They didn't tell me about the hill/mountain we would be climbing today, which is probably a good thing. Today was a 16 mile day--a little longer than the day before, but bearable.
We woke up after the group from the north already left for Chamisal. It was a bittersweet moment, because this is the last day of our long walks. Tomorrow would be an "easy" nine miles into Chimayo. Breakfast went quickly, and I've got packing down to a fine art (took me forever on the first few days). I've worn a different t-shirt each day, and smell pretty well. Did notice a new blister today (sigh) on the ball of my right foot, so two blisters on this journey. Not bad. The double socks theory worked for me this time.
We were bussed to Chamisal, only to find the other group of men Peregrinos there. Thankfully we were bussed further "up" the road. We walked for a good distance before stopping at Las Trampas, with a church built in 1769. I love this church and community, reflecting that when the Founding Fathers were in Philly thinking they were at the center of the US, while in NM (to be), there were Spanish settlers...and Indian Americans of course. But the church was closed, with no one to welcome us, so no encuentros.
Then the surprise: straight uphill. Zigzag pattern. But uphill. I fared well, but the joke was "up around the corner is the summit," and it never was.
The beauty was to be found when we did reach the summit and saw the view of the valley where Chimayo was located. Gorgeous. Behind us were the Rocky Mountains' ridge.
We walked to Cordova, a town where Vincent grew up (his grandparents lived here). We walked by the Presbyterian Church of Cordova, and the men doffed their hats, and then we entered the Catholic church with their fascinating, hauntingly beautiful, and old Santos. I marvel at these ancient relics that continue to remind us of the faith today. This is so NOT a Presbyterian phenomenon.
Thankfully, Cordova was our last place today. We walked to the post office and awaited the bus that would take us to Santa Cruz, where we would meet up with another men's group from the North and the women's group from ABQ.
The worship/Mass that night was celebrated by Fr. Ed. It was great seeing him. I also enjoyed the classroom where we slept, with the 1950 statutes of Jesus, Anthony, and Theresa of Avila.
We also welcomed the novice pilgrims tonight. This happens among all the groups. We are wearing white shirts, candles lit, and the cross on the floor, placed on the quilt, welcoming the new pilgrims with scallop shells around our necks and a hug for each pilgrim. Music that was played on the first night is played again, starting with "Let it be," by the Beatles, with focus on Mary. I learned of those pilgrims who walked 37 years (Roger), Charlie, who walked 13 miles and this was his last (trucker next year) who was proud his family was with him (sons, son-in-laws and grandsons); those who served prison time; those who were simply proud of their ability to walk thus far. Kneeling and lying prostrate before the cross was part of the ritual. Powerful, as always. Lives devoted to Christ.
Finally: we had 1 toilet for 60 men. Fascinating.
Buen camino! Brett