A Travellerspoint blog

A sweet note from a fellow pilgrim....

...communication between pilgrims along the Way

dear Wilna

Today I got so many things.
Any way I am still on my cammino.

I want to talk with you so much!

See you, may be, on the day after tomorrow.

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Religios refugio -- a bed by the window!

WHERE ARE YOU??????
I thought everyone was meeting here tonight --- good kitchen! but I understand from Yana that you continued to Musilla --- I am so sorry!! Also wanted to talk to you tonight!
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A pilgrims' fuente -- fountain -- a welcome vision along a long lonely walk

Today was the most amazing experience --- I slept in Hermanilos last night and walked that solitary road across the Meseta today all alone --- not another soul anywhere -- it was the most wonderful day -- so close to nature -- so beautiful.
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Yana -- once I had introduced her to Baileys and ice!

And I was really looking forward to sharing some of that with you tonight!

Daniella and Karin (Dutch girl) have just arrived and Daniella has terrible stomach cramps --- really seems quite ill.

Apparently Thorston has gone by train to Leon to have his tooth fixed.

So --- I considered walking the 6 kilometers to get to you guys tonight -- but we will meet in Leon tomorrow night??? Not sure which albergue???? How will I know? -- I really would like to meet with you tomorrow.

Have a good night tonight my friend --- I hope there are nice people in the refugio -- and hopefully we shall see each other tomorrow night.
Buen Camino!

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When crossing the meseta, a lone forgotten bicycle can become the Devil himself in disguise------------tempting-------------very tempting-------------

Posted by Lalinde 09:39 Comments (0)

Ponderings on the way

not too often I get an internet along the way -- they are there but mostly do not work or are so slow and archaic that it is just not worth the effort.

Not that there is not so much much to tell and write down --- rest assured -- it is quite obviously why everyone who does this pilgrimage feels the needs to write a book about the experience.

And tonight my fingers are completely frozen so the spelling may leave a lot to be desired..........
the temperature outside is way below zero and yesterday and this morning it snowed -- with a strong wind which is blowing straight off the snow capped mountains lying to the north and in front of me now ---
in a day or two I will be going up those mountains and it is quite interesting how it is an exciting rather than a frightening thought.......
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the camino must be getting to me after all......

My one fellow pilgrim, Akira, is leaving tomorrow from Asturga to Madrid from where he is flying back to Japan tomorrow night --- we have walked together these last two days and tomorrow he will walk the last 15 km to Asturga ( Nici will no doubt correct the names as she follows my route on Google earth -- and I do so get the Spànish names completely wrong --- but really -- somehow it is just not important which town or village I am in, nor what day of the week or date it is.........) --- anyway -- he will walk the 15 km to there to catch a bus to Madrid and off to Japan tomorrow night... Most of the rest of the fellow pilgrims I have met on the way stayed behind in Leon two days ago to sight see and visit dentists and do all those sort of things..
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I had to have my shoes repaired --- they started top show some wear and I was concerned about the snow and rain ahead -- and I was so lucky to find a cobbler who really knows his stuff --- he practically took my shoes completely apart and rebuilt them on the sides where the problem was -- 45 minutes he worked without a break -- and what did he charge me -- Euros 4!!! quite quite amazing! One never ceases to be surprised by the incredible things that happen on the way of Santiago.IMG_2055.jpgIMG_2046.jpg

I have to admit to you all that I have had two really bad days--- -- going into a city is never a pleasant experience, but going into Leon was a day in purgatory. Having to walk alongside huge national motorways with large trucks and cars going at 150 kph flying past one, is not an experience I wish on anyone --- especially when your feet are on fire and your legs feel wonky and you have just walked 30 km over stones and more stones and more stones.
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And a lot of the way the ´way´was literally the ditch along the highway -- so a matter of balancing on one incline then the other, rubbish strewn all the way and often foul smelling water running in the ditch between your legs.
----I took pics --- yes, you know what that means --- I intend to write to the king of Spain and tell him what I think of this bad treatment of pilgrims.... Usually when one gets close to big roads --- fortunately not very often -- the truck drivers are very sweet and honk on their horns once or twice and wave to the pilgrims --- it is encouraging and heartening --- but when it happens along the national highways, it means the honking nearly deafens your right ear and leaves it singing for half an hour later and they are going much too fast and too close for you to take your eyes off the ditch for one second to wave back. Not good.

