Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Leaving Sevilla (Cont)

Being unable to finish the first chapter of my book, ´til around  2pm, I began my first day, passing by the Cathedral at around 3pm, on my way out of the city. Not a good plan, I hasten to add, but I finally arrived in Guillena at about 9pm. The sun had not been very kind, but rather refreshingly, the local people had been, as they helped a late walking pilgrim out of the city away from Sevilla, in the direction of Santiago. The lights were burning all about the village, as I walked through the darkening evening, along dusty tracks, to Guillena. You have to walk along a rather scary path along side the river, which is falling away year by year, with the rains, and possibly high water levels. Fortunately the sign which had warned of 1metre depths, must have been relative to an earlier season. I crossed the river into the town as night finally closed in around me, and four local gentleman, were very pleased to direct me in the direction of the local sports stadium. I was sure they didn´t expect me to do some track events at this time, especially after such a long walk..... The Albergue shared the entrance to the facility. Suprisingly, the Albergues seem to run on a rather odd self service system for the most part here in Andalucia. It took me a while to understand what the people in the bar were telling me. They hold the keys and the Albergue is free, so you need to open the door then bring the keys back to them. I was tired and exhausted, more than their lack of explanation. It seems that the accomodation is provided by the local council and maintained by them. But as its free, the pilgrims need to try to clean it themselves. The facility was pretty good though. I spied for the first time on the Camino, pilgrims, seated at an outside table. Their warm friendly and knowing smiles reasurred me, I had once again met the real bretheren of the ´Camino`. A French couple, and a German, a veteran walker.
The food was excelent in the bar, I forgoed the shower, not wanting to miss out on a decent meal. I needn`t have worried at all, as the bar stayed open ´til late, the wee small hours infact, as was testified to, by revellers from the local village, whilst the few pilgrims here, tried to sleep. I had a brief conversation with Herman, the German, who had already done both the Camino Frances, and the Portugese Camino, from Porto to Santiago. He was a very jolly and kindly man, with a huge capacity to accomodate all the pilgrims, with his linguistic skills. We had a very envigourating chat, but then both needed to get some sleep. I was finally doing, what I had come here to do. Walk the Via de la Plata, and enjoy the people I would meet on the way to Santiago.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Leaving Sevilla

After again resting my feet in Sevilla, meeting with Qt had been a wonderful reunion. I sensed a difference in her that I suspected was not good for our Camino future together. But, being a patient soul I let her show me around the city she had come to know these past few days, for once becoming the leader of discovery. I have to say I really ejoyed the city I had never known, and there was plenty of things to see, experiences to have. The tapas bar on Via de la Constitution for example, was a real pleasure for both of us. Also during my time here, I was able to get the first of my postings on the blog, and the story underway. My Idea to have a live blog/story finally coming to life. Unfortunately for me, Qt has decided to change the direction of her travels at this time, in search of experience, less painfull on her feet, I suppose. This has robbed me, cruely, of my Typist. I was hoping that with her superior technical experience and fast secretarial skills, I would be able to get my story, as "LIVE" at a faster rate. Seemingly you readers will have to be more patient, as I can type about 18 words per minute, and what with Internet availability on the Camino, I will either have to walk slower, or learn to type faster.... It has been possible, and of course always is, to do less Camino per day and be able to write more regularly. This may not be possible everyday for various reasons, bet well hey.... this is the story which is writting itself, so I have no control over what it choses !!!

Good luck QT, on what you decide to do henceforth ....
And thankyou for sharing with me, ´til now, the ´Camino pequeno Andaluz`.

In my experience of life so far, it is more than evident that for good experiences to exist, then bad ones, must be their opposite. (As a concept, how can light be light, without the absense of light? We call this darkness.) I try not to be negative, seeing normally, good coming from bad on lots of occasions. In relation to the camino from Sevilla however, I have to make myself known on several points of dissappointment. I will be brief, as in the main the overall experience has been a wonderfully enlightening one.
Having walked previously from St Jean pied du port in France, on the camino Frances, I was overwhelmed by the attention to detail of the information and help available to the naive or uninformed. Whilst I admit myself here I did little in the way of preparation, in the gathering of information as to routes and distances from Sevilla onwards to santiago, I have found that little help or clear information is available by the usual routes. You cannot for example, get a credencial from the Cathedral. You have to go to a hotel, the Hotel Don Simon, in a street close to the Cathedral. You then have to be available, at the convenience of the priest to get a sello (Camino stamp) in your Credencial. Which is between 10am and 2pm.
The staff at the various points around the cathedral are rather uninformed, or clueless about what the Camino de Santiago actually is. (My personal experience) Based upon have a reasonable grip on their Langauge. and an attention to try to reason out with them I could not hang around ´til the following day for the stamp.
And of course, Gods house is not free to visit for pilgrims, apparently he needs your cash to install better security systems, in case you fancy taking something away with you, in your already heavy backpack !!!!
Even the tourist information offices are poor at helping with any directions as to how and from where you find, and follow the Camino out of Sevilla. And to add, the people of Sevilla who live and work here, seem to have no idea either where to find the Camino markings.

I am aware that to this end, many well informed guides have been created to assist you with these difficulties. Without one, like me, you will have to rely on some serious common sense and determination to find your way out of the city to the first markers. I found my first yellow arrow at Camas, several kilometres from Sevilla, and even then they were a little hard to find until Santiponce.


Am about to start the story from Sevilla onwards and may return to the days of the story missed out here at a later stage, so am leaving a space to fill the story in if It fits better here in terms of the flow of the journey.

Peaceful Warrior x


Peaceful Warrior.

Rest, of the way.

I was happy that Qt had gone on ahead, no way would she have wanted what I had done, nor deserved such personal cruelty. It was hardly an act of love or mercy that had made me forge ahead undaunted. It was heer bloody mindedness ! I knew that I would have to rest here at least a couple of days, as I had severly overdone my determination to reach Arcos. Better if I had stayed at the venta on the terrace, than to have put myself through this hell of injury. But this is no-doubt what Heinsight is for, I suppose !!
Qt had been bought some flowers, by a Spanish gentleman, I heard. (The wonders of sms communications, again unavailable to pilgrims of old) I hoped for flowers on my coffin, as I dreamed of a comfy end in hospital, nurses tending to my wounds. Then came the sound of gunfire !!!!!!
I was rudely awoken on my bench, dreaming of death, to the sound of the irrigation around the park coming into action. A hidden timer setting off the water jets that oscilated, spraying the grass and trees. I quickly realised that I had been spared the coverage of the spray, but only by inches. But I was really beyond caring at this point. It was still dark, early in the morning, and my feet were still on fire with pain and discomfort. I shifted about and eventually the world dissappeared once more, returning with the sunrise and a smell of autumn blossoms, floating on the breeze.
I had walked in the region of 45km´s on my fourth day of walking my ´Camino Pequeno Andaluz`, and here I was stupidly beaten, for the time being.... The comments I made before, about the spirit of man, is somewhat inadequate. I now realise that we, ´Mankind`, are the stupidest of all the animal kingdom. We actually choose to do ourselves detremental harm, even though it is well within our powers to do nothing but good. We use horrible force, over stupid idealism, to force ourselves to do the cruelest and most inhumane service to ourselves and our kind. And we use the reasons of progress or challenge to cover it up. What we are is really a mix of prudent and pathogenic............
The two days of rest have proved a great help to my pain, yet I fear more lessons in stupidity to follow henceforth. I have made a descicion to go to Sevilla tomorrow to both see how Qt is doing, and to postpone my investigation of this personal route. Using my sensible head, the continuation will still take at least 4 days, to walk. I will return to complete this stretch at the end of my Camino, God willing..

