Wow, I was so happy to return on the Camino after I had walked a first part from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Nájera in 2010. I’d turn back time and return there directly now, quite some time later…I love Madrid and I love the Way of St. James. Most of all the lifestyle, the landscapes and the people on the way. They’re all great. So let me take you on this adventure and read how my walk of 2012 started.
Travelling to the Camino via Madrid
I actually set off to Spain on May 13th and made a short stop in Madrid. Luckily I had met another pilgrim from there in 2010. Its always great to know someone living in the city you are visiting. Carlos showed me a little bit around Madrid, led me from bar to bar and ordered several traditional Spanish dishes for me to taste. It was sooo yummy. I love pulpo, a traditional Galician dish. So I was looking forward to walking through Galicia now 🙂
I then took the train from Madrid to Logroño and spent the night there. I first hadn’t been sure if I’d start my Camino there and then decided to go to the bus station first thing next morning to see how soon I’d have a bus from there to Nájera.
As it came out the next bus was going to set off a quarter hour later. Cool! So I wouldn’t have to walk the way from Logroño to Nájera again.
Astonished to still understand Spanish
I already started my Camino at the bus station in Logroño. While waiting for the bus to arrive, a woman adressed me and asked if I was a pilgrim. She was a nurse from Peru and was in Spain alone in order to earn money and send it back to her family in Peru. All of her family, even her 3 kids, were still there. Leaving your family behind is so hard!
She told me about the other pilgrims she had met before. Some of them walking from their home countries to Santiago and seemingly many of them musicians. She saw my guitalele and meant that while in normal live maybe about 10% of the population are artists, this share is much higher among the pilgrims. It’s up to 30%. This might actually be true!
About setting off and discovering differencies in my way of walking
I left the bus in Nájera and first searched for the pilgrim’s hostel to get the first stamp on my credencial, as I had stopped there in 2010 already.
Afterwards I started walking along the Camino.
Meeting people is so easy here! I decided to take a coffee in the first village, Azofra, and just asked a few other pilgrims if I could join them. One of them was from America and all of the others from Germany. There are many Germans here. They had all set off in St Jean on the French side of the pyrenees and therefore were walking day 9 or 10. They subsequently were all suffering from feet problems! This is often starting from day 5 or so.
But I am walking differently now than in 2010. While I had met 2 Austrian guys in Orisson back then and kept on walking with them until Logroño, I now decided to walk independently. Which means I join other pilgrims, have a good talk and then say bye again and go my own way.
I noticed that by joining a group of people it is not only more difficult to find one’s own pace because we tend to clinch to people we like. By joining groups we also tend to focus on this group and not see the beauty around us. But as a renowned Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh stated rightly:
The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
I am also differently in what I perceive around me. I see so many little and nice things, like a nice flower on the side of the path or the shades of a cornfield. The first day I felt like a Japanese tourist. Stopping every now and then to take a photo.
I particularly loved striding out and feeling the light breeze around my body. Its great weather for walking right now, as the temperatures aren’t that high. So I already was in Santo Domingo de la Calzada at around 1pm, after having set off in Nájera at about 9am. Spent a nice evening there, as it is a nice little Spanish city. Here some more impressions from day 1:
So, of course I’d have much more to write. But I am now in Burgos and my bus to Carrion de los Condes is going at 11.30 am. I will try to get internet access from there!