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the healing pilgrim

To Finisterra continued…………….. A few km further along the way i came to a small church in the middle of the countryside. The sanctuary of A Senora das Neves – i said more prayers here and planted yet more seeds. I stayed a while, watching, as a man and i assume wife drove their cows from one field, down the track to another field before heading off, chatting as they went, for lunch at their nearby farm. I stopped for lunch in a cafe in Cee. The owner had been born in Cee but had lived for 35 years in London and had now returned to run the family bar. He still however felt that their was a gap in his life but couldn’t put his finger on what that was. I felt compelled to give him the shell necklace i had made in Bristol and had been wearing ever since. He said thank you and asked what it meant to me. For me it meant ownership. For him………….perhaps it would help him find his way. It was i light necklace, but as i removed it……….it felt as though i was taking 2kg off my neck. He gave me some Spanish Tortilla and some bread to take with me. His name was Joe! Thank you! I found myself drifting off the Camino route as i went through Cee. I had ended up on a seafront walk instead. A couple of older ladies stopped to tell me i was not on the camino and that ishould turn back. I said that this was a nicer walk than walking on the road through the town. “Yes, that’s true” they agreed. “Can i get back to the camino if i carry on here”? i asked. “Yes, you must go past a restaurant, over the beach ,up some steps then look for the road again” they explained. As i carried on walking, i stopped to see a clover patch to my side. I asked out loud, ” will you finally give me some 4s (i had been looking for 4 leaf clovers from day one, but found none) now that i am close to the end”? I got down on my hands and knees and began searching through the patch. I found one! A group of older ladies came by……….i held up the clover to one of the ladies. She thanked me enthusiasticly for the gift. “Here you all are” i said as i found about 9 more 4s and a very young 5 leaf clover. I carried on as per the ladies directions but i must have found the wrong road because i ended up on the coast road………….beautiful, but about 4km longer than i needed to walk. Never mind! I finally reached Finisterra……………………tired! I met some old friends there as well as some new. I gave each of them a 4 leaf clover! It was close to getting dark and i had things to do before that. I got my last stamp and another Compostella certificate for reaching the end of the camino. I then set off with another pilgrim to the beach where i knew the sun would set……….over the Atlantic. As we approached my pace quickened as we talked…………i could see from the sun that we had perhaps 5 mins left before sunset. We arrived at the beach! i gave my camera to my fellow pilgrom as i stripped off and ran to the sea. The cleansing ritual would be combined with the setting of the sun…………………..Just! My god it was cold! When i arrived back at the Albergue, two of the pilgrims who had gone to the lighthouse to see the sun set (as opposed to the beach) had found a starfish along the way. “For Grant” they had said together, they explained. A gift of a star (compostella) from the end of the world! 18th Feb Finisterra – Literally! Today i would walk the last few km to Faro de Finisterra – the lighthouse at worlds end! I would say my last prayers of the journey and ceremonially burn something, normally your clothes but i thought it would be better to release the prayers by fire. I took some photos of the 0.00 km way marker. 900km later. I headed up to the cliff top. This was were the ultimate power lay. In the elements. I was just starting to say the final prayers when my phone rang to indicate a message. It was from a friend who had given me a prayer to carry, asking how things were going? They told me not to burn their prayer. I replied to them to “let it go and more will come, why do you want to hold on to it”? “I’m not holding on, don’t burn it- bury it instead” they replied. I felt a little annoyed………….i had carried the prayers all this way, i felt i was best placed to know how to conclude the journey. Frodo Baggins carrying the ring to Mordor in The Lord of the Rings sprang to mind. A surrogate mother unwilling to let go of the baby she had carried………. in order to help others. THEY WERE MY PRAYERS! PRECIOUS! My final lesson. The ULTIMATE lesson. On my very last step. In the very last second. At the very end of the world. DEATH! THE DEATH OF MY EGO! They were not my prayers. I simply carried them for others. I was not important. Insignificant in fact! I have nothing of real value. Except this moment. Accept this moment. Celebrate this moment. I realised i had nothing of real value. I had nothing to lose. With nothing to lose, I had nothing to fear. I WAS FREE! THE DEATH OF MY EGO HAD SET ME FREE! Maybe just for a little while, but i had had a taste of the absolute peace of…………….. NOTHING! I buried all of the prayers in a plastic bag and pressed them into a gap between two horizontal rocks, facing the ocean. A snail stood guard over them! The prayers would continue excude their energy for a good while yet. I hadn’t got it right. This was right! Thank you Michele! Finisterra – Santiago As i boarded the bus for the return journey to Santiago, the rain finally began to fall, but not on me, i stayed dry…………..for the moment at least! As i gazed out of the window of the coach – the roads i had walked, passed in a blur but in my minds i saw myself struggling under my heavy load out there in the rain, pressing on – ever on! Finisterra – Costa de Morte (Coast of Death). Had something inside me died on the coast of death. I think so…………at least briefly. I had tasted Death. Will it give life to something else…………..? What did i learn? Many things? Or nothing? Give freely and recieve gratefully, patience, courage, joy, love? Peace and freedom come with letting go of the ego? I won’t try to tell you the things that we must all find for ourself ……… I don’t know! I am still finding my own way. I pray we may we all walk in beauty and find our way in peace….Hozhoo naa naa! I send my love to you! I think it appropriate that the camino has the last word. MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON EARTH.

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Sun Feb 21, 2010 Full Page

To Finisterra continued…………………… I felt mentally preoccupied on this the final day of walking. I stopped! I took in my surroundings. I was walking on a track, high up noone side of a wooded valley. I could hear the stream in the valley floor. 3 Jays were squabbling amongst themselves as they chased each other from tree to tree. A woodpecker drummed on a Eucalytus tree in the near distance, there would be a brief pause and then the drumming would start again. The sun was out! I could feel and hear my breath. I was alive! I told myself. Make it a great day! I shouted at the top of my voice, “Life, Life, Life”! Later, as i came down out of the top of the valley, the camino track crossed a country road. To one side of the road but still on it was a weather worn ancient stone cross on a concrete plinth. It had stones around the plinth which had been placed there by pilgrims. I placed my own stone there also. I placed a hand on the cross, closed my eyes, said a prayer and let the energy flow. I felt it immediately. A swirling mist travelling away from me- like those car driving games in the Arcades but in reverse. When i finally opened my eyes i steadied myself against the cross……..i felt quite dizzy. I planted more seeds in the ground to the right of a scalloped shell way marker very near the cross. I think the Fairies had been playing ‘Tag’ in the valley during the night. The grass was covered in what looked like sparkling fairy dust. The grass glittered and twinkled at me as i passed by. I was heading uphill again. As i reached the high ground, i had my first glimpse of………………… The sea! The track became more sandy. The trees were behind me, replaced by gorse bushes and scrub grass, the sun was out……… A butterfly sunbathed on a rock………..a Red Admiral! What a wonderful life! I came down from the heights to arrive at Cee, the last town before Finisterra. I had no money, no memory left on my camera card and no sunshine. The rain didn’t last long, the bank gave me money and i found a shop that sold memory cards for 12 euros. The spring in my step came Gratis (free).
Sat Feb 20, 2010 Full Page

On reflection, and less angry – did i really think the 1000 strong congregation of the cathedral in santiago were ‘full of shit’. No, is the answer. I think the congregation fell into two different camps. The older people i think were afraid. Afraid that if they didn’t attend mass and pay homage to the church and the priests then they would surely be the recipients of some awful retribution from a god they had been encouraged to both love and fear. The younger ones i feel were merely bored. They were tourists looking for something to occupy their free time before heading back to work or home – killing time, but why? They were already dead! Dead bored! We’ve all done it and could well be that we will do it again. The challenge is………………for me, at least, to try to stay connected. To find my way………….., Without losing my way!
Sat Feb 20, 2010 Full Page

Negreiria – Olveiroa (correct spelling) continued…………….. I arrived at Olveiroa at about 5.30pm – tired and aching. The 3 older Spanish guys were already there but hadn’t been there long. They told me it was Carnival day today – that would explain the 2 kids asking me for money. After i had showered the others asked me to join them by the open fire in the albergue kitchen. There was no supermarket or shop in the village but the albergue had a kitchen?????????? The fireplace was great – a flat concrete platform about 7′ x 4′ with a granite hood over the whole area and a sloping flue in the corner. You could burn a whole pallet in the fire if you wanted – really basic but effective – a ‘no messing about’ fireplace – i really liked it. 17th Feb Olveiroa – Finisterra The 3 Amigos hopped into their taxi as i set out on the track again for the final leg of my journey – to the Medieval ‘end of the world’. After about 2 hours walking i came to the top of a slope where i came across a bar. I contemplated stopping for a rest and some tea but decided to keep going. As i turned to head back onto the track, a cat ran over to me and began following me up the track – it was behaving just like a dog! I tried to take a picture of it but it wouldn’t keep still and when i stopped it would curl itself around my feet. It followed me for about 500 m before turning back – wailing to itself. MANS BEST FRIEND………..and just as stupid! I have found the dogs on the camino quite difficult to deal with! They are just so aggressive – stupid aggressive – not aggressive aggressive. They can hear you coming from far away – boots thumping, stick clacking or you may even be singing. Whatever – they know you are coming. 2 methods! They either charge at you – the little buggers are the ones provoking the charge with the bigger ones dopily follow them – although they don’t seem to know quite why. The other method is to wait until you are almost on top of them before they leap up out of nowhere, growling and shreaking as though you had accidently stood on their gonads with your running spikes on. 95% of all the dogs i met employed one or touther of these two methods of testing your abilities to keep calm. I noticed of this 95%, all were dogs…………. closest to man……………. bred by man. They adopted a lot of mans behaviour…………. Stupid, fearful and aggressive! The 5% of dogs that were lovely, freindly and relaxed were nearly all Huskies….. Nearer to their original self…………..the wolf! They couldn’t even bark, or wouldn’t. They howl! Appropriately i thought of a quote from Forrest Gump………….. ‘Stupid is, as stupid does’! The Eagles were close today! As i came round a corner i came face to face with one perched on a post about 8′ away from me. Our eyes met, i reached for my camera, only to see it lazilly open it’s powerful wings and float effortlessly across a field to settle in a nearby Pine tree. 1/2 hour later another flew over my head about 8′ above me. IDOLS! Jesus, Lao Tzu, Buddha, Muhammed, Krishna, Francis of Assissi and many others i am sure………were all men, just men! They knew the way! But they were still men. No man should to be idolised and because these men knew the way ,i am sure they would not wish to be idolised……merely learn t from………i feel sure they would have just wanted us also to…… Know the way!
Fri Feb 19, 2010 Full Page

