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SPAIN | Saturday, 10 May 2014 | Views [88] | Scholarship Entry

I dream I’m walking on the Camino, huge skies above and around me. The path is gravel, it’s a running stream, it’s a bitumen road, it’s tree-roots and rocks, it’s endless. I lie in forests and stare at the trees; I lay down on rough stubble in freshly harvested fields. I see red fairy mushrooms and little fungi, wildflowers and large, ancient trees, sometimes in dark forests with hanging down branches, sometimes alone, sometimes making welcome glades in an otherwise treeless expanse.

I’m hazy about what has come before or where I’m heading tonight and I like it. There’s only my feet, maybe blistered, my legs, possibly sore, sun or rain or wind, insects buzzing, possibly the sound of goats, sheep, horses or cows’ bells. There may be other pilgrims behind, in front or beside me or I may be alone with the world around me. My thoughts go here and there and I learn to merely watch them. I think about irrelevant but somehow relevant things. I don’t think of things I expect I’ll think about.

There are views after a climb when the adrenalin is pumping and I’m panting with the exertion and then the endorphins kick in and I shed tears at the beauty of it, that I’m lucky enough to be here. I ask an old pilgrim over rough wine “what’s the secret, what’s the secret? How do you do it?” and he answers me in French, in English, in Spanish and in Swiss German but doesn’t answer me at all and I find out the answer for myself. It’s through letting go and surrendering; realising I’ve got nowhere else to be.

Eagles and vultures soar and nest near craggy cliffs and in steeples. We walk on Roman roads and through Roman, Visigoth and Moorish towns. 11th, 12th, 13th century Gothic and Romanesque Chapels and Cathedrals in every village and we sleep in belltowers and ancient pilgrim hostels. Millions of pilgrims have come before.

I dream of it and I’m ready to drop everything and go again; where there is no planning, just a purpose each day: to wake, roll up my sleeping bag, pack my backpack, lace on my shoes and head out the door. That’s all, and whatever happens that day does or does not and wherever I get to I do and whoever I meet or whatever thoughts come and go, the pain, the heat or the cold, it’s all acceptable, beautiful and it will all pass.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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