Archive for the ‘Road to Santiago’ Category

Two little stories about my walk to Santiago de Compostela are already hidden on the blog. What happened on the first day and how I met my first pilgrim.

I found myself outside of the old village of Le Puy en Velay. The walk into town is steep up hill and much to my surprise there was a renaissance festival going on. People in nice clothing of that time and the old village divided into sections according to the groups of craftsmen. There was music performed in the street, troubadours and also two women that pretended to be beggars. They did a superb job on it and people were quite upset at times with their act.

Due to this festival the local places to sleep all had a little notice on the door informing me that they were either closed or fully booked. This was totally unexpected and for the first day, my creativity was at an all time low.

I was hungry, in urgent need of an espresso and time to think of a solution. Then a fully dressed renaissance man did not look where he was walking and nearly kicked me over. He apologized and invited me over to his quarter of the city, next to the entrance of the cathedral. Of course he knew I was a pilgrim, carrying a backpack and a walking stick does the trick. His name was Jacques. Of course it was. I was on the road to Santiago to travel to the tomb of St Jacques in Santiago. Of course I meet a Jaques in Le Puy en Velay.

He offered some bread and a glass of herbal brew. Very alcoholic and after one glass on en empty stomach I was definitely influenced. Which did not help to find a bed of course. I walked away still with backpack and all and began looking at the shells next to doors. Maybe some of these shells would lead towards beds, as in a bed for me.

I did, however, have to walk another 2 hours. All I could think of was look at the shells, knock on doors and ask for a bed. Being influenced by the herbal boost I got more and more happy and was not upset any more. You see, with the folklore in town that day, all the tourists and many many places full for the night, it was superficial. Then suddenly I saw a sign of the friends of St Jaques (Les Amies de St Jaques de Velay). Two German girls were standing next to the door. The door would open in another hour of so. Only 3 people for 28 beds. I could sit down and relax.</blockquote.

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September 4 th of 2007: I found a cross on the street.

September 14th I began walking to the border of France. How was I to know that I would continue walking all the way to Santiago in 10 weeks?

During the trip I posted little. Next to nothing, really.
Some lines about suffering from a tendon ligament on my left foot just after leaving Cahors. Then I got curious about men and feet care, how well did my fellow pilgrims treat their feet? How inspirational  to see them pamper their feet…

A couple more posts about how liberated I felt, how I began feeling rather than talking, and started listening. So under ten posts, that was all. Due to the enormous lack of time and computers on the way of course. If I dig a little deeper in retrospect I know that that was not the main reason. I felt vulnerable and overwhelmed during the walk. Too much going on to make sense of it.

I am home for 10 months now and slowly the stories on the camino come back to me. I lost my journal. The last day it disappeared, evaporated. Never seen of heard of it again.

Now it starts to come back to me, the stories form in my head and I want to write it all down. To share the journey, the walk and the people that I met. I will not write fast, just when I feel like it. One piece after the other to cover the road. Step by step.

So bear with me, for a while, to bring my memories to the front and write them down. For me. And remember that I did not walk the camino, the camino walked me. No idea who said that, it does not matter.

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Like a Cat

When the train arrived in Le Puy en Velay I got out. Next to the station I found a map. A man in black was standing next to me. We both pretended to look at the map. The air seemed to move more slowly, my body and soul reacted with joy and also with a little fear. What is this? Never interested in men, not the girl that looks around for handsome men to exchange kisses or more. Standing next to someone and wanting to snuggle up next to him. As a cat would do, sneaking up and touching his legs. I nearly did it.

But I decided not to, I said nothing, did nothing. Although I very much wanted to. Throw me in his arms. To kiss as if a long forgotten lover was calling me. I thought against it, could not say anything, what would he do if I did? The moment passed.

I walked away with the two pilgrims and at the corner of the street they asked me to take their picture. When I did Mr Black walked by. After the photograph and saying goodbyes, he was long, long gone. No where in sight, this man that made my heart skip a beat. Back to business. Finding a bed for the night, tomorrow the pilgrimage would begin. No it already had, but I did not know that.

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Sitting down after Sunday morning coffee. Will the words come? What is living inside of me? What is it that I want to express? When nobody is watching and I do not care that anyone is watching?

I know it is possible to write anything down. I wonder what would happen if I simply pretend that the words come.

So let’s suppose for one minute that the words are already there and that I am the one keeping them down. Interesting. The words are there, here goes. I will take the plunge and spit it out. Not edited, I will not allow my inner critic to have a go at it. Here goes.

When you have been reading here longer, you know I went to walk on the camino. I found a cross and decided to take a long walk. I felt I needed a break from my life. there was this feeling of being in a dead end road. I was scared to leave my kids and my husband. Afraid of what might happen since I was so longing and ready for change.

The plan was to walk for 5 weeks, they turned into being away from home for 11 weeks. This is what happened on the very first day.

It was on a sunny day, I remember well that my bus arrived late, traffic was huge and Lyon was a busy train station. Had to buy a ticket to take the train to St Etienne. Funny system do the French use, the machine has a rolling device and I could not figure it out. Asked around and found it simple when I knew what to do. Bought a ticket, found the right track to catch the train. Had to run on heavy mountains boots and big backpack of 10 kilo, or was it more? I jumped on board and we left.
Would I have been ten seconds later, it would have left already.

I was taking deep breaths and sweat was all over. Sitting. Wondering, excited. I was nearing my destination. At St. Etienne station I got off and another half hour waiting for the next train. A big TGV-train (super fast train) arrived from Paris. Quite a few people came out. I was standing for the TGV to move on, since my next train was to come on the track after the TGV. Or so I thought.

Two men walked by, in their fifties, healthy, strong and joyful. They were looking like they were going for a walk since they had pilgrim sticks. But they passed me and went to another smaller track at the side of the station. Luckily I followed them, curiously since they looked like pilgrims. It turned out that my train was leaving from there.

Then another man appeared , a man in black, with backpack. My body reacted, my heart skipped a beat, I got warm and a strong sensation of knowing this man I had never seen before was present. How could that be? Being attracted and pulled towards someone like that? I was in for a change, I had no idea.

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After much consideration I have decided to close the weblog Radiant Woman. I have no idea how long it will be for, neither if it is temporary or permanent.

The walking trip to Santiago de Compostela over 1600 kilometers in about 11 weeks has been a huge experience for me. I am touched on more than one level. I need time to be with my family and time to restructure my life to fit the experience in.

The future is full of promises however and my spirit is singing. Since I have been longing for change for a long time. For now I will be singing alone I am afraid, and one day I will sing so the whole world can hear me.

Take care, God bless


Sunrise over Spain

Sunrise over Spain, originally uploaded by radiant woman.

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Today I arrived in Santiago. 1600 kilometers over and done with. Happy, fulfilled and tired. Now for some relaxing if I may. 

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A road of 18 kilometers long, straight and full of stones. What can possibly be the meaning of walking a road like that? 18 kilometers is about 3 hours and a half, long enough to come up with something. First the boring side, then the pain and the fatigue of avoiding the stones, hunger and thirst. The road became a metaphor of my own life, how I struggle and how some pieces of the road are easy and nice to walk on. Every one is walking his or her own road, no where to hide but you will have to confront the road and choose where you want to walk. To find meaning and purpose in one step at a time and feel safe enough to make another one. That is what I came up with.  

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