I didn’t return to the Cathedral. I said some prayers in a quiet little church in the back streets instead. the name of the church was Inglesia de Santa Maria Salome. It reminded me of the simple churches in the villages. I felt more connected and somehow that the prayers may have more effect. 15th Feb Santiago – Nigreira I parted company with David, Francesco, Hans (we met again), Maria and Lorraina just before 3pm. I had 22km to cover before dark. This part of the camino felt different! The way is marked well in some places and in others it’s as though they couldn’t be bothered any more. I got the impression that now that your pockets are empty we are not so interested in you any more. It’s a lonelier, more peaceful journey, and this, for me, made it a little harder. It took an adjustment. A change in mind set. Preparing you for a lonelier place. Nearer to your self. Am I ready to look there? Can I accept what I see? Will I look away, never to peer again into that quiet space of the real me. I had a glimpse of what it will mean to keep walking………….El Mundo? I felt i could surrender when the moment came…….when the moment came i felt i wouldn’t have a choice……I wouldn’t be able to help myself. I don’t mean to be dramatic….but if i died living, then that would be better than existing, but dead. If i don’t live my life, my way…………then whose life am i living? I was mugged by a couple of kids! One about 15 the other about 12 years old. They approached me wearing halloween masks, rubbing their forefingers and thumbs together saying “money”! “i’m onto your racket you cheeky F * * k * * s” I said, but gave them 20cents – “10 cents each” i said. The younger highwayman shook my hand. I arrived after dark at the Albergue. Nobody was there but there were 3 names in the register. 3 Spanish men aged 67 to 74 years old. We didn’t speak much when we finally met. I was getting used to being alone, i think. 16th Feb Negreira – Olgairoa(?) 33km today. The older guys explained that they get a taxi for the first 10km and walk the remainder. I will be happy if i can still walk 23km when i’m 74 years old. It occured to me that the walk to Santiago involved many feelings. Joy, freedom, pain, tears, love but mainly determination. Determination to cross a threshold from ‘what was to what could be’. The walk to Finisterra was different. Quiet, solitude. A calmer energy – Peace! Love and Peace! I wondered if Orange would give me free network usage if i walked around the world. Orange – connecting people! Would i walk in the hope that people would pray for each other? I think people would think i was a ‘whacko’. ‘Give freely, accept gratefully’seemed a better reason. ‘Give a bit more, take a little less’. If i need to accept from people then am i not giving them ‘the joy of giving’?
Thu Feb 18, 2010 Full Page

I have walked to the worlds end!According to our Medieval forefathers in any case.Finisterra (lands end) is 100km from Santiago on the far western coast.3 hrs by coach, 3 days on foot.It was hard going…………….but i got there!Here then….. is the tale!I spent 2 days with David and Francesco. We got a room together in a cheap hostal. About 12 euros each per night. We had a really nice time together. Francesco is a DJ (quite famous in the 80s and 90s) and travels all over Europe gigging. He knew some people here in Santiago so we spent some time with them. His friends took us for a meal which was quite expensive and Francesco and i were paid for by his friends but David had paid his share. When we got back to the hostal Francesco suggested we divide Davids bill between the 3 of us, which we did. I like Francesco enormously for this and many other aspects of his behaviour. I like David equally for not even for a moment looking like he minded paying the bill and being a little bashful that we divided his share. It felt like the right thing to do and bound us together just that bit more. After the mass at the Cathedral where i had got so annoyed at the thoughtlessness of the congregation everyone began to mill around looking at the wonders of it’s decoration. There is a special pillar that that so many people have touched as they enter the cathedral over the years that it has worn away on parts to reveal the fingertips of all the hands that have touched it.IT WAS ROPED OFF AND ALSO HAD A BARRIER AROUND IT!I hadn’t come all this way for some health and safety officer in a hard hat to stop me doing what had become a pilgrims ritual.I untied the rope and let it fall to the floor. I entered the ‘forbidden zone’……………………….Others followed………..a crowd gathered around the column ……….. they wanted to see it….of course they did!I gave my camera to a Spanish pilgrim i had met in a paratroopers smock………”take a photo for me please” i asked.I clambered over the barrier and placed my finger tips into the same place as millions of pilgrims had done before me.”yo tambien” (me as well) he said and gave me his camera as i clambered back over the barrier.Later Francesco told us all a story of a flight he had been on from Pamplona to Barcelona.A passenger got on the plane, filthy dirty, totally drunk and stinking of booze.He had spent 3 days in Pamplona for the ‘running of the bulls’.He was wearing the traditional white clothes but they were so filthy you could hardly know that they were white. He had been drinking for 3 days and sleeping rough.He sat down next to an American passenger.Lit a cigarette, inhaled, turned to the American and said “todo bien”? (everything ok) as his smoke blew into the Americans face.The hostess was onto him in a flash.”you can’t smoke on the plane, it’s forbidden” she said.”Proibido, proibir” (it’s forbidden to forbid) he slurred by way of reply.”I will call the Captain” she squeeked.”Call the captain, call the General, call the President if you must” says he.I, as well as you can easily see all the crimes he was happily committing against our sensitivities, and i wouldn’t want to have him sit next to me either. But was he just a ‘pain in the arse’ drunk?Or was he something of a frustrated genius?Proibido, Proibir!………………..It’s forbidden to forbid!Makes you think!
Sun Feb 14, 2010 Full Page

