- Camino(s) past & future
C Frances 2012,2013,2015,2015,2016,2016,2017,2018,2018,2019,
Here is something I wrote and posted on a website for those of us who drove buses on the overland from London - Kathmandu back in the seventies.
“ Nil Desperandum.”
Am I the lucky one.
Here in West London under the strangely silent skies the silence is broken only by the incessant wailing of ambulance sirens as they race by. But it will pass.
Europe, Russia, North Africa and the Silk Road provided the great canvas on which those amazing scenes of our youth were painted, indelibly etched in our memories.
I am fortunate to have homes in London, St Petersburg (Leningrad) and a country house near the Gulf of Finland but it is on the road in Spain and Italy where I now enjoy a lifestyle redolent of those days on the camping tours so long ago.
A few years ago my wife came home from work and announced she was going to walk 500 miles across Spain.
“Have you gone mad?” I asked.
“No, and I am going to stay in monasteries and sleep in dormitories in Refuges”
“ Go and lie down in a darkened room until you come to your senses.”
“And you will have to come with me for a week to see if I can cope with the accomodations.”
“Not bloody likely.”
A few weeks later I found myself in St Jean Pied de Port, rucksack on my back ready to attempt the Route Napoleon over the Pyrenees.
What we were embarking on was of course The Camino de Santiago, the ancient pigrimage route to Santiago.
After ten days I had to return to London but my wife went on to complete the whole route.
A few months later I was back, determined to experience the whole route. Soon the Camino magic started to work on me, I met two girls , nurses from Brisbane, little knowing that 500 miles later such a bond would have developed between us that we had become ‘The Three Musketeers.’ As we envountered others on the road to Santiago we would meet up at bars along the way, drink wine and eat together in the evenings before collapsing in our rudimentary accomodation.
It was one evening in a typical Albergue as our group cooked dinner together with food that everyone had contributed which had miraculously appeared and the wine began to flow I had my “Eureka “ moment, a group of people of different ages, backgrounds and nationalities had set out individually on a quest and had become more than a group, a Camino Family with an amazing camaraderie.
Wasn’t this what the camping tours all those years were all about. Yes , of course it was,
Realising I had stumbled upon a lifestyle every bit as wonderful, exciting and rewarding as those halcyon days of our youth, I now walk at least two Caminos in Spain or Italy every year, well over a thousand miles and each one never fails to bring more adventures, the freedom of the road ,a simplicity of life freed from the myriad of daily cares in our hectic urban existence, a clarity of thought impossible leading busy lives in crowded cities and a sublime contentment.
There are many of us who return again and again to walk the Camino and vow to do so for as long as we are able as it has so enriched our lives.
Last year as always seems to happen on the way to Santiago an absolutely amazing bunch of people from Australia, Canada, Sweden ,Hungary, USA and England came together .This year in September, the plague permitting most of us are going to walk again, this time an Italian Camino the Via Francigena, from Lucca to Rome and I think it is telling that after our last Camino or forthcoming walk has already been named ‘The Meaning of Life Walk.’
“ Le coeur a ses raisons que le raison ne connait point.”
Yes, I am the lucky one.