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A pilgrim life

Camino Primitivo: walking from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela

Day 0

I woke up early in  the morning and was not happy to take a cold shower since there was no warm water. Brrrr, thank god that I had a reason to wake up for.There was simply no way that I would miss my bus in the center of Madrid. In order to take that bus I needed to walk to the train station, take a train to the center with all the people on their way for work or school ( needless to say that the way that I was dressed looked a little bit out of the ordinary ), once arrived in the main station I was just one switch and stop away from the busstation. I got to the busstation, now I was definitely feeling akward. When was the last time since I took a bus? I do not like to take the bus, too many bad memories. I took it a lot of times like any child to go to school, but my busline was the perfect recipy for a trauma. It would come to early or leave you waiting, whatever it could do to make your journey unpleasant. Of course it is a cheap way of transport, but you pay the rest of the price in comfort. Stressing that you would miss so you get there early, just to find out it leaves you waiting in the “tropical” weather that Belgium is known for so you can stand all the way untill home. Which was a village far away, hence the bad busline. So in the end you would be the same tired as going with the bike, but it would take even a longer travel time. The only positive about it was that you would be dry. Therefor I only took it if it rained, but Oviedo is like five hours away from Madrid. So that was out of the question, the woman of the information  stand said that I had to watch the stations 31 until 38. So we did just that and hopped on the minute he arrived.

Once I got to Oviedo I started to walk immediately in search of a herberg of Oviedo. I felt prepared with my little plan and list of herberg for the whole way to Santiago. Hehe guess how long it took me to discover the first issues with that. One hour and half, at that point I still did not found a single shell symbol of the camino and thusfor did not have a clue where I was going or suppose to be going. The other problem was that my list was from day 1 and there in Oviedo I realized that I was actually at day 0. So no address for a herberg.

Good that I know how to speak spanish, wright? So I start to ask some locals for the camino de santiago and a herberg. There I am looking for some solutions to my problem but apparently I am only talking to people who have no clue where there might be a herberg or where the camino goes. Am I really in Oviedo? Isn’t this the city where the first and authentic camino starts? So I head to the city center, thinking that I would find something near to a church or something. After all the camino is also religious or isn’t it? Jeez, I am not prepared at all. That might be true but luckely I am not so stupid because near to the cathedral I find my first shell symbol. Eureka! We are finally starting 🙂 Ow! Wait a minute, which way should I go, where does this shell points to? Godd$#*mit!! Euhm fifty-fifty wright? So I choose a directions and start to follow it. Nice, there appear to be signal at every crossroad. This is fun. It leads me to a nice place of an other church, but suddenly I have difficulties to find the next shell. So I search another street and then an other, other,… Nothing! Of course you dummy, it is the official start and the shells point to the other direction. I am learning a lot, slowly but maybe there is a change I will get to Santiago. In the end I had to take a hotel, because it was getting late and I needed my rest for the next day. The first stage of the camino.

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Day 1

I slept like a baby got the pleasure of a hot shower this time and headed down for breakfast. I was the only one to breakfast so early so I enjoyed a little conversation with the man of the hotel. He gave me some advise on how to start walking. At first I was a little bit sceptical because I knew that we where close to the next symbol, but in the end he convinced me and I took his advice. Forty five minutes later I had to confess that I already had no clue where I needed to go, so I went all the way back and started from the last shell that I saw the day before. This is started nicely. It did not take long though to forget all about that because the camino is beautiful and it is easy to enjoy the amazing landscape. I walked 30 kilometers and met some nice people all the way to my first herberg where I arrive alone. After some hours there is a french couple that arrives and we shared some conversations and dinner together. Nice people, they did the marathon of New York for their 50th brithday. Amazing! 🙂