11th Feb Palas de Rei – RibadesaThe group of 4 girls from Valencia had met A guy from England named Wayne ( i had met him also at Samos). Wayne is a self confessed alcoholic and has an addictive personality. He also has a tendency to fantasize about variuos things which emerge in the way of outlandish tales. He is doing the camino to try to change some of this behaviour. He has a difficult job, i think, but he is here – trying.He had told the girls he was the Dalai Lama in disguise and various other bizarre stories. The up shot being that they were a little bit scared of him and asked myself and a group of Spanish boys from Madrid to walk with them today.The pace was very slow but i figured it wouldn’t do me any harm to do a slow walk today.We stopped in Melide for a Pulpo (octopus) lunch at a famous pulpo cafe. We ended up drinking far too much Orujo and as we set out for the track again we made a few wrong turns and were generally a little confused. Once i got on to the country tracks i pressed on ahead a bit as the others were all together in a big group and happily stumbling along.It occured to me that i think it would be helpful to us all if we looked deeply in to our behaviour.Is my behaviour really me? Or is something i have adopted along my way?Is it helpful to me or does it hinder me?Deep inside we are all the same and seeking this self.By the end of the evening i had decided to walk on my own again for the next days walk.The Spanish as a rule are very sociable, for me though, there can be a tendency to herd a little bit. Being part of this for a day or so had the effect of stopping my thoughts flowing. I had a feeling of losing individual decision making – decisions were taken as a group and spontaneaty was lost.12th Feb Ribadeso – Monte GozoI set out, alone and fast.I felt good – open to events, and able to respond as an individual and on my own instincts.I stopped at a bar in a tiny vilage on the track called Pereiriña.David, Francesco, Sara and Danielle were there having coffee.Lovely – i was happy to have bumped into them again.”Where are the other people you were with Grant, why are you alone”? Francesco asked.”I wanted to be alone” i replied.After our coffees we all set off together – i was happy to walk with this tight but flexible little group again. They were together but kind of independant of each other also. They had a good, calm, collective energy together.They had decided to go for Monte Gozo, a walk of 37km for them and 39km for me. The sun was out so i decided to join them. Monte Gozo is just 4km from santiago and is on the high ground so it overlooks Santiago and our objective.I walked with Francesco a lot of the time discussing this and that. I love his way of describing things, as do all the people he meets. He is cool, funny, very affable, has many things to say but more importantly, he also……….. listens………….and learns. I learnt a lot from this very special man.By the time we had finished lunch in Santa Irene we were wasted. Totally out of power. We still had nearly 20km to walk.We arrived in Monte Gozo after dark – exhausted!None of us slept so well that evening………….Santiago dawning?A sadness has been creeping up on me these last days.At the start of the walk the km are so many that the destination seems a far away objective, now, it was at the bottom of the hill we slept on……….we had arrived……….what now? WHAT?They say this in Galicia instead of hello………..they lift the head with a controlled jerk and say in a monotone, slightly questioning tone…………QUE?…………WHAT?WHAT?………………………now.13th Feb Monte Gozo – SANTIAGOWe had breakfast in the cafe in the Monte Gozo Albergue Complex. It’s like an army camp for 500 pilgrims.As we headed down the hill together i had a very strong feeling that wasn’t the way to do this.I asked everybody to stop for a moment. I asked the to join me in a circle holding hands together. Danialle looked a bit confused, like he was thinking – why are we stopping? Lets just get to Santiago!Some times to stop…………. for a moment, is very powerful.Holding hands, in a circle, in the middle of the road i congratulated us all for enduring the way with our broken bodies but strengthened spirit……………we had arrived!Raising our joined hands aloft…………….we sent up a collective cheer.We had all arrived…………………….together. It felt right!I had found my way………the right way…………with the right people.Heading through the outskirts of the city we gradually found our way to the original, authentic heart of the city.This is the Holy Year!The Peurte Santa is opened for the pilgrims in this year. It is only used in the Holy years.We entered together.After a slightly dazed look at the Cathedral we made our way to the Pilgrims Office to collect our Compostella (the certificate of completion of the Camino de Santiago)………………our Holy year Compostellas.”What is your name”?I told the attendant issuing me with me with my certificate not to bother looking for the Latin equivalent of my name (they write your name in Latin on your certificate), he wouldn’t find one – “it’s gaelic” i told him.”Thank you, he said, ” that saves me time”.”Where did you start from”?”What country are you from”? “What are your reasons for doing the camino”?”And lastly did you complete all the way by foot”?”Yes i did, no taxi, no bus”, i replied.”Congratulations Peligrino, here is your Compostella”With Compostellas in hand, smiles on faces and joy in our hearts……for ourselves and each other we headed back to the Cathedral for mass.The Cathedral holds 1000 people.There was not a seat to be found in the place.In the Holy year they swing the massive insence burner which 6 attendants to do so. What a sight…….so powerful!They don’t simply swing it like a swing in the park, it seems to take on a powerful life of its own.It soars up to the ceiling only to plunge back toward the floor again with a power you couldn’t imagine………..it’s like a caged force seeking an avenue of escape but finding none, trailing scented smoke in it’s wake – like a dragon woken from years of sleep to find 2000 eyes staring at it. It burst into life from its resting place of years, eager to find the freedom of the open sky only to find its ankle tied causing it to dive back and forth, up and down the wide, high stone columned avenues of this huge, ancient cathedral.The priests were singing a song i didn’t understand………it didn’t matter…….i got the message!As the Mass progressed to near the hour mark i found myself and my fellow pilgrims either leaning against the stone columns, switching their weight from foot to foot or slowly walking on the spot…….trying to relieve the pressure on our sore feet from standing still for too long.WE WERE ALL STANDING……….maybe just 6 of us.1000 people sat on their seats, listening to the spiritual words of the priests, the wonderful singing, the powerful display of the ‘Botafumeiro’ amidst the ancient stone of the cathedral – worked by thousands of hands for millions of hours. Jostling for the best seat – at the front……the closer the better. The closer they could get the more they could recieve…….THE MORE THEY COULD TAKE. Eyes wide in wonder…….idolising the Holy Men, hanging in their every word, eyes wide with wonder and wanting………TAKING! Wonderful words of love for your fellow man.Pilgrim this,pilgrim that,Bla, blah, blah…………..they even said our names and where we came from………how far we had come. ALL could see who we were……………….The dirty people…….The smelly people………The broken people……….How painful it was for us to stand still for more than a few moments……..Leaning on our sticks………even the sticks showed the effects of the weight they carried, bending – as they too struggled to hold their friend and his/her burden upright.Upright……….STANDING!1000 people so busy TAKING……………they didn’t think to GIVE!So eager to recieve the words of love……………so greedily eating the words of love………gourging themselves on the sweet words…………..like a bee with honey.TAKING!NOBODY, not one! Nobody GAVE a single pilgrim a seat. NOBOBY!SO BUSY TAKING!I didn’t want a seat for me………i could stand a little longer!I wanted a seat for THEM.To give them the opportunity to GIVE and stop TAKING.The pilgrim next to me began struggling to remove his rucksack………….I REMOVED IT FOR HIM.I found myself staring it the 1000s of people sitting before me.Beautiful weekend clothes.Soft skin………. painted………….. scented………….full.EMPTY!They made me angry.Fearful……….. pathetic…………fat…………….TAKING!FULL OF SHIT!Then i felt something else………………………….PITY.SADNESS.LOVE.How much there is to do.
Wed Feb 10, 2010 Full Page

At the 100 km marker i passed a tiny sanctuary just outside a small village. On the alter was a collection of letters, photos, clothing, stones and many other things that pilgrims had placed there. They were tokens and symbols relating to individual prayers. I said my own prayers and left a few flower seeds in the outstretched hand of a statue of Jesus that had been placed on the alter.
Wed Feb 10, 2010 Full Page

9th Feb Portomarin I left Sarria at 2pm. I had eaten lunch there and written a little bit on the blog. In order to get to Portomarin i had to cover 20km before dark and i was bimbling slowly along. I was out of it! Writing my blog had put me in a state of complete surrender. At 5pm i met a guy called Felix who asked me where i was heading for. I told him i was headed for Portomarin but may stop and have a coffee at the Albergue bar he had just come out of. I then did something which reminded me how much i had moved into nature by walking every day. before deciding whether i would stop for a coffee i looked at the sun to see where it was in the sky. I had 10km to cover before dark and where the sun was in the sky told me i didn’t have time so i pressed on. I arrived at Portomarin just as darkness came. The Albergue had a better mix of male and female company and we all had dinner of pizza in a nearby bar. I was speaking to a girl called Mere whose boyfriend had just died of cancer. He was 29 years old. 10th Feb Portomarin – Palais del Rais Only 26km to cover today so i took it easy, relaxed totally into the day and really enjoyed it. I wrote lots of messages on the track for the people behind me to read. They enjoyed it and showed me videos and pictures when the day finished. I had collected stones throughout the day and i wrote words on them. I put them in a bag and the pilgrims lucky dipped for them. Very cheap yet personal gifts. I would like to ask you all to indulge me in a very important task! As loud as you possibly can shout and repeat it as often as you feel you need to. Don’t worry about disturbing the neighbours, if we are lucky they may join in too. Do this naked if you want – really let go! I would like you all to shout……………………. I DO I DO I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES. The fairies asked that i thank you all so much. xxxxxxxx
Tue Feb 09, 2010 Full Page

Something i forgot to mention but was really lovely when i came across it. A few days ago i was walking a stretch of the camino that ran parallel to a really busy road, in fact it was only a low barrier placed next to the road that shielded the pilgrim from the road itself. It was the kind of walk were you end up really switching off to whats around you- not necessarily going inside yourself, but switching something off certainly. Suddenly on the floor in front of me i saw a bit of graffiti. It was a sort of corkscrewy, loopy spiral drawing with the word TURN, so i turned around a few times as i walked, smiling to myself as i did so. I said a silent thank you to the genius who scrawled the graffiti in this, the most perfect of places. About 50m on and while i was still smiling about TURN i came across another word written by the same hand – SHOUT, so i shouted. Another 50m – SING, then KISS (bugger, i was alone!) and finally, BLESS THE LORD. Thank you, whoever you are! 9th Feb Samos – Portomarin ( i think). The track from Triacastella to Samos and then beyond to the outskirts of Sarria (ignoring the road bits) is, for me, probably the most beautiful part of the camino. The track feels really natural and unspoilt. Lots of little waterfalls, beautiful woodland tracks and little villages and the energy. The energy of the place is light and uplifting yet calming. Wonderful. I left the monastery at Samos just before )am and walked all morning almost alone. I had the the company of Robins, Wrens and numerous other finchy type, busy little birds twittering along in the woods beside the track i walked. As the morning went on i had a glimpse of what i felt was my deeper purpose – if i have the courage to fulfill it. It seemed so obvious! As i have drawn ever nearer to Santiago, a kind of sadness that the journey will soon end has begun to descend on me. Not too heavily, but there none the less. We are at war, and the chief weapon is poison! We are war with ourselves, each other and our world. We are poisoning ourselves, each other and our world. It is a war we can not and will not win! Nature is patient but she will blow a fuse soon enough. Many of us will perish. We have too, there are simply too many of us. We have created an imbalance and continue to pile more weight on one end of the scales. Those who do not perish, will suffer greatly, but perhaps we will finally evolve beyond greed, fear and ego. Perhaps we will finally learn to respect and work with our world and everything in it. Perhaps we will finally learn to live in balance and harmony with ourselves and all things. I felt my purpose was to amplify that which i have already begun and which seems so natural to me. Something that every interaction and experience i have had has groomed me for and guided me to finally get a glimpse of………….if i have the courage to listen to the little voice that softly speaks from deep, deep within. I have struggled and hidden this purpose because i am lucky enough to have people in my life who need me………need me to be near them and i to be near them. This has been the inner conflict that has clouded the clarity of my purpose. Could it be that i have not been able to settle because i was on an inner journey to realise my purpose? Have all the people i have met helped me in this journey? I love many people, even those who have hurt me, or i them. The people who i have felt love for but no longer live with or even see. I love you! Thank you for helping me find my way, and i hope that you are that bit nearer to your own purpose. Just when we are becoming our most destructive, but before it is too late, we have learnt to talk to each other in an instant, wherever we are in the world. It is time! It is time for us to tip the balance back to balance, to generate a new energy – a positive energy! I feel i need to walk around the world, using the media to communicate a message of prayer. I saw a picture of people praying for themselves, each other and the world we live in. This is what i feel is my purpose. It has worked on a tiny scale on this journey…….it is nothing more than a sense of scale and the courage to surrender to the vision and………….ACT! I saw a glimpse, I must find the courage to fulfill the picture that revealed itself to me and not become bogged down with fear and doubt.
Now Click “full page” to see big photos

