I have had a wonderful experiences so far on the Camino (e-mails Tony Bain, the Australian I met on the train from Madrid).
Week 1 was a struggle as I had never backpacked before and had too much baggage and the initial terrain was rugged.
Week 2 you realise you can possibly make it as your fitness level improves-minimum 6 hours on at times very rocky paths.
Week 3 you try and take in as much of the environment as you can-it is stunning.
Week 4 Reflection and Taking in Environment.
In the key of C here are a few reflections: One for each day I have been on The Camino
1. Credencial (the book that is the officical record of the trip on the camino)
At time of writing I have 32 entries. I limit mine -some get a stamp at every bar. When I reached Sarria on Sunday it is a point from which many pilgrims start as it is just over 100 kms from Santiago and you have to do the 100 to get your Compostela. I am now at Melide about 60 kms from The Holy City (see below)
God willing and subject to weather I hope to make the Pilgrim´s Mass next Friday and get my Compostela then and perhaps pick up some Australian money!
3. Cigarettes and Cigars
Smoking is not a health hazard in Spain, only to Pilgrims. At €2.60 for 20 Marlboros why not?
They are a severe health hazard as you do not hear them on the track (they should use the road) and have no bells to warn you
5. Churches-too numerous to mention
Sadly most are closed except for Mass-the Architecture is amazing, with Romanesque mixed with Gothic and anything else that comes along. Loved the Cathedrals in Burgos and Leon and the simplicity of a 12th Century church being restored by the Benedictine monks in Rabanal where the vespers were sung in Latin and I could join in.
The food is excellent as is the general standard of cleanliness but littering is a National disgrace. Coming in to Melide today I saw the first litter bins on the walk
Cattle seem to be housed indoors in the main as you do not see at this time of the year big flocks of sheep or cattle out in the fields. That seems to be changing in Galicia. Plenty of milkers in Galicia. In fact I saw my first pigs outside of Astorga last weekend and they were bigger than Kevin 07`s budget deficit will be. Dairying is mainly Freisan but quite a few Jerseys. The last 3 days in Galicia remind me very much of the west of Ireland-old men still go about their farming jobs in suits but the young men all have the most modern machinery
You name it the Spaniards grow it on soil which in many cases seems full of stones-those that are not on the walking track that is Olives, figs, grapes, pears, grapes, chestnuts. grapes, asparagus, grapes. One kind local insisted I drink from his boto a couple of days ago-you hold it up and away from you and squirt! Good wine
Despite all the croissants, chips, cakes, coffee and chocolates there are very few obese local people on the Camino trail. Hard to get vegetables and fruit with the peregrino dinners but you can buy beautiful fruit cheaply. I have seen pumpkins the size of exercise balls-must weigh over 20 kilos. Potatoes and onions are big and widely grown as is corn Coffee consumption is incredible and much beer is consumed by locals and in the main that thirst is being quenched by one of the Filipinos finest, Senor Eduardo Coulanjco. The wine is great-Tinto is the red and very palatable .€2-4 for a bottle
Paolo Coelho, a Brazilian who wrote The Alchemist, wrote a book on the Camino which has inspired Brazilians and Koreans in droves to do the Camino.
A large number of young Koreans are doing the Camino-all Christians but mainly Methodist or Fundamentalists. Independently 3 have told me the Christian population is 30%…doubtful I would have thought
Apart from the beautiful scenic rural colours there are no grey nomads in Spain- my grey hair is almost unique.Grecian 500 lives!
Wonderful to see the Dads being so involved with the children-very pro-active.
