18th Jun, 2011

Camino Revisit

Amsterdam, June 18, 2011

It took nearly 9 months, but finally the child was born…

Life is much more powerful than any plans that we mortals have. My plan was to have a video made from all the photos I’ve taken during my 6-week journey to Santiago and beyond.

I wanted it to be ready by Christmas 2010 as a gift to myself and as a completion for an amazing year. A year of transition.

That was my plan. But as John Lennon said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” It took around 9 months to get the video ready.

So for those that were there with me as fellow travelers of the Way. For those that followed me through the blog and for those that were there in my heart and followed me with their heart, here is a video that sums it all.

Would love to have your comments and remarks to it.

Have a magical Life! Love and light, Vered

October 20 – Amsterdam
Back home after a good night sleep in my own bed, no more bunk beds and snoring. Waking up to a new day. Am I a new person? I don’t think so – I’m just a bigger person than I was before. I realized that it’s all about waking up to our own brilliance and greatness – no need to change, no need to transform – just grow.

When I got this insight the main feeling I had was gratitude and thanks to all those people that have been with me throughout this journey and were there to support, encourage and cheer me up when I needed.

19th Oct, 2010

End of the World and Back

October 18 – Finisterre
So I traveled to the end of the world, following the ancient Celts who used to follow the path of the sun to Finisterre. On the summit of Monte del Focho, above the lighthouse of today, they used to celebrate rites of fertility and the sun. In accordance to that tradition I got me an amazing sunny day. The sea was sparkling blue and the wind was soft.

The Phoenicians built here the sun temple Ara Solis and the Romans called it Finis Tarrea (End of Land) and beyond it lay the Mare Tenebrosum (The sea of darkness) as they called the Atlantic as nothing was known beyond it until Columbus sailed from here to discover the New World.

So with all this history around me I sat on one of the rocks underneath the lighthouse enjoying the sun and the silence. Far below me in the sea was a fishing boat with flocks of seagulls around it – I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my journey.

So here I am – and what now? What New World would I discover now? There is a Camino tradition of bathing in the sea,burning at least some of the clothes you wore during your journey and sitting and watching the sunset in Finisterre. The idea is that if you do so you will wake up the next day as a new person.

18th Oct, 2010

Amazing Grace – At Last

October 18 – Santiago de Compostella
Woke up at 6:30 (probably a habit by now..) I wanted to go to the cathedral at 7:00 when they open it hoping that the circus that was there yesterday will be less due to the hour.

The main entrance was closed at 7:20 when I arrived but the side one was open. It was quiet and peaceful when I entered, only 3 cleaning ladies were there cleaning the debris of yesterday, probably, and preparing for the flood of today’s tourists and pilgrims. There were only 3 other people sitting and praying and I felt good in the Church.

After marvelling the beauty of it all, I sat down to meditate – closed my eyes – and then it hit me – a wave of gratitude and Grace came over me – the place was filled with Grace – that soft healing energy that loves and heal us all.

In the midst of this rich, powerful church – where most of the time it’s all about business of holiness and religion, in the heart of it all, under all the costumes and ceremonies – there is Grace. That feminine side of God and Spirit. This is Grace place. A place to come and heal, a place of forgiveness, a place of love, gratitude and completion. A place to come to at the end of your journey – so appropriate also for Life.

17th Oct, 2010

One Million Steps

October 17 – Pedrouza – Santiago de Compostella
They say that on an average if you start in St.Jean Pied du Port in France you will make around one million steps before reaching Santiago. Well, I’ve probably did much more due to the fact that my steps were small when I was tired and in pain. But in any case – I just did those one million steps and I have reached the Cathedral in Santiago.

I was savoring every little second before reaching Santiago. It was as if the closer I got to the city the slower I wanted to walk. On one hand I wanted to be there and have it over with, on the other hand I tried to postpone that moment a bit longer.

I left early the Albergue – I just couldn’t stay in I wanted to start that last day. It was 7:30 when I started walking. I forgot how dark it is now days at this time of the morning.