Saturday, 25 September 2010

From Hell to Heaven and back. (Cont)

What were the omens I was looking out for, as I travelled on, having recently met Santiago ? Were not these, just quite simply local girls, with a staid and boring life, themselves keen for news of adventures beyond their towns ? One of the three, seemed a little more attentive, as eventually other customers did arrive, leaving me free to stop thinking about being eaten. Sandra was without doubt, an Andalucian senorita of great beauty. Slim elegant and with eyes a man could get lost into. Her slighlty older companion Deborah, clearly the boss, soon had Sandra running around cleaning and serving, whilst she attended to the decorations behind the bar. Luisa, equally sweet, but much more shy, busied herself cleaning the terrace, sated I imagined for now, with tales of my journey.
As wonderful a relaxation as it was for me to stay here, awash with dreams of dancing the night away in Sandras arms, I knew that the road was calling. I said my goodbyes, and left the waystop, a new spring in my step, which kept me going for some distance, before the tiredness came again. And out there on the way to Arcos de la Frontera, where Hell had become a passage to Heaven, I found myself on the slippery slope down once more, the fires being stoked for my soul. Leaving at 7.30pm to walk another 20km´s was without doubt, one of the stupidest things I have ever done. I found another refreshment stop at a Venta along the road, a couple of cold Cokes to perk up my energy and I was off again, aware that nightfall was fast approaching. Here the road passed under another hyway, between San Jose del Valle and Jerez de la Frontera. I wished I was on my way to either, by public transport. The road ahead was so straight I could see at least the first 5km´s in the distance. As I reached the point on the hill I had previously spied some time ago, the darkness was finally taking over. I was walking on unlit hyways, where cars were passing ferociously fast, not expecting to see anything pedestrian, except the odd rat or snake... I have a head torch, so found it out amongst my stuff, finally giving in to not being able to see in the dark. I also enjoyed briefly the opportunity to remove my hot boots. Walking for so long on sun heated roads, was both tiresome and increasing the risk of stress injury. The torch worked well, it has a strobe function, so as to preserve the battery, and appear more observable. When I put my boots back on, I could hardly stand. I was tottering about like a penguin. I knew that my blisters were coming up, but could do nothing about it here, the pain more of a dull ache in the soles of my feet. With nowhere to go but the road ahead, or the kerbside, where snakes do their rattling around during the wee small hours, I forged on. Arcos was definately closer, one more hour I guessed. Apart from the sheer beauty of the walks across Andalucia, which was lost on me now in the dark, my other past time had been the arithmatic. The working out of speeds, distances, and road left, from road covered, computing in my head constantly. A throwback to being Asbergic, I guessed.......
I reached Junta de los Rios at about 11pm. All evidence, due to my calculations were, that I should be in Arcos by now. The Spanish authorities, must have altered all of the road signs recently, because apparently Arcos was still some 6km´s away !!!! Either a huge conspiracy was underway or I was walking far slower that I had expected to be.  I had made fairly good progress this morning, and had been almost sprinting in comparison, after seeing angels. Yet here I was with a choice. It´s great to have choice ! Find a hostel here, or go on. The lights were friendly, burning bright in a Venta on the main road, and I was about to give it up for the day, when I heard someone mention ´Pilgrims`, and the ´Camino de Santiago`.
In the front garden of a house, a family were taking the night air, and chatting, surprised to see me passing no doubt. I replied instantly with a greeting and spent a few minutes in conversation responding to their enquiries. Some sort of foolish pride must have gripped me, as I continued on along the road and out of the peaceful village. After another few, slow kilometres, when the barking of dogs had died down, I suddenly felt a most excruciating pain, below the toes on my left foot. JESUS CHRIST ! I thought that I had stepped on a nail, as the pain tore straight through me. I cried out in the wilderness, the open darkness carrying my scream, but to no-one hear except the roadkill. I paused for a minute maybe two, knowing it had only been a blister exploding, yet unsure if I could go on anymore. But I was somewhere, possibly half way between Junta and Arcos. I knew that if I stopped for more than a few brief minutes I would not be able to go on, so adopted a way of scrunching my toes up, to lesten the obvoius discomfort. My right foot seemed in surprisingly good shape comparatively, yet the knee on this leg was suffering more than the left. I swear that if you could have seen me, I would have made an amusing sight. Hobbling along like a penguin through the night, my torch flashing repeatedly in tandem with my movements.
At about 1am I finally had to sit down, having beaten several summits, each out doing the previous, overlooking the town of Arcos, about 1km away. By now I was hardly able to worry about snake attacks, over the severe cramps and the blisters. I still had some water, the preparations well suited to the jouney. The town shone like a jewel in the night, across the valley between us. I realised gratefully, that I would not, (if I ever moved on from here) have to go down all the way into the valley to enter the town, a high connection visible to my left. At about 1.30am I finally reached the destination of my days walk, almost on all fours. I had forgotten the idea of accomodation at this point, choosing the nearer Mirador (Lookout point) to the right of the entrance to this town. The benches looked soft enough to this weary pilgrim. I was too hot to care about getting cold during the rest of the night. I realised that this last push, had taken about  30 minutes to cover what I would normally have done in less than 10 minutes.
My feet gave way as I lay me down to sleep, and dreams came thick and fast, I had reached Arcos !

From Hell to Heaven and back.

