I walked into Santiago de Compostela, the same way that thousands of pilgrims have done before me. The biggest surprise was being there so quickly on the day I arrived. We walked through Monte del Gozo, only stopping for lunch, and continued down into the city. We had made plans to meet with another pilgrim and they had sent us a text message telling us where they were staying.
The four of us (Bob, Rowena, Chard and me) have now completed more than half our tour of duty here in Rabanal. We are scheduled for departure one week from today and are all a bit nostalgic about it. We agree that the experience has been good for each of us and take great pleasure from the fact that the vast majority (maybe all) of the pilgrims passing through our doors have left us with smiles on their faces and warmth in their hearts.
I wonder if there if something that for many of us we do not get from our daily life. I have met and talked to many people who have walked the Camino Frances more than once. Walking the Camino Frances is a fairly big commitment in the way of time and money.
I got thinking on this yesterday while out hill walking in the Wicklow Hills. I notice a Santiago de Compostela badge attached to one of the walkers back packs. I asked, as I have a tendency to do.
Dara Haskins was my friend. He died, on the 18th Aug 2005 aged just 30, while I was walking the Camino in 2005. It was due to him that I found out about the Camino. He used to go on about this bloody walk in northern Spain. To me it did not sound like fun, but hell. The idea of walking every day for weeks, no room to myself, sharing in hostels with many others – not a way I thought to spend a precious summer. Eventually he convinced me. I had many misgivings about the whole idea, but I set off to start from St Jean in southern France. My life has changed as the result of this and, I suppose therefore, because of Dara. It does sound strong to say life changing, but for a cynic like me it has been.
The first time I walked the Camino I had no idea about foot care, I had never walked for more than a few days before and that had been when I was much younger. I walked a couple of long walks in my boots before heading off on the Camino and I got some blisters on the heals of both feet, they healed and left some hard skin around the heels, but I never though that would cause me a problem – it did – and a very bad one.