Mon Feb 08, 2010 Full Page

Actually, on reflection, doing isn’t the word i`m looking for….becoming or being sounds more like it.7th Feb Villafranca del Bierzo – O CebrieroI spent the day walking alone. About 30km today with a steady climb up to the Celtic mountain village of O Cebriero. A great place to be wearing a kilt. I hadn`t realised it until now but in every city, town or village in Spain you are reminded of something very important. Keep a good roof!Wherever you go in Spain you will find at least one house that has been left to simply fall down. The roof is were the damage really starts. Let the roof go and the rest simply falls in on itself or into the street.It occured to me that i need to remember to do the same. Take care, keep control or however you want to describe it of my head/mind and the rest will pretty much stay in tact and do what it’s supposed to. Okay i may have to paint the windows once in a while but you get my drift, eh!I also wondered how much our family pattern (or not, as the case may be) through childhood affects our behaviour as adults. I was surrounded by girls as a child, up to the age of 13 anyway, when i went to a boys boarding school. Is this why i enjoy the company of females more than men, as a rule.I think i would like to investigate this a bit more in the coming km.As i approached a village called Trabadelo i couldn’t help but notice a sort of chestnut tree orchard on my left. The first tree was the biggest and most ancient by the look of it. I said more prayers at this tree before planting some seeds at its base. The tree felt and the whole area in fact, felt good. I placed Uliana at the base of the tree and took a photo of her. I must have breathed on the lens as i took it out of its bag or the lens reacted with the cold air because when i looked back at the photo i took Uliana looked like she had an energy around her. It was a lovely effect!8th Feb O Cebriero – SamosI headed out alone again for another 30km hike to the huge Monastery at Samos. For the vast majority of us i think we mistake love with need.I think we are attracted to another person because they can fulfill our needs in some way.The more needs that we feel they can fulfill, the greater the attraction.Could this explain why we can start to feel things are becoming stagnant in a relationship after a time?We were attracted to someone who fulfilled our needs and now we have them with us most of the time that need is now fulfilled, so it would be easy to think we don’t need that person any more.This could be especially true if you do not grow in the relationship together, so that one or both feel that they now need something or someone else to fulfill new needs that the other simply can’t or won’t.But i don’t think this is love………..i think it is need!I feel love would be more like if your partner needed to move on for whatever reason……..you could say, ” i’m glad i have fulfilled the needs you had, if you need new things now……go, with my blessing and love. Find your way!This feels like real love to me………….not need.Ps for those of you who need a break from the words……….i got help to put more pictures on. Take a peek!
Mon Feb 08, 2010 Full Page

The road to Villafranca del Bierzo continued……………….Francisco and i were joined for lunch by Hans. We began talking (again) about lifes answers to the questions we all have. Hans has a habit of listening to the conversation and the questions that emerge by announcing “it’s very simple blah, blah, blah”. I have listened to this for 2 days now and it’s starting to irritate me and i found myself trying to avoid Hans because of this. He sounds like he has read a bunch of books and now thinks he has all the answers and can’t wait for the opportunity to show people how wise he is.As i pondered my irritation about Hans during the rest of the days walk my anger turned to embarrassment.I know i have behaved just like this in the past and perhaps still do. I don’t want to keep reading, thinking and regurgitating. I want to start doing. I’m tired of talking.I’m tired of listening to my own voice and hearing the WORDS of others too.I want to start doing!
Sun Feb 07, 2010 Full Page

Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo continued…….. Francisco and i began to discuss woman but we ended up going in a circle and still didn’t find an answer about how best to achieve a long lasting relationship without either party feeling like things were going stale. “Eh, we need to try the Bierzo wine, no”? he suddenly announced. “If you write well and i will know when i read your blog, you should write a book about the Camino for children”, he said. I thought that if i did attempt this that i would use Uliana as the sage like figure helping the pilgrim find the answers to the questions he had. El Camino de Uliana!
Sun Feb 07, 2010 Full Page

Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo continued…….. Francisco and i began to discuss woman but we ended up going in a circle and still didn’t find an answer about how best to achieve a long lasting relationship without either party feeling like things were going stale. “Eh, we need to try the Bierzo wine, no”? he suddenly announced. “If you write well and i will know when i read your blog, you should write a book about the Camino for children”, he said. I thought that if i did attempt this that i would use Uliana as the sage like figure helping the pilgrim find the answers to the questions he had. El Camino de Uliana!
Sun Feb 07, 2010 Full Page

Matavenero continued…………. Uli and i gathered about 5 wheelbarrow loads of chestnut logs before calling it a day. We headed back to the house where he immediately asked me if i played Chess. I told him that i had played a bit at school but not much since, never the less i was happy to play if he wanted a game. We set the board up and it wasn¡t long before Uli had got himself into a strong position. I joked that perhaps it would be better for us to continue with me playing from his position. He immediately span the board round so that i now was playing from the stronger position. He still managed to eek out a draw. The game ended just in time for dinner. It was all Vegetarian and absolutely lovely. During the meal they asked me if i would like to stay at their house instead of the guest house in the village which i thought would be loads nicer so naturally said yes. I offered to try and ease Ulis tight shoulders and back with a massage if he would like. It’s not often people turn down a free massage and this was no exception. Uli said that some of the kids in the village have lice so they had put a clean pillow slip over the pillow for me. My head immediately started itching. After dinner Uli hopped onto the bed for a little sleep while Ana and i took a walk up the valley. We didn’t talk that much, just walked. On our way back we collected my rucksack from the guest house. Once we were back at the house i began the massage for uli unknotting the muscles between his shoulders particularly. It had started to get dark so candles were lit in the house and we began to read Angel cards for each other. It’s quite eary the way these card readings seem to so often reflect the things that are currently at the forefront of your mind when you read them. During the evenings conversation we had, something Ana said stuck in my mind. She said, “we are all just trying to do the best we can”. Ana also asked if i could massage her in the morning before i left, which of course i said i would. It was getting late so i said goodnight and clambered up the steeply angled ladder to one of the mattresses in the roof space for what i hoped would be a bug free night. I think Ana was right! We are all just doing the best we can with whatever we have and wherever we are at any one particular moment. It’s when we or others gauge our position with some sort of measurement (often created by the society in which we live) that we can fall into the trap of thinking we are are either doing well, badly or okay or whether our behaviour is good, bad or acceptable. At the end of the day though i really do think regardless of where we find ourselves in society measurement, we are all GENUINELY TRYING to do the best we are capable of at any one moment in time. At breakfast the next morning ana said she had had a dream. I was living in the village and she and i had gone collecting wood. She had a bit while i had more. When we arrived at a clearing in the forest, we came across the teenagers of the village and not only had they collected a load of wood but they also had a fire going. “they never do anything like that” she said. A little while later Uli went into the garden to sort out the wood we had collected the night before while Ana got ready for the massage. About 15 mins into the massage i noticed that Anas back had started heaving… she was sobbing. I remained silent and simply carried on. Eventually she propped herself up on her elbows to blow her nose and wipe her eyes. ” I need to turn over”, she said. As she was now on her back i decided to massage her arms and hands. Almost immediately she began to sob again…..deep, deep sobs. From the outside looking in one could be forgiven for thinking that to live in a beautiful valley in northern Spain with your own elected Mayor and totally left alone to live your life the way you choose, with people who you have chosen, nay picked, to live with you was as close to Utopia as you could get. But clearly all is not well even on the ‘hippy front’. We are all just doing the best we can! If you are not at peace with yourself you won’t find peace in even the most beautiful of environments either. Ana gave me a well handled teddy Bear to keep me company for the remainder of my journey to Santiago….and beyond. I named new friend……..Uliana! Ana and i hugged our goodbye at the door of her house and i set off to find Uli. He was back at the Chestnut tree chopping more logs from it’s enormous girth. “You know where we are Grant, see you again sometime”? “I expect so Uli, take care” We hugged before i began the steep climb back out of the valley. My head was a whirlwind of thoughts as Matavenero gradually faded behind me. I was back on the track and alone with my thoughts……..or so i thought! I noticed what appeared to be a woman shuffling, slowly towards me down the track. I was right….her name was Rosa. A Spanish woman in her 50s. “Is there a village near here? My leg hurts and i have no food! I have come from Astorga and i only have these soft shoes! I don’t know where i will sleep tonight! Madre Mia a man in a skirt in the forest, where are you from? Is it cold there? Its so cold here, i don’t like it, i like Shrewsbury, do you know Shrewsbury? I have a tent in the forest, it’s okay in the summer but it’s too cold in the winter”. “I have some bread if you like and there is a village not far where the people are very nice and i’m sure they will give you a bit more help if you ask” I managed to say before Rosa was off again. “I don’t like bread, do you have fruit? ” I have a Kiwi, here take it”. “My parents are dead, are yours still alive? I have nobody! Oh what lovely boots you have, look at my shoes. May i visit you if i come to your country, i bet it’s warmer than here, isn’t it”? Do you live in a house?, I have nowhere to live, cold i stay one night with you if i visit you? “Of course you can but perhaps for the moment the village is your best bet, I look forward to your visit but i need to go now…good luck”. By the time i got back to Foncebadon the weather was closing in so i decided not to walk any further along the Camino that day. They were suprised to see me back at the Albergue and wanted to knw how it went at Matavenero and as you already know that there is no need to speak further on the subject i guess. I was joined that evening at the Albergue by a Spanish guy named David, an Italian named Francesco and a Swiss guy called Hans. I didn’t sleep so well that night……..Hans snores……Doh! 5th Feb Foncebabon – Ponferrada Overnight a few inches of snow had fallen and it was still coming down. It was dark as we left the warmth of the Albergue and stepped out into the snow filled streets. We decided that if we all walked together then we should be okay to head straight up into the mountains. The morning colours were very dramatic and atmospheric. At times it was a bit of a struggle against the driving snow and we all reached the Cruz de Ferro just as an amazingly beautiful sunrise filled the sky. The Cruz de Ferro is an important part of the Camino. It is a place where pilgrims place a stone they have brought with them from home at the base of the cross and say a prayer. There are now so many stones at the base that it has formed a hill that you can climb up. The Italians are not the same as the rest of us mere mortals – they are blessed race of people for one simple reason. They do not simply speak words the way the rest of us do… they sing them..every time they open their mouths. As we approached the cross i said its name aloud by way of announcement. Francesco looked up from something he had been putting away and repeated in a questioning,singing tone that that steadily rose in pitch, “Cruz de Ferro”? It sounded beautiful! I took the stone Holly had given me from my bag and with it tightly held in my fist clambered up the hill of stones to the wooden base of the cross. I said a prayer for myself and everybody else to help us all find peace in our lives and to find the strength to maintain this peace throughout our lives. I took a handful of seeds and simply threw them into the air to seed, or not, wherever they may. At Ponferrada we went out together for some wine and tapas and as we crossed the main square a lady from a tour group stepped toward me and asked “are you wearing your skirt in the traditional way”? The saucy Nancy!!!!!!!! 6th Feb Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo I felt i wanted to walk alone a little bit today. I havn’t had many thoughts while i’ve been walking in this little group, which while it has been a welcome relief, i feel like a bit of social isolation is in order to see what pops into my head. Nothing much happened to be honest and i found myself walking with Francesco again. I tend to get on far better with Latino peoples and think it is because they have a lightness about that i love. e’
Sun Feb 07, 2010 Full Page

