Camino in Colour – a photo journal

I arrived home yesterday morning and the firs thing my mum said to me when I got in the car at the airport was ‘so, tell me all about it!’.  But I couldn’t!  I need some time to properly digest what has been the most amazing 5 weeks of my life and find some way to put it in words.  Until that time (possibly tomorrow, possibly later, possibly drawn out over a few posts, who knows) I hope you will be satisfied with a diary of photos – one (or more) from each day on the Camino.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words and while I don’t quite have a thousand pictures to chose from (my mother will be terribly disappointed with me as she appears to be of the opinion that it’s not a real holiday and you weren’t really enjoying yourself unless you have an average of at least one picture per every 10 minutes spent awake) because I was busy walking and got caught up in the rhythm of life on the Camino, I do still have some pretty awesome ones!

Leon day 1:

My first scallop shell.  There are shells and arrows carved, painted and printed on anything that will stand still long enough along the way but this was my first – set into a paving stone on the streets of Leon right near my hostel.  I love that the older parts of the older cities in Spain are paved with these enormous stones or something similar but they do get rather slippery when it rains!

Leon Day 2:
Clowns performing at the Medieval fair in Hospital de Orbigio.  It was a huge day – the small town of Hospital was completely packed and put on a great show.  Everywhere you looked there were street performers, local produce, people in costume and stalls selling an amazing array of items all beautiful and chosen with care – none of it trashy like you would expect at a fair.  There were displays of traditional farriery, falconry, dance and warfare not to mention plenty of games for the young and young at heart including archery, horseshoes, a gauntlet and jousting with toy horses.

Leon day 3
I love how this photo expresses the similarities and differences between French and Spanish architecture and life.  France has similar architecture and is quite beautiful but Spain is full of life and colour.  Going around Paris there seems to be a rule that all older buildings must be painted white and have red geraniums in the window boxes but just try having that rule in Spain – the place is drenched with colour and infused with spirit.  The Spanish live life in capitals – LIFE!  I took this photo in the morning before the street got busy as a little later on it becomes impossible to stand still and take photos.

Camino day 1 – Sarria-Mercadoiro; this day gets 3 pictures because it’s special 🙂
This was pretty much my first view of the Camino right after getting off the train from Leon.  You walk through the streets of Sarria and then suddenly go round a corner, down an embankment and you could be in the middle of nowhere – the change is that sudden.  What it doesn’t show is that around the corner and maybe 500m up the road there is a massively steep hill.  That hill nearly got the better of me and left me wondering what I had gotten myself into and if I could finish.  The first hill of the day is always the hardest of the day but I think also that the very first hill of the walk is generally the hardest of them all.

They say you’re never really alone on the Camino but I really was not prepared for the massive number of people I would encounter along the way.  In Australia you can go bushwalking and not run into anyone, or only the occasional person and usually travelling in the opposite direction telling you you’re nearly there (to the end or top of the hill or whatever) or warning you about the rabid wombat up the road (only joking…) but on the Camino that does not happen.  You can be walking by yourself in a dream world and in seconds get flattened by a cyclist you didn’t hear coming or passed by a woman more than 3 times your age travelling more than 3 times faster than you with a pack the size of a lunchbox and sporting the latest in high-end outdoor gear.  The people ahead of me in the above photo are making use of the guided walking experience and pack-carrying service.  I was a bit unsure about how to take this as it felt a little like cheating until one older and (incredibly) English gentleman said to me ‘It’s just the modern way, if a pilgrim hundreds of years ago was offered a lift on a farmers cart do you really think he would turn it down?’ I guess that puts it in perspective and yes, I was a little jealous.

You’ve come a long way baby – it is remarkably reassuring to be wandering along in the middle of the countryside in a country on the opposite side of the world and catch a whiff of something that only belongs at home.  The distinct smell of Eucalyptus was very welcome at my first rest stop of the day and rather surprising!  I knew they had Eucalyptus growing wild in Galicia after it was imported to be used for paper pulp and decided it liked the region so much it would become a pest (ha! take that all you people who introduced pest species to our country, the Eucalyptus is getting some back for us!), I just didn’t expect to encounter it on my first day!

Camino day 2 – Mercadoiro – Hospital alta de Cruz
My sound of music moment – I was walking along the home stretch to the Albergue after a lunch break singing along to the Sound of Music when I rounded a corner and saw this.  It was as if the movie came out of my mp3 player and into my life.  I love how that happens!  The Camino is like a living thing and not without a sense of humour and irony.

Camino Day 3 – Hospital alte de Cruz – Palas de Rei
I had a rather big night last night followed by very little sleep due to the cold dormitory and my insufficient sleeping bag.  I walked half the day with Nina from Denmark – we chatted a lot and I forgot to take photos.  During the course of the day my feet got so sore I could hardly walk so I had to save all my energy for keeping on going as I knew that if I stopped, even to take a photo, I wouldn’t start again.  I ended up hobbling into Palas de Rei at around 1.5km per hour and had my first hotel night…

Camino day 4 – Palas de Rei – Melide (half way there!)
Sometime during the day I passed the half-way mark.  After you arrive in the province of A Coruna they started painting the signs – I much preferred them when they were carved stone and not gaudily painted with bright yellow and red.  Apparently they did that for the holy year last year.  I had another hotel night at Melide after realising my blisters had become infected and I really needed to soak them and rest – the hotel had a bath!!  After today I vowed to take more photos and enjoy the walk, after all, it’s not all about the destination – the journey is just as important.  Santiago will always be there and there’s no point in ruining your feet to get there faster!

Camino day 5 – rest day at Melide
That morning when I woke up I discovered that I wasn’t going anywhere!  My body had had enough for the moment and I needed a break so I decided to have a rest day and felt only a tiny bit guilty.  I went a little stir-crazy in the hotel and decided to walk back down the hill to a small town on the outskirts of Melide that had a beautiful bridge I really regretted not photographing the day before.

Camino Day 6 – Melide – Arzua
Time for a self-portrait I think, just to prove it really was me who was there!  So here I am with my orange pack and my little buddy Ding at my shoulder

Enough with the feet pictures, says my brother, but my feet got me through a lot and I feel they need to be recognised as the things of wonder and beauty that they are 😉

Camino Day 7 – Arzua-Arca
I love this picture and don’t think it needs any additional words!

Camino Day 8  Arca-Santiago – the end of the line (once again more photos for a special day!)
Dead shoes – These shoes had seen a lot more of the Camino than mine and it showed

I was wondering why my poles started making so much noise!  Think it’s too much to ask for a refund?!

The last foot photo, I promise!  This was what awaited me the last time I took my hiking boots off and yes, my toenail has since fallen off!

I hope you enjoyed the photos – soon I will put up a few more from Finisterre and Santiago and write a bit more too but till then, just to prove that I made it, here’s the last photo!


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. una
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 07:05:38

    love the tractor thanks


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