Monday, May 22, 2006

end of the world as we know it

what an adventure the last few days have been.

the minute I logged off from my last post I decided to catch the bus to the next town. I t seemed rediculous to walk in the rain when I have the start of a cold, a stomach bug and little sleep....... Then while I was waiting I felt that this was an opportunity to channel my Japanese amigo, so packed my bag, put on my waterproof gear and headed out with a final "buen camino" to those waiting for teh bus.

I was wet within a few minutes but my body stayed warm and I let my wind wander and the km´s went by. My body felt ok - if weary - and after a few hours, I stopped for breakfast /lunch and saw the only other person I would talk to that day. After 30 mins I walked on and felt amazingly peaceful. I didnt "marcg" once and kept a calm and even pace - not very fast but effective enough. I took one more stop in another 2 hours for a hot chocolate and kitkat then kicked on. I started the countdown with 10km to go and found it passed quite quickly. Whenever I felt anxious the time would drag and it reminded me of the earlier lesson of mind over matter - when happy , the km´s flew by!

I finally dragged my legs into town and had a welcome shower. Finally found my comrades in the bar (of course) and I received a cheer and pat on the back for my efforts. Some had assumed that I had caught the bus or bailed out and the one I have spent the most time with said "no, Kel´s tough - she´ll stick with it"

We had a great night - the hospitalero cooked us soup that we all shared then sat around singing songs with some German´´s, French and English. Wonderful atmosphere and felt elated from surviving the day that could have been so difficult had I let it.

The next day we woke to pouring rain and whipping, gusty wind. I didnt feel ready to tackle this day alone and stuck with teh others but my mind wass et in the right place and it didnt get to me. About 20 minutes into the walk the wind was so fierce that the waterprrof cover on Mark´s bag blew off and flew into the brambles. I leapt in after it and landed in a hole full of water . Our shoes had pools of water and we were tilted into the wind to move ahead. Soon we were all in histerical laughter at how ridiculous this was! What are we doing this for??? After a long lunch where we rung out out socks and soaked up as much water from our shoes as we could we started out and the sun eventually broke through and we were able to dry a little.

In the afternoon I was aware that I felt completely peaceful. Despite what was external to me, I felt a complete peace inside. It didnt come from the sun, or the flowers or the birds - but was just there. I don´t ever recall this feeling before and it was so beautiful to meet it! what a great gift from this long long road!

The hospitaleros in the next town were really gorgeous - they had met 2 weeks prior on thier camino and while from different continents, were spending their final days together before going home to their "other" lives. THey gave me a hug goodbye after a lovely chat and wished me well. They had found some peace too - you could see it in their eyes.

Today I arrived at Finisterre - the end of the world and after 40 days of walking. When we made it to the beach a few of us stripped down to shorts and t-shirts and leapt in to the cold Atlantic. Im not a big fan of cold water but it was invigorating and cleansing and perfect. Walking alone the beach with our boots hanging from our packs and our bare feet in the sand was such a fitting end to this walk.

We shared a seafood lunch and tonight will walk to the Cape to watch the sunset and leave behind the shells and items that we carried with us from home. It is also traditional to burn something that you have carried. I have thrown out the things that I didnt want anymore but bought some insense to burn when I reflect on all that has been and all that will come.

So this is the end and the begining - what a strange and exciting place to be.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

the big test on the road to finisterre

not in a very happy place today. feeling a little sick so slept badly and now it is pouring rain - the worst since that horrible day into Los Arcos.

i guess i can now test out if ive learnt any serenity!!

That was 18km and this is 35km!! But now that I have finished the main camino im not too proud to jump in a taxi....... but ill see how i go

stay tuned

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Peregrino Competo

Hola from and very grateful and satisfied little peregrina!

After the last email I met up with a few new people and have had a wonderful few days on the approach to Santiago.

I walked the final 3 days with Jose and had lot´s of laughs and I had to try to explain english words thaht I was using to someone who used english as a fourth language!! Think we covered off "weirdo", "creepy" and "dag" before going for more high brow terms!

We left on the last day at 5.30am as Jose really wanted to walk in the night once and the sun doesnt rise til 7am so we got a few hours of dark in. I wanted to have a siesta under a tree one day too so squeezed that in on the second last day. Otherwise pretty much did everything else I hoped to. The last day took us through a few eucalyptus forests which smelt amazing and felt very comforting. The few aussies around all had to become flora experts overnight though to explain the intricate details.....

