In Search of Santiago

A personal journey along the Camino de Santiago

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A Short Story – Why it started to fall apart on the Camino Frances (and a question)

We were full of excitement on that first day out of St Jean. It was our first time and so everything was new and just amazing. The landscape, the other Pilgrims, and oh, did I mention the landscape!Reg, Len and I were having the time of our lives. We felt like Hobbits starting an adventure!Though Len started to struggle a bit on that really steep stretch up to Hunto (Achilles Tendonitis) but some additional heel wedges helped a lot. In fact, we three were rather ‘walking wounded’ due to age, lack of exercise, being a bit (a lot) overweight, and carrying a few training injuries.You know what they say “Don’t walk your Camino before your Camino”. Well we had it seems…That first day set the tone though. In a good way. “Set the pace to the slowest man” That has been drummed into me in the Army and later in life through amazing team management books like Eli Goldratt’s The Goal, in which, Goldratt gives the example of the scout troop on a hike.The goal of Alex Rogo the Scout Leader, was to get the troop to the campground in some reasonable amount of time while keeping the group close enough together to maintain adult supervision.The constraint was identified as Herbie, the slowest moving boy in the troop. He was easily identified by the queue of boys behind him and the growing space between Herbie and the boys in front of him.We didn’t have this problem though. Our slowest member was Len, and we walked at Len’s pace.Of course there were minor irritations at times, as all three of us would want to stop at different times, to adjust boots and socks, tend to sore spots, merely take rest or to take on food and water.Thankfully we all three were in 100% agreement on water!We found through painful experience, that not enough water, and even mild dehydration would increase joint and foot pain. This was generally managed by making sure we were drinking enough and by careful use of pain killers and anti inflammatories.A doctor had given us specific advice on what to take and when. And it was working fine.Don’t think that we were being overly cautious. Len...

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The Challenges of Walking the Camino with your Best Friend!

It seemed like a great idea, but the descent into Zubiri in the pouring rain really tested the relationship……….

Even though I’d known my walking companion for years.

He’s a really interesting character with an unpronounceable Chinese name, so he goes by the nickname ‘Bean’. Originally from China, he’d moved to Thailand where we first met and he now lives in Sydney, my home town.

We did training walks together. And were Camino ‘buddies’ from the outset.

We were going to spend 40 days together, and looked forward to the experience and the bonding.

The long flight, the stopover in Paris and journey to St Jean were all without incident. No hint of the strains that our relationship would be under at times. We just enjoyed the journey and the anticipation of getting underway.

Mind you, ‘Bean’ is the quiet type and it’s hard to know what he’s thinking at times. Most of the time in fact!

Maybe I should have sensed this was not going to be an easy journey, on Day 1?

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Sharing Camino friends could be risky…

Tomas had a profound impact on me.

But Sharing Camino friends might not always work

If you’ve been in relationship for a long time, you probably have your own friends as well as mutual friends. And your friends are probably quite different from your partner’s friends. …

I’m sure the same happens on the Camino. You ‘click’ with others of a certain type.

But what if you walked your first Camino alone. And your second with your ‘life partner’? And along the way you dropped in to visit a really good friend. This happened to me last month.

Would Pat like him? Or just think he was some ancient weirdo that she could not really engage with? That was my dilemma.

But I took a chance. And a degree of risk. After all, introducing those with whom we have formed strong bonds, is really a reflection of us too, isn’t it?

For the sake of telling the story I will change names and places to avoid hordes of people seeking out Tomas. I’m not sure he would appreciate all the attention.

I met him during my first Camino last year. I walked a very slow Camino. I mean really slow.
It took me 40 days to get from St Jean to Santiago. And even then I had to jump forward a day to make up time.

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Walking with my wife could have been a mistake!

Walking with my wife could have been a mistake! I was mulling over this question as I ducked out of the little bed and breakfast early. Today was going to be a ‘big’ day and I hadn’t slept well. I needed a strong coffee from the cafe nearby….. The coffee was just what I needed and I grabbed another one to take with me.  When I got to the room Pat was still asleep. I sat quietly by the bed and took in the scene. You must have done it too? Watched your partner sleeping…. Her jet black curls and olive skin were a stark contrast with the pristine white sheets and pillow. She seemed deep asleep. Maybe dreaming ? Don’t worry, it’s not going to be ‘that’ type of story….. I settled back with my coffee and pondered that question again….. walking alone versus walking with a partner. I’d have time to think it through. She wouldn’t wake for another hour or two. You see, last year I had the luxury of walking a Camino alone. From St Jean to Santiago. A slow journey of 40 days. And one of the questions I pondered last year was the sense of selfishness that I felt. Taking 40 days out. All for me. Whilst others were left to ‘mind the store’. But it was a fantastic experience. I loved it. I was totally unplugged from my work and everyday life, other than a brief online call with my wife Pat each day. Her father was sick you see, and I guess that added to my feelings of guilt a bit. So I tried at least to give moral support on the phone each day. Even though I felt I should be at home, Pat kept insisting that I complete my Camino ‘for both of us’. And to be honest, I loved the time alone. To reflect and ponder and just enjoy the journey. It was amazing. I won’t go into it all now though. I even made a mini movie to share the experience! (Link Here) So…..This year I was walking with Pat. …. A shorter Camino. Just from Sarria. Pat wanted a ‘taste’ of the Camino without committing...

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