It was the first time on the Camino that I felt a bit of fear. The path took me into the forest and it was so dark I couldn’t see anything except two paths that I had to choose between and no sign of a yellow arrow to point out the right direction. The path in both ways looked dark and frightening and reminded me of old drawings of Hansel and Gretel story in the forest. There was something lurking out there in the dark… I wasn’t so sure anymore if it was a good idea to start that early.

16th Oct, 2010

40 Days

October 16 – Arzua – Pedrouza (Arca O Pino)
No, it has not been forty days since I started this journey (for those who are following me and counting the days…), but it would be forty days since I left home tomorrow and it would be forty days of walking once I reach Finisterre on Monday.

The reason I am putting so much attention on it is that it seems that forty is one of those magical numbers in human history. The Israeli tribes wandered in the Sinai desert for forty years. Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days before he got the Ten Commandments. Jesus was tested by the Devil for forty days. So it seems that forty is the amount that takes before some transformation takes place.

October 15 – Melide – Arzua
In two days I’m going to reach Santiago and then this journey is over. Like a friend has already commented on this blog – maybe this journey will be finished but the journey is never over. The end is always a beginning of something new.

The walk today was truly short – only 14 km going through forests and valleys. The forests have changed from chestnut forests to oak trees and towards Arzua we started getting tall high eucalyptus trees, which reminded me old childhood summer days spend under eucalyptus trees at my aunts place and brought many memories of those days and I found myself walking and singing to myself old songs.

As I come closer to the end of this journey I’ve noticed how I’m already trying to summarize it, analyze it and conclude it, even before I actually finished it. Something which is very characteristic of me and which does not allow me to truly complete things and enjoy fully the completion of projects and the joy of celebrating the end of them. I’m always busy with either analyzing the experience of – what’s next! Maybe this time I should do it differently.

15th Oct, 2010

A Perfect Day

October 14 – Areixe- Melide

After a good night sleep – this has been a great walking day. Walked 22 km and didn’t even feel it passing by. I enjoyed it so much, especially that I had no need to put myself into a bubble because all the tourists on the Road were either before me or behind me. I had the Road back to myself. It was wonderful.

The day turned out to be another glorious autumn day. It is amazing to notice how quickly the colors change. When I started walking everything was bright green and now the leaves have changed into yellow, brown and red, giving a whole different atmosphere to the Road. In this quite day I could enjoy the colors, the smells and the beauty of the countryside.

14th Oct, 2010

I’m Tired

October 13 – Portomarin – Areixe
The Albergue in Portomarin was a great one. New, spacious, clean and modern – no spirit, but after 6 weeks, who cares. At the end of the day all I want is a good, clean bed, hot powerful showers, good washing machines AND dryers as the weather not always allows us to dry in the sun and if possible good Internet. That defines a good Albergue after 6 weeks. And if possible some space between the beds and no snoring people…

All this was found in the one in Portomarin and even more – great view over the river, which meant that dinner had a great scenery also. I went to sleep immediately after dinner, which meant that before 21:00 I was in dreamland. Don’t remember when I slept so early since high school…

However, I woke up with no desire to walk. Even though I’m dying to get to Santiago already it seemed as if this morning my body was saying – enough is enough. It was protesting.

12th Oct, 2010

The Last 100 KM

October 12 – Sarria – Portomarin
Had a great night sleep. Maybe the injection, maybe the fact that had my private quarters, maybe just because – the fact was I woke up to a new bright day.

Started walking late – around 9:00 and was blessed with a wonderful weather. I knew that the road would be filled with people. Today was a National Holiday in Spain and bus loaded people were walking on the road. But not only them.

Sarria is the place from where most people start walking the Camino as they would be approved to receive the credentials as doing the Camino if they walk those last 100 km and show the proof that they have done it. So all the books warn us that from Sarria the Road would be loaded with people and that we might have problems with lodgings in Albergues as they tend to fill up quickly. In order to avoid it – at least for today I have asked the woman that run the Albergue in Sarria to reserve for me a place in Portomarin for tonight and she has done it – so I was relaxed in that issue and could enjoy my walk.

