My Camino Story Pt2

23rd Oct  Roncesvalles to Zubiri

Pitch darkness…

… I am aware of movement

…languages whispered as clothes are hushed onto bodies…

…and bodies, sock silent, leave, waterproofs swishing…

I roll over and go back to sleep…


The lights above my bunk turn on at 6.30

I wake up…

The Albergue feels huge, there are about 60-70 people all at various stages of  getting dressed, rolling sleeping bags, repacking rucksacks and pulling hopeful, handfuls of newspaper out of disappointedly still-sodden, walking boots.  Everyone is very quiet and respectful, I swing my legs down from the bunk and, as they meet the cool flagstone floor, I become fully aware of my feet.

Blistered and swollen, they just hurt!  I am unsure of how much walking will be possible ever again let alone for today.  I am not alone Matt and Paul (and  as it turns out pretty much everyone else) feels the same.  Somehow we manage to get our acts together, insert ourselves into our almost dry clothing, not even a bit dry, boots and less than an hour later we are again the last to leave the sanctuary of the Albergue.

There are no cooking facilities so we make our way to the local cafe where we chat to Karen and Angela before they leave us to one last coffee or two before we triumphantly begin to squelch our way towards Larrasoana 17 miles away.


…moist pilgrims

There is no rain yet, but the hills we descended yesterday are still shrouded in low lying cloud


…a last look back at the past…

This day is characterised by a sense of euphoria, we had made it over the Pyrenees in atrocious weather, we can handle anything,  there is much laughter and lagging as we make many stops for coffee and blister treatment along the way.

Our pace is slow, which means we have time to talk to our new friends, Angela and Karen.  The talking on the Camino is very open and honest, most people make the journey for some reason or another and if you give time you will hear stories and be heard, my diary entry for today simply reads “Karen said I had a good heart!” at the time this would have been a real boost to me coming out of a difficult divorce and recovering from issues relating to anxiety so the magic of the Camino is already begining to take effect.  However our slow pace and the late afternoon rain conspire with our sore feet and my increasing difficulty in carrying my rucksack so that, much to my annoyance (I was very schedule focussed!) we are forced to stop 3 miles before Larrasoana at Zubiri in one of the smaller private Albergues.

Inside we meet up with Simon from the first day and are split across several dormitories…forced into meeting yet more new people…

It is hard to believe it is only day 2…

We meet a young man sent from Japan by his mother to complete the Camino, his story of crossing the Pyrenees, alone and confused (he was literally put on a plane to Biarritz and then found himself trudging up the mountains in a downpour)  has us in stitches, at one point he just gave up and stopped, leaning on his stick until some kind pilgrims came by and coaxed him forward, our laughter was out of recognition, this is a journey that is hard to do alone without the camaraderie and encouragement of others, the shock of the experience can be so great.

I spend time talking to Helmut from Germany who tells me about a key part of the Camino of which I was unaware.

“Do you have your Stone he asks?”

He tells me that 350 miles further down the road at La Cruz de Ferro it is customary for pilgrims to leave symbols of their Cargo de Culpa  (Weight of Guilt).  The cross has become  a collective art project,  piled high with the symbols of regret,  the prayers, memories of  loss and hope all this Helmut tells me…

“Do you have your Stone he asks?”

Thing is, I do have a stone with me, I don’t know why .. until this moment…

It was given to me by my brother a few months before I went on the Camino (before I know I was going) but it was in my pocket, it held significance, he had picked it from a beach in Greece for its raw beauty and given it to me… this little stone, my Cargo de Culpa, all my past mistakes and regrets which weighed heavy on my shoulders, more heavy than my over stuffed, rucksack…

I was astounded by this simple conversation… you can see it in my face…


… well maybe not, there may have been some wine involved…

But the conversation had a profound impact on me.  We were being quite loud and jokey, in the Albergues small dining area, people needed to sleep and we were asked to keep the noise down by one of the pilgrims,. So soon after as I lay there in bed feeling slightly embarrassed for our “typical” English behaviour… I was thinking about what Helmut had said

The Cross was further on  than we would be able to travel on this journey, what should I do?

It felt important like something I really needed to do….

Did this mean I needed to stay and complete the whole Camino?

…I drift back to sleep my mind filled with possibilities so glad I came here no regrets about that.

… pt 3 soon 🙂 feedback very much appreciated…

Bright blessings


2 thoughts on “My Camino Story Pt2

  1. So you’re telling your story a little belatedly, I see. Any plans to walk the Camino again? I think I will give it one more go, but this time try Le Puy instead of Vezelay and walk the Camino del Norte in Spain.

    • Hi thanks for your Comment yes I took 3 years to complete it, in three stages… has taken me a while to get round to blogging the experience but it all still feels quite fresh… I love your blog and the one way ticket idea… how to you survive? casual jobs? I will return to the Camino befor I die! prehaps to make the frenche route again in one go… but also I would like to walk the portuguese route (I heard it is great) or the primitive route… I would probably have to do something similar to you and take a leap of faith… thanks again for the comment it means a lot 🙂 Buen Camino pilgrim

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