Matavenero continued…………. Uli and i gathered about 5 wheelbarrow loads of chestnut logs before calling it a day. We headed back to the house where he immediately asked me if i played Chess. I told him that i had played a bit at school but not much since, never the less i was happy to play if he wanted a game. We set the board up and it wasn¡t long before Uli had got himself into a strong position. I joked that perhaps it would be better for us to continue with me playing from his position. He immediately span the board round so that i now was playing from the stronger position. He still managed to eek out a draw. The game ended just in time for dinner. It was all Vegetarian and absolutely lovely. During the meal they asked me if i would like to stay at their house instead of the guest house in the village which i thought would be loads nicer so naturally said yes. I offered to try and ease Ulis tight shoulders and back with a massage if he would like. It’s not often people turn down a free massage and this was no exception. Uli said that some of the kids in the village have lice so they had put a clean pillow slip over the pillow for me. My head immediately started itching. After dinner Uli hopped onto the bed for a little sleep while Ana and i took a walk up the valley. We didn’t talk that much, just walked. On our way back we collected my rucksack from the guest house. Once we were back at the house i began the massage for uli unknotting the muscles between his shoulders particularly. It had started to get dark so candles were lit in the house and we began to read Angel cards for each other. It’s quite eary the way these card readings seem to so often reflect the things that are currently at the forefront of your mind when you read them. During the evenings conversation we had, something Ana said stuck in my mind. She said, “we are all just trying to do the best we can”. Ana also asked if i could massage her in the morning before i left, which of course i said i would. It was getting late so i said goodnight and clambered up the steeply angled ladder to one of the mattresses in the roof space for what i hoped would be a bug free night. I think Ana was right! We are all just doing the best we can with whatever we have and wherever we are at any one particular moment. It’s when we or others gauge our position with some sort of measurement (often created by the society in which we live) that we can fall into the trap of thinking we are are either doing well, badly or okay or whether our behaviour is good, bad or acceptable. At the end of the day though i really do think regardless of where we find ourselves in society measurement, we are all GENUINELY TRYING to do the best we are capable of at any one moment in time. At breakfast the next morning ana said she had had a dream. I was living in the village and she and i had gone collecting wood. She had a bit while i had more. When we arrived at a clearing in the forest, we came across the teenagers of the village and not only had they collected a load of wood but they also had a fire going. “they never do anything like that” she said. A little while later Uli went into the garden to sort out the wood we had collected the night before while Ana got ready for the massage. About 15 mins into the massage i noticed that Anas back had started heaving… she was sobbing. I remained silent and simply carried on. Eventually she propped herself up on her elbows to blow her nose and wipe her eyes. ” I need to turn over”, she said. As she was now on her back i decided to massage her arms and hands. Almost immediately she began to sob again…..deep, deep sobs. From the outside looking in one could be forgiven for thinking that to live in a beautiful valley in northern Spain with your own elected Mayor and totally left alone to live your life the way you choose, with people who you have chosen, nay picked, to live with you was as close to Utopia as you could get. But clearly all is not well even on the ‘hippy front’. We are all just doing the best we can! If you are not at peace with yourself you won’t find peace in even the most beautiful of environments either. Ana gave me a well handled teddy Bear to keep me company for the remainder of my journey to Santiago….and beyond. I named new friend……..Uliana! Ana and i hugged our goodbye at the door of her house and i set off to find Uli. He was back at the Chestnut tree chopping more logs from it’s enormous girth. “You know where we are Grant, see you again sometime”? “I expect so Uli, take care” We hugged before i began the steep climb back out of the valley. My head was a whirlwind of thoughts as Matavenero gradually faded behind me. I was back on the track and alone with my thoughts……..or so i thought! I noticed what appeared to be a woman shuffling, slowly towards me down the track. I was right….her name was Rosa. A Spanish woman in her 50s. “Is there a village near here? My leg hurts and i have no food! I have come from Astorga and i only have these soft shoes! I don’t know where i will sleep tonight! Madre Mia a man in a skirt in the forest, where are you from? Is it cold there? Its so cold here, i don’t like it, i like Shrewsbury, do you know Shrewsbury? I have a tent in the forest, it’s okay in the summer but it’s too cold in the winter”. “I have some bread if you like and there is a village not far where the people are very nice and i’m sure they will give you a bit more help if you ask” I managed to say before Rosa was off again. “I don’t like bread, do you have fruit? ” I have a Kiwi, here take it”. “My parents are dead, are yours still alive? I have nobody! Oh what lovely boots you have, look at my shoes. May i visit you if i come to your country, i bet it’s warmer than here, isn’t it”? Do you live in a house?, I have nowhere to live, cold i stay one night with you if i visit you? “Of course you can but perhaps for the moment the village is your best bet, I look forward to your visit but i need to go now…good luck”. By the time i got back to Foncebadon the weather was closing in so i decided not to walk any further along the Camino that day. They were suprised to see me back at the Albergue and wanted to knw how it went at Matavenero and as you already know that there is no need to speak further on the subject i guess. I was joined that evening at the Albergue by a Spanish guy named David, an Italian named Francesco and a Swiss guy called Hans. I didn’t sleep so well that night……..Hans snores……Doh! 5th Feb Foncebabon – Ponferrada Overnight a few inches of snow had fallen and it was still coming down. It was dark as we left the warmth of the Albergue and stepped out into the snow filled streets. We decided that if we all walked together then we should be okay to head straight up into the mountains. The morning colours were very dramatic and atmospheric. At times it was a bit of a struggle against the driving snow and we all reached the Cruz de Ferro just as an amazingly beautiful sunrise filled the sky. The Cruz de Ferro is an important part of the Camino. It is a place where pilgrims place a stone they have brought with them from home at the base of the cross and say a prayer. There are now so many stones at the base that it has formed a hill that you can climb up. The Italians are not the same as the rest of us mere mortals – they are blessed race of people for one simple reason. They do not simply speak words the way the rest of us do… they sing them..every time they open their mouths. As we approached the cross i said its name aloud by way of announcement. Francesco looked up from something he had been putting away and repeated in a questioning,singing tone that that steadily rose in pitch, “Cruz de Ferro”? It sounded beautiful! I took the stone Holly had given me from my bag and with it tightly held in my fist clambered up the hill of stones to the wooden base of the cross. I said a prayer for myself and everybody else to help us all find peace in our lives and to find the strength to maintain this peace throughout our lives. I took a handful of seeds and simply threw them into the air to seed, or not, wherever they may. At Ponferrada we went out together for some wine and tapas and as we crossed the main square a lady from a tour group stepped toward me and asked “are you wearing your skirt in the traditional way”? The saucy Nancy!!!!!!!! 6th Feb Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo I felt i wanted to walk alone a little bit today. I havn’t had many thoughts while i’ve been walking in this little group, which while it has been a welcome relief, i feel like a bit of social isolation is in order to see what pops into my head. Nothing much happened to be honest and i found myself walking with Francesco again. I tend to get on far better with Latino peoples and think it is because they have a lightness about that i love.
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

I wanted to pass on a comment. Is it a failing to……………………… seek the perfect love?
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

6th Feb Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo Only 20 or so km today so not that tough on the feet. A couple of lovely rainbows divided the morning from the afternoon. I felt the need to walk alone a bit today. I havn’t had many thoughts over the last day or so which to some degree is quite nice. I wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that i have been with other pilgrims over the last 2 days. I had some good conversations with Francesco. I usually feel more comfortable with Latin people for some reason. I wondered today why that might be and it occurred to me that it could be that i enjoy people with a light way about them. Francesco suggested if i write well (i enjoy writing but i’m not sure if i write well) that i should write a childrens book about the Camino. I thought if i did do this that i would make Uliana the sage type character and the pilgrim was the confused one looking for answers to endless questions. El Camino de Uliana! Uliana has sort of become my way of learning more Spanish phrases. I like to ask her how she is, can she see, is she tired etc in Spanish so i ask Francesco (he speaks Spanish too) what the words are. I’m hoping some of what i learn will stick. Every so often when a conversation gets a bit deep amongst our little group, one of the guys likes to think he has all the answers and will often say “it’s very simple blah blah blah”. I have had this for a couple of days now and i’m getting a bit tired of it – I’ve read the same books, my old son and pondered on them equally as much. Not only am i tired of talking and thinking about it myself, i’m even more tired of hearing someone else thinking they have all the answers to every question we may ask ourselves through life. I grow ever more tired of thinking…………..verbalising. I need to find the courage to start doing………………… and stop talking! The Albergue here at Villafranca del Bierzo is very famous (legendary actually) for it’s hands on healing owner – Jesus. When i arrived there was a bit of public displaying of this healing, followed shortly after by an almighty row with his voluntary helper. He has images, photos of himself everywhere. Good marketing or Ego? How tempting to go down this route? Hard to be humble, eh! The way seems so simple sometimes and so difficult to achieve most of the time. So difficult to……………………just let go!
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

