Stage 1

All weekend I’ve been researching the El Camino de Santiago and the logistics of the whole thing. Mulling it around in my head whether or not I should go…when to go…who with…will I be able to attempt this most unusual of holidays or pilgrimages. Lets face it…it’s not every day that you wake up to decide…yes…I want to do a pilgrimage. The last pilgrimage I can think of that I attempted was to go out for a litre of milk.

Then I sat down and really thought about it…was I to sit around hoping that I would do it some day in the near future or should I just do it. The one person that I wished I could experience this trip of a lifetime with was my father. Maybe I wanted to have my own private road trip with him…something for us both to share in….instead of a typical everyday vacation that we all experience!!! This would be our spiritual awakening coupled with plenty of blisters and aching joints. All I wanted to do for the time being is a small section of the Pilgrimage…enough to gain the coveted Compestela!! I have found that I’ve opened up a whole new world of information regarding the El Camino…reams of information, maps, packing lists, routes to take, hostels to stay in!! So, you’ll be glad to hear that on Saturday, I booked 2 return flights to Santiago De Compestela for the beginning of May…the last day of our holiday being my fathers 77th birthday and what better way to celebrate than on the streets of Santiago de Compestela!! I have a lot of confidence that we will make this holiday a success and will complete the designated route on which I have yet to decide upon…even though my circumstances have slightly changed somewhat in the last 24 hours…workwise…but already I can feel that first film of sweat drenching my forehead and running down my back as we pound our way across the hinterland of the Gallicia countryside…the crunch of gravel under our boots…or the swish of the wind through the trees and grass…the smiles from the people wishing us Buen Camino as we slowly pass them by…stopping at certain points along the way to marvel at the beauty that surrounds us…eating the local cuisine…tasting the local beer and wine…making lifelong friendships along the way and just being together as father and son on a pilgrimage of the soul. This is what I have wanted for a long time and believe me there is no time like the present. I don’t want to be looking back in a few years time thinking “We should have done the El Camino…but now it’s too late!!”

No…each and every one of us live in the now and now is the time for life to be experienced and tasted. We can’t wait for it to turn sour like a piece of meat in the fridge. Life must be cooked and seasoned and turned around just like any roast beef on a Sunday. That is why I booked the flights…some might call it impulsive …but hey..thats me…I’m an impulsive kind of guy. Some people may not think me as so impulsive but I am…so there!! We will have 9 or 10 days to follow the final stage of the Camino Frances from Sarrio to Santiago …plenty of time for rest and to appreciate all of what awaits us. Like most people I would have loved to travel the whole way but this would not be possible for obvious reasons. Maybe one day I might do it with my 2 girls as a life experience between father and daughter like no other or maybe we could attempt it in stages over a few years. Spain is a big place and the Way of St. James takes many paths.

When I first mentioned it to my father only last week he jumped at the chance of this wonderful adventure. It was not the reaction that I expected and when I showed him the article in the paper and later on the different videos online …you could sense his excitement..anticipation of the unexpected…a gratitude to me perhaps for considering him as a travel partner on this voyage of discovery. He wasn’t going to let his age or presumptions of others to get in his way…no sir!! Maybe when its all over he will curse me for the blistering pain in his feet and stiff muscles from head to toe but for now we must prepare and train for those tough climbs ahead!!! God…I’m excited now…this has been some week for me…full of ups and downs in every sense of the word…but in the end life has a way of suprising all of us in the most unusual ways you could not imagine….

Halfway through this post I was watching the programme ‘Room to Improve’ and for the final sweep of the finished house they played Chequerboard with a very appropriate piece of music….the building blocks of life!!!


6 thoughts on “Stage 1

  1. I am so happy to hear that you will be taking the plunge! A year ago my dad and I made a wonderful pilgrimage to Ireland. We had more than a few obstacles to hop over (my dad having heart trouble before we left, money worries etc) but in the end it was like one of those Visa adds that concludes with the words “PRICELESS”…That trip lives deep inside both of us and we know that nothing again will remotely come close. There is something incredibly enlightening about traveling, especially with someone you love…I wish you both the most wonderful journey and look forward to hearing all about it in future posts!

  2. Here begins your journey
    Now begins the day
    With one step upon the path
    Your soul is on its way!

    There is no ‘whole way’ when walking a camino – only your way. People who live in Galicia don’t travel to France to start walking to the tomb of their Patron Saint! Most just start from their front door.
    Sarria is about 112kms from Santiago. It usually takes about 5 days to walk it. On some stages there is nowhere to stay in between places (and some refuges won’t let you stay unless you have walked at least 20km) so you might consider startin a little further back. How about starting at O Cebreiro? 151km from Santiago with some of the most beautiful scenery on the camino frances.
    You could get the ALSA bus from the station in Santiago to Piedrafita O Cebreiro. Timetable here:
    Whatever you decide, have a wonderful camino on this Jacobean Holy Year.

    • Thank you so much for this advice…I was thinking that Sarria might be too close for the amount of time we have. How did you find me?

      • I have a google alert for the camino and you landed in my gmail inbox this morning!
        I don’t usually post comments if I don’t know the blog owner but you sounded so excited, and so regretfull that you couldn’t do more, and I really want you and Dad to experience as much of el camino as possible.
        Try not to arrive on the 1st May – it is labor day and EVERYTHING in Spain is closed.
        Buen camino!

  3. I have to tell you I had a lump in my throat reading this. You won’t regret it.

    About 15 years ago, the year my Mum turned 50, I took her backpacking in India for two months, having been there the year before with Jay. It was tough, but she dug in and was just amazing. I am so glad we got to do that. I certainly was a lot more impulsive then I am now. Must be kids that put the reigns on me!

    Can’t wait to hear how you get on!

    Ps. Chequerboard was on Room to Improve the previous week too! Brilliant! I didn’t mention John is Jay’s cousin when I did a post on Chequerboard. Thought it might take away from me giving him the thumbs up on my blog 🙂

  4. I’ve walked the Camino de Santiago with my dad every year now for the past 7 years.
    We are off again for another 3 weeks in May.
    Each year we have a wonderful and talk about it all year til the next trip begins.

    Have fun.

    Hope you don’t mind me posting here.

    Buen Camino!


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