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Showing posts from August, 2015

10 Rules For The Camino Santiago

1. Travel light. 2. Travel lighter still. You think you need that? Really? Give it to another pilgrim. Post it home. Throw it away. You can get rid of another kg yet. 3. Never pass an open church without going into it. 4. Never pass a Fuente without drinking from it and giving thanks: for whoever put it there; for your baptism; for the Living Water. 5. Blisters are the surfacing of minor irregularities in your body. Drain them quickly or they'll spread. Cover them when walking, but, whenever possible, expose them to light and air. When irregularies of your mind or your spirit surface, as they inevitably will, treat the resulting problems in the same way. 6. Walk within yourself.  7. Your body is wise. Listen to it. 8. The path is wise. Listen to it. 9. Learn enough Spanish to be able to order a meal or some groceries and manage the payment afterwards. 10. You're making your own Camino for your own reasons and in your own way.  So is everyone else, eve


I was unprepared for the vastness of it; for the endless acres of barracks. I was expecting but still shocked by the things I knew well: the mounds of shoes and the mountain of human hair (bought, knowingly, by fabric companies for half a mark per kilogram with the deaths of 20 women needed to make one kilogram. ) There were the gallows. The courtyard where political prisoners, alone and naked, were  shot in the back of the head. There was the cell where Father Maximilian Kolbe died. There were the remains of the long rooms where people were gassed and burned. I saw the famous gate at Auschwitz with its cynical slogan, and the place in Birkenau where the people were sorted for death and a kind of living death. I stood in the place where people, clumped together, we're gassed. I touched the bunks where men slept packed so tight they could not turn, with diarrhoea dripping from above and rats feasting on the corpses in the mud below them. But what moved me; what gave focus

The Camino in Snatches From 40 Conversations

Buen Camino. Good walking !Nueva Zealanda! The Antipodes! So far! No Hablo Espanole. I do not speak Spanish Is this your first camino? It's my second. Or third, depending on how you count them. Last year I walked from Irun to San Salvadore. This year I am walking to Oviedo. I will complete my camino in about 5 years time. I started in Irun. You? Le Puys. Wow! How long have you been walking? Since the middle of April. Are you taking the hospitales route? It looks a bit foggy don't you think? Perdon senor/senora. Donde es el Camino Santiago? (or el albergue de peregrinos; or el supermercado; or el bano) Excuse me sir/ madam. Where is the Camino Santiago? (or the pilgrims hostel; or the supermarket; or the toilet) We have made pasta. There's plenty. would you like some? I got my arrow in the albergue in San Sebastian. The hospitalera makes them and gives them to pilgrims. Spain is so beautiful. We love it. Yes. But how are you finding the Basque

The Camino in 40 pictures.

This was a journey of 40 days. So here, corresponding approximately but not exactly to those days are 40 pictures. I took a small waterproof Panasonic camera with me and both Clemency and I took pictures with our phones. The gear, in other words was pretty basic though I am pretty impressed with the wee Panasonic. These pictures are not in order as resources for blog writing are limited but I hope they give a sense of the journey. Stop for a snack, sunrise on day 3, on the way out of Zarautz Winding up in the Camino Primitivo The top of the Hospitales Route, Camino Primitivo Bay of Biscao on the Camino del Norte The last day. Four routes: the Norte, the Primitivo, La Plata and the Frances have now joined and there is a teeming crowd of pilgrims. Walking through a forest in the early morning, we felt like the elves leaving Middle Earth Windmills infest all the high places. they're pretty impressive: huge and noisy, but it's hard to capture that i

At The Round Earth's Imagined Corners

It was my call and I decided that whatever happens next we do together. None of this one of us bussing while the other one walks lark. We walked into Santiago. Embraced the apostle. Prayed before his relics. Went to a pilgrim's mass. We queued at the Pilgrims Office and got our Compostela certificates. And then made a decision about Finisterre. There was 85 km still to walk, Clemency's ankle wasn't great and the forecast was for 3 days of rain. So we hired a car. And I use the term "car" in its broadest sense. I thought I was renting a Fiat 500 but what I got was a Smart Fortwo which is actually half a car; a whole car cut in half just behind the front seats and fitted with half an engine. It's ugly. It's noisy. It's slow. With its tiny wheelbase it handles bizarrely. There is nowhere to put anything  But it's surprisingly comfy and oddly endearing and we've put a fair few km on it. The first day we drove it to Portugal. Then A Coruna (Oh


So here we are in the Hospideria; a sort of upmarket pension built into the old seminary, just across the square from the great cathedral of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. We've made it. Both of us. I'm writing this on my phone. Don't expect technical accuracy. A lifetime ago, on July 14 we walked from Irun on the first day of our intended journey along the Camino del Norte. Of the approximately 800 or so fellow pilgrims setting out on the Camino Santiago on the same day, 700 would have been starting somewhere on the Camino Frances and the rest of us were scattered over the other dozen or so routes. About 30 started the day on the Norte. We started early on that first day with the temperatures rising from the early 20s to the mid 30s by the early afternoon. After a gentle start, the path climbed and dipped alarmingly. I sweated. I swore. I rued my lack of preparation. We climbed through a forest and down through a fishing village of simply ridiculous quaintne