Qt had decided that she still could´t walk properly and didn´t want to kill herself by walking 40km´s to Arcos de la Frontera. What a killjoy !! My main aim was the next big place to stop, to break the journey to Sevilla into bite sized pieces. (You will henceforth realise, just how stupid I am, about the size of pieces I can bite) The only real respite from 40km´s is a town some 10km´s away, Paterna de Rivera. And following that, at about 33km is the town of Junta de los Rios.
As you may know if you have ever walked, just how important it is, not only to know where you are going, but also how to get there. To this aim I climbed the ramparts of the old city castle with Qt last night, to avail myself of the direction and roads to walk out of the small town of Medina Sidonia. The views were amazing (See my title picture) and the winds were strong and powerful. I spied Arcos via Paterna away into the distance. Unfortunately for me, I forgot that dear Qt was leaving by bus again, and would need escorting to the bus station. I say unfortunately, because this totally altered my bearings as to the first road to chose. Once she was safely on her way to Jerez de la Frontera, I waved the town goodbye walking briskly down the hill into the new day. I thought I could spy the faraway town and began following the route out of Medina. In the distance I could see a dusty track that stretched as far as I could see, towards my journeys end. After some 5km´s  I happened upon a sign, that informed me that any further progress would be a trespass of private property. Oh my word, was I distressed !!! Fortunately a friendly farmer was in his car driving towards me. (The safety, still on his shotgun.....) He advised me of my error, informing me that I was also on my way to Jerez across country. Apart from the fact that in these parts of Spain the land is not free to walk across, I was still way off course. Back in the days Santiago walked his flocks across Andalucia, there had been no fences, but in my time, they were everywhere. I am now aware that the law permits shooting in these free range areas, so be warned if you stray like me. It could be damaging to your health !!!
In my charming way, I asked the farmer for a lift, to take me back to the town where he was headed, so as not to have to walk the distance before I rejoined my journey. He was a very kindly man, taking me all the way back to the town some 5km´s away and dropping me off on the road I needed to take, out of Medina. I was a little dissappointed at myself, my spirits a little lower to say the least. I still had 40km to go... The time was around 10.30am and I had wasted a good couple of hours in a mis-pursuit of my goal. I tried to remain impassive about it, but knew that a hard day had just got even harder. On the way to Paterna, I soon realised just how the route was unsympathetic and inconsiderate to walking. It was pretty inconsiderate to traffic aswell, the road becoming so narrow in places, it´s a wonder how vehicles can pass one another without incident. The drop off into the verges is often very steep. During the journey I did get to see a wind turbine being constructed.

These huge pieces of apparatus, a worthy energy source in such windy terrains. For me though, both fighting the narrow road and the wind trying to blow me into the fields, was very tiring. Much tougher that I wanted to give it credit for. On the long climb uphill into Paterna, I prayed constantly for my salvation from both lorries and the wind. And magically the snakes were invisible too, except for the skin of a whopper, as I entered the village.
I nearly gave up the Camino then, seriously. But the spirit of man is strong, as too my desire to complete my journey and realise my dreams. If I had known then just what a high, and a low I would go through over the next few hours, I would have quit from the low... I guess the high saved me....

I took shelter in the main plaza of the village, and ate and drank to restore my depleted energies, having already done about 15km of a 10 km journey. I needed sleep too, so took my siesta in the shade ´til about 4.30 pm, all the time wrestling with a desire to quit for the day. I am so glad that I didn´t, but so sad that I pushed so hard to find my destiny.

The road from Paterna de Rivera was narrow again at first, but signs advertising the widening were a welcome reward. For the next 10km I had a wide berth from everything, except the fears about snakes ! A few lorry drivers pipped their horns, but more in a, I know what you are doing kind of a way. They seemed keen to wave, possibly former pilgrims. I did however get covered in fine white dust, from the new unpaved road surface, and the wind pushing at my back. I swear, that on a few occasions my feet left the floor for a few centimetres. The road just stretched unkindly ahead, the town of Arcos visible, but a long way off yet. Because I had set off from Paterna, I knew that I would have to walk another 20 something kilometres before I would find another rest point. The timing was bad too. So late in the afternoon and only about 20km covered by 6.30pm. As I was about to give up hope of salvation, I spied a sign for a Venta, at 300metres. A veritable oasis in the distance, as the road road curved to the left. Spurred on, I arrived shortly to Venta Cantarero 2.
Hyperbole aside for a moment, I entered the Venta relieved and rejoicing, for a chance to be refreshed. And simply, was met at the counter by 3 angels. Ok. Ok. I hear what you are saying !  A man in his mid life, finding an oasis hosted by three, gorgeous young women, of course he saw angels.......!
Well in truth I am not aware of any particular crisis in my life at this point, though being single does have it´s negative aspects. But I am living my life, one day at a time, and believing in miracles, as this surely was. There were no vehicles parked outside, and yet I had seen plenty of vehicles pass me out on the hyway, so I presumed it was just one of those pauses in their otherwise busy day. Though, the way they all gatherd around me at the bar, intently listening and asking questions about my travels, I couldn´t help feeling that their day had been a triffle slow or boring up ´til this point. Oh yes, and the feeling that at any moment, they would turn into vampires and devour me, as I had seen in the Tarantino film, ´dusk ´til Dawn`, some years ago!!!!!!

Friday, 24 September 2010

Roadkill (Cont)

Eventually I moved on down the cobbled track, towards another Santiago. For much of the morning my troubles were the questions still that had no answers. Was he really Santiago ? Had I met the King of Salem ? What was the omen of the snake about ? Where was Fatima ? Andy why in heavens name, was I not seeing angels if I was on my way into a coma ?
How had he known I was travelling and how had he known of my search for love ?

As the sun rose hotly, the heat from the day rose to greet me like a wave. Fortunately the Levanter was cutting its way across the hills and open plains, feeding the wind turbines, and cooling my brow now and then. According to my map, there was little in the way of villages out here and nothing remotely on my route, except the small villages either side of the main hyway. To reach any of them, I would have to take another detour of at least 5km. All along the route, I kept finding layed out before me, the remains of the roadkill, that had probably stepped out during the night-time hours. I was surprised, and not nessecarily in a good way, to see just how many snakes there were out here. Some of them very fat and very long. Or they had been ! Tie that in with both the passing of a headstone the previous day ( a young motorcyclist killed ) on a very straight hyway, and the experience with Santiago this morning, and I was one nervous bunny. Of course plenty of cars and lorries passed me by. Some hooted their horns, possibly because they too, were former pilgrims or knew about them. Others, possibly nothing better to do than scare the Shit out of an already jumpy, walker.
As a precaution, I had been to the tourist offices, and the casa de Cultura in Vejer, to inquire as to the refreshment stops along the way to Medina. One, the tourist office, had no idea, and coudn´t wait to get a leaflet into my hands and me, out of the door. I was sure that it wasn´t approaching siesta. The girl in the casa de Cultura, seemed equally unhelpful, but assured me that there was a watering hole on the way to Medina. At about the four hour mark I needed to rest so chose a farm gateway entrance, free of obstructions, and snakes ! After about half an hour I knew I´d better move or cease up, so set off once more. Almost an hour later, I actually found the rest area, spoken of, at 20km, 10km to go ´til Medina Sidonia. Well, as you can imagine, I have to apologise to the girl in the casa de Cultura (who isn´t a lying bitch....) about the existence of the venta.

