Friday 26 June 2009

Unwinding nicely

I am unwinding nicely and relaxing in the depths of the English countryside. The weather has been glorious and sunny and I go for gentle strolls with my daughter in law and grandson. It is idyllic, a perfect post-Camino re-entry into the real world.

I haven't been able to download my photos yet, as soon as I do so I shall start my Camino posts. I'm back in Brazil next Thursday, so if I haven't started before I shall certainly start posting then. I'm explaining this as I know how frustrating it is to follow someone's blog before their Camino and then they just disappear. I shan't do so, at any rate.

Thursday 18 June 2009


Well, I´ve finally made it! Arrived yesterday, very hot and tired. It has been the most incredible experience, enriched by the many people I met along the way. I walked 790km in 35 days, and still don´t believe it. There are many mixed feelings at the end, relief, tiredness, a sense of achievement and feeling a bit lost.

I had nothing stolen, no bedbugs and no blisters, no real problems (although The Beast continued to trouble me until the end), just the occasional minor irritant. The only thing I lost was a deodorant, due to my own forgetfulness. I feel I´ve been very lucky because many pilgrims had serious foot and leg problems (due to lack of preparation and training?), and even boots stolen. Right up until three days before the end I was fine, but then I developed tendonitis in my left leg, and was really struggling the last few kilometres. That will teach me not to take my lack of problems for granted, I was being too smug!

Well, I have my compostela, I´ve been to the pilgrim mass and embraced St James. Tomorrow I´m off to Finisterre for the day by bus, then overnight to Madrid and flying to London to visit my son, daughter-in-law and grandson. When the dust has settled I´ll start my day-by-day account (with photos) as hopefully I feel it might be useful to a future pilgrim.

I´ve learnt quite a few lessons on the Camino. I´ll have to digest it all before making any comments, but one thing I´ve learnt is that if I hesitate or dither about going into a bar in a tiny village when I´m thirsty, I may well go thirsty for quite a few kilometres more. If you want or need something, go for it!

One thing which has been really strange, almost spooky, is that every time I needed something it turned up. When I was running out of soap I was offered a bar by another pilgrim who had had to buy a pack of three. When my credencial was nearly full I was offered a photocopied page out of the blue. When I really felt I couldn´t go another step in the hot sun there would be a stone under a tree for me to sit on. Those are just a very examples of things that were happening almost on a daily basis. Just like getting virtually the last bottom bunk nearly every day. I only slept in a top bunk three times during the whole Camino.

So, these were just a few comments and feelings, I´ll start posting properly soon, I promise!

Thursday 4 June 2009

Taking a break

I decided to take my first day off yesterday, instead of walking I played the tourist in Leon, having a good look round without The Beast. The cathedral is magnificent, the stained glass windows unbelievable. The rest did me good as I´d been walking every day for twenty days, doing at least 20km a day and sometimes a fair bit more, arriving feeling pretty bushed, especially on a hot day. Today I did 23km without any problem. I reached the albergue by one o´clock and felt fine.

I haven´t really encountered any wildlife (apart from birds) so far, unless you include sheep and cows in that category! The birds are wonderful, singing their hearts out all along the way, and so many steeples and other high places have storks nesting, a lovely sight.

Talking of sheep, you find yourself doing things on the Camino you wouldn´t dream of doing at home. After a particularly long hot day I staggered into a small village, where there was nowhere to sit and very little shade, so I just plonked myself down on the pavement scrunched into a narrow strip of shade from a building. While I was sitting there a shephard came past with his flock and I nearly got trampled by the sheep. I took a photo and just continued sitting there as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The road in front of me had been covered in droppings even before I sat down, and I never noticed.

There are 299km to go, now I am getting psyched up for the mountains I´ll reach in a few days. This will be the more strenuous part of the Camino, but I think I´m ready for it.