The Camino de Santiago Revisitied

Just came back from doing the Camino: 2 weeks on the last part of the French Le Puy route leading to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (started 3 years ago from Geneva, Switzerland together with Gitta: 1 month every year), and two weeks on the Camino Frances in Spain onto Burgos. Walking along hour after hour along graveled roads,  paths and muddy inclines in a downpour of rain, the baking sun, or even snow up over our ankles, my mind tends to wander ( the tougher the going the more it wanders).

I started thinking about the dissimilarities between the  French and Spanish Caminos, and because I had also walked the Camino Frances in 2009 in Spain, I could not but observe the dramatic changes that had occurred since I had last walked in Spain only some 4 years ago … many towns and roads and paths were almost unrecognizable, the albergues were changed and often modernized  and certainly greatly increased in number, and, moreover I (we) came to feel that the  whole tenor of the Camino had changed: I was now also observing what seemed to me to be a new kind of pilgrim in comparison with the ones I had shared the Camino with in 2009.

Gitta (who had not been back to the Camino in Spain since 2005) and I where to some extent even overwhelmed by these changes between then and now (as we were by the dissimilarities between walking in France and in Spain): many a kilometer was spent on long Camino discussions trying to formulate and understand them.

Well, anyway, my observations filtered through these discussions, and my anthropologist (retired) field glasses, often led to me writing blogs in my head as we walked … really… complete with titles, introductions and conclusions … I have become an inveterate blogger.

See the next installment!

Ps. Anyone out there that could tell of a Camino-love-story they had lived, experienced or heard about?


Quiet Bells

It often happens on the Camino de Santiago when I walk by a church, or even better a cathedral,  I hear the hour chime … I instinctively then look at my watch, and start to count the deep resonating gongs of the bells, now knowing  exactly the  number of gongs that I will hear ( 5 at five  o’clock … 8 at eight o’clock, and so forth)

Yet, anyhow,  as I hear ( and count off)  the last gong of the giant bell, knowing full well that that was last one, I am still primed, so to speak, to hear another gong …  of course it does not come, but still the subsequent silence sounds on, and  almost like a visual afterimage it hangs in the air …   just for an instance in time I stop up and wait expectantly for an event that I fully know will never take place … for a breath’s duration life seems almost to be on hold. Thereafter it’s all over and I can go on walking as before … before I became aware of the bells.

A most pregnant (and not unforgotten) moment, which seems to me to embody an important life-lesson, but damn though if I know what it is!