitations, it was very peaceful, so I decided to let the rural peace absorb me!
Overall, the walk was quite demanding. Some of it was on rock. Others were stony paths. Some of the tracking around habitations had rubbish along the side, not very attractive. Did I mention it was mostly uphill, including quite a steep incline?!
At one stage I realised that everything involves choice. I could see the obstacles, or I could see the opportunities. I could see stones, or I could see flowers. I chose to walk on the stones and allow the flowers to revive my spirit.
I arrived in Cerro Muriano about 2.00 pm. I realised that the next day was Sunday and that bus services would be limited. I also realised that I really had no further business in Cordoba and did not really need to spend that much on a further night’s accommodation. Also, I didn’t want a repeat tomorrow of this morning’s experience of getting out of Cordoba.
So I caught the bus from Cerro Muriano to Cordoba, retrieved my backpack from the Youth Hostel, cancelled the extra night’s booking which they had provided, found my way to the bus terminal, and caught the bus back to Cerro Muriano.
P.S. In an insult to my herculean human effort and achievement, the bus reversed my 6-hour climb from Cordoba to Cerro Muriano in less than 30 minutes, and took only 45 minutes to get me back from Cordoba to Cerro Muriano!!!
Once here, I found on the edge of the village a lovely “albergue” run by a very pleasant and helpful Dutch couple. The cost is “donation”, much less than the relatively expensive hostel in the city! So a great saving. And even more convenient, I am now set to continue on my way first thing in the morning. Also, I have been able to have some conversation in English with my hosts. It is a relief to be able to speak English with people who are resident here, as I have had few opportunities to date. They have provided a lot of guidance for the coming days.
I attended Vigil Mass in the local parish for Palm Sunday and have had a meal at a bar in the local village, where I am completing this blog.
Holy Week begins. I am not sure where I will be for the Paschal Services, but I will be remembering family, relatives and friends. Wishing you all a blessed and happy Holy Week.