Thursday, November 23, 2006

2002: El Camino de Santiago de Compostela: ± 800kms across Spain


I was no sooner back from a wonderful walk across England when I started planning for the biggie - el camino de Santiago de Compostela - the way of St James in Spain.
I started off by doing two 6 month courses in Spanish and could say: Hola, Soy Silvia, Somos ingelese, un Café Americano por favor and Dove correos? We joined the Ramblers Club and hiked most Sundays to get used to cross country walking.

We flew to Madrid, got a bus to Pamplona where we spent a night and then got a local bus to Roncesvalles, a monastery complex in the Pyrenees Mountains. We walked for 27 days, averaging 28kms per day. We crossed ancient stone bridges - built by saints - over some 70 rivers, three mountain ranges, forests, hills, high plains and deep valleys. After passing through five cities, 250 towns and villages and sleeping in 31 different beds, including on the floor. It was time to go home. Life's metaphor has always been the pilgrimage, and we were very conscious of the fact that, had we been pilgrims of old, we would now have to embark on a long journey home by foot!
We visited Don Jaime at the pilgrim's office after the pilgrim's mass. St James' Church in Durban were celebrating their centenary and we had a letter for the Cathedral from Rev van Zueylen.
After walking the camino I became a born-again Camino junkie. Joined the Confraternity of St James in the UK - then joined the Confraternity of St James in South Africa, also joined the Amrican Pilgrims on the Camino and started collecting books and articles, maps, leaflets, brochures, DVD's, videos etc on the camino. Each year, on or close to the 25th July I have the local St James' Feast Day celebrations at my home. We have a mini-camino around the block, wear scallpo shells (symbol of St James) and eat tapas and Santiago Tart and my version of Caprichos.

When I returned from the camino I had the PPB (Post Pilgrimage Blues!) and couldn't settle. For the first time in years I didn't have anything planned - no big walks, no exotic trails.
But - just a couple of months later I saw an appeal for walkers to join a team that would walk from Durban to Cape Town in aid of abused women and children. I phoned, went for an interview, was put on a short list and then a couple of weeks later got the call. I was on the team!

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on your Camino - maybe we will meet up this year ?? Myself & 3 friends walking from Pomferrado to Santaigo in September 2007 . leaving Jhb 6 September Buen Camino - Hazel