This is my friend Christi - photographed earlier this year on her camino in Spain. If Christi hadn't made a decision four years ago to walk the camino, I might still not have known that there was such a thing as the Camino de Santiago!
My sister mentioned a couple of weeks ago that her friend, Christi, has just walked the Camino de Santiago.
The whole 780km journey. On foot.
She immediately had all my attention. I had never heard of the Camino de Santiago and had only met Christi very briefly on a previous occasion.
I knew I had to meet her again and a couple of days later we met for lunch and I was privileged to be introduced to the camino in the most perfect way. From the mouth (and heart) of a true pilgrim. Someone who has actually walked it herself and came back blessed in so many ways.
I bombarded her with questions and again, I am just so amazed at how people who have followed this journey are so generous with sharing their experiences. Christi clearly had a very spiritual journey and has started presenting talks on her experience.
So this Saturday, twenty odd women will be coming to my home to hear her talk. To say I am excited and filled with expectation is putting it mildly. I have secured a screen as she will be showing us some of her pictures and on Friday evening you'll find me in my kitchen, preparing those yummy Portuguese Pasteis de Nata tartlets that I'm famous for. (Thanks to the 'Cooking the Portuguese Way in South Africa' cookbook that my mom gave me 30 years ago!)
I'm hoping that everyone will be intrigued by this pilgrimage as much as I am and who knows, some of them might even end up walking with me in 2012!
On another note... I posed a question on the forum of the 'virtual algergue' that I belong to and it has been quite interesting to read the replies. The question was 'Has your camino experience changed who you are as a person?'
The answers made me realise again how different we all are. And thank goodness for that! Here is one of the replies that was posted:
'That's a really good question, and something I've been thinking a lot, especially since talking to a student who is writing her thesis on a related topic.
The Camino has changed my life in that I want to go back. Any extra money goes into my Camino fund. It's had enough of an effect on my life that I started a Camino blog, partly to process the experience--almost two years after my walk. And I've never been athletic, so it's amazing to know that my body is capable of astounding things like walking 1500km.
But I suspect I'm not particularly more spiritual, or necessarily nicer, or (much) better at dealing with life than I was pre-Camino. When I got home, I wasn't any closer to knowing what I really wanted to do with my life. But then again walking the Camino has made me look at these things more, and maybe to some extent in a different way.
So it continues to affect my life, I suspect often in ways I don't realize. Judging by myself and my Camino friends (although we could be abnormal), a lot of people don't have huge epiphanies on the Camino. But I think the experience can keep working away in our lives if we let it.
Walking the Camino for almost three months was an incredible experience for me. I went through some miserable times, physically and emotionally, but the whole time I had this feeling of rightness--that this was where I was meant to be. But it's hard to bring that back into regular life.'
There was also a very short and sweet 'No'. That one really made me smile.
Thank goodness we're not all the same!
I guess walking for kilometers on end with all your belongings on your back and not always knowing exactly where you're going to sleep, in a strange country, with a strange language and surrounded by strangers, is certainly going to take you to places you've never been to in more ways that one!
It seems that one should have an open mind and certainly an open heart when embarking on this experience. I for one can't wait to answer my own question at the end of my own walk!
I promised earlier that I will quote pieces from Tony Kevin's wonderful book, 'Walking the Camino' and this is what he says about pilgrimage:
'The idea of pilgrimage, the dream of 'an arduous journey far from home undertaken for sacred reasons', is embedded deep in our culture and history. It is part of us, part of what inspires our urge to travel,to experience foreign places. We may not know it, but each time we leave our homeland to travel the world, we are looking for something more than just 'holidays', fun, and sex in the sun. I think we are seeking, whether we recognise it or not, spiritual enlightment, wisdom, and the revelation of God in the richness of the great world that lies out there beyond our home town.
Every traveller, especially every young traveller, is a pilgrim: whether they go consciously to seek spiritual rebirth, to escape from oppression or grief or boredom at home, to seek interesting or spiritually rewarding work experience abroad, or simply to enjoy the thrill of unfamiliar places and customs. The desire to go a-pilgriming, it seems, is part of our human condition.'
I just love this book!
Tomorrow is hiking day!! The weather looks good, so we are going to head out of Cape Town on about an hour's drive and we'll be spending the day hiking in the mountains just outside of our Winelands region. I am taking my camera along - so watch this space!
I thought I'd leave you with a picture of the beautiful Blue Disa we found on our last hike. As far as I'm concerned, there's only one way to describe this little flower - perfect!
Until the next post - cheers!