Tres Arcos was a welcome venue, and I have to add, excellent eating stop. The salad and fish were amazing. They didn´t even mind me taking off my odorous footwear for the duration of my visit. Finally fed and watered, I set off to meet Qt in the village which seemed close enough to spit at, yet took another two hours to reach.
The last few kilometres were very hard and I considered a taxi more than once, even a passing car would have possibly been flagged down for a lift. But in the absense of traffic I soldiered on, eventually realising how Santiago had known I was travelling. DURGH !!!! The back pack !!!! The walking poles !! But this did not explain the odd dialogue between us, nor the omen of the snake, which kept one eye on the kerb grass all day.

If you have ever travelled so far on foot, each step you will know, is very precious, yet very cruely spent. As I arrived at the end of my days walk, into the Plaza, where I saw Qt waiting quietly, tears filled my eyes with gratitude and love. Such heightened emotions are common on ´the way`. Fortunately for me, I had been able to listen to rousing music this past two hours. These wonders of technology not open to pilgrims of old. I have to say that normally, I don´t agree with spoiling the experience with too much outside influence. Though of course the Pelegrinos of times gone by, did not have Goretex and lightweight fabric for their loads. Neither, it has to be said, did they have all the other trappings of a modern pilgrimage at hand. They slept neath the stars and ate very simple, self prepared meals each day. They stopped when they wanted, and didn´t have to make it to the nearest safety stop or nice comfy Albergue. Unless this was a sign of my delerium, I may well be on my way to discovering the hardships, encountered by pilgrims from the past 17 centuries or so.

Qt was so pleased to see me too, and we soon discovered how lovely it was to have company once more.


Peaceful Warrior. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Setting off alone is quite a tough descision.. I have done it plenty of times before, on the road to Santiago, when I left the northern towns of Spàin, doing the 'Camino Frances'. Somehow this was very much more daunting. Having Qt for support had been a wonderful joy. Part of me of course was keen to set off and get back into my own rhythm. Another part of me feared the openness of the 30km walk I planned to complete this day. If we would have been on the normal camino route, then the towns and facilities would be closer and better catered for. This was however a very sparsly walked route, I was aware that some other people had walked from Tarifa before, by now hearing snippets of information pertaining to this. After two days of not walking, Qt's feet having needed time to heal, I was ready for the off, yet nervous, the ominous open clear skies, raining down yet more sunshine. Qt had made her descision to go on ahead by bus to Medina Sedonia, later that morning. I didn't blame her, after all she had not come on the Camino to begin her walk with huge open tracts of land, offering niether shelter nor refreshments. I agreed to see her later in the next hilltop town, knowing all too well it was going to be one hell of a tough walk for me. As straightforward as you could possibly hope for with a final climb inot the village, as had been my experience on arriving into Vejer. I had been very impressed by the small provincial town, set up high on the hill overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and the villages of Barbate and Zahara de los Atunes. Cadiz was clearly visible farther to the north, huge cranes in the marina obvious clues.
The atmosphere of this town had been very conducive towards my writing of the story so far, though of course I am only the mere scribe. But the story wanted to be written and so a tranquil setting like this was the perfect place. I hope that at some point in the future I might find myself back in Tres Mares, to complete and put all the finishing touches to the book, this place being paradise on earth. The Plaza de España in the older part of the town being one of the most lovely settings I have encountered, had become home to some of the writing hours thusfar.

So up at dawn, despite it being somewhat later at this time of the year, and off to see the new roads of Andalucia. A big sleepy hug from Qt to wish me luck, and I was away. Of course because we were travelling by different methods today, I utilized the fact that she was going by coach, and left her with my clothes to be washed, with the idea she might find a launderette and do some washing. Well at the very least I would gain the relief of this few extra kilos, for the journey, however, needing to carry extra water soon had the pack weight back to what it had been previously. I had no real idea of, if and where the opportunity to replenish supplies would come. But of course drinking it would eventually lessen the weight some. On other caminos, the information is well documented as to where all of the refilling points for water are, but as this is an uncommon route, nothing should be left to chance.

Talk about strange coincidences. I had recently given Qt, "The Alchemist", by Paulo Coelho. One of my most favourite novels about journeys and adventures. And here as I left the small town, I met with a man, who directed me towards a little known track out of the town. The path was only passable on foot and led down the hillside, cutting shorter the route via the access roads. it was a dusty old track at first, becoming a centuries old cobbled cart track, winding down the valley side.

In the book, "the Alchemist", a boy called Santiago, a shepherd in the Andalucian mountains, sets off in search of treasure, that he had dreamt of on several occasions. His simple life, suddenly becomes full of choices. And following his heart he sets off from Tarifa, to see the pyramids of Egypt. This was very much in my mind as I arrived in Tarifa myself some days ago. Though my adventure, one that I would be sharing in part with Qt, was to be setting off in completely the other direction, I none the less smiled at the significance it held for me.

As I left the smiling man, I met leaving the village, I had to remark how out of place he had seemed. His voice was tainted with and echo of the East, his Spanish as good, only as my own. But the twinkle in his eyes reminded me of the King of Salem. I pondered this briefly as I walked briskly away, convincing myself only of my furtive imagination. But as I rounded the bend at the bottom of the paved road, I turned, I couldn't get the feeling out of my mind. Sure enough the man had vanished. Even the bench upon which he had sat was gone. A gust of wind ruffled my hair, yet no trees showed similar air disturbance. If I had been asleep before, then I was wide awake now, and ready for anything. I sometimes lie to myself as well, and so when I heard the tinkling of bells, I assumed that it had all been a silly dream. Here was I walking to Santiago de Compostela, in the north west corner of Spain, some 1200km away, and already I was losing the plot.......

Along the track came a herd of goats, or they could have been sheep. I'm no great expert on livestock you should know ! Some black ones and little kids made up the collage. And blending into the midst of the small flock came the shepherd. A lean, medium height, older gentleman, with a huge wide eyed smile. I wanted to greet him with some witty comments, based on my previous rhetoric, but fought against such foolishness.

"Good morning young man".  He greeted.

"I see you are off on your journey too".  Came the follow up.

I was about to reply, when he added.

"Pay attention to the omens".

We stood only metres apart, sheep or goats milling around us everywhere, as I became temporarily speechless. In his eyes, I could realise a lifetime of his own travels to foreign shores and searches for treasure. I dared to believe that I was infact, face to face with one of my greatest heros. It seemed as though time had stood still, the sun moved nowhere and the song of the birds had ceased also. I was awash with a strange feeling of peace and tranquility. The man before me, the boy I knew from fables, kept his gaze upon me.
All of a sudden, the flock scattered, the silence was released and a snake was crossing the track just ahead of us. We smiled as the serpent slithered away, affraid of the goats no doubt.

"Santiago, I presume ?"  Was my opener.

"Ah, you have heard of me then ? Well friend, go in peace and follow your dreams. And remember, where your heart is, your treasure will be also".