October 11 – Samos – Sarria
My plan for this day was to walk to Beldorados which was about 18 km walk, an easy day by my standards of today. However, when I woke up I realized that my bites became a serious issue, it was spreading all over my body and I was itchy all over. Not only that some of them became infected and looked very bad. I knew I need to get to a pharmacy as soon as possible to get something for them. Beldorados was a too small village for me and I knew I need to spend some time in Sarria, so I decided to make it a short day – only 11 km.

I looked at my plan for the rest of the days and I knew that I would have no problem catching up as anyway the last few days are short distances (15-18 km) so I could add up the missing ones on one of those days. Right now I needed medical advice and also I didn’t have access to Internet already for 4 days and I knew that some people might be concerned for not reading anything new on my blog for such a long time, so I wanted to spend some time on the Internet, another reason to stay in Sarria.

The itching on my body became worse and worse and it was impossible to ignore it. As I had only 2 hours of walk I allowed myself a few more minutes in bed and to take my time in the morning. I was hoping to feel better, but I didn’t.

11th Oct, 2010

Enchanted Forests

October 10 – Fonfria – Samos
Little did I know when I said that from now on it’s all about fun and beauty all the way to Santiago. That night I didn’t sleep well. My legs and my back were causing me pain and I was thirsty the whole night. When I woke up I discovered a few bites on my arm, but it seemed like just mosquitoes bites, so I didn’t give it much notice.

I left late – at 8:45 as I wanted to see the way. The book described the way as a magical walk in the forest so I didn’t want to miss anything. I knew that the 20 km to Samos could be covered easily in 4 hours so I was in no hurry to leave.

As I started walking I realized that the book was not accurate. The walk was AMAZING! I was walking in ancient land where trees could talk and ferns could sing. It felt as if I fall down the rabbit hole and found myself in one of Tolkien books and I could just imagine Hobbits and elves just around the corner.

11th Oct, 2010

Climb Every Mountain

October 9 – Vega de la Vacrace – Fonfria
Anyone growing up in the ’60 probably has seen Sound of Music and knows many of the songs of that movie. However there is one song in that movie that not many people know (as it was hard to sing) that years later I found the most inspiring one – it’s called Climb Every Mountain – here are the words for those who don’t know what I’m talking about:
“Climb every mountain,
Search high and low,
Follow every byway,
Every path you know.

Climb every mountain,
Ford every stream,
Follow every rainbow,
‘Till you find your dream.

11th Oct, 2010

Camino duro

October 8 – Cacabelos – Vega la Valcarce
The problem with getting a new body is that it is like getting a new toy. Once you get it you want to check all the options it has and how far can it go. So today I gave my new body a test drive.

I woke up early and I was ready to leave at 7:00 but there was no-one from the hostel so I had to wait until 7:30 when someone showed up and then I had my coffee and toast and went on my way.

The day seemed grayish and there were clouds covering the sky and it seemed that it is going to rain any minute so I was wearing my raincoat and had the cover over my backpack. But after an hour it seemed as if I got to an agreement with the sky that they will not rain until I get to a safe place and therefore I took off my raincoat.

In the first village I met Joost again. I was following the Latin music that was playing from the Bar when I heard my name being called and as I turned around there was Joost. I haven’t seen him for 3 days and here he was again.

8th Oct, 2010

I Have a New Body

October 7 – Riego de Ambroes – Cacabelos
I have a new body! It’s like Bruce said that somewhere along the way you get a new body. I just walked 29 km today!

I should have known that it’s going to be a glorious day with that amazing sunset last night. I went to bed and slept extremely well and woke up to a lovely home-made breakfast – toast and home-made marmalade and no shouting TV of the bar!

The weather outside seemed kind but it was still dark to make out how it’s going to turn out.

I started walking at 8:00 and was so happy that I decided to stay last night, as the trail down the hill to Molinaseca was steep and hard. It took me a good 1:30 to get there and I’m quite sure that yesterday with the rain and tiredness it would have been nearly 2 hours of tense walk.

7th Oct, 2010

Trusting My Intuition

October 6 – Rabanal – Riego de Ambroes
Woke up after a great night sleep to a gray and rainy day. Didn’t mind it all as I felt prepared for it. I had my new poncho, my warm leggings, gloves AND I knew already the joy of walking in the rain.