We arrived a little late for the midday pilgrim mass so sat at the back of the impressive square before the cathedral, kicked off our dirty boots and lay on our packs looking up at the cathedral of St James. This was Jose´s fantascised end to the walk and was actually really perfect. We lay there in silence for about 2 hours, mulling over all that we had done and achieved. After the adrenaline of arrival wore off we could have a few private tears. Mine were mainly because i wasnt really ready for this little wolrd to come to an end. By getting my final pilgrim stanp and picking up my compostela (certificate) I would be letting it all be over, so I procrastinated for a while to soak up my final moments as a dirty pilgrim. A few well dressed coach tour people had us in their photos I think as we looked very tired, dirty and smelly lying on the ground - but also looked very happy.

Then the friends started coming in - one by one people that I had met or talked to came out from mass, retunred from Finisterre (the fast walkers!) or arrived into Santiago for the first time. What a wonderful reunion with people with such interlinked, but unique experiences.

Splurged on a nice room last night and today had lunch with 14 people that are now like old mates. The FA Cup is on tonight (Barcelona v Arsenal) and its a fiesta day so its a great atmosphere for celebration.

Today it has started raining so that means that in my 5 weeks walking we only had 1 day and 2 half days of rain! Almost unheard of for this time of year so feel very lucky.

Off to meet up with todays arrivals and a celebration cerveza! Love to you all and thank you so much for your encouragement alone the way. The time has really flown by and I will miss this journey very much but I know that it will all stay with me for a long time and I hope you have enjoyed the view from home.

Lots of love from peregrina kellie

Saturday, May 13, 2006

65km to go!!

well, its down to the final few days and can hardly believe that I am within 3-4 days walk from Santiago. Some people are speeding up to finish it off and a few of us are slwoing down and starting to unwind a bit.

Been VERY lucky and still have not had any more rain during the day. In Galicia (region) that is known for its rain and we have had beautiful ,c lear sunny days that are quite hot. Sat in the sun with three lovely people from Holland and had lunch and walked with them the final 8km to Palais del Rei. Nice to find people who also enjoy the slower pace and basking in a bit of sunshine rather than racing to the albergue each afternoon!

So at this stage I am looking at arriving in Santiago on Tues afternoon or Wed morning (depending on how I time it) and may catch a few friends before they head home. Will have a night or two in town then walk out to Finnisterre - so named because before Chris Columbus it was considered the end of the world. Will be nice to reach the coast.

The mountains that we have passed through were really spectacular and I realised that I really like being up high - everything about it is different and it uses a whole different group of muscles. Climbing O Cebreiro involved 8km of uphill climbing that took about 3 hours. Strenuous but very beautiful - wound through little valleys and forect paths til coming out the top to an amzing view behind of the smaller mountains that we had traversed without realising. Following the ridge line to the top. Thinking that was the worst for the day I was pretty unahhpy to find a surprise hill in the afternoon that came out of nowhere and nearly killed everyone. I had a little tantrum over that one and needed a little beer to console me. Thankfully everyone else felt the same so we ended up with quite a little party. Appropriately the town name was Alto de Poio and is now known amongst our little grouap as "Top of the Poo"!

The people I know on the walk are all quite scattered but I think we should all meet up at some stage in Santiago this week and that is such a lovely part of this trip. Every new town that you walk into, you are guaranteed to run into a dozen or so familiar faces at the first bar and there is a knowing nod passed amongst peregrinos - identifiable by the sandled feet and slight limp as we shuffle to the nearest restaurant. There is something comforting about this community and something that we will all miss when we are back to being unknown and faceless in the big city.

Hve some funny stories to share and some more`pics so stay tuned - this blog will continue when the walk is down so if you are bored at work I can do what I can to keep you amused for a few minutes at least.

Ciao for now


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

New Photos

Originally uploaded by Sabihabeautiful.
Here are some new pics for your viewing pleasure. Click on this photo to go to my Flickr page. None are captioned or rotated yet so please excuse me...... will get o that in the next few weeks



Monday, May 08, 2006

210km to go

hi from the road once again. I havent been able to call home for a few days so am checking my emails in a bar on the road to Villafranca de Bierzo and have a few minutes for a quick update.

Feeling great at the moment. still getting blisters but thanksfully they don´t hurt anymore and no longer have to pierce them everynight. Tomorrow i will have been walking for 4 weeks - can you believe it!!!! Strange, sometimes thay seems much longer but then again the first week seems 20 years ago.

Met and walked with many people and many we keep running into at each stop. Was in a cafe this morning and it was like a reunion of old friends as different people wandered in for breakfast. Its like a very supportive wandering community who all look out for each other. Not sure if Ive mentioned Ernest from Amsterdam before - but he started from him front door 3 1/2 months ago and is a real character. Well he was feeling bad the other day and checked into a hotel and when someone he had met didnt see him fro breakfast he alerted the staff and they found him in a diabetic coma and had him taken to hospital!! He is ok and I saw him walking again the other day - a real fighter.