He said, waving me goodbye, as he set off up the track, not waiting for more conversation.

"Wait".  I called after him.  "What about Fatima ?"

He turned, still smiling broadly. Rubbing his chin with a pensive thought begging to take over.

"What about her ?"   He responded.

"Well, did you return from your travels and marry her ?"  I quizzed.

"Friend. Curiosity killed the cat. Ask only of the universe, what is really important to you. Fatima is, as Fatima is. You will meet your own Fatima, when you stop really searching and open your eyes to the life you were born to live".

His eyes widened with the beginings of a laugh.

"Look only for answers to the important things of life, then you will have your rewards".

And with a wave of his hand, he was gone and I was dismissed.

For a moment I was unable to move, riveted to the spot. The sound of his goats' bells, following him up the trail and away. Was I in a dream. Had I really met with, "The" Santiago, now an old man, still tending his flocks as carefully as ever ?

Three become Two (Cont)

Hurtling along the carriageway, we resumed our 4km per hour pace, and set off again towards Sevilla. The day dragged along, every place along the road, closed at some earlier time, no need for their facilities. And we two, lost in their greater scheme of life. We rested many times on our way into the future, and by one o'clock we had finally had enough, even though we had covered only half the distance. We saw many dead snakes, and smelt often the  rotting carcasses off deceaced animals, a very promising omen. We found a shady patch of trees and a concrete slab above an underpass, and set about sharing what was left of yesterdays picnic. Dry bread, slices of tomato and a little imagination and we soon dined on crisp sandwiches. Simple but effective. I tried to sleep a while, but soon became chilled by the wind, laying here in the shade, so we set of once more. Further along the road we rested again at the entrance to a Cortijo. A small holding, where the farmer was towing an implement across the fields. The birds were happilly following the harrow, having pickings at the open ground and what it offered. Life was easy here, except for us pilgrims who still had some distance to cover. As the day dragged ever on, we had an occasion to stop, for Qt and I needed to check our feet. The sores were getting more obvious. I was very close to flagging down a passing motorist, and going to the airport. Heat exhaustion was becoming an ever present threat. I remembered I had some chocolate, and Qt had no objections to stopping once more to share our last meagre provisions. Along most of this modern road was a drainage ditch. A vee shaped channel, designed to carry away huge amounts of surface water, god forbid ! This so shaped sluice was a great alternative to the otherwise dusty rocky ground and was surprisingly comfortable once in the shade of a few bushes.
We ate chocolate squares, nuts and the last of our water soon dried up.

"So what will you say to your friends about this ?"  I asked.

"What exactly ?"  Replied QT.

"Well, when you tell them, that you finally ended up in the gutter, eating leftovers. Won`t they think that you have become a vagrant ?"   I Joked.....

Through  humour I was trying to raise our spirits somewhat. I had to admit that I was begining to wonder, just how long I could keep her from worrying, the next few kilometres would be hell. Somehow we made it along to a venta, and found our refreshment. I was falling asleep as we sat drinking, and Qt sat silently watching me enjoy some snoozing.
Soon, she confessed her pains were begining to become too severe to continue walking. We still had some few kilometres to cover  to the next town, our destination for the day. We were actually seated at a place that had rooms to rent, but neither of us wanted , not to reach the main town. At the finish I decided to ask the driver of a car who had stopped at the venta, if he would mind giving Qt a lift as far as the town ahead. He happily agreed, he would drop her at the entrance to the town of Vejer de la frontera. I however bloody mindedly carried on the last few kilometres, finishing my walk, relieved that Qt would have to suffer no more assault on her feet that day. I reached a sign that made my heart sink. The town was still apparently 5km away, despite my seeing it on the hill above me. Qt sent a text message to this affect too, warning me of the time I would need to allow to reach her. I was sure that the village was closer , so I asked a local outside a bar at the foot of the hill. Sure enough, if I went to the left a few metres there was a narrow road that wound its way up the hillside into the town. It wasn`t open to traffic, the way too twisty and steep for most vehicles. My weary legs had still to carry me to the top, but determination soon had me in the main plaza overlooking my huge final assault. With a desire to rest and the call of cold beer I covered the last stage of my journey in under 45 minutes. I found my companion and, was finally able to rest, never so glad to have arrived anywhere.

The small town of Vejer de la frontera, was absolutely devine. A cash point, accomodation with fantstic views, and food we had quite literally, almost died for. We were going to need some time to heal Qt`s blistered feet. She seemed relieved when I finally announced that I would not let her walk the 30km to Medina Sedonia, with her feet in this condition. Apart from tired limbs and a few aches, I was ready for more. We had to enquire about travel arrangements for Qt to arrive at the town I would walk to next, and she seemed to brighten, realising she would be spared such a journey, day three of our camino. I only hope that a way to encourage a more direct route could be promoted to cater for such a walk. But of course I was the pioneer of my own route here, few people would desire to add these few hundred kilometres to the already mamouth Camino. Maybe with some consultation with the relevant authorities, a way could be found to keep my route away from the main roads and pass through the scenic countryside of southern Andalucia, whilst still including the wonderful towns here.

And so, finally in bed, eyes closing, a committment to go on for me, a consideration for Qt and her feet, the final two, had become just one.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


As they say, (whoever they are) "the best laid plans of mice and men".

We finally got to breakfast at about 8.45. and daylight had not yet fully opened our eyes. Being a rest stop for travellers along the national hyway, the hotel bar was home to the locals on their way to work, hence it was very busy. There appeared to be a few europeans in the bar, people who`s skin and hair colour gave away their own heritage. I happened to notice one young lady, who stood out amongst the others. I figured that she was a Swiss, German or Dutch woman. I caught her eye, as I noticed that she was sporting a rather fine pair of hiking shoes, walking trousers and top, and I found myself hoping that she too would prove to be a walker of the Way, in search of adventure. First nail in the coffin, no rucksack. Second, was when she left and climbed into a huge  4x4 jeep and took off into the hills. I have this affect on some women !

We noticed a rather bouyant fellow chatting to a lady at the next table, out on the front terrace. He quite clearly wasn't a Spaniard, though the lady, presumably his wife, did carry the look of Spanish eyes, and tanned skin. Striking up a conversation, was not at all what I had expected. He quickly launched into a self important rhetoric about this that and the other, and how wonderful his wife was, and how wise he was, sporting silver hair. He did look a bit like santa claus now I think about it. But if he had let his wife get a word in edgewise we would have seen for ourselves quite possibly what a nice lady she was.  Intuitively I sensed that she was both a lovely lady, and incredibly patient and longsuffering wife. Good on you, Beverly ! The man who will remain nameless, (for I would not want to fan his ego, anymore than he has thusfar himself) finally stopped for a breath, and this was when I made our excuses to set off. We did actually have about 25km to walk that day. As I was preparing my bag for the journey, the wife informed me that her husband had gone to their car to fetch me a gift. She seemed a little embarrassed, as it made me wait further. I was hoping for a bag full of cash. What I got was a book with a brief apology about its`possible unsuitability as a gift for a walker. What an understatement !!!!!!
The bloody book, weighing in at about half a kilo, somehow found its way into my backpack. Shamefully I just couldn't tell him that I didn't want his gift. Anyone who has done any long treks surely know, that carrying anything that does not have more that two uses is of no use to you. For example, don't carry a 24 pack of beers if you only intend to drink 2 that day. Avoid bringing hair tongues and beauty products, its not a fashion parade. And Never. for the love of god, carry a book on how to drive within the law, in 16 european countries !!!!

