Wednesday, 4 June 2014

13 Days in Spain - 270km done and dusted!

Thirteen days into my walk and I am happy to say that I am still in one piece! I have covered 270km of the 1000km to Santiago, blisters are under control and my spirits are high. Nothing could have prepared me for the beauty of this trail. I have spent hours walking in pristine countryside with not another human in sight. I've locked eyes with a wild fox, walked wide rings around deserted bullrings, attended mass with little old ladies and their rosaries and have experienced the kindness of strangers in abundance.
The first week of a walk like this is always filled with a combination of feelings and emotions. There is exhilaration of sorts and a huge amount of expectation. I was hugely blessed to have my husband and a good friend of ours start the journey with me in Seville on the 23rd of May. The three of us walked together for the first two days. Those were days filled with laughter and I could not have asked for a better introduction to the Camino for my husband, for whom this was a first. I have a suspicion he will be back to walk his own Camino somewhere in the future!
Saying goodbye to him was not easy for me and the first couple of hours of walking alone with my friend a couple of kilometers ahead of me made me realize once again how precious our relationships with our loved ones are. Treasure those relationships, they truly are gifts from above!
My friend and I caught up with each other for two more evenings before he carried on at his own pace, which is much faster than mine. He is now a couple of stages ahead of me and it is nice to have someone send you feedback of what lies ahead! I do feel that God has sent me a number of guardian angels on this journey and for that I am eternally grateful!
During the second week of a walk of this magnitude, one is usually forced to focus on the practical. In my case, this is normally when the first blisters appear, muscles start aching and I figure out exactly how my backpack should be adjusted, how far my body will allow me to walk each day, etc. This is also the time when one can start feeling a little sorry for oneself, especially if you are walking alone! How I deal with this is to mentally put myself in the shoes of those I have dedicated my walk to. I reflect on their reality and transfer my focus away from myself. I am always humbled when God reminds me of the daily challenges faced by others when my own discomfort here is merely temporary!
So here I am. Day 13 is coming to an end. I have fallen into the Camino rhythm. I have adjusted to Spanish time, which means that everything comes to a standstill during the warmest time of the day. Between 13:00 and 16:00 in these little towns where I find myself now, blinds are drawn, shops are closed and the word siesta is your password to escaping the heat of the day. Until now I have walked through most of this but my feet have paid the price. My days are starting earlier to avoid the heat and where possible, afternoons will be spent resting for at least an hour where possible.
The Spaniards come back after siesta time with renewed energy and they continue chatting until way into the night. These people really embrace life and what to me would classify as shouting, is just living life to them! They display a passion for life that I envy and the passion with which they communicate with each other is a delight to observe!
This evening I had to wait until 20:30 for dinner to be served and it's now 21:36. Dessert has just arrived at my table and I could not be more content! At home I would be winding down by now as well, but dinner would have been done a few hours ago! I wasn't exactly sure what I was ordering as I placed the order tonight, as my host speaks a dialect of sorts that is hard for me to understand but the food that was placed in front of me was delicious! I am learning that sometimes one should just surrender to the moment and who knows, you'll be surprised by the results!
If I have to summarise my first 13 days on the Via de la Plata, the following words come to mind. Spectacular, blessed, humbled, truly special - a gift beyond words. I could add to that but I think you get the general idea!
I could not have chosen a more special group of people to dedicate this walk to. The people of the Ark City of Refuge have been on my mind every step of the way. I feel their presence and pray that people who follow this journey will join me in my attempt to extend a helping hand to those who have found this place of hope. My heart is fixed on creating awareness of the needs of this special place of safety. Right now, the most pressing need is to supply a constant supply of food to their kitchen.
This particular need has touched me deeply and as I continue my walk here in Spain, I will continue praying that if you are reading these words, you will be moved to get involved in some way. Perhaps you know someone who could initiate a constant supply of bread, fruit, vegetables, milk or any other item that can be used in a kitchen that caters for approximately 800 people every single day of the year. What an enormous task! I am constantly reminded that every little bit helps, no matter what your contribution, if you just simply talk about this kind of need to someone, you never know who they might know who might be in a position to help! Trust me, I have experienced this first hand - you don't always have to ask for something for a need to be met, if you have given the matter over to God, he will direct as he pleases!
I am figuring out how to blog on my little notepad, so please bear with me, I don't know how to do a spell check here and photos might appear in a random fashion but here we go anyway!
Tomorrow I plan to walk about 22km to my next destination and as I have read that this is quite a beautiful town filled with history, I might spend my first rest day there. I hope to post more photos and more regular updates in the days to come!
Total distance covered - 270km
Starting point: Seville, Spain
Destination: Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Distance remaining: 730km (gulp...)
Spanish words most often used so far: pueblo, gracias, por favor,  donde esta?, puede..., tienda.
Your task: Find out what those words mean - I had to!
Inspirational verse: ' ...thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.' 2 Corinthians 2:14


  1. Ek stap lekker saam hier uit 'n koue, stormagtige Kaap! Sal ook graag wil weet by watter dorpie jy nou al trek. Buen Camino. Dolfina

  2. Hi Dolfina! Lekker om van jou te hoor! Ek kan nie glo dis so koud by die huis nie, hier dood ek sover elke dag van die warmte. Ek het vandag in die pragtige Cacares deurgebring - my eerste rusdag in twee weke. Ek kon nie 'n beter plek gekies het nie! Dit is 'n 'Unesco Heritage' stad, werklik iets besonders om te sien, soveel pragtige ou geboue hier! Sal binnekort fotos plaas, internet sukkel bietjie hier. Groete!


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