Passed over the highest point in the walk yesterday and LOVED being back in the mountains after the flat lands for the past week. We walked through the clouds and it was very eerie and beautiful. Came down about 1000 meters in the afternoon and covered 34 km. Had loads of energy after that and felt great.

Tomorrow we pss over another hill called O´Cebreiro and looking forward to that challenge. The next day we enter Galicia, a region with very strong Celtic origins and lots of rain. Think I have dealt better with my rain issues and cant wait for the new scenery.

Hope all are well and more soon

Saturday, May 06, 2006

what i am loving

the sky is HUGE and the clouds have been fluffy and white all week

the vapour trails left by the planed flying overhead. they leave big diagonal streaks across the sky

the tiny blue butterflies who sit on the ground, camouflaged til you walk near, then lift up, revealing their blue/purple wings. have to be careful to not tread on them.

the passing parade of caterpillars, bugs, millipedes, centipedes, snails and ants. easy to stop and watch them a few times a day

the sound of the wind blowing through the groves of trees by the path..... gives an eerie ghost sound

the cockoo birds that sing out from the woods. i like to answer back.

saying hi to the cows and sheep and dogs and horses in the fields that we walk by. they often come over to the fence to have a chat.

the wild flowers everywhere

the windows and doors on the mud brick houses in the little villages. taken loads of photos of them.

the cool breezes as we climb into the mountains! lovely on the face and in the hair.

the ideas that pop into my head while i am walking along that i have to stop to write down! need to remember to make time for walking and thinking when i have to go back to the¨"other" world

all for now - off to dinner. hope you are all well

love kel

Thursday, May 04, 2006

walking walking walking

wow - ive missed updating this but internet has been a little hard to get hold of for long enough and after I have checked my messages and done boring stuff like banking etc I am out of time! But today I am on a hotels computer and its a little cheaper.

Here is a quick update:

* poo issue was short lived thankfully. some people are being laid up for 3-4 days but this passed and am now feeling much better

* spent a day in leon and really enjoyed the town. met up with two others and painted the town red - found the most gorgeous bar run by an lady who loved rock music so we drank vino tinto and danced around her bar all night. booked a pension on the main square as a treat so didnt have to wake up at dawn to the rustling of eager pilgrims for once - didnt get up until 9am (ooo ahhh) heaven!

* am now less than 300km from Santiago which means that we should be at the end in two weeks! from there i want to walk out to Finisterre which will take one more week.

* our initial little walking group have split a little but run into each other every few days. hope we all get to spend time together in the next few weeks and catch up in Santiago! Marco is about a day ahead, heather has stormed in front and may see her again before she heads back to dublin and robin and becky should be in the same places as me but keep missing them.

* have met some other people who are alot of fun and getting some great ideas and nuggets of wisdom from them.

* love that every conversation that you have here cuts right to the core and we are having REAL talks rather than filling in air time. MOstly find peoples most personal info before dinner, which can be a little disconcerting but also refreshing.

* body feels ok - just a few aches and pains when the body winds down from the days walk!! blisters are there but dont really hurt. fellingmuch fitter and a 20km walk seems like a warm up now. Walked my first 36km day this week and it felt great.

* a little tired today and need some regrouping time. I am deliberately walking a lone for a few days. It really is the best time and you have all day to daydream, think, plan etc. its fun to walk with someone else and often enlightening and entertaining but that needs to be balanced and thats what I am doing now.

* after a week and a half in the meseta we are finally back in the mountains and it is lovely. tomorrow we go over the highest point in the camino - 1350 feet. hopefully the rain prediction will be incorrect.

On other news I have been accepted to the english camp thing Imay have mentioned before and that is from June 9-16. There is a company that runs intensive language training camps for spaniards and they recruit englich speakers to help with their training. Its all voluntary but I get a weeks accommodation paid for, have a laugh, meet some locals and enjoy a week in the countryside. So that gives me my next step which is nice.

So at this stage I am looking to finish the walk sometime around May 24, spend a few days in Santiago to see the town and catch up with walking friends as they come in, then walk on to Finisterre for another 4 days. I have a few people that I can meet up with in Madrid or I could walk a little of the camino to Portugal (not because I am punishing myself but it is a very cheap way to get around!).

For the summer I am toying with getting a jon in Greece or Ireland, then return to Spain when it is a little cooler.

all for now