Started walking at dark even though it was already 7:30 and due to the fact that it was cloudy it didn’t turn light before 8:30. You could see that the sun was working hard to break through those clouds, but all it could make was a line of red in the sky underneath the clouds.

The day started with 6 km of steep climbing to Foncebadon, which is a village that was abandoned at the 19th century but due to the popularity of the Camino it was recently come to life again.

7th Oct, 2010

Being Part

October 5 – Astorga – Rabanal del Camino
One thing I’ve found out on this Camino is the unlimited amount of noise that sleeping people can make is unbelievable. If I thought that the snoring orchestra of Lograno was bad, came last night and proved to me the new heights that snoring can achieve.

No doubt I was cranky in the morning as a result of that I’ve left late and was caught by the morning rush of pilgrims. The whole day felt as starting on the wrong foot.

During the whole day the energy was so buzz I couldn’t find myself. “Herds” of Spanish people suddenly appeared on the trail walking and talking in voices that could wake up the dead. No matter if I slowed and let them pass me, or walked a bit faster and pass them, somehow I would be stuck between talking groups.

If yesterday the trail wandered lovely in real nature, today we were walking again next to the road, a country road, but still from time to time a car would pass by bringing me back to the speed of life.

5th Oct, 2010

Desire for Silence

October 4 – Hospital de Orbigo – Astorga
Left with heavy heart the Albergue as it made me feel like home. Antonio the Hospitaller served us breakfast like a mother hen. Said goodbye to him and left on my way at dark.

Soon the light came in and I had another glorious sunrise. The skies were clear blue with only a few white clouds that turned into pink as the sun came out. It seemed as if the skies have dumped all the rain during the night to leave us with another wonderful day.

4th Oct, 2010

Safe Harbor

October 3 – Villar de Mazarife – Hospital de Orbigo
Knowing that all I have to walk for today is 13 km allowed me to sleep until 7:00, which is very late for me.

The fact that I had the whole room for myself meant that no-one disturbed my sleep. I planned to leave with first light, which is today around 8:00 o’clock.

I took my time in my room doing Yoga, preparing my body for the walk and packing my backpack.

October 2 – Leon – Villar de Mazarife
Leon the last big town and cultural highpoint before Santiago. The military stronghold founded by Roman soldiers in 68 AD developed until the 3rd century into the political and military centre of the north-western Iberian peninsula. Under the command of Almansur Moorish armies destroyed the settlement in 996, but it was rebuilt under Alfonso V (999-1027). From the 10-12 century Leon was the capital of the kingdom of the same name that reached from Atlantic to the Rhone.

2nd Oct, 2010

Leon – Half Point

October 1 – El Burgo Ranero – Leon
Slept good and woke up early (5:45) as wanted to start walking by 6:30 so I’ll make it on time to Mansilla de Mulas to get the bus.

It was pitch dark but the restaurant where I eat yesterday dinner was open and I had one of the best breakfast on the way,until now and that set me off good spirit for the day. Started walking and the cold air and darkness was welcoming for me. I felt that the Road is all mine, no one to disturb me or catch up with. I’ve noticed that I was walking strong again and back to my original speed and it felt good. I was back in my body and it felt strong and healthy.

September 30 – Sahagun – El Burgo Ranero
After refreshing myself in that oasis Albergue in Sahgun, I decided to use the time and go to the medical center in that town. Borrowed a bike from the nice girl in the reception and biked my way down the street to the medical center (walking was out of the question…)

Once I got there a nice Dr. received me (didn’t speak a word of English) but has probably seen hundreds of pilgrims to identify my problem. Checked my leg. X-Ray-ed it to make sure nothing is broken or cracked and sent me off with a prescription that only once I was at the pharmacy I got that it was a simple Voltaren gel, but it was enough to calm my mind from the worry.

Next day, the miracle happened – my leg did not hurt and it took 4 hours before I started feeling it pulling and making signs of tiredness and weakness. But that was close enough to my destination that I was over joyed that the pain was gone. Those who have not suffered from chronic pain do not know the joy and freedom that is felt once you are free from that chronic pain. That’s how I felt – free!

