Monday, 11 June 2012

Day 1 Sarria to Portmarin

Day 1 - Sarria to Portomarin 24kms
We assemble for breakfast at the only bar open at 7:30am near our hostel, and we are ready to start our Camino. Everyone is prepared and excited to finally start walking after weeks of preparation. We have to pull out our rain capes straightaway as a shower comes down but we have already practised in our preparation. We get two or three showers during the day but not enough to cause any problems such as soaked shoes.
We walk exquisite countryside, the path is well maintained with excellent markings and many cafes and hostels alomg the way. We have a lot of company as dozens of walkers are going the same way as us. Everyone uses the greeting 'buen camino' with the walkers or buenos dias with the locals. We walk at differnt speeds and soon the group is split into two or three sets. We chat to many walkers from all over the world. One Scottish man tells me he has seen another Sikh man called Amrit, who maybe within twenty kms of where we are and the Scot comments 'his beard is not as spectacular as yours'. I am thrilled and look forward meeting up with Amrit. Later I meet a Japanese lady who has been walking for a month starting from the French border about 600 kms away.
Finally comes a casual meeting with a man, which is destined to kindle my spiritual fires. Its only a fleeting encounter as he is the only one walking in the opposite direction, one amongst hundreds. I can only think of asking his name and where he is going and he has such an air of calm and reminds me of the 'sadhus' of India, who give all earthly belongings and relationships to discover the meaning of life and Nirvana. He is Pedro and walking back to his home in Barcelona, more than a thousand miles away. Without knowing why I am overcome with emotion and we continue our walks in opposite directions.
Later, after getting to Portmarin, checking into our hostel, lunch followed by a shower, I lay down and remember the meeting with Pedro and wonder if it was one of those meetings that was supposed bring me a message. I cant help feeling that I have missed an opportunity and perhaps I should have asked him more searching questions. Questions like what he found on the Camino, what were his objectives, what did he feel when he got to Santiago and stood in front of the cathedral and many more. It occurs to me that the Camino must be full of the energy left behind by millions of walkers, many of them highly spiritual, and that I should try and feel this energy and absorb it for my own develoment. Also I should watch out for more people like Pedro and try and get the messages they may have for me.
I have a new excitement for the days ahead, and I am thankful to have this opportunity, which I owe to a large extent, to someone who may not even be aware of what she has done for me merely by not being able to join me on this walk!!

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