6th Feb Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo Only 20 or so km today so not that tough on the feet. A couple of lovely rainbows divided the morning from the afternoon. I felt the need to walk alone a bit today. I havn’t had many thoughts over the last day or so which to some degree is quite nice. I wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that i have been with other pilgrims over the last 2 days. I had some good conversations with Francesco. I usually feel more comfortable with Latin people for some reason. I wondered today why that might be and it occurred to me that it could be that i enjoy people with a light way about them. Francesco suggested if i write well (i enjoy writing but i’m not sure if i write well) that i should write a childrens book about the Camino. I thought if i did do this that i would make Uliana the sage type character and the pilgrim was the confused one looking for answers to endless questions. El Camino de Uliana! Uliana has sort of become my way of learning more Spanish phrases. I like to ask her how she is, can she see, is she tired etc in Spanish so i ask Francesco (he speaks Spanish too) what the words are. I’m hoping some of what i learn will stick. Every so often when a conversation gets a bit deep amongst our little group, one of the guys likes to think he has all the answers and will often say “it’s very simple blah blah blah”. I have had this for a couple of days now and i’m getting a bit tired of it – I’ve read the same books, my old son and pondered on them equally as much. Not only am i tired of talking and thinking about it myself, i’m even more tired of hearing someone else thinking they have all the answers to every question we may ask ourselves through life. I grow ever more tired of thinking…………..verbalising. I need to find the courage to start doing………………… and stop talking! The Albergue here at Villafranca del Bierzo is very famous (legendary actually) for it’s hands on healing owner – Jesus. When i arrived there was a bit of public displaying of this healing, followed shortly after by an almighty row with his voluntary helper. He has images, photos of himself everywhere. Good marketing or Ego? How tempting to go down this route? Hard to be humble, eh! The way seems so simple sometimes and so difficult to achieve most of the time. So difficult to……………………just let go!
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

Foncebadon – Ponferrada continued…………… The Italians don’t simply speak when they talk – they sing! As we aproached the Cruz de Ferro, i said it’s name kind of by way of announcement. As i did so, Francesco looked up and sang in a rising, questioning pitch in his voice – “Cruz de Ferro”? he said. It sounded beautiful. David took a photo of me placing Hollys stone in the wooden base of the cross. I said a prayer for myself and for everyone else. May we find peace in our lives and the strength to maintain that peace. I took a handful of seeds and simply through them up in the snow filled air. They would seed, or not, where they fell. We continued on our way, through the driving snow to an isolated Albergue at Manjarin. We stopped at the Albergue for a coffee and a said hello to a chap called Thomas who lives there on Ulis behalf. Manjarin is sort of a ramshackle kind of place but has oodles and oodles of character and the pilgrims love it because of this. It’s a special Albergue and the owners take great care of the pilgrims that pass by. They are genuine!!!!!! In Ponferrada the four of us went out for wine and tapas. As we passed a group of Spanish tourists on a guided tour of the central square, a woman of about 55 broke away from the group and asked me ” do you wear your skirt in the authentic way”? The saucy Nancy!!!!!!!
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

The return to Foncebadon…………………. It wasn’t long before Matavenero was out of sight and i was alone on the track again…….or so i thought. Up ahead of me i saw a hobbling figure that looked from a distance to be a woman. Indeed it was, her name was Rosa! She was about 50 years old and Spanish. “I have come from Astorga, Where have you come from? Madre mia, a man in a skirt, where do you come from? Is it cold there? It’s too cold here! I have a tent in the woods, it’s okay in the summer but not in the winter! I only have these soft shoes, Oh what lovely boots you have! Are your parents alive? Mine are dead, i have nobody any more! Do you have a house? I don’t have a house, i have nowhere to live! I like Shrewsbury, do you know Shrewsbury? Do you have any food? I have hurt my leg! I don’t know what to do! “I have some food” i replied “have some bread”. “I don’t like bread, do you have any fruit”? “yes, i have a Kiwi, here take it”. I replied. “If you go to the village in the valley they will help you some more, i’m sure” “Can i have your address and visit you if i come to your country”? “Of course you can, maybe we will meet again soon but for now try the village, they are nice there and can help you more i’m sure, see you again, nice to meet you”. I replied before heading back up the track again. I arrived back at the Albergue in Foncebadon at about 1.30pm. They were suprised to see me again. I explained that i had spent the last day at Matavenero. They were quite curious to know what i thought of the village and you know this already so no need to speak further on the subject. I felt quite tired, it was grey and dark outside and i didn’t feel like walking any more for that day so i decided to stay at Foncebadon again. 3 other pilgrims stayed at the Albergue that night. An Italian named Francesco, a Spanish guy named David and a swiss guy named Hans. I didn’t sleep that well. Hans was another snorer! Doh! 5th Jan Foncebadon – Ponferrada Overnight, about 4″ of snow had fallen here in the mountains. We decided that if we went as a group together we would be okay to head up into the mountains to the Cruz de Ferro. The Cruz de Ferro is a place where pilgrims traditionally put a stone they have brought with them from home and place at the base of the cross. There are now millions of stones there which have created a mound high enough to climb up. The morning colours as we set off up to the mountain were very dramatic and atmospheric. The sunrise was absolutely amazing and came up just as we reached the cross of iron (cruz de fero).
Sat Feb 06, 2010 Full Page

Matavenero continued………….. Uli and i collected about 5 wheelbarrow loads of wood before calling it a day. We returned to the house where he immediately asked me if i played Chess. I said i had played a bit at school but not much since but i knew the rules and i was happy to play a game. Uli quickly established a strong position and i started joking about how rubbish i was. He generously span the board around so that i now had his pieces and he now had the weaker position. He still managed to claw his position back to a draw. Dinner was served just as we finished the game. It was entirely vegetarian and really lovely. During the dinner they asked me if i would like to stay the evening at their house instead of the village guest house. Their bed was just off the kitchen area but they also had a big space in the roof which had about 4 or 5 mattresses on the floor. At one point when all the kids lived with them, the whole family slept up there. I eagerly accepted their offer as i felt really comfortable in their company. After dinner Uli immediately lay down on the bed for a little sleep while Ana and i went for a walk up the valley before making our way back to the guest house to collect my rucksack. On our return i offered Uli a back massage to try and ease some of the tightness brought by the 3 days of chopping and sawing he had been doing. It’s not often people refuse a massage and this occasion was no exception. I think it did the trick! As darkness came over the valley and the village, we lit candles and began reading Angel cards to each other. It’s quite eary how these cards can sometimes reflect the things that are at the forefront of your thoughts at the time that you end up reading them. We drifted into conversation with each other. Uli asked me what i thought of Matavenero. I paused briefly before answering, ” i have been here for just an afternoon but feel like i’ve been here forever” Uli replied by saying, “like your at home”? Something that Ana had said during the course of the evening really stuck in my mind. She simply said that she felt – “we were all just trying to the best we could”! It was with these words in my head that i clambered up the steeply angled ladder to the loft room. Ana had asked me if i would mind massaging her before i left the next morning, which, of course i said i would. I think Ana was right. Whoever we are, wherever we are and whatever our actions i think we are all doing, all that we are capable of at that particular moment. Are we are all just simply trying to survive the best we can! I don’t just mean those of us who are just getting by – i’m not talking about how much money or influence we may or may not have, I mean ALL of us. At breakfast the next morning Ana told me she had had a dream. I was living in the village and she and i had gone to collect wood from the forest. She had a bit of wood while i had more. We arrived at a clearing to find that the teenagers had already collected lots of wood and even had a fire going. “They never collect wood or anything for that matter” she said. Uli went outside to sort out the wood we had collected the previous evening while Ana got ready for our massage. About 10 minutes into the massage i suddenly noticed a different rhythm to Anas breathing, her back started heaving. She was sobbing! I simply accepted that this was somrthing she needed to get out, remained silent and carried on. Eventually Ana propped herself up on her elbows, reached for a tissue and cleaned herself up. “I need to turn over”, she said. I continued the massage but this time on her arms and hands. It wasn’t long before she began sobbing uncontrollably again. I drew the massage to a close and left Ana to rest and recover her composure. Looking in from the outside, we may think that living in a beautiful valley in Northern Spain where you are living in a small community with your own elected Mayor with no one telling you how to live your life may be as close to Utopia as you could get. But are we ALL just trying to survive the best way we can? Clearly, even on the Hippy Front – all is not well! Love for oneself and the courage to listen to the little voice inside and follow what it’s trying to tell you – easy words to speak, not so easy to surrender to. More and more it feels to me the only way to a life of peace with oneself and all other things. Before i left Ana gave me a well handled Teddy Bear to keep me company for the remainder of the journey (and beyond) to Santiago. I have decided to name her…..Uliana! Ana and i hugged our goodbye and i left her at her door. I found Uli chopping more wood from the chestnut tree. We embraced each other warmly. “You know where we are Grant, see you again soon perhaps”? ” I expect so” i replied. “Take care Uli” A lot of thoughts were whirling around in my head as i climbed back out of the valley. Thoughts are always whirling around in my head – it’s keeping them still that challenges me, constantly!
Fri Feb 05, 2010 Full Page

