I guess you could say that I am set in my ways. I have a way of doing things, a way of thinking and I can be the most stubborn fucker on the planet when I want to be. So the idea of a religious pilgrimage was very foreign to me. What it meant, why people did it, what they got out of it these things were all a bit of a mystery. For my part I wanted to get to know the person I was walking with, see some of Spain, drink some nice wine and eat some good food (all of these I am very glad to say I did). That being said I will always remember the people we met along the way (though not their names as I am shit at names).

 

While having breakfast in Casal Dos Celenis we got speaking to a man from Madrid (by we I of course mean Alex who yet again was the only reason I understood what was going on around me). He was doing the Camino for the second time. A very relaxed and open man he happily told us of the first walk and how it effected him. He had not packed well and was carrying to much weight (a mistake I most definitely made) He had also chosen his shoes badly and was suffering from terrible blisters, so bad that on the last day his feet were bleeding so much that he had to take of his shoes and socks and walk in his sandles. On entering the compostela people seeing him bleeding began to applaud, they thought that he had walked that way on purpose and that it was an intended pain and sacrifice. As he sat in the Cathedral he wept uncontrollably not through pain or discomfort just from the moment. I may have no faith of my own to speak of but I can appreciate the beauty of that story and what is beyond me is the ability to put into words the serenity on the man’s face as he told it.

Chus (I think that is how it’s spelled), that’s one name I could never forget. She owns one of the most stunning properties I have ever had the privilege of staying in and by the sounds of it most of the rest of the town it’s in too. One day if I ever manage to learn Spanish I think I will have to go back and buy it from her. She might be the most friendly business women on the face of the planet. When we arrived in the town weary from a long days walk and fed up from what can only be described as a disastrous almost lunch (didn’t actually get to eat) she drove into the town to pick us up and take us the few miles to the hotel (on the outskirts of town and pretty hard to find). On hearing that I hadn’t eaten she insisted I take some fruit fresh from her own trees and offered to cook for us even  though her restaurant didn’t open during the week. Then maybe 2 hours later she again drove us back into town so we could have dinner and drinks before picking us up again. On the route into town she took us to her own home to show us the vegetable garden where all her veg comes from, while there we also met her mother a lovely old women who up until recently had grown all the vegetables herself (unfortunately due to a fall she was unable to do this much right now). This may not sound like a lot but to say she always had a smile would be vastly understating just how happy and full of life Chus is, if anyone finds themselves in the north of Spain you really have to stay with her in Casal Dos Celenis.

They were just two of so many great people we met and if not for them then the walk would have been a lesser experience. When I left for Spain I knew very little of what I was going to do and what it meant to people. Now that I am back I think I have a far better understanding and while I had no great epiphany I certainly feel better for the experience. I wrote in a card before I left the UK that life is a collection of journeys and that I was grateful to have been able to share this one, I could not have known what was to come but the words stand true and I am grateful.

 

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