And so I walked the last day of my first Via de la Plata. The clock had switched to daylight savings recently and, with that, walking in darkness became a thing again. I enjoyed the absolute quiet. Staying in an albergue alone also means walking alone, and with the nearest towns over 10km behind and ahead of me I knew I’d have the Camino all to myself. Soon came the sunrise.
I talked out loud to the hazy colours – the blue hue that had enveloped the trees and grass. I talked to the birds singing and to the flowers slowly opening up to a new day. I talked about travelling.
My second to last walk went from Alcuéscar to Aldea del Cano; a short 15km. My legs felt strong and the weather was perfect: clouds cast some shade, it wasn’t too hot, nor too cold. Yet for some reason I was having a though day. The sky felt oppressive, the air didn’t seem to supply sufficient oxygen and my mind was hazy. I figured it had something to do with the nearing ending of the Camino. I remembered feeling lost and sad on the Camino Francès too, when Santiago came within reach. Surely, you’re happy to have made it. But when you enjoy being a pilgrim as much as I do, the foresight of finishing the journey and becoming a non-pilgrim again isn’t so joyful one. It’s a mixed feeling that catches many walkers a little of guard, but not me. I’m an experienced pilgrim now. Right? Continue reading Two important updates have been installed→
The equipment I brought on my Via de la Plata was the same I had on my first Camino: a bag that travelled with me to rainforests, a coat with years of dutiful service, shoes that had carried me to Compostela before. And yet I only realised how severely unsuited they were for rain after I walked in showers for hours and hours.
The road to Zafra was long and unsheltered, with bare vines stretching out on both sides. The ground was muddy and slippery, the thick earth clang to my boots and made them heavy, my pants were not waterproof.
Oh that glorious walk between Monesterio and Fuente de Cantos… No words or pictures would do it justice. It was without a doubt the most beautiful stretch of walking I encountered on my mini-camino (that is, the part between Sevilla and Cáceres) and it lifted my heart beyond expectation.
The weather was overcast and clouded, however fast winds made for an ever changing scenery and shadows travelled over the endless planes in a matter of minutes. The fields were glowing with colour, mainly the bright yellow of tiny flowers and the deep green of moist grass.
The road soon let me into a sea of infinity. This is the Spain I love so much: a landscape that seems endless, with nothing surrounding you but waving hills and heavy skies. A landscape in which one could easily drown.
My bag was the only one leaning against the wall of the bar, my face the only unfamiliar one in the village. The chairs around my table stood lonely. The pilgrims had gone, onwards. And I was left in the tiny town of El Real de la Jara, attempting to go unnoticed while I sobbed, dried my eyes, and then sobbed some more.
J, J and me had walked the first 15km of the day together, through a lovely sunrise and foresty surroundings. Yet for me it would be the only 15km of the day, since I didn’t fancy adding another 20km. We had an amazing lunch together in a cosy hunter’s bar (complete with antlers adorning the walls, jikkes), and then they left. “Don’t forget what we talked about yesterday,” J reminded me, as if I ever would. And gone they were.
My mini-pilgrimage on the Via de la Plata started with a big grin under a blue sky. Before leaving home I had been worried. The burnout had ruined my energy levels, I hadn’t been working out (not even doing yoga) in four months and the few training walks I did make had often left me exhausted for the rest of the day or even week.
But that was Belgium. As it turned out, I left a lot of my worries and fatigue somewhere between home and Spain. “Sorry madam, these doubts are not allowed in carry-on.”
“Excuse me miss, please straighten your self esteem and roll up the blinds around your heart, we are preparing for landing.”
Now I was in Sevilla. My bag got a shell and my credential got a stamp. And as I closed the door of the (very recommendable) Hostel Triana behind me and looked up to the morning sky, I could smell the energy of spring in the air. It felt so good to be back on a Camino!
Walks out of big cities are never fun, but that day it didn’t matter. I was a pilgrim again, after six years, and not until I set my first step did I realise how much I had missed it.
My take on the world and the things I love. Prominently among them: travel, art and the ordinary. I share my discovery of our beautiful world, my self and the arts I'm trying to develop (photography, sketching and writing) in a way that is both honest and poetic. Please join my journey.