English: camino de santiago

English: camino de santiago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a subject, which is hard to write about. It being complex in its spiritual nature. There is a duality to it, because on the one hand the road is always changing. You see a new village every five to ten kilometers, you constantly meet new people, who are all in some way connected to the Camino and nature in its effervescent diversity unfailingly surprises you with its beauty.

On the other hand, there is the physical exercise of walking, which after five K´s or so of getting into your rhythm, lifts you up into a kind of trance like state. Your whole being expands and connects with that of your fellow pilgrims and with the road itself, which is drenched with the energy of innumerable supplicants, who have travelled it over the past two millenia. The power emanating from it is enormous. Nobody who travels it is immune to it. Time starts playing tricks on you: it slows down, speeds up and at times seems to stand still.

You body is of course taking a severe punishment, which it is not used to. The aches and pains are your constant companions, but you learn to push them aside and finally to ignore them. As time goes on, you are pleasantly surprised at the developing muscles  and at your own staying power. I feel stronger and fitter now than I have in decades!

Then there is the destination Santiago, which is both a blessing and a curse along the course of the Camino. Because although you long to reach it and hope for the deliverance from whatever ails you after reaching it, at the same time the further you get, the longer you wish it would take. It´s almost addictive, in fact it is addictive. Many people have decided, after traveling this mystical Camino, that they never want to leave it again and build their lives along one spot on it, which suits them best. then there are the others, who although they to home to their regular lives, keep coming back to it time after time. To those of you, who are contemplating doing this pilgrimage for the first time, I give the following caution: think it over carefully before you start, for it WILL change your life forever!

If you think that this is just a Catholic or a Christian thing, forget it! Jews, Muslims, people from all denominations and even atheists have travelled this path and not one was unmoved or unchanged by it. Another thing which surprised me was the good will of all the pilgrims without exception and their sense of companionship. You will never be left wanting for help. a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. The Camino furthermore has its own rules of pureness. Respect for nature and for others is paramount. No littering or stealing going on there!

Back to the nature. I´ve alwaysliked Spain for the beauty of it, but the part along the Camino truly is breathtaking. At times, you ask yourself if you have not stumbled into a fairy tale. But then… maybe you have! The roiling wheat-seas between Burgos and León and the wooded mountain landscapes of Galicia are the most beautiful I´ve ever witnessed.

Now, be honest, are you not longing to come over here and experience it all? Hugs from Ralphie!

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