Matavenero continued……… I wrote a whole bunch of stuff last night but lost the lot because of a lost signal. I only have a short amount of time now so i will rewrite as much as i can. The guy in the hippy clobber (like everyone in the village actually) was the only English inhabitant and his name was Nick. He immediately started unloading to me his current crisis. It turns out that Nick had been living in the village for a few years himself and his 20 year old girlfriend had decided to leave him and the village to go back to Germany and was taking their 2 children with her (they had met each other when she was 16). He said that he was dealing with this crisis much better than he had with past crisis, he was learning! Normally he would have a needle sticking in his eyeball by now. He said i looked just like Greg (a previous inhabitant of the village) and that i had a gentle vibe. He asked me if i wanted a smoke and that i could crash at his gaff if i liked. I told him i wasn’t sure what i was doing just yet but thanfor the offer. I hadn’t come here to spend the entire time listening to Nicks problems. I’m sure there are plenty of people in the village he could unload on. He soon ran off up the street to do something else anyway so that was the end of that. Elicia returned briefly and was saying that she and another woman she had been talking to in the village had both had powerful dreams last night. it made me feel a little like she thought my sudden appearance was something to do with it, the way she was looking at me. Perhaps i was just being a bit hyper sensitive. Elicia soon left, so i carried on my chat with Ana. About 15 minutes past before an excited voice shouted, ” i know you”. i looked up to see a cheerful and very hyper girl with jet black hair over a very pale face with wide eyes and tell tale pin prick size pupils. “i know you” she gushed again. “Oh no, i’m really sorry, i thought you were Greg”. This giry was another German girl in her early twentys named Anna Lee. She came here just over a year ago with a dog and a cat and a 28kg rucksack on her back. She lived in a White Tipi near the entrance to the village. Anna Lee was one of those people that is like a little whirlwind. You end up listening to her chatting away with your eyes slightly wider and your mouth agape as a stream of words pour forth from her mouth. Ana said she was heading back home but invited me to eat ather house with Uli whenever i was ready. She pointed out her house across the valley and then left. Anna Lee took me under her enthusiastic wing and showed me where visitors sleep. A wooden hut houses a library on the ground floor and a guest house on the lower floor. The guest house had a wooden platform at one end with 4 or 5 well used mattresses on it, a stove in the centre with a sink opposite and a bench and table at the far end. Anna Lee showed me how to use the stove, told me to leave my rucksack on the floor, “don’t worry, it will be safe” she said. “come on, i will show you how to use the compost toilet”. We made our way over to a wooden shed. It had a hole in the floor to a pit.”Do whatever you need to but make sure you throw some leaves from this box on top of whatever you do otherwise it starts to stink”. With the tour over she rushed off saying she needed a coffee from the bar. I had a quick pee, did the leaf bit and wondered what to do next. I decided to make my way straight to Ana and Ulis place. As i headed down the path towards the house she had pointed out a bunch of dogs rushed out of a garden and started barking at me. They followed for a minute or so, really close behind me. I really wasn’t sure whether they would go for me or not and tried my best to keep calm and not look behind me even though they were so close. Eventually they left me alone, thank goodness. I arrived at ana and Ulis place and after knocking, went in. Uli gave me a very friendly welcome and i immediately felt better. I thanked them for inviting me to dinner and was happy to help them in any way i could in return. I was given some vegetables to grate and then uli and i went back up the track as he needed help to load up some logs to bring back to his shed – An huge, old chestnut tree had recently fallen down, narrowly missing his neighbours house. Uli had been chopping it up for the last 3 days.
Thu Feb 04, 2010 Full Page

Perhaps if you have just read the email about Zacs operation (see previous post) you could perhaps take a bit of time to say a prayer yourself for his continued recovery. Every little helps! 3rd and 4th Feb Foncebadon – Matavenero – Foncebadon My first stay at Foncebadon was certainly full of food, but unfortunately, not full of sleep. The food was vegetarian and wonderful – i’m still suprised at how delicious food can taste, even when there is no cooking involved. There is no reason at all why i shouldn’t make more healthy food for myself. I just need to realise it’s not difficult or even time consuming. Bedtime in Foncebadon brought about a whole different experiance. SNORING PILGRIMS! The problem with snoring is that you can be drawn into listening to it, as opposed to just hearing it. You start waiting, nay, hoping it will stop. When it finally stops, if it does, then you begin waiting for it to start again. I’ve had 2 nights of this with the same pilgrim so i’m kinda glad that this morning he will turn left onto the Camino while i will go right for a days diversion to a village off the camino called Matavenero (do a search for Matavenero and youlwill learn more about it). At least this night i won’t hear his snoring – perhaps anothers, but not his. As i left the camino at Foncebadon and headed across to the mountains toward Matavenero i was stopped by a slightly hippy looking Spanish guy and his teenage daughter saying something to me about Matavenero. I tried my best to understand but wasn’t doing very well at all. Anyway they began walking with me until we reached a road junction which had a hand made sign pointing down a track to Matavenero. At this point they waved me goodbye, turned around and walked back the way we had just come. I thanked them for showing me the turn off and carried on down the track. About 1/2 hour later a car pulled up beside me with 2 guys in it, one of them began shouting from the window, “this isn’t it, this isn’t the camino”. I told them i was heading for Matavenero which seemed to put them at ease again (after looking me up and down a bit). 10 mins later another car pulled up beside me – it was the Spanish guy who showed me the way to the track with his teenage daughter. He asked me if i wanted a lift to Matavenero. I thanked him but said no. He didn’t insist or cajole me to accept, as can sometimes happen when people feel they are being helpful, he just said, ” ok,no problem, see you there”. I wanted to walk to experience the place gradually, rather than just falling out of the back of a van into the village street. It was a good decision! the village is in a valley, surrounded by hills and looks like its sitting in a huge bowl. As i approached the village i could see it all, in it’s bizarre entirity. A Fairy tale mixture of Domes, Pyramids, Tipis, Slanted houses, Straight houses, Round houses, Octagenal houses, Sheds and Ruins. You reach the car park first which is at the top of the valley and this also had an incredible array of different types of caravans, motorhomes, Gypsy caravans and cars. As i have been living in a camper myself for a few months now, it all seemed very familiar otherwise i might have felt it was all a bit strange. As i turned a corner i saw 3 really hippy/ traveller looking characters, two blokes and a woman. I wondered over and noticed the woman was laughing at me. It felt like she was mocking me, but i ignored the feeling (she could well be just amused by my appearance in a nice way), introduced myself and asked the guy to my right what his name was and which track should i follow down to the village. He was polite and helpful but i didn’t get the same vibe from the other 2 so i didn’t bother to extend the conversation by asking their names. I thanked Jurgen for his help and headed off down the track he had pointed out. About 10 mins later as i neared the village i saw Jurgen and the girl walking ahead of me – they obviously knew a short cut! As i approached the entrance of the village i saw a few people in the street but they went off into buildings or further down the street as i approached. I thought to myself, okay, you are here now. Now what? Are you just going to start talking to someone? What Now? I saw the guy who had offered me a lift. I wondered over to ask him who i needed to speak to about staying the night here. He didn’t seem to know himself, in fact he looked a wee bit lost himself. I asked another passer by. He said to go to the bar. I carefully made my way up the uneven steps to the bar, opened the door and for the briefest moments thought, do i really want to stay the night here? The bar was full of punky, gothiky, traveller looking teenagers just hanging out playing loud thrash metal music. Everyone was smoking, if you get me! I said “Hola buenas dias” put my stick up against the corner by the door, took my rucksack off and ordered a coffee. At that moment Jurgen came in and started rolling so i didn’t interrupt him. At that moment ‘Laughing Girl’ came in too. I said to her, “i didn’t get your name before, what is it”? She said, ” i wasn’t telling you it, it’s Elicia”! I replied, ” i wasn’t telling you mine either, i’m Grant”. Turns out that Elicia has been here 20 years and was one of the first inhabitants but was now finding it difficult because it wasn’t so much of a community like before. People were doing their own thing and it was more difficult to keep things working well and the place up together because the collective spirit had gone. “People want everything”, she said “they want a garden to grow things but they also want to go to other places, festivals and stuff, and the plants die”. I told her i lived on a boat which then brought the barman into the conversation who had spent 7 years in the Spanish Navy. He took great pride in showing me his tattoos. Eventually Elicia left the bar so i got my stuff and left the bar as well. In a little raised seating area opposite the bar i saw a woman sat in the sun knitting. I asked if she minded if i joined her, she said “sit where you want, it’s a free place”. Her name was Ana from Austria. She had been here 11 years. She told me a lot about her life and the ups and downs of her relationship with Uli, her partner. After about an hour or so i heard a voice say, ” are you scottish then, or what”? I looked up to see a guy about my age wearing a rainbow coloured cardigan and varios other hippy style clobber.
Thu Feb 04, 2010 Full Page