29th Sep, 2010

Wild Wild West

September 29 – Calzadilla – Sahagun
Welcome to the Wild Wild West. That’s how I felt most of this day as I walked from Calzadilla. The villages looked like from a scene from an old western movie describing Mexico. The scenery was even more fitting.

Many people on the road are talking about taking a bus or a train to Leon and skipping this emptiness. The only problem is that today there is a national strike here in Spain and there are no buses or trains, which forces then either to walk or stay an extra day in the same place.

I must say that as I was walking today I also started feeling tired, bored and frustrated from the walk. It felt like walking for the sake of walking. It felt if there was no purpose for it.

I realized that this is how many people feel about life. When people do not have a purpose when things become boring, tiring or frustrating they give up on the will to live. They die inside and start growing old. They give up.

It reminded me of a poem my mom sent me after she read a few of my blog entries. It’s one of my old time favorites and only now I could identify with it. It’s a loose translation from Hebrew. The song is called: “Songs of the Road”:

September 28 – Carrion – Calzadilla de la Cueza
Three weeks since I left Amsterdam and it’s as if I’m living a different planet. Everything is about how many km a day will I walk today, where would I sleep at night and how to ease the pain.

Yesterday after soaking my feet and legs in a bath of ice-cold water for more than 30 minutes and another 30 minutes of hot shower I felt like a new person. I came to realize that life can be so simple. All I need is a good bed, good shower with warm water and a good dinner and I’m happy! This Camino makes me realize how little do we actually need in life to make us happy and satisfied.

28th Sep, 2010

No Pain No Glory

September 27 – Boadilla – Carrion de las Condos
Woke up to find out that my face and neck served as a midnight party place for the giant mosquitoes and my neck and face look like after a feast of vampires. Anyone that sees me probably thinks that I’m either a leper or a teenager (wishful thinking Vered…)
I just realized that vanity doesn’t die with age it just disguises itself in many forms…

If there is one day where at the end of the day I feel proud of myself it is this day. Today I have stretched myself beyond anything that I thought is possible for me.

I started walking at around 7:30, which was very late for me, but due to the fact that it was still dark and freezing cold, breakfast sounded like a good alternative for the cold outside.

As I started my walk I’ve realized that it’s going to be a long day for me for the speed I was walking was about the same as glacier movements, any slower and I would be walking backwards. I got to see the sunrise which was amazing: I can’t get over the beauty of the sunrise and the miracle of when day breaks in.

September 26 – Castrojeritz – Boadilla de Camino
Leaving at 6:30 after a great hug with Mau on my way to Boadilla – hoping to make it without too much pain. I also wanted to get as far as possible from the noisy French group who were up from 5:00 and without any consideration to anyone else and still were in the Albergue making noise. I must say I was contemplating of hiring a hit-man to finish them off. I know, not very Camino way of thoughts, but that’s how far it went…

It was dark as I left and when I reached the edge of the village I saw the Camino sign and thought that I saw the direction of the arrow, but after a while I had the feeling I’m going the wrong way and decided to go back to the sign and check it. Sure enough the arrow was pointing to the other direction. I knew that I have to be more careful and more accurate. I couldn’t afford making such mistakes with my leg. I couldn’t allow myself doing too much detours due to mistakes.

After a while I could turn my head flashlight off and allow the moon to guide me. I was happy and grateful that i had my new thermo shirts it was so cold and windy that I kept all 4 layers of cloths until 11:30!

28th Sep, 2010

Learning to Rest

September 25 – Castrojeritz
By my “knight in shining armor” orders I had to take a day off to rest. I think that was one of my biggest lessons on the Camino. Resting a whole day for me was hard! I did not know what to do with myself. I can rest for a few few hours, but a whole day – that was a challenge!

The day started by saying goodbye to Jeff and giving him the maps that I took from home of the Camino that I had no use for, while he could have used them as they had instructions for cyclists also.

My plan was to wait in the bar/restaurant until the albergue I stayed the night will be open again and I could come in.