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Day 2

The original plan is to walk until Salas, but that is only twenty kilometers. I was still feeling fresh and therefor decided to continue the journey. After Salas there is a long and steap hill to Bodenaya, I got just a basic map and no mobile nor gps. These types of surprises are normal then. 🙂 All the way on the top I met a german guy that continued to walk with me. He asked me: Are you also going to Bodenay? Ad rem I said: Yes, of course. Better go with the flow, especially if you improvise on the move. It turns out that in Bodenaya is a famous private herberg with a wonderfull host. I mean, when I was the first to enter I was greeted by the sympathic David with a smile from ear to ear. Welcome! The decorated walls and ceiling immediately demand your attetion and meanwhile you notice the celtic music on the background. You could just sense that you are in a genuine welcome home. It is a private herberg but the price is what you decide to pay. Dinner, washing of your clothes and a awakening service with soft music is all in the package. No doubt that this was something special. After we all took a shower we sat down on whatever bench that still had sunlight to enjoy a well deserved beer. More and more people were arriving at this point and staying at the herberg. Most of these people stayed together afterwards, needless to say that we all have bounded during this pleasant stay at Bodenaya.

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Day3

We filled our bellies during breakfast, took a group picture and went on our merry way. It had rained during the night, but we were dry to go in the morning. After twelve kilometers we stopped for a sandwich and a coffee. Can you imagine how good that those simple things feel after walking all the time with just the bare minimum. Every coffee just tasted like it came with a private jet from Columbia. Not so long after our first break I decided to stop at a bench where two old ladies were enjoying the view, so I could change my socks. All the rest continues, but we all walk the same way so I would catch up with them at a certain time. After this came the best part of the day, long small trails next to the mountains. Just incredible.

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Also a fun surprise when I was walking there alone, drifting away with my thoughts I encountered myself with some horny cows. Not in the way as it sounds, but just some brown cows with these huge horns that makes you think about a Cadillac in Texas. They stopped and I stopped. First I thought: Where the hell did they come from, I am walking on the road here. Aren’t they suppose to be in a field or something? It did not take long or the farmer appeared behind them making noise with a stick in order to get them moving again. Hadiyup!! Time is money even for a farmer. Let’s get this show on a row. Haha 🙂 Epic! I was happy that I was there alone, it gave the experience that little extra. I found the rest a little bit later and we walked to our end destination where we would introduce ourselves to the local “Sidra”. A typical drink you pour in such a manner that you create some bubbles and then HUP drink it all at once before these bubbles dissapear. Good times.

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Day 4

I woke up so happy knowing that my stomach was feeling fine. The biggest part of the night I was struggling with a growling stomach of all that Chorizo that we ate the night before. Boy, how did I regret that! Todaythere was a mountain pass on the program, we where going to do “Hospitales”. The hard option of this part of the camino, but defenitely the most beautiful one. ¡Vamonos! It was definitely not easy but so worth it. I got to see a sea of clouds, which was way on top of my wishlist for this journey. Happy, happy.  The world is peacefull, so obvious when you walk alone in the mountains. Not a single soul to find, how nice. I absorbed every moment of it, together with my fellow pilgrims. We walked the curves of the mountain and stopped from time to time to enjoy the view and even had encountered wild horse. Wow! That was a pleasant surprise. We took an other group picture on the top of the mountain and group moral is stronger as ever. It seems like everybody is feeling great without mentioning some aches in the legs or feet but I saw smiles where ever I looked. That is a good sign and nice to be around people like that. Needless to say for me this was the best day.

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Day 5

After the best day came the worst night. As we were arriving to a small village after a long day hiking we had to choose between a crackhouse looking public herberg or a private one owned by a crazy woman. Holy moly we took the crackhouse. I arrived as one of the last in the herberg, because as you should know I am still a Belgian. So after a long satisfying day I treat myself with beer. Santé! Anyway, let me guide you true it. So after a beer or two I entered what I think is gonna be the next filmset for a new saw movie. Hmmm, all the floor was wet, somebody of our group was cleaning it while the lady of the place was sitting there with a face expression, how should I explain this; imagine a person in a coma smiling. As it seemed if you chose to take a shower, you had to mop the kitchen because the water moves horizontal there, it does not go vertically into a drain as I think you are acustomed to. No? Quickly I jumped in the shower after I was informed that for a place with twelve beds there was warm water for 6 people. Ahum, no time to think about it or being amazed by the incredible genious it took to build it in this way. After a tiring day only a hot shower is welcome. So I undress and hurry into to the bathroom and I am confused. Did I timetravel? I felt like I was in the Wild West in front of a saloon. Why you say? Well, the typical saloon doors (That is correct I am talking about those two short flappy panels that they call doors) were the shower doors. Do you wanna play a game? O M G

