Wednesday, September 02, 2015

ON THE ROAD AGAIN - September 2015

One more sleep and I will leave for Spain to walk a short section of the Camino Frances with a group of pilgrims, and serve as a hospitalera in a pilgrim shelter for two weeks.

amaWalkers Camino has 6 groups walking the Camino this year - 4 on the 'Best of Both' Camino Frances route from St Jean to Santiago, and 2 on the 'Complete Your Camino' from Logrono. 
Marion is leading the September 'Complete Your Camino' and I will walk with her and the group as far as Burgos where I will leave them to go to the ruined monastery of San Anton where I will serve in a small shelter for 12 pilgrims until 27th September.

Marion and me on the Camino Ingles - 2009

Marion is an experienced Camino trekker.  We met in 1997 at the start of a 50km walk from Inchanga to Durban.  We walked the route together and remained friends.  In 2000 we ran the Comrades marathon together.  In 2001 we walked the Coast to Coast in England, in 2006 the Via Francigena from Switzerland to Rome, in 2007 the Camino Frances from Roncesvalles to Santiago and in 2009 from Lourdes to Pamplona on the Aragones route and the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago.  Next year amaWalkers is leading 4 groups on the Via Francigena and Marion will be one of the group leaders. 

We meet in Logrono on Friday.  The rest of the group should all be there by Saturday and we have planned a visit to the castle of Clavijo on Sunday, about 18km south of Logrono, where Saint James was first seen as Santiago on a white horse, brandishing his sword at the battle between Christians and Moors, slaying thousands of the enemy. The legend was first written about 300 years after the supposed battle took place and is one of the many legends of Saint James and Santiago.

Santo Domingo de Silos - home of  Gregorian Chant

On Monday we will start walking westward towards Santiago stopping at Navarrete, Najera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Belorado, San Jaun de Ortega and Burgos.  I will leave the group in Burgos and they will have an overnight excursion to Santo Domingo de Silos where the monks made Gregorian chant famous in the 1990s.  They return to Burgos the next day and continue walking west for 15 more days, leaving out the sections they walked when doing the 'Best of Both' Camino and arriving in Santiago on 27th September. 

The atmospheric pilgrim shelter at San Anton was created in 2002 by Ovid Field who has a pension in Castrojeriz.  It sleeps 12 pilgrims in 6 double bunks and has beds for 3 hospitaleros in a container, tucked under the ruined walls.  Many shelters in the middle ages catered for 12 pilgrims which is symbolic of the number of apostles.  There is no electricity and no running water. 
This is the notice I received about the shelter: 

"THIS IS A VERY LAID-BACK PLACE. There is no strict schedule and no real “rules” except a ban on smoking indoors, littering, drug use, excessive noise, and the ever-present water shortage.
This is a DONATIVO albergue. No one is turned away for lack of funds, and we do not make any suggestions regarding how much a stay is worth. Show the pilgrims where the donativo box is, put it on the table at breakfast time, and leave it at that.   

Gates are open from 8 a.m to 10 p.m. Anyone can come or go during that time, you should give everyone a smile and a welcome.  Groups of people CANNOT line up to use the toilet, as we do not have water capacity for that.  Pilgrims can take rests at San Anton, but no one can use the shower who is not staying overnight. No camping is allowed. Animals are admitted according to your judgement; owner is to clean up after them.

You are expected to make a dinner each day for pilgrims, using the simple ingredients on hand. The stove is a four-burner, powered with Butane. Have someone show you how to change the butane bottle if you don’t know how – it isn’t hard, but there is a knack to it.  The kitchen is pretty well equipped to serve 12. Be sure to find out if you have vegetarian guests before you start cooking! Breakfast is served at 7 or 7:30 am., nothing elaborate.
We would like to make a special effort this year to maintain the niches in the arch across the road outside. The Antonine monks who lived at San Anton used to leave food out there for pilgrims who arrived after the gates were closed. They now are used by pilgrims as a place to leave little offerings, prayer requests, or notes of thanksgiving. Please keep them orderly; replace faded flowers, pull weeds, etc. If so inclined, offer prayers for the requests left there. "

Kevin Duke from Durban is serving there from the 1 - 15 September and I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days with him during the hand over.

I will arrive in Santiago on 27th September and will meet up with 6 peregrinas from Jon's 'Best of Both' group.  We are flying to Barcelona the next day and will spend a night there.  Viator tickets for a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia have been booked. 


When we visited last year the queue was so long that we couldn't get inside and I'm making sure that this time we will skip the queues and spend time inside the cathedral.
This is going to be a very different Camino experience for me as it will be the first time in 10 Caminos that I won't be walking into Santiago.  But, there are many layers to the Camino and each one has been different, each one offering a unique experience.
Roll on Friday!!


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