The same said offending item is now decorating the inside of the first wheelie bin we came to. But let it be said, that I do owe a debt of gratitude to this person, still un-named, for the lesson it taught me, and the wisdom of saying , NO !
(Which I will apply on the very next occasion.)


Hello to everyone. I am attempting to keep up with the writing which I feel is going very well, and the experiences are coming thick and fast. The problem however is coming with being able to type it on to the blog at a rate to keep you all constantly abreast of where I am. The story will appear as and when I have time to type. My fondest wishes to you all, may the love of the universe keep you safe as it has been for me.

Peaceful Warrior x

Saturday, 18 September 2010


So here we are, trudging !!!!

To trudge.......      To walk slowly with heavy steps. To continue walking with weariness. To walk with great difficulty due to exhaution.

But, with joy in our hearts and some respect for our own shortcomings and misgivings, to keep us earthbound we forged ever on, the heat of the day rising, and our pace reducing.
By about 1 o`clock we decided, despite the coolness of the levanter that we needed to rest once more, for sustenance and a siesta. As a jovial and excited trio we sat and shared the treats each one had carried lovingly to the pavement. The makeshift table in the meagre surroundings of a deserted Venta. A rest stop, that had stopped giving rest to weary travellers some years ago, by the look of the weeds and Ivy growing everywhere. Broken windows, cars smashed from accidents, tow trucks that had long since been themselves used, to clear traumatized steel from the Andalucian hyways, sat whistling in the vehicle cemetry on windy ridge.

I was tired, Qt had begun the shine of blisters accumulating and Shai made us all laugh hysterically. I wandered off in search of something useful to hang our as yet still damp washing from the previous evening. On my return, an improvised ice-cream vending board in hand, I was pleased to hear that Shai had taken up the caring role of listening to Qt`s love woes. Not that I had grown tired of being the listening ear, But I felt sure that she could possibly gain from a further insight into the failings of our judgements, with regards to being in love. From the sounds of his kind and thoughtful words to her and his reasonings, he too had suffered, as we in fact all have at some point. For me, being in love is the most amazing joy anyone can ever experience or hope to recieve. Like wise it could also be the most destructive and painful experience too, being a confusing and traumatic low, even thoughts of killing ourselves were common in this scenario, when it hit rock bottom. One hell of a rollercoaster ride of emotion. That was what, ´Being in love`could do to  normally sane people.

During the siesta period, Shai recieved an sms text message, from a young German woman he had met a few days earlier. He explained how very lovely she was and how much he had hoped to spend some more time with her, but surprised that she had messaged him. She had moved on with her own travels, but it seemed that she had returned to Tarifa. The few days they had spent sowing the seeds of friendship seemed for Shai to have come ripe for the harvest. Apparently she had invited him to meet for a coffee, upon her return from Cadiz. Shai was noticably glowing with a new kind of energy, above what he already displayed. I said that it was a pity that we were so far away now from Tarifa, well along the road to Santiago. He replied with a conviction that he would happily walk back the whole way, for the joy of spending just one more minute with her. I know that when we guys talk like this, that we are indelibly marked with the stirrings of real passion.

"So what will you do?"    I asked already knowing the answer, and what his response would be.

The twinkle in his eyes, gave him away long before we said our goodbyes.
We waved him off, as he mounted a scooter, a local girl giving him a ride to far away bay.

"That`s the last we will see of him,"  said Qt, as my thoughts returned to the road ahead. She was possibly correct, but I am sure that we will see Shai again, but on a different camino. We never got to see him use his devil sticks that he carried, or see him turn the flower. I admire the way some travellers have mastered certain arts by the way of performing entertainment to people. Shai had begun my training that morning, after coffee, showing me the technique needed to be able to juggle lemons. I have always wanted to be able to juggle, but somehow never had the opportunity or teacher to train me. I hope that I will still be able to get the knack of it at some point. If not, then at least there will be plenty of juice to drink.
What I have noticed so far in this life, is that we all have a talent, something to share. Some of us use it to bad effect, unfortunately. But most of us are either too shy, or too affraid to use their given talent. I am a little sadenned that those with real talent, don´t become empowered to display their gift. But of course I do not judge them for it nor pity them. I accept that some people, want to be quiet unassuming souls. Me however, just try and shut me up !!!

The rest of the afternoon was spent, slowly advancing on one wind turbine farm after the next. Huge fields full of machines designed to harvest the wind energy that comes for free in such great quantities here. Sensibly we had rested during the hottest part of the day, yet at shortly after 4 pm, it was still incredibly warm, if not disguised by the breeze. Three had become two, as we strode mightily towards our destination of Tahivilla. The road seemed to go on forever, the tarmac hot beneath our feet, and I wished that there had been a more remote dust track to the village. None such exist at this time, so we made do with occasional stops in the shade of trees along the hyway, resting on the Armco. The road ahead was so straight, but it was consolation that with each footfall, we neared the rest point. Having no idea what we would find in the village, what services were available to weary pilgrims like us, we at first on arriving had to scout the village. It was little after siesta time and still no-one could be seen in the village. We found ourselves eventually in the village plaza. Qt commented on the prettiness of the place, the array of colour and greenery and the layout of the plaza. A bar on the plaza remained dormant and we desperately needed a drink. I got my tin cup out of the back pack and filled it for Qt, from the font in the centre of the plaza. I made a comment about the calcium in the cup as I refilled it. The non use of the tap, possibly had led to a build up. Qt went back to the tap, to either refil the cup or wash her face and hands, I cant remember which, as all of a sudden there was water spraying everywhere, covering Qt.
After I had stopped laughing, we soon realised it was in for the long haul, the basin below rapidly filling. These kind of fonts have a tap that is designed to close automatically after a short period, to save water. This one seemed to have other plans. I tried to cover the spout of the tap, hoping that the return pressure would close the valve. It actually had the reverse affect spraying from the tap head with more force, sending the water further across the plaza, me and Qt. Well at least the trees were getting a good watering. I quickly retrieved my pocket tools from the backpack, the pliers finally getting hold of the tap head and closing the flow eventually. We surveyed the once dry plaza, that looked like we had recently had a downpour, and still not a soul moved, besides us.