Perhaps if you have just read the email about Zacs operation (see previous post) you could perhaps take a bit of time to say a prayer yourself for his continued recovery. Every little helps! 3rd and 4th Feb Foncebadon – Matavenero – Foncebadon My first stay at Foncebadon was certainly full of food, but unfortunately, not full of sleep. The food was vegetarian and wonderful – i’m still suprised at how delicious food can taste, even when there is no cooking involved. There is no reason at all why i shouldn’t make more healthy food for myself. I just need to realise it’s not difficult or even time consuming. Bedtime in Foncebadon brought about a whole different experiance. SNORING PILGRIMS! The problem with snoring is that you can be drawn into listening to it, as opposed to just hearing it. You start waiting, nay, hoping it will stop. When it finally stops, if it does, then you begin waiting for it to start again. I’ve had 2 nights of this with the same pilgrim so i’m kinda glad that this morning he will turn left onto the Camino while i will go right for a days diversion to a village off the camino called Matavenero (do a search for Matavenero and youlwill learn more about it). At least this night i won’t hear his snoring – perhaps anothers, but not his. As i left the camino at Foncebadon and headed across to the mountains toward Matavenero i was stopped by a slightly hippy looking Spanish guy and his teenage daughter saying something to me about Matavenero. I tried my best to understand but wasn’t doing very well at all. Anyway they began walking with me until we reached a road junction which had a hand made sign pointing down a track to Matavenero. At this point they waved me goodbye, turned around and walked back the way we had just come. I thanked them for showing me the turn off and carried on down the track. About 1/2 hour later a car pulled up beside me with 2 guys in it, one of them began shouting from the window, “this isn’t it, this isn’t the camino”. I told them i was heading for Matavenero which seemed to put them at ease again (after looking me up and down a bit). 10 mins later another car pulled up beside me – it was the Spanish guy who showed me the way to the track with his teenage daughter. He asked me if i wanted a lift to Matavenero. I thanked him but said no. He didn’t insist or cajole me to accept, as can sometimes happen when people feel they are being helpful, he just said, ” ok,no problem, see you there”. I wanted to walk to experience the place gradually, rather than just falling out of the back of a van into the village street. It was a good decision! the village is in a valley, surrounded by hills and looks like its sitting in a huge bowl. As i approached the village i could see it all, in it’s bizarre entirity. A Fairy tale mixture of Domes, Pyramids, Tipis, Slanted houses, Straight houses, Round houses, Octagenal houses, Sheds and Ruins. You reach the car park first which is at the top of the valley and this also had an incredible array of different types of caravans, motorhomes, Gypsy caravans and cars. As i have been living in a camper myself for a few months now, it all seemed very familiar otherwise i might have felt it was all a bit strange. As i turned a corner i saw 3 really hippy/ traveller looking characters, two blokes and a woman. I wondered over and noticed the woman was laughing at me. It felt like she was mocking me, but i ignored the feeling (she could well be just amused by my appearance in a nice way), introduced myself and asked the guy to my right what his name was and which track should i follow down to the village. He was polite and helpful but i didn’t get the same vibe from the other 2 so i didn’t bother to extend the conversation by asking their names. I thanked Jurgen for his help and headed off down the track he had pointed out. About 10 mins later as i neared the village i saw Jurgen and the girl walking ahead of me – they obviously knew a short cut! As i approached the entrance of the village i saw a few people in the street but they went off into buildings or further down the street as i approached. I thought to myself, okay, you are here now. Now what? Are you just going to start talking to someone? What Now? I saw the guy who had offered me a lift. I wondered over to ask him who i needed to speak to about staying the night here. He didn’t seem to know himself, in fact he looked a wee bit lost himself. I asked another passer by. He said to go to the bar. I carefully made my way up the uneven steps to the bar, opened the door and for the briefest moments thought, do i really want to stay the night here? The bar was full of punky, gothiky, traveller looking teenagers just hanging out playing loud thrash metal music. Everyone was smoking, if you get me! I said “Hola buenas dias” put my stick up against the corner by the door, took my rucksack off and ordered a coffee. At that moment Jurgen came in and started rolling so i didn’t interrupt him. At that moment ‘Laughing Girl’ came in too. I said to her, “i didn’t get your name before, what is it”? She said, ” i wasn’t telling you it, it’s Elicia”! I replied, ” i wasn’t telling you mine either, i’m Grant”. Turns out that Elicia has been here 20 years and was one of the first inhabitants but was now finding it difficult because it wasn’t so much of a community like before. People were doing their own thing and it was more difficult to keep things working well and the place up together because the collective spirit had gone. “People want everything”, she said “they want a garden to grow things but they also want to go to other places, festivals and stuff, and the plants die”. I told her i lived on a boat which then brought the barman into the conversation who had spent 7 years in the Spanish Navy. He took great pride in showing me his tattoos. Eventually Elicia left the bar so i got my stuff and left the bar as well. In a little raised seating area opposite the bar i saw a woman sat in the sun knitting. I asked if she minded if i joined her, she said “sit where you want, it’s a free place”. Her name was Ana from Austria. She had been here 11 years. She told me a lot about her life and the ups and downs of her relationship with Uli, her partner. After about an hour or so i heard a voice say, ” are you scottish then, or what”? I looked up to see a guy about my age wearing a rainbow coloured cardigan and varios other hippy style clobber.
Tue Feb 02, 2010 Full Page

Feelings of love continued – Hurray!!!! At the same time as i had this period of feeling total love a song came on my music player by Bliss called ‘ A hundred thousand Angels’ ( i played it over and over again). I f you can imagine what it would feel like to have 100,000 Angels either side of you and behind you, as far as the eye could see, and you felt completely at one with them and they were all there to help you and love you – that is exactly how i felt! Totally at one and at peace with everything!!!!! As i left Hospital de Ortiga i was offered 2 paths to choose from, one through the countryside and the other mostly running parallel to a main road. I almost always choose the country route when offered the choice, but it didn’t feel the right way on this occasion so i choose the road route. The field immediately to my left was crawling with Crows as were the electric wires above me. For the briefest moment it felt a bit spooky, but when i was 6 years old and living in Carlisle we had a Crow and 2 Jackdaws as pets so i don’t have a superstitious fear of these birds. My 3 strongest memories of my time with these pets is: 1. Feeding them with milk soaked bread ( by opening their beaks with my fingers and popping the bread inside). 2. All 3 birds hopping from roof top to roof top, following me to school and me shouting at them to go back home. 3. My mother leaping on to a chair shouting ‘those bloody birds’ when one of them flew through the window and into the lounge where she had been doing something. Anyway coming back to the Crow infested track. i had a strong feeling of finding a feather so i began to scour the ground as i walked to see if i could find one that may have fallen from one of the birds. I didn’t see any so i diverted off the track towards some other crows resting on an electric cable above me and off to the right. As i approached, most of the crows flew off bar 2. I continued searching the floor for a feather and when i next looked up the other 2 crows had disappeared also. At this very same moment of me looking up something very odd occured…..a fluffy, white, downy feather was floating gently across the sky heading for the ground quite high above me. Excited, i began to chase it, stumbling as i did so on the peaks and troughs of the freshly ploughed soil of the field i had ended up in. I had to keep looking down at the floor so i would not twist my ankle on the uneven ground but i could still see the feather when i next looked skyward for it. The next time i looked down for a sure footing and then back up to the sky for the feather………it had disappeared. I searched for it feeling a bit disappointed not to have found it until the words of a friend came to me from the past. “If you ever see a feather falling from the sky in front of you, it’s your Angel letting you know it is with you”. I immediately felt better! Tues 2nd Feb Astorga – Foncebadon The morning was freezing cold as i got out of the city and into the countryside. The last time i came this way i didn’t have time to appreciate the beauty of this part of the camino. I had left Astorga last time with no money, not realising the nearest bank was 50km away. I had to walk like i was possessed to get to a bank before dark as i had not wanted to get caught in the hills at night. Anyway that was then, and this time i had some money in my pocket. As i approached Rabanal del Camino a chap called Miguel stopped on his bike ride to speak to me. Turns out he is studying Contemporary Fine Art in Nottingham. He told me i must visit Matavenero as he thought i would like it there. I told him that was where i would be heading for in the morning. He told me he would be visiting friends there tomorrow as well so we wil see each other again. Before he rode off he asked me if i was an artist, when i replied no he said ” of course you are walking through Maragato country ( the Maragato people are a declining tribe of people who drove pack mules through the mountains to trade with other towns in the area) in your skirt, you are a performer”. I also met Nemecio the shephard and his limping dogs. Every shephard dog i have seen in Spain has a bad limp – tough life i guess. I have recieved an email from Frances Mary regarding the situation with a baby named Zac. I have copied it below. On Monday 1st Feb at 2.43 zac went into surgery to have a life saving operation. The operation lasted 5 and a half hours and was a success. Zac is out of surgery and on a ventilator. Apparently he is a bit cross…which i think is a good sign..and just had his 1st whiff of morphine. Annabel and family have asked me to thank you all for your powerful prayers and healing. It has meant so much to Zac and them. Thank you…please continue to send your love and healing… and pray that he will be home soon. Blessings of Imbola to you all.
Mon Feb 01, 2010 Full Page

1st Feb Villar de Mazarife – Astorga After a great breakfast provided by Sergio, i headed out into a beautiful morning. It was cold but with a cloudless Azur sky and the sun eagerly trying to make its presence felt. The village was silent bar the gossip of the birds as they bustled from tree to tree.. If you do not find the perfect love, you have failed! Depending on how you read this statement, it can be true or false! If you see the perfect love as something or someone outside of yourself then i would imagine you would see the statement as true. If, on the other hand, you see the perfect love as loving your self then i would imagine you see the statement as false. We are actively encouraged to believe that we must find a person or persons (but generally someone) to share our life with, and so much the better if we find lifelong happiness or love with this person(s) and they feel the same way. The pressure of such a difficult undertaking can create great unhappiness in us if we continue to strive to be feature in this image of Utopia. It seems to me unreasonable to expect to find lifelong happiness when, as a rule, we are all constantly in flux – changing in every moment, yet we still expect to be eternally happy with only one (generally) other person in our life for all our life. It seems to me that there is only one way to be happy with only one person in ones life. This one person must be ones self. If you find love for your self, only then can you truly find it in another. Our journey through a lnog life can present us with billions of interactions, some a moment, others for many more moments. All of these interactions are a lesson AND a teaching to all. These interactions show us our way until, hopefully, we find love for our self. If we cling to the idea that an interaction must last forever, and it doesn’t, we suffer. It is easy to feel fear if you face the prospect of spending time alone, and for this reason one may endure an interaction for many more moments than one should. Equally (again, through fear) we can actively seek an interaction because we don’t wish continue to be alone. Today, i went through a period when i felt total love – for everything! I felt no fear about anything – everything was beautiful, and i mean everything! If we can remember to allow everything we see, hear, feel and speak to filter through an open, loving heart then you fear nothing. You are love! When you feel like this you fear nothing and love everything. I don’t mean a kind of ‘yea man love’. This feels like a pure, all encompassing, universal love. If i had any advice to give to myself or anyone else for that matter it would be to devote your entire energy to this one thing. Pure love for oneself and consequently love for all things!
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