However, the bar was closed and it was FREEZING cold, so I continued up the street of the village until I’ve reached the Municipal albergue. I asked the hospitaller if I could stay in during the day due to teh fact that I had to rest. He said “no problem” and only asked me if I’m willing to sit on the patio until he finishes cleaning the place. That was Mau (for today, like he said, I don’t know tomorrow).

After finishing cleaning he put on meditation music, light up some incense and created a healing place and a place of tranquility from that big huge room. He then organized for me a mattress on the floor in a quite spot in the room and invited me to rest – got me ice for my leg and asked me if he could bring breakfast for me and if I’m willing to eat with him – what answer could you give to such a treatment then just YES!!!!

September 24 – Hornillos de Camino – Castrojeritz
Had one of the best night sleeps in the Camino – no snoring and although my leg was hurting and my throat and ears were starting to be painful, I slept great.

Left the Albergue at 6:30, at dark with only the full moon and the morning star as my guide. This has been probably the best walk I had until now. Full moon above me, the Morning Star in front of me and walking in slow and silent meditation walk aware of each step that I take. For more than an hour and a half I had the road for myself with no interruption from people.

A few days ago I crossed over from the region of La Rioja with it’s vineyards and red earth to the biggest region in the Camino – the region of Castilla y Leon, which is the birthplace of the new Spanish state that was created in the 14 century by uniting the two mightiest kingdoms – the kingdom of Leon and Castilla.

From Burgos starts the seemingly endless wheat and barley fields of the Maseta – a wearying flatness. many pilgrims avoid it and they take the bus to Leon. But then they are missing out on a unique experience of nature in which the beauty lies in the details, in the changing play of colors and the vastness of the sky.

25th Sep, 2010

Doing Whatever it Takes

September 23 – Burgos – Hornillos de Camino
Little did know what is waiting for me. I was so happy the night before, having Tapas with Conny and Monica enjoying my bath – it seemed as if everything is a bliss and then… Life takes a turn

At 7:00 I left the hotel looking forward to walk the distance and start walking on the Maseta. It took nearly 2 hours to get out of Burgos and the signs were unrecognizable, had to keep on asking people directions.

When I finally was outside the city and walking along the road, but in the fields I suddenly had this sharp pain shooting up my left leg straight into my head. The pain was so sharp I couldn’t hold the cry of pain that came out of my mouth. I thought the whole of Burgos could hear it and just looked back to see if there is no-one that has seen me in such a “humiliating” position. Vulnerability has never been my strong point – being strong is a vital part of me, even though I know by now that there is nothing wrong with being vulnerable, it still embarrasses me when I find myself in that position.

I had to stop and wait until the pain was gone for a while and in order to continue on I had to walk much much slower than before. I walked slower hoping that this will ease the pain, but nothing helped, it just became stronger and stronger.

September 22 – Ages – Burgos
Left in the morning around 6:45 after having the best breakfast on the Camino – fresh squeezed orange juice, coffee and packed lunch with a great sandwich and fruits. I was happy. I realized how simple life could be. How little do we need in order to make us happy – good fruits, good service and a smile – that’s what I got that morning.

Before I left I agreed with Conny that we would share a room in a hotel in Burgos and we will sms each other once we arrive in Burgos to find each other. I figured that after 2 weeks on the road I deserve to sleep NOT in a sleeping bag and on clean sheets and have a proper shower for myself.

As the sun went up I arrived in Atapuerca. If I´d known about it before I would have gone the extra 3 km last night, but again we always have the un-taken road that we contemplate on. Arriving so early did not allow me to see the museum there and visit the prehistoric site that is in that village and pay my respects to the oldest hominid in Europe that was found her dated 800,000. My prehistoric archaeology youngster in me had to let go of the need to see it and just be satisfied with some photos of the replicas of the rock carving that were found.

After Atapuerca there was an ascent to the high matagrande plain and from there I could already see Burgos. Going down from the plain I caught up in one of the villages bar with Tina and Robby the Australians and we walked into Burgos talking and catching up on our experiences since the last time we have met. That was wonderful because the way into town was dreadful. Miles and miles of industrial area and suburbs. Having such a great company made that walk enjoyable.