Archive for September, 2011

Diary keeping has never been my thing – but for some reason the ‘smartphone’ and time at hand during the Camino, made me jot down random thoughts.

A particular entry catches my eye:

“90km from Sntiago, 24days into the journey, 23 nights of change…  And finally all is falling into place. Body, mind and spirit feel united and not in disharmony anymore. A realisation of the Camino – a rythm, not a race. Gratification, and not expectation. Now, and not tomorrow or yesterday. Give and not take”

The freedom of NOW!  The challenge of anticipating anything and expect nothing.

The vast unknown

To face the fear …’let go of the safety of the familiar …’ And accept the excitement  to ‘ …dive into the unknown…’


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“This too will pass” – a mantra that helped me through physically difficult times. And one that I would not want to apply to this growing awareness of ‘interconnected-ness’ phase.

Wind and wheat

A comfort zone where:

  • Pains and aches have vanished.
  • Needs and wants are minimal.
  • An inexplicable ‘rhythm’  replaces the ‘discomfort’.
  • Disabilities become challenges.
  • Irritations turn into lessons.
  • Obsessions are replaced by gratitude
  • Intolerance is washed away by a sense of humor.

Part of this physical relieve is due to the wise choice of taking time out to rest –  by taking a bus to Burgos.

Traversing La Rioja across the border to Castille y Leon, we often hug the Camino and empathise with pilgrims dotted over the landscape. Passing Najera, Santo Domingo, Belorado and St Juan, add much needed credit to our time and distance bank.

Hotel Espanol, at 48Euros per room, is an instant Heaven on Earth, found in Burgos. And for one night of luxury, very affordable and justifiable. We deserve this….

High and Low

Quoting John Brierley:

‘If you go as a pilgrim you travel two paths simultaneously.

You have to get to the point where you balance inner and outer realities.

Everyone has different needs and pathologies, psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical.

Under the protection of the Camino one can let go of the safety of the familiar and dive into the unknown…..’

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Friendly horse - unfriendly hill

Waking up to a bright but chilly day makes the stopover in Orisson worth it and all the normal fears of novice Peregrinas (female pilgrims) dissipate with the mist.  An early start (to be the norm throughout our journey) rewards us with spectacular views in all directions and way beyond. Flocks of sheep, friendly horses and excited pilgrims add to the already charged mood of anticipation.

The most unexpected proves to be the physical onslaught, and the feeblest becomes the unexpected. Mortality and Ego take the back seats in the show of battles between Lungs and Quads. The altitude in the Pyrenees makes lungs suffer and hills push boundaries with knees and thighs. The long distances and extra weight burden the back, knees and already blistered feet.

All of the first week gets gobbled up by time-consuming rituals essential in surviving from hour to hour, day-to-day, village to village :  –

  1. a quick sit to adjust the bandage supporting a buggered knee,
  2. a short rest to change the plasters on oozing blisters,
  3. a brief wait to breathe again and allow fresh oxygen flow to exhausted muscles,
  4. a view admiring and picture taking stop to rest slouching backs and to sunblock sweaty faces,
  5. a ‘bar’ break to boost the energy and rejuvenate the tummy with a quick pop of another anti-inflammatory.

A week which stretches across the Province of Navarre into La Rioja to end in a village called Navarette, and which brings us 150km into our pilgrimage. This Physical Phase seizes my entire focus, it consumes all my energy, it gnaws away at my sense of humor and worst of all, it exposes myself to me.

Endurance and Perseverance

With passing time and steady walking, the physical demands and needs diminish and the emotional starts to surface.  A wonderful sense of achievement, the awe of  fitness and health, trigger the next phase – the awakening.

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