Who has not heard of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela?
Not many. Late nineties, an artist friend in South Africa said she had rented a house near the Camino where she produced a range of paintings. I seem to remember that she lived on bread and olives. Also that I felt the urge to walk the Camino ‘where monks feed you for free.’ I didn’t get around to it (and as for the last bit, was that really true anyway?).
In Quebec I met a man of 67 who had walked the Camino from France all the way to Santiago. Again, I wished that I could too.
As they say, ‘be careful what you wish for, it might just happen.’
Isn’t that some kind of curse?
In 2009 I fell in love with a picture of San Vicente de la Barquera.
I thought to myself, if ever I go to Spain, that’s the place I want to see. That was as soon as 2010. And not just did I ‘see’ it, I went to do a ‘recce’, i.e. I checked it out to see if I wanted to live there, and I rather liked it. Three months later I arrived in Spain with the intention to stay. Phew, if everything was that easy!
But that’s where the ease stopped. After that, my life became complicated and traumatic and seven months later I left Spain, for good.
But I did walk the Camino! You see, I lived right at it.
And as I have a dog who travelled with me, she and I walked the Camino every day. We probably qualify for a 100 km certificate, but I never applied for it. 😉
Right there, on the Camino, my dog was bitten by a loose dog from the village. And later, two of my cats suffered the same fate (three big holes, two fractures & 300 Euros).
It was the last straw in a string of Jean de Florette-like encounters in which I felt like Gérard Depardieu. Except that the villagers didn’t get me down (although it was close). The youtube link to this movie was removed, alas).
Lesson learnt: Living in northern Spain doesn’t compare to visiting or walking the Camino.
As for the Camino, my advice is to take the northern route, which is breathtakingly beautiful. Blow a kiss to San Vicente for me. The peregrino albergue is right next to the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen.
You can’t miss it.