Then -- Leon was absolutely beautiful and I had a moment to go look at the most amazing cathedral there, -- and the refugio in Leon was a Benedictine monastery -- which meant curfew at 9pm straight after vespers -- and also meant women and men slept apart which was pure bliss --- no snoring!!!! --- but also meant breakfast at dawn -- IMG_2027.jpgbefore 6am --- and no talking in between lights out and lights on --- but once again leaving the city is nightmare. It takes about two hours to get out of the city -- and usually through the worst part of the city -- the industrial parts where signs are often difficult to find and one can easily take the wrong route. Fortunately I did not, but, immediately after the first village outside the city., I did take the wrong turn -- could not find a yellow arrow or a shell sign anywhere, and continued walking regardless -- as there were some footprints in the mud and that is always a sign pilgrims when that way before you. I continued walking for about 6 km and came to an area where there were a lot of new houses -- but obviously not a village -- no church or bell towers with stork nests and storks tuck-tuck-tucking away--- and when I finally found a person to ask where i was, the poor man was totally confused. I was so far off the Camino track he did not even know how to advise me to get back on it. The only thing I could do was turn around ---. the nightmare of any pilgrim --- and get back to the point where I had gone wrong. Difficult to explain what that does to ones spirit. The way is hard and demanding enough --- but to walk backwards is killing. And all of a sudden your 24 km walk of the day becomes a 34 km walk for the day --- a huge difference --- especially when you body is already sore and your feet already pulp.

Anyway, I got to the village where Akira and I had agreed to meet last night and there he was -- the only other pilgrim in the Refugio, with a glass of wine ready for me, a chair by the heater (the temperatures have suddenly fallen drastically and the streams are frozen and the hoar frost on my fleeece making long silver strands that are beautiful...) and he cooked the most amazing meal for the two of us ---a cauliflower and carrot soup (trust me, it was divine!) and fish and rice --- I went to bed last night and for the first time since starting the camino, slept right through the night. Bliss. IMG_2148.jpg

This morning he taped my feet for me --- Japanese style -- and how I wish I had known of this technique before!!! --- and for the first time in days every step was not pure agony --- and we walked at an easy pace the 18 kilometers to this refugio --- the oldest refugio on the camino, built in the 11 th century and just the most gorgeous little place. There are about ten other pilgrims, but it is one of those evenings where i cannot even be bothered to find out where they are from or where they started or who they are... The hospitalero, Freda, is a gorgeous vivacious dynamo of a woman, probably my age, from, Belgium, who did the camino and wanted to come back and go the job as hospitalero here --- charming and interesting and lovely. Akira and I shared our bottle of wine with her --- sitting outside in the freezing courtyard and sharing stories and friendship and wine. The way of the camino.

This continues to be an incredible experience. I realise more and more that one cannot -- not ever-- explain or describe to anyone else what the experience is like. Everyone´s camino is their personal pilgrimage. Everyone experiences different things in different ways. See different things along the way. Lives a different reality. Everyone understands different signs differently. Interprets different events according to their own frame of reference, to their own life experience and history.
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But everyone´s life is changed by it.

I look forward to coming home and writing about my camino. and sharing with you all what it meant to me. What I experienced. What I lived over these five six weeks.
One thing I do know is that I so wish that everyone of my friends could live this camino with me. It is so incredibly wonderful --- such a unique privilege to be doing what I am doing.

It is something everyone should have the opportunity once in their lives to do.

For now, I think I must go warm my fingers and possibly go go to bed early tonight and hope for a quiet night with not too much snoring in the dormitory and too often that the blanket slides off the top of my sleeping bag and leaves my waking up a little ball of ice..... and tomorrow morning at 6 I shall bid a sad farewell to my fellow pilgrim Akira and see him on his way as he sets off with his torch, long before the the sun fights its way through the mist and the birds start to sing, and then later set off myself on the next wonderful stage of the Camino --- yet another day and another 30 km closer to Santiago.
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Buen Camino
and Keep the Spirit Alive!

Posted by Lalinde 03:58 Comments (0)

A quick update in a pistachio nutshell

I find myself in Caldizilla de la cuerna (or something!) and although one of the smallest hamlets yet, here is internet! But very basic --- I suspect there is a little boy behind the wall blowing on the coals to keep them going to provide the steam to generate the power to work this very archaic piece of equipment --- except one never sees little boys --- or little girls -- no children in this country -- no idea where they are.

