In the summer of 2017 I embarked on my biggest endeavour of my life: walking the age old pelgrimage from St Jean pied du Port to Santiago de Compostella. A distance of about 800 km. A journey not only about the goal. Challenging the immens heat of the great plains in Spain, pain in every body part. But also joy, meeting new people, creating memories for life. During this time I wrote everything that I encountered in my journal. After 35 days I arrived in Santiago, a book full of stories and memories. I completed the biggest achievement of my life! Proud but mostly thankful for the amazing people I met. The memories that I created for life. Slowly I will turn the journal entries in articles on this blog. I’m excited to share all the fun stories!
The sun was already making its way down to the horizon. The trees around provide pleasant shade on the tortuous path down hill. Everything was still moist due to the rain of this morning, making this descent across the stony path rather risky. The scenery changed from small forests to farm land that is spread over the hilly terrain. The fresh green leaves of all the trees contrasting against the gold yellow wheat fields is a pleasant sight for the eyes.
A small stone bridge across a narrow fast flowing rivers appears in front of us. The town across is Zubiri and will be our stop for today. The group consist of an Australian girl and her father on their vacation in Europe – who I only met hours ago -, a Lithuanian guy that stopped his job and needed a break, a Lithuanian girl that wanted adventure and a former Russian girl from Estonia that also seeks a new adventure. Together, a bunch of people across the world with only one goal, getting a new life experience by walking to Santiago the Compostella.
The village of Zubiri is nothing more than a few houses, some pelgrimage hostels and a little supermarket. It was Sunday and already closed at this hour of the day. At the edge of the town the sign of the ‘alberque municipal’ was visible. A white-red plastered building typical for this region in Spain. A big sign with ‘no shoes from here’ stood proudly at the door leading up to the rooms. A quick chat, a new stamp in the pelgrim passport, exchange of money and we could explore the hostel.
After a scrambled together diner partly from the pump station just outside the town, people started playing card games. The temperature was still very pleasant outside. A man dark browned by the sun, large wrinkles in his face, and a white beard, walked out of the hostel and took his seat close to us. He looked at least 70 if not older. In fluent German he started talking to us. I quickly switched my mind to German and with hands and feet I started the conversation.
He told about his birth place in German against the western border of France. About 3 years ago he decided that he needed to do this pelgrimage. He desired some extra challenge. His journey led from his home town in Germany towards Jerusalem. From Jerusalem he turned back and walked ‘the way of the heart’ towards Rome, and now his final goal in his epic pelgrimage was Santiago the Compostella! 3 years of walking, roughly 12000 of km on the road and that at age 70. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. He had everything he needed with him in a small cart that is was pulling along the track. A small tent, lot’s of water, cooking gear and more.
With a smile he pointed at the Italian couple that were sitting at another bench further ahead.
“Have you seen them?” he asked me.
“I know their faces, I have seen them the day before in Ronchesvalles” I responded.
“I mean, if you look at their way of communicating and seeing their energy, I bet they will break up in a couple months” he grinned at me with twinkling eyes.
“Nowadays we have so much distraction around us” he points at the France girl with headphones on listing to music. I nod.
He continues: “The world is out of balance. To balance yourself requires first the heart to be aligned, then the head on its right place, and then the body will follow”.