I'd spent the weekend in the fine old city of Salamanca. I'd been there once before, when I was 18, on an Inter-Rail ticket round Europe. I found the stone bench next to the New Cathedral - where I'd slept early one morning 37 years ago - was still there.
On this visit, however, I was very down. Some personal reasons aside, I think my depressed mood had something to do with being in a big city for a few days. It felt odd after the isolation, and the peace and quiet, of the countryside. I felt like a stranger on the outside looking in. Which, of course, is what I was. A pilgrim feels much more at home in the smaller towns and villages, I believe. I'd persuaded myself my pilgrimage had ended there and then. That it was perfectly OK to finish half-way. After all, if I hadn't been lucky enough to have such a long period of free time at my disposal, I'd have had to have ended it short of Santiago anyway. Wouldn't I?
I lingered in Salamanca until the Monday. I'd been blogging on and off all that day - making the most of easy Internet access - and decided to check my blog one last time before I turned in for the night. There I found an encouraging comment from Andy (Pilgrimpace), which quoted part of my poem Camino Fever: How dark the soul in the dead of night! But how bright the morning sun! Incredibly, and in an instant, my depression lifted, and my whole mood and attitude changed. I'd bought a train ticket to Hendaya (on the Spanish/French border) in the morning, intending a slow train ride home via Bordeaux and Paris. I tore up the ticket on the spot. I would continue the pilgrimage. Of course I would. What on earth were my minor discomforts - the cold, the wet, the odd pang of loneliness - compared, say, with Winter Pilgrim's challenges as she trekked through the Ukraine winter from Kyiv to Patras in Greece? The way she coped with any difficulties - with good humour and light-heartedness - was a shining example when faced with my own wimpish behaviour.
The next day, light of heart, I pressed on northwards towards Zamora.
(Posted from Zamora, on the Vía de la Plata, Spain.)