In fact no idea where the people are --- I continue to walk through one village after the next that looks like an abandoned set on the Universal studios plot -- ghost towns all of them. Very eerie. Far off in the distance one sees big trucks on the highways and occasionally one hears a train somewhere in the distance (no -- to be honest, I have only heard a train twice -- or is that two trains?) but no people! Just in the big city such as Burgos were there lots of people --- lots of traffic and smells and noise as well, and hard to stay calm! One forgets very quickly what it is like to live in a word full of people.
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Today was another exquisite experience -- walking the last more than 18 kilometers on a relatively straight and almost flat path (very stony! everywhere very stony! Impossibly and agonisingly stony!) across a landscape so beautiful it takes your breath away. The skies -- which have been pouring buckets on me these past few days, were alive with blue grey white charcoal clouds in magnificent formations and every now and then a bright spot light of sun breaks through making the green fields and red clay mud and and almost black trees that dot the horizon such vivid and intense colours that you have to stop and look and look again.

(This part is a plateau and because of its flatness, the guidebooks warn that you might get bored. Bored? I shake my head at such a thought -- and wonder about mankind........ but this is an update, not a dissertation, so mum's the word......for now)

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Such bliss this morning being able to stop and sit down and take the back pack off for a little while and enjoy my feast of sausage and bread and fruit --- I found these last few days with all the constant rain one has to continue and somehow then forgets to stop to eat --- and while I sat there just enjoying the splendour of this incredible countryside, a little cat --- so gorgeous in snow white and tiger stripes and the most captivating yellow eyes came out of nowhere, ´talking´all the way -- all the time --- little happy meows ---- and sat on my leg to be stroked and cuddled. Every now and then she would hop off and go hunt an insect or throw a stone in the air and try to catch it and then come back for more cuddles. It was so special! I have no idea where she came from -- there was nothing for miles and miles --- really nothing -- no farms, houses, no villages --- for 18 kilometers this Way of Aquitaine as it is called is completely bare of human life. Just kilometre after kilometre of newly sewn or newly ploughed wheat fields. When it is was time to get up and put my food away and return the ruck sack to my back, I was worried the little cat would follow me --- not sure what I would have done if she did. But she stayed and sat on the side of the path watching me until we could no longer see each other. I think perhaps she was the soul of another peregrina of another time...IMG_1555.jpg

My aches and pains have become part of the daily existence. There but not unbearable. Early morning is the hardest -- if hard it is at all. Until I have warmed up after a few kilometers, the feet hurt, the knees hurt, the back feels the weight of the bag. Then all the hurt disappears as the mist starts to lift and the muscles and joints warm up -- and only late in the day when the body senses a refuge ´s wide open welcoming door close, the feet start complaining again -- not from the walking or the constant bearing of weight mile after mile,. but from the ever-present stones! There must be more stones under foot on this walk than there are stars in the sky. And of course with the rain, one has to look extra carefully where to put your feet on every step -- the soil is such clay -- clinging to the soles of the shoes and making you feel after a little while like you are walking on stilts!
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But what amazing things these boots of mine are! Last night, after three days of solid rain, they were so wet they must have weighed about seven kilograms each -- but inside they are as dry as bone -- brilliant! Yesterday was a 45.7 kilometres walk --- the longest yet for one day! --- not by choice, I assure you -- but because there was not a single refuge open. I eventually ended up in a little hostal -- a very basic little hotel --- and had the amazing luxury of a bath!!!!! with hot hot water!!!!! --- after a very very strange experience.