We finally arrived at the hotel that also doubled as a roadside rest area, no other type of accomodation seemed available. It was a really lovely place, clean and with comfy beds. The people were incredibly at ease with us as pilgrim warriors. I explained about Qt`s feet to the manageress, and she was very helpful in prescribing aloe vera for her blisters, saying that we could help ourselves to some from her garden, when the sun had gone down, as it would be too liquid at the present moment. Once we were ready to eat we found that the restaurant adjoining was closing, so we had to go back into the village plaza to find something to eat. Fortunately for us, the plaza de agua had dried, and no-one seemed to notice that we had been responsible for using up, almost the entire village water deposits. The bar served tapas and small plates of delicious local faire, but we soon realised that we needed an early night, if we were to be up bright and refreshed in the morning. An old gentleman in the bar however, had other ideas. He kept buying us drinks and remarking on how beautiful he thought Qt was. In fact if he`d been younger he would have been chasing her himself. Fortunately he was a harmless old gentleman who liked drink more than women.....

As we returned to the hotel, we were greeted by the hosts, bearing gift. Detailed maps and information on our onward journey for me and a carefully wrapped piece of aloe vera for Qt. Plenty of help in the administering of said remedy, and we were again surprised, at just how such lovely people seemed to just pop out of the woodwork, just as we needed them. A further evidence of how the universe conspires to provide for us, when we walk the camino. All it seems you needed to do was simply mention the Pilgrimage and people came along with help. We planned to be up at 7am to get the best out of the day, and with our first day and 25 km under our belts we slept as a pair of logs. A well earnt rest.

Friday, 17 September 2010


I was eager to get a better understanding of the people who were now sharing with me, the "To be pioneered route" of the "Pequeno camino Andaluz".
I still know precious little about Qt my younger sister, our paths having crossed few times over her 21 years. I have enjoyed immeansly though the getting to know her these past few weeks.
Shai on the other hand, had a very different upbringing, to both Qt and I, and we entered into some very deep conversations about our personal views of some of the most contraversial subjects, I have yet discovered. Having been brought up as a Jew, in a world constantly under threat of missile attacks, shootings, suicide bombings and very bloody hatred, I was shocked to find that Shai could still have a sense of humour. His revelations about the way he understood the conflicts of the ´Middle east`, brought sadness to my heart. The Jews had been oppressed and victimised, submitted to some of the most evil conduct ever spurned upon another human being, (See Hollacaust) and here was a young man, disclosing his ever present reality, about how still his nation were being treated. Whilst I don´t declare any academic qualifications in ´Middle eastern conflicts`, nor world affairs in general, I do see with an open heart, the vile and despicable conduct of mankind presently, and in history.
Shai explained in some detail the kinds of daily exploits of the neighbouring Arabic tribes, factions, and governments. Very similar I noticed, to the way Pakistan seemed to pretend that the academies of terrorism were not conducted in thier backyard. It seemed that for some undeclared reason, except the supposed anhilation of the complete race of the Jews, that the Arabs would constantly taunt and provoke the retaliation of the Israeli armies.
Whilst realising there are always two sides to any story or argument, I had to agree that in one way, the little newly formed (in terms of history) state of Israel, did have to defend themselves, showing with force even, that they would not continually stand by and see their civilian towns rained upon by enemy missiles. We cannot in our western culture, say with equinamity, that we do not see any of this as pointless and pathetic, when we ourselves, throw so much public funds, into our own brand of terrorism. We manage to describe this as, ¨the defense of our boarders`, despite Britain, not having land boarders with either Afghanistan nor Iraq.
Investigating theological topics, Shai was fascinated to hear how we in our ´Christian cultures`, have such fear over the issues between God and the Devil. It came as a surprise to me also to hear, that they do not have quite the same feudal dilema about the sin of Adam, nor the relevance of Jesus being the son of god, and redeemer of mankind. I had to laugh though, as according to the widely accepted bible view, it was the Jews` who had Jesus put to death, executed by Pontius Pilate, the Roman govenor.

Shai told us that, whenever two Jews are gathered together, then three opinions exist.!!!

A Jewish father, whos son cam to him with his newfound desire to become, ´a Christian`, once prayed to God.
"God my son wants to become a Christian, what should I do?"
"Tell me about it !!!!"   replied God.

And here was born my more accepting and open view, that the Jews can infact, laugh at their own shortcommings.

Of course whilst laughing at the comedy of our remarks, the miles flew by and we soon had need of rest and refreshments.Qt noticed a spot along the seafront, as we followed the western coast, so we made tracks to the green and lush oasis. I noticed that the cafe signs were not out and the gate was closed to our passage. We decided to drop our heavy burdens and camp out for a while. Not being one to miss out on my morning coffee, I took a brief stroll along the fenceline, to find the entrance to the complex, boasting such lush green trees.
My jaw almost hit the floor, met by the most wonderfully tranquil garden oasis. Sculptures with water flowing over them, a pool, lazy couches throughout the grounds, even winding log paths dissappearing further into the trees. I had died and gone to heaven for sure!! Making my way into the entrance vestibule of this hotel, I became further coerced to relax. Huge antique oak doors, wooden furniture from eons gone by, took me almost to another world, smelling the seasoned and treated timbers. At the desk, a pretty young lady begged of me my inquiry. It was simply that we could have a coffee. Of course, a passing traveller was welcome to use the cafeteria. She pointed me in the direction of the deeper reaches of the garden paradise, where all my dreams would come true. (Well, nearly all)
At once I ran hurriedly back to invite my travelling companions to take repast with me.

"What is it like ? "  they asked quizzically.

"Well, if you could say that to be met by girls in hula skirts, and comforts beyond your wildest fantasy, then I would say it is as close to paradise as I have seen."

My hyperbole, a little extreme, but poetic lisence besides, it was the most incredible way to welcome my new travelling companions to the experiences beheld, walking to Santiago.

As we returned, they remarked in their own comprehension of my understatements as to the peace and relaxing surroundings we had entered.
At the Tres Mares, "Chillout hotel", close to Tarifa, we three pilgrims shared our first meal, breakfast, together with people who had clearly given an arm and a leg to be there. For a very modest contribution, we ate and drank ´til we were sated.
I had the pleasure of relaying our mission to Gloria, a pleasntly corteous waitress, who gave such a lovely welcome and attention. After thoroughly enjoying the experience, we made ready to leave, and I asked if I could have the business card for the hotel. I will be definately returning here at some point, to revisit these tranquil surroundings. Gloria directed us to the hotel reception once more, and I had the great pleasure to meet and converse with our real hostess. Claudia, a Swiss girl, who´s way was very much, that of a Peaceful Warriorette, did her level best to avail me of the business card, and further detailed information on our onward quest. Herself a follower of the "way",, the "Camino Frances", like myself, was well aware of the positive reactions felt by the bretheren of this centuries old pilgrimage. I apologied for my brief interuption of the running of the hotel, but she simply waved aside my concerns, as she gathered data as to places and distances we were yet to travel. I was so impressed, yet not surprised, the way another pilgrim, so quickly returned to, the giving to strangers, of their time and energies. Claudia seemed keen to know all about our plans, though I quickly explained, how few they really were. With a sincere wish from Gloria, for our success, a huge Camino Hug from our wondeful hostess Claudia, we set sail once more on the oceans of adventure, replete and content, and with a spring in our steps.
May the Universe bless these good people, is my daily prayer towards them...


