My Camino 2005

During the summer of 2005 a friend and I walked over 500 miles along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela across Northern Spain. A 1000-year-old Catholic pilgrimage route completed by millions of peregrinos (pilgrims) over that time. Nowadays many like our selves, are non-catholic and walk for our own spiritual reasons.

The traditional pilgrimage pays homage to the Apostle James whose reputed remains lie in the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Completing the pilgrimage, frees the soul of sin (karma) and eases the journey to Heaven. The name Compostela relates to the field of the stars under which the route takes you, following the Milky Way as it travels from east to west in the night sky.

We began our journey just over the French border in Saint Jean Pied de Port and faced the tough challenge of crossing the Pyrenees in the first two days.

An auspicious sign greeted us: a golden eagle swooped down across our path only 50 metres ahead.

The route was clearly marked with yellow arrows at every junction: someone had walked 500 miles with a can of yellow paint! We were accompanied by peregrinos from all over the world, especially Europe. Conversations were in a mixture of languages, nik-named it Camino-speak.

Pilgrim Monument on Alto de Perdon, near Pamplona

 

Accommodation was in purpose build albergues (refugios) or pilgrim hostels, usually in shared dormitories of up to 130 people in bunk beds. These albergues brought us many challenges and lessons to work on: lack of privacy, insufficient showers and toilets, acceptance, flies, snoring, inconsiderate talking late at night, occasional lack of hot water for showers, noisy cows and olfactory challenged rural villages with even more flies and washing clothes in village fountains. The more challenging the conditions, the more entertaining it became and humour became dominant.

Our route took us through the cities of Pamplona, Burgos and Leon, then on to Santiago and finally to Finisterra (meaning end of the Earth) on the coast. Every morning we walked for up to 6 hours and although we were in each other’s energy, we chose to walk in silence in our own thoughts and contemplations. Each day we chanted Sanskrit mantras silently together to remove obstacles to our lives, bringing in Divine creation and to balance and strengthen our chakras.

For the most part we were walking in nature and it was wonderful to have the time to watch the stunning colours of a butterfly, or a mother swallow feeding her 3 babies or to watch a caterpillar or column of ants crossing our path on their own Caminos (journeys) or to just admire the changing landscape.


Triple Bunks in one Albergue

 

We had some amazing experiences:

At Eunate, a remote 12th century Templar church, with wonderful energy, the albergue hospitalier washed our feet and after a communal meal, led a small group in candle lit prayers in the church. Several joined in saying prayers in French, German and English.

On another occasion someone played Bach on a flute and another time classic Spanish guitar.

In Leon cathedral we sat in the nave just after opening time and allowed ourselves to be bathed in the energy of the sun shining through its magnificent stained glass windows. Leon cathedral has more glass than stone in its construction.

We took a detour for 3 days to hear the Gregorian chants of the monks at San Domingo de Silos and spent hours examining the intricately carved capitals in the monastery cloister – one of the finest in the world, trying to connect with the hidden mysteries they contained.



12th Century Templar Church at Eunate

Later we stayed at a modern Benedictine monastery, enjoying some fascinating and insightful conversations with Father Javier, who, before becoming a monk, was a professional pianist and the monastery was filled with his beautiful playing on several occasions.

At Finisterra at the end of our Camino we ceremonially burnt some of our clothes, and allowed the waves to wash over our feet bringing in the new. Our last evening was heralding with a most spectacular sunset.

It was an opportunity to clear out the old, deal with un-dealt-with issues, think, contemplate, connect with nature, our inner selves and with spirit and move a little further along our ascension pathways.

If you have ever considered walking the Camino, then just do it. It is a fantastic, life changing experience.Thank you Diana for your companionship, support, wisdom and extremely amusing diary entries!

 

 

On this web site you will find a summary of our journey and details of our day to day stages with several hundred photographs



Sunset at Finisterra - our last night

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