The thing about writing blogs is that, sometimes, the mind gets distracted from the moment into wondering what to write about next. And, so it was this week – in between watching my breath, well in fact, on the steep climbs of the Camino del Norte, I couldn’t ignore my breathing, I literally heard my heart beating as well – I was considering how best to sum up my recent reflections. I decided anyway what not to write i.e. a separate series of this route along Spain’s northern coast, interesting as it is.
So, with my thoughts still reverberating around what to write, at some point between San Sebastian and Bilbao memories of “To Be a Pilgrim” came into my mind, seeing as this whole peregrino thing is intended as a sort of pilgrimage. A hymn, like other hymns I obediently sang out during school assemblies, I had no clue what it meant. I mean, what is a ten-year old supposed to think about this….
“Who would true valour see,
Let him come hither;
One here will constants be,
Come wind, come weather;
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him one relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.”
I will leave one to ponder these words as desired. I would just mention that none other than the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, had this sung at her funeral, words slightly modified apparently.
Anyway… I have wandered along three of the Camino routes this year. I have been struck by the scents of eucalyptus and pine forests; by the abundance of crops, vineyards, orchards, wild flowers; the feel of the wind, the sounds of birds. I have been so happy to see a proclivity towards a sustainable fuel source through wind and so much more.
I was impressed by the gentle nature of the west coast of Portugal and Spain, the reverence to God and the dead evident in the elaborate cathedrals and, what I describe as, houses for the dead. In comparison, the relatively harsher nature of the Basque country, many of the population intent on separation from their, apparently, lazy neighbours. But, as I have discovered during my years of travel, deep down I have found that everyone is, essentially, the same, what you give is what you get, no matter a harsh exterior.
I have been overawed by the many stunning sunsets at the end of a long day, reenergised by the sunrises that never failed to come.
Six months have so far passed in my nomadic existence, I have loved the freedom from responsibility; no taking care of material things, no house, no car and, thankfully, no big bills to take care of. My daily concerns mainly focused on what I would choose to eat at the end of a day. My only struggle really at times is ambitiously carrying too much in my rucksack, weighed down mainly by the laptop needed to keep publisher Julie of Story Bazaar happy 🙂
But, as I said at the introduction of Shakti Manifest “Life is a journey, a labyrinth of paths well trodden” and what I saw that sums up these last few months I found painted on a rock on the road to Markina-Xeimen…
The article also appears on the Facebook page of Calmact.