well a nice rest on the bed would do me some good I thought. Then the beds. Another fine mix of two inventions. It was like a bed mated with a hanmmock. Shacky shacky, so I am not the thinnest feather so I dropped my body into the bed and felt like I was shacking it to some raggaeton music. “You break, you pay it and sleep on the floor” we hear the lady scream. She was a real peach, yet we were glad she left us to rest for a while. Then again we would see her shortly again in a bar where we were in search of some dinner. “A ver chicos” Who putted two matrasses on top of each other. Yes, you have guessed it, I was guilty of the charge. So I could explain my criminal offense to her at once. Madre mia, you get the picture wright?

The morning of day five I started alone, as you could imagine I was quickly ready to get a move on. Rain. First time to use the rain poncho, pop in the mp3 player for the first time as well and let’s head out! As I was walking and talking with an other guy from Madrid I heared somebody calling my name in a small village in the middle of nowhere. What the f? One of our friends, they were shading inside a house from the rain and got some toast with homemade jam, a coffee, a nice lady that understands the muscular facial motions also know as smiling. Aaaaaa, What a gift. It would be a nice memory to keep warm for later on the day, because we got rain and wind served all day long. I was high in spirit for the joy of discovering beautiful new landscapes and escaping alcatraz at the same gave a happy feeling. Which helped every squeecky step I took with my so wet shoes. The rest of the day was more dedicated more for some inner thought and fast walking. This since my increasingly desire to arrive at the next place and for the enormous coffe I got before. I asked for a big coffee, but seriously doubt if they confused a big cup with a bowl for soup. Hey! If you ask for big, you get big.

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Day 6

The morning of the first day I woke up with some pain but that was to expect. Anyway I am one of the lucky ones, most of the people have already aches and blisters for days. It is still dark when I leave the herberg to get money, so everybody keeps moving and I continue alone. I enjoy the time for myself. Especially in the morning, it is my favourite part of the day. Unaware that this was going to be the day of the hardest wind and rain I commence walking alone, searching my way without any tools to my aid and just the conversations I have with myself. The special part of this day is leaving Asturias and entering the province of Galicia.

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I meet up with my fellow pilgrims in some bars where we stop for a hot choco or coffee, but spend the day travelling alone. What does a person think of you might ask. Well obviously I can only speak for myself and it can be that there are similarities for other people but I do not occupy my thoughts with such questions. On that aspect I am selfish, I care about my thoughts and mind my own. As I have stated before I am on the turn, I want something else, something more. In order to achieve my goal, in order to obtain my success I act differently and I think differently. The only way to receive change is to change. So I thought of things that I want and things that I did not expect, the way of the camino I guess. The unexpected things were personally, family related. My inner concerns for some situations and my unconsious mind tried to figure out a plan in order to improve the situations. For the respect of others I do not go into details for obvious reasons. Then we have my desires, well better said my reflection of my desires as I perceive them differently as before. I clearly distinguish a desire from a wish nowadays. So where this dedication to reflections had its benefits, its progress it did not have like a life changing moment. It clarified things, it disclosed some other things and it dicovered some others. I get the impression that most of the people look for a clear and special moment for them, I can not say that I think alike. My life is turned, my goal is set, my goal is adaptive and so is my life. I am just happy to be on the wright journey, to feel, to turn, to learn, to experience, to discover, to move, to progress,… This is the beginning, this is a new phase of my life. My life that I am filling with happy thoughts, cool experiences, impulsive adventures. Great do the people say who travel the path or search similar change or turn in their life. Others do not. Who cares? 30% will hate me, 30% will not give a dam about me and 30% will love me. I am down to search the last 30% and spend my energy in them or share my experiences with them. This is how I think and it is not always perceived in a credible way, but I am not asking nobody for nothing and I do not miss out of nothing. I got myself covered and feel more things coming my way. I am an arrow. I fly to my destination without doubt, but I got to go backwards before I can launch with great speed.

We are half way of the camino as I am half way in my life, wright between my old and at the gates of the new one. Just let me observe the new surroundings and play a little in the front yard. 🙂

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