During the previous afternoon, upon arriving by coach, from Marbella, QT and I had set off once housed in our hostel, looking for a laundry service, that would be cheaper than the extortionate 12 Euros charged at the residence we had chosen. Rooms were reasonable enough and the price was fair, but apparently no washing of clothes was one of their house rules. We discovered this, once we had already begun the task of handwashing. Well, never mind we thought.....
We visited the local supermarket and set about putting together a simple faire of cheese and ham sandwiches, with grapes and olives to compliment. Oh and the most gorgeously sweet and chocolatey profiteroles I have ever tasted. Maybe it was the sea air, possibly the expectation of a mega walk, but I ate with a passion, not seen for some time. Qt and I were contemplating an early night, in preperation for the early start, when in walked Shai.

The dining area was light and airey, but Shai brought more light to the waning evening.Qt later commented on having already spoken briefly with him, and her ´good feeling´about meeting him. He asked about our plans and told us of how he himself had just finished reading the book by Paulo Coelho about "The pilgrimage", that had been translated into Hebrew. He had found it most exciting and was keen to hear all about the love and brotherhood, shared in the ´way of santiago´, and we too, soon learned about his own travels from many places and the strange coincidences these past few months. Finally he asked if he could follow with us, until possibly Sevilla, on our journey. Well of course it is a free world and anyone can follow the way, but I told him of our plans to leave the following morning, so asked that he be ready by 7am, in the lobby of the hostal. He agreed, and Qt and I went off to sleep. We both agreed that we sensed a quiet and pleasant soul in Shai. Obviously he had been serious about his request, making arrangements for his other luggage to be collected by friends, and stored. He was up early, making coffee for us all, in the tiny kitchen, and here leaving the hostal, before the daylight had come, the three amigos were born.

Walking poles at the ready, Devil sticks for Shai, we set off on the first stage of our approximately 150 km walk to Sevilla. I later found out it is closer to 200 km, but we waved Tarifa, her festivities, her meeting of oceans and tremendous winds goodbye. Shai, a young man of mixed origins, austensibly viewed as a Jew because of his fathers´ line, was not the usual subject to be walking the ´Camino´to a Christian saint. He was however, keen and jubilant of spirit at joining our road to adventures new. As I also proffess no great faith as far as any religious conviction is concerned, Qt a recent convert to ´normalism´, then me, Qt, and Shai the Jew, made a rather odd trio to be on the road to Santiago.
There was however, to be a very enjoyable and open conversation take place, that helped raise both our spirits and our levels of humour. Shai had a nice temperament and high level of humour, able to laugh even at himself and the apparent clash of  Ideology we shared. We were however so very happy to be listening to one another as we walked alomg the incredibly scenic coastline of western Andalucia and her mountains. Qt, so named by me, because she is a quiet thinker, and also very much a cutey, didn´t seem to falter, as we strode off into the new and exciting horizons.

Monday, 13 September 2010


With fiesta still resounding, we woke in darkness to the very joyful, yet drunken voices. They were singing and dancing in the street, oblivious to anyone sleeping, but sure, they were full of life.The towns folk of Tarifa had been waiting a whole year for their chance to relax, unwind and share with each other the joys of community and family togetherness. And here they were, giving voice at 6.30 in the morning, as Emma and I arose to begin our marathon trek to Sevilla and soon Santiago de Compostela.
Having already completed the walk from the French Pyrenes mountains into Spain and across the northern terrortories of several spainish regions of the ´camino frances´, I was well accustomed to the early rising of walkers. The routine was a safety measure as much as a pleasant choice then, the days soon get unbearably heated  until siesta time shortly after midday. But today as we rose early to the merryment, very few were the pilgrims leaving Tarifa. Three to be precise. It would appear upon closer scrutiny that very few people had ever considered the walk to Sevilla, ahead of the beginning of the Via de la Plata (the silver route). Exactly why, is to be amoungst my investigations henceforth. It is a beautiful, if slightly dangerous road. The thrill for me, to be able to pioneer a new and seemingly unpopulated route, spurred me on, as I considered starting in Tarifa. Tarifa being the most southerly point of the whole of Europe, seemed like an idyllic beginning to our new Camino Andaluse. Of course there are to be found towns and villages as in other spainish regions, yet this first day and possibly the next few, will be sheer tests of will, covering large areas of land with little real respite and few watering holes. The occasional abandoned rest area the main attractions. This first day, the earth scorched with a hot summer, has been very parched, the morning greener, the afternoon very hard going.
Being one to live life as it arrives, I had made few plans of any kind. I did precious little research as to the route or accomodation that I would encounter, believing , as is my new custom,  that the universe would assit me. As a test of my resolve, the universe has asked in return that I allow Emma, my little sister, to follow the journey and share the joy to be had. This also means the pain too as she now realises, sporting two blisters, one per heel and sore shoulders from the burden of a rucksack. "But to suffer as a Pilgrim, is ultamitely worth each small sacrifice" as one English poet wrote.
The wind crossing the straights of Gibralter were whipping at our heels and the sky unusually still dark, meant we could see little of north Africa, save for the lights of Tangiers away in the distance.  Emma, to be known henceforth as QT, was a little retiscent to finally leave the hostal, I sensed.  Possibly realising the huge challenge was finally beginning after everal days in relaxation and meditation on our journey to this point. Also excited to be leaving was Shai.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Travels underway.

Good day to one and all. Here we are at the begining of the journey. Emma has been very keen to enjoy all that Spain has to offer, but like me has been excited about getting out of the faster paced city of Barcelona. We stayed for 4 days and had a good time relaxing and taking in all the wonders of the city.
For me the best part were the city parks.  Looking out upon the Cathedral in progress, (Sagrada famalia) was an awesome sight. I wrote a few poems about time here in Barcelona, and narrowly avoided losing my poetry book to pick pockets. Thankfully the universe was looking out for me. 
We, emma and I, are presently in  Marbella on our way to Tarifa. I hope that there will be a way to walk from there to Sevilla, so that my Camino can be as long as is possible. Emma, however seems daunted by the extra difficulty this may offer, so I hope that a way opens for us to do it. We will be afterall, pioneers of the longest route across Spain. I intend to start the book this week, so wish me well with adventures to write about. Aha, the bus is calling...... Tarifa here we come !!!!