Walking the Camino de Santiago – Dispatches From an Old Friend

Walking the Camino de Santiago is a pastime that’s been around for a good thousand years apparently!

As walkers and climbers, I suppose we all have to look our age in the eye one day and face up to the fact we ain’t youngsters any more.  All the parties these days involve decades 5, 6, 7 and even 8!  (Dennis at 80 could give a few of you a run for your money on the Camino).  Many years ago I went out for agood while with a lady called Heather.  She came out walking and scrambling with me a couple of times, but in my absence she had really got into walking on her own account.

As the circles of life turned and circumstances changed, we started bumping into each other  quite often.  We have been in contact quite regularly in recent years and become quite good friends again.   Well Heather hit one of those milestones that comes up… and retired from the main phase of her gainful employment.

To mark her escape she had been plotting a mega walk, in this case the Camino de Santiago.

I let Heather take up the story…

Hi Everyone. 20 mins for 1 euro, I can do this!  No proof reading, accept mistakes and typos.

Blister count – half – I´m nipping it in the bud.

Train journeys – if you like two days in a closed environment with too much heat and feeling sick, this is for you.  Next time I´ll go by magic carpet.

St Jean Pied de Port is a special place and I thoroughly enjoyed my day pootling about, drinking juice, looking at the basque linen for sale at the market and enjoying a long conversation with a Swiss gentleman in a cafe who bought me a cup of coffee as long as I sent some postcards for him in Spain.  No prob!  It was a magnificent conversation as we both were reasonable in French and Spanish and no sentence was formed in entirely one language!  Excelente! or should that be excellent (+ French accent, naturellement).

Last night; in the Esprit du Chemin hostel for pilgrims, was extra special.  I ws in a room of three (only!) but had to share it with a large Austrian gentleman.  I can share a room with 100 others but just one man is a bit – um, strange.  I didn´t sleep very well, too excited (at the Camino, silly, not at sharing a room with strange man!  )

We had one superb meal, with traditions, and introductions – twenty of us – and wine and I know I don´t drink but I do now.  And the conversations in French, English, Spanish, German were incredible … with anyone who can do more than two languages in a translator-role; though whether it´s like Chines whispers, don’t know.

Suffice to say that I understand the Spanish conversations (YES!!!), have spoken more of both than in my life and THANKS YOANA and I´m so happy about it, maybe my Camino is for my languages.

Please, if you want to meet people when abroad and doing walks and whatever, and want to exchange ideas, anything – work at the languages – it´s a blessing!

Brent, Martin, Roanne – I wish you were here – this is an amazing experience.  There is a mum walking with her son and daughter and I swear the daughter looks older than the mama.  Roanne, I´m sorry I was so taken aback when you suggested coming but if you give up the coaching now, you can get to Pamplona which I should hit in a couple of days or so.  Come – Roanne, Martin, Brent!  But you must get a pilgrim credential.

Today was sheer magic.  Since we all knew each other now from the Esprit du Chemin, we almost felt like a group.  It´s meant to be the hardest day so maybe I should whisper that although it was 27 km going up to 1400 metres, I didn´t find it hard.  Just magic.  Especially when we came across an albergue half way up and had morning coffee!  Yes!!  Please set something up on the slopes of Helvellyn, someone.

It´s an albergue of 100 beds in one room tonight, folks. But, all of you who remember how good I am at falling out of top bunks can rest assured I´m in a bottom.

Abrazos fuertes a todos


Heather has promised to email more updates as she hits the cyber hot spots along the route of this spiritual journey.  Please pop back often to see what’s going on.