Some Spanish Pilgrims I walked with early in the walk saw a Spainiard near Zubiri laughing near a Cemetery and read a headstone for me – Good man, Good Father, Good Husband, Bad Electrician. Rëminded me of one I saw in Scotland: Peace, perfect peace….until we meet again
A wonderful spirit amongst the pilgrims who in the main are warmly adopted by the locals who are warm friendly happy people
Walking through wonderful wooded paths with the sound of a creek running is good for the hear,t mind and body. Gives me the chance to be grateful for all the wonderful things in our lives we sometimes take for granted or do not have time to consider. Also time to think of all my wonderful friend and acquaintances. Hope to be able to come home still inspired by that calm and contentment
Spanish Post makes a fortune out of Camino walkers by providing a service of on-forwarding baggage. I like many bought too much baggage both mental and real! Correos is looking after the latter
17. Carving Knives
It is an art from watching the men and women in the butchers shops and fish chops chopping meat with their cleavers which are like half-moon or 3/4 moon shaped
18. Clipping Trees
Not a leaf is left on a tree when pruning and they obviously grow well thereafter
To prepare me for Ireland I am now in Celtic Spain or Galicia which is wild wet and wondrous
20 Cheese Chorizo and Cholestorol
No relnsp between the 3.The cheeses have been excellent with plenty of cheese made from sheep´s milk and in Galicia a beautiful cottage cheese style, richer and sweeter and creamier, abounds
Lots of Cider drunk here off the keg and very nice
Have just experienced our first frosts here in Galicia where the mornings and evenings are cold but the days beautiful if not blowing or windy. Rained today and it threatens my last few days
I have been blessed with wonderful companions on the way from all over the world some of whom I shall acknowledge in a further update as it will be my last on tour hopefully. Nevertheless I walk for the most on my own which is to me the way to do it as there is plenty of time to catch up at the end of the day. Today I walked over 22 kms on my own in just over 4 hours
The Spaniards have a wonderful culture and are happy people. The way they congregate in family groups in the City Squares (Plaza Mayors) should be an object lesson to our Town Planners
25. Circular Quay CH and HC-The Holy City
One of Sydney´s legends was Con Hanley a Bondi Iceberg whose contribution to spiritual music was unique. Each year at the Iceberg´s Christmas Party without prompting he would burst into Jerusalem (The Holy City) with an incredible rasping voice. When asked by the very talented musician which key he wanted him to play in he would shout out : Circular! To borrow
“Last Night as I lay sleeping there came a dream so fair
I stood in old Santiago beside the Cathedral there”
I am hoping to teach my co Camino travellers to sing it with me as we approach The Holy City of Santiago.
26. Come On Aussie Come On, Camino Aussie Come On
In Rabanal there were 11 Australians, yes a cricket team, at the Vespers in the Benedictine Chapel-I remembered Salve Regina and Pater Noster etc from school days but couldn’t get this one into Gregorain chant form
Just try and avoid them. Huge transport trucks use the big freeway network
Not easy as lots of the small villages in which we stay do not have internet. But every few days one appears that is not being used.
Never fully realised the significance of bridges until one Camino veteran wised me up-each one now has a special significance for me.
To all those wonderful people I have met and will not see again before I finish I want to thank you for the way you have all touched my life and this trip.
- To Jean from Olympia-a chance but providential meeting put us both on the right path to start.
- To the Orison Irish team-you were missed
- To my French angels many thanks. Nicole tell Jean Pierre that after all his help with my sac (in Australia a port or bag) I have sanctified him as St Jean Pierre de Port
- Herve I never imagined I would be discussing Durack´s Kings In Grass Castles (One of JA’s favourites) with a Frenchman on the Camino
- To my Canadian 5 from Nelson-your company was great and much missed. Thanks for the compeeds.
- To my other Canadian 5 it was great to meet you and also to SIT
- To my Norwegian actor friend-I shall always remember your salutes and look forward to seeing you on Utube
- To SFS Suzanne from Stutgart -you were the apple of many Camino walker´s eye. Hope your US husband safely returns from his period of service in Afghanistan
- To my Korean friends -lovely to meet and talk with you. All of you experienced great difficulties on the trip without complaint – true pilgrims.
- Some found friendship on the Camino-Dave the Dashing Dutchman for one with his Belgian friend.
- Roland the amazing bearded bald German (who wore a tartan kilt) who did a stint as a jackeroo at Hughenden-met a lovely Rumanian albeit in the shape of a Rumanian weighlifter!
- The wonderful young Finnish couple who were so much in love and so burdened with tents, etc
- Big Joe from NY NY who carried a guitar and a book the size of the Bible on the Architectural History of the Camino. last seen busking in Burgos
- To Gib our Canadian speed walker from Calgary we missed your humour and comments as you sped ahead through Sarria having done 4 legs last year
- To Joe my wonderful companion who travelled from Ireland to join me for an earbashing and my weak puns
- To My Australian camino travellers I cannot thank you enough for your help and encouragement esp my Northbridge friend and my 2 allies from WA.
I can understand why people want to return to again do this walk. Many Europeans do it in stages so there are new people meeting the trail all the time. Not so earlier but now the predominant walkers are Spanish, French and
German in that order I would say.
I had not one occasion to use my stick/pole to ward off dogs-all Spaniards seem to have dogs and I have never seen so many cats. Saw one snake on the track and in the Mesete plenty of dead field mice and many birds of prey. Part of my walk today was like walking in a rain forrest, reminiscent of Lamington National Park.
- To Janice and the children-thanks for this w0nderful experience which I shall always treasure.I did not grow a beard but hope I can find a barber in The Holy City as I do not want to have to walk to Seville to find one!
On All the Peaks lies Peace
All your past,except its beauty, is gone and nothing is left but a blessing
C you soon