Saturday, July 07, 2007


I have started dreaming that I am on the camino. Last night I was sitting at a white plastic table in the sunshine outside a cafe bar with lots of other pilgrims and we were all laughing. I was speaking fluent Spanish (which I can only do in my dreams!)
As the time draws nearer, the camino calls more strongly. I suppose it is like this when returning to any favourite place - one becomes a bit agitated, impatient to be off, withdrawing more and more from family and friends but at the same time, a little anxious about the separation from loved ones and all that is familiar. I am ready to go.
Everything has been weighed and packed into zip-lock bags. My backpack is ready and weighs a miraculous 5,5kg - with a 500ml bottle of water!

I have glued on the CSJ UK badge, the CSJ South Africa badge and a Camino Pilgrim badge onto the back of the pack. The new boots are wearing down at the heels so I have stopped training in them lest they wear away before I even set foot on Spanish soil. I photocopied the CSJ Guide to the Camino Frances and have shared out the pages between three of us. I also photocopied the Brierley Guide maps and had them enlarged. This is all we will take but I am sure that with the guide, the maps and the yellow arrows we will not get lost.
We will be carrying gifts for three special people on the camino.
I have compiled three 'brag books' with photographs for these three special people. One is for Maria Theodora - daughter of Felisa Rodrigues who, until she died at age 92, sat at a table outside her ramshackle home just outside Logrono offering a sello to passing pilgrims as well as 'Higos, Agua, Amor' - figs, love and water. Maria has continued the tradition. I have been able to source about 15 photographs of Felisa from the Internet and another dozen or so of Maria. I have also made up a brag book for Tomás Martínez de Paz of Manjarin. So many people have photos taken at the Manjarin refuge in the Irago mountains but I'm not sure that many send these to Tomas. I have got about 30 photos of Tomas and Manjarin to give to him as well as a wooden Tau cross which I bought from the Marianhill Monastery near Durban.
The final brag book is for Jesus Jato at Villafranca del Bierzo. He and his family have been caring for pilgrims for almost 30 years and he is a healer, historian and a legend on the camino Frances. I didn't meet Jesus when I stayed in the Ave Fenix in 2002 but hope to meet him this time.