THE WAY OF SANTIAGO
I’m going to talk about some experiences that happened to me when I was walking along the Way of Santiago, as a pilgrim, several years ago.
I have to say that I did it twice:
- In my first time, I went there alone because my father had a cancer and I needed to run away for a short time in order to be able to cope with this horrible situation.
- In my second time, it was very different. I went with my boyfriend, who is nowadays my husband. We kept together until the end of the way helping each other all the time; unlike (a diferencia de), other couples that broke up in the middle of the way. It was because we have to stand up hard conditions a lot of times and in those moments we have to decide between helping other people or helping ourselves. For this reason, the fact that we finished the way together supposed, for me, a proof of love.
- In both occasions, I learnt a lot about the sense of life.
Anyway, if you decide to go over the Way, you should keep in mind several issues.
Firstly, you must choose which path you’re going to follow.
Although there are different ones, the most famous is the French Way, in the North of Spain, from The Pyrinees, to Santiago de Compostela in La Coruña, or even until Finisterre. I started in my second time from Roncesvalles, in the Pyrenees and I was walking for 28 days in a row without resting. Actually, you could begin in whatever place until Santiago; however, you can find some shelters of pilgrims only along the pointed out (señalados) ways. In Castilla, for example, there are only a few of them, so that you need to calculate how many kilometers you will be able to go over (recorrer) every day. In this sense, I learnt what my limitations were.
On the contrary, from Ponferrada on there are a lot of shelters.
Secondly, you have to choose in which period of year you’re going to do it. If you decide to walk in August as me, probably, you’ll have to sleep the most of the times on the floor or even on the streets with the cats jumping over you and the children shouting and playing until late. It’s because there are so many pilgrims that it’s almost impossible to find a free bed in any place.
With regard to the shelters, I have to say that its rules are very strict. I think to remember that at 8 o’clock in the morning, all people should be on the way; what is more, from 5 o’clock we started to get up to walk early. It was because, on the one hand, we tried to avoid the extreme heat of summer and, on the other hand, the vast majority of us wanted to get a bed to sleep, instead of a little space on the floor or on the streets.
About it, I learnt that if you aren’t afraid of sleeping on the tough floor or even on the streets, you could enjoy much deeper the sceneries, talk to the locals, smell the flowers; In short, you could feel that you are alive, instead of worrying about getting material things that don’t allow you to enjoy life.
Thirdly, another important issue is how many weight you’re going to carry on your backpack. It’s advisable not more than 10 kilos. So, you must choose very careful only the most necessary for you, because you’ll have to carry it on your backpack all the time. That way, you’ll realize that, on the one hand, very few things are necessary to live and, on the other hand, you’ll have to bear the load that you choose to take.
I compare this situation with the mortgages, the number of the children that you decide to have or other useless things that make you work hardly to get them.
Other aspect related to the load is that you get used to supporting it like a tortoise with its shell; nevertheless, the danger is that when you remove it from your back for a short time, you feel release and you are tempted to abandon your way. It’s the same as, when you have problems in your life and you choose to run away from them instead to cope with them.
In short, the less load you have to support, the better you’ll feel. And, you’ll learn that there are very few things necessary to live. In fact, I try to live without too much luggage.
Finally, I observed a wrong behavior from some pilgrims, from my point of view. They demanded instead of thanking for the things that other people provided them. I think, a pilgrim, not only in the way, but in the life, should be a humble person and no one should be forced to give him/her anything. If someone give them something, they should thank them for the gift.
And now, I would like to share with you the ten pligrim’s commandments:
1. You will follow the yellow arrows over all things.
2. You won´t run kilometres in vain.
3. You won´t rest not even in holidays.
4. You will call your father and your mather.
5. You won´t stop.
6. You won't wear impure socks.
7.- You won´t complain.
8. You won´t say false distances when you talk.
9. You won´t have thoughts or desires to go back to your house.
10. You won´t covet (kᶺvit) the foreign blisters.
These commandments are contained in 2:
1. You will walk over all things and
2. You will take care of the backpack of the neighbour as yours yourself.