Saturday, 31 July 2010

2010: A Camino Odyssey

"She knows not where she's going
For the Camino will decide
because it was not the destination
But the glory of the ride"

And glory it was!

These comments from the pilgrims' guest book at Bar O Xardin in Muxia from "Joyce, Holland, 9th October 2008" are the best way I can sum up these past three weeks.

From having written optimistically "More tomorrow", more than two full weeks have passed. Two weeks in which I drove 4,789 kilometers (point 5), had five radio interviews- one of which was conducted by telephone while parked a bus stop - , was on TV three times (terrifying), and 20 newspaper write-ups, and in which I met many friends I didn't even know I had. I have spoken with scores of pilgrims, hospitaleros/as, people in churches, museums and tourist offices. I have screamed with joy with the owners of my favourite Pension in Santiago when Iniesta scored that oh so anticipated goal. I have been to a romeria in a tiny pueblo where I was treated like visiting royalty; I have shared several very expensive glasses of wine with a Canadian author and fellow pilgrim at the Parador Cafe with the "Million Dollar View"; I have almost learned a lesson about roads one should not go down (or up) in a two-wheel drive car. I have sat at the back of a church and listened to black-robed Benedictine monks sing at 7 in the morning as the mist rose up through the valley - and no-one even knew I was there. I have slept in the car in the middle of one of the most dramatic thunderstorms I have ever seen. I have been a resident heretic in the house of Christian journalists and their animals in a tiny pueblo and eaten some of the best burritos in my life. I have had my feet washed in a pilgrim ceremony and visited the mountain spring of an abbot who disappeared one day while meditating on the psalms only to reappear a hundred years later! I have been a guest at the house of a friend of Paolo Coelho,and who never takes off his trademark black baseball cap. I have met a Spanish lady in a dusty village who gave me her book and I found my favourite poet quoted on the back. And I have attended mass in Toledo two days running but still haven't heard that Mozarabic Rite because of ecclestical jealousy and red tape.

And I have stood in the wind and morning chill on top of the mountains in Somport to celebrate 10 years since I last walked downhill from there with the Camino to the west.

It was quite the ride! For the next couple of weeks I hope you will join me on it.


  1. Paddy will get a kick out of being described as a "Christian journalist!" He´s about as Christian as you are!


  2. OK then: One Christian and a horse of a different colour!