There are so many little anecdotes and myths and legends about the devil appearing to pilgrims and trying to steer them off course (or some such wicked things) --- well, my friends, I saw him last night. From far far away I saw this strange sight -- a man standing in the middle of the road which was running alongside the pilgrim´s path. He seemed not to move even when cars came past -- just stood there holding an umbrella. I thought it must be a mirage --- too many kilometers in one day -- I had been walking almost 11 hours and was obviously hallucinating. But when I got closer I saw that it was in fact a man -- smartly dressed with black trousers and black leather shoes, a white shirt and tie and what looked like an expensive raincoat. He was holding an umbrella over his head, but --- regardless of the cars passing at speed and him having stood in the middle of the road, his clothes seemed incredibly dry! A big bald head with longish hair curling over the back of his raincoat, a big nose -- he really did look like a good model for a stone gargoyle... When I came close to him, he walked across the road towards me and fell in step with me on the pilgrim's´way --- stones (have a mentioned the stones???!!) and mud and all -- and him in his smart black leather shoes. He asked me where I had walked from and when I told him he would not believe me that I had walked so far. He then said there is no refuge open in the next village --- about another kilometer or so. I said I know there is a refuge open --- one has to get the key from the bar across the square. He said no -- I will have to come and stay in his house. Now this is of course all in Spanish and I am afraid that my Spanish is not even ten words better than it was when I started this journey... I said no thank you I will stay in the refuge. He got angry and said the refuge is closed and if I pay him (much rubbing of fingers and mention of dinero´s) I can stay in his house. I said again no thank you. He then returned to the more comfortable tarmac of the road and started walking a little faster than me. When I arrived wet and tired at the bar across the square about half hour later, guess who was standing at the bar, drinking a glass of wine, but the gargoyle man himself. I went up top the bar owner and asked for the refuge key and he said no, refuge closed. I said it has to be opened upon request but he shouted at me and told me to go to the next town )another ten kilometers) -- there was no room for me in this village. Well --- I could see why a pilgrim would lose their way or renounce their faith or do something silly --- not hard to be tempted to do anything when you have walked 11 hours in the pouring rain and cold and mist and past that many closed refuge doors, but you would be proud of me --- I smiled and turned around and walked to the other side of the town and booked into a hostal --- THE hostal of BATH!! and HOT WATER!! fame!!

Fortunately for me I so love the rain --- and the pitta patta sound of the drops on my poncho provide a wonderful background rhythm to the squelching of my boots in the mud and my stick marking the pace. I am just so grateful that the rain did not come before in the mountainous parts where going up hill and downhill could have become a tricky -- if not hilarious maneouvre!

I have not even started to talk about my epiphanies, or my many moments of tears -- of joy and wonder and awe --- nor have I brought you up to date of my fellow pilgrims ---
there is so much to tell and share -- but for tomight this is all, folks! --- I shall now go wash my clothes and then go look for a little place

Please keep the little text messages and msm´s coming --- they are fantasticly encouraging and energising!

Lots of love to you all..................

Keep the spirit alive! And Buen Camino!

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Posted by Lalinde 03:38 Comments (0)

A note from Sacha

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“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favour from the gods with great delight, as if it were an episode you would remember for the rest of your life. At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them, and you feel happy to be alive… always walk forward, adapting oneself to new situations and receiving in return all of the thousands of blessings that life generously offers to those who seek them.” – Paulo Coelho

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Thanks Wilna for all your email updates and information - can't wait to hear all about it in person. Wishing you all the best and that your experiences continue to be more than you could hope for.

Happy & Safe travelling
Sacha xxx

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Posted by Lalinde 03:03 Comments (0)

And in case anyone wonders what made me keep on walking.....

This from Terrie, to whom I had dedicated my Camino, on January 28:

When I was at the tennis recently there was a young man with the following words on his T shirt " death is not an option". I commented to my sister that I would like a T shirt with that message on it.

Well, my friends, it's good news. Today I went to see the oncologist who had the results of my recent CT scan and blood tests. He was able to show me the scan on his computer screen. It shows that all the tumours have either disappeared or are dead (it's an OK option for those little suckers!) How about that!

When I commented that that might mean he was out of a job, he cautioned me not to be so hasty. Yes, they are gone after three months of chemotherapy treatment, but he recommends that I stay on chemotherapy for another nine months. He says that research shows that patients on treatment live longer than those who are not, and that we should remember the saying "when you're on a good thing, stick to it". That was a Mortein ad, wasn't it? Anyway the 'living longer' argument certainly has some appeal, so I agreed to continue on the chemo for another 9 months.

He has taken me off one of the three chemo drugs that I have been on - the one that destroyed my platelets. So hopefully the platelet count will increase and I won't have to keep eating black pudding! Actually, to be truthful, I stopped a while ago. It was too much - eating it every single day.

So, it's back to the chemo regime tomorrow morning, bright and early at 8am. It hasn't stopped me going to Melbourne to the tennis, or body surfing at Wollongong City Beach and beating my brother-in-law to the sand on a couple of waves! So, I guess I can live with it for a while. Periodical scans will keep an eye on things and if it's still all clear after 9 months then I guess I can have a break.

Thank you all for reading my news and for the support you always provide for me. I believe my excellent results are a combination of many elements, not the least being the magnificent support, encouragement and friendship I get from you all.

I'll talk to you all again soon.

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Posted by Lalinde 23:59 Comments (0)

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