Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Day 35. Arzula to Santiago. 40 kms

There was more foolery yet, if I could remember it.

I spoke too soon. All morning there were pilgrims in front and pilgrims behind as far as the eye could see. I have never seen so many people on a walk. 

Pilgrims in front of us
Pilgrims behind us
On to the church of Saint James
Walked the six hundred.

I wanted to be out it, so I decided to walk all the way to Santiago, and as I suspected, most of the crowd stopped at albergues around the half-way mark, and the afternoon was clear.

For almost all the way I walked along leafy lanes which ran near and occasionally crossed the main highway to Santiago. After an hour or so, I caught up with a score or two of pilgrims bunched along the side of a barn wall, part of the way along which were provocative religious statements and rhetorical questions such as "If Jesus came back today, would he be Orthodox, Catholic or Baptist?"

The other part of the wall was covered with famous quotations which alluded to the spirit of the Camino. One of them summed up the nature of the religious questions.

And Mark Twain was there of course.

This wall conveyed the spirit of the secular Camino. The Camino is evolving, much like Christianity itself, into a secular phenomenon. The Camino is a legacy of Christendom, still retaining the spirit of true Christianity, with its values of love and respect and tolerance. For example, later in the day, I passed another wall, written along which were the words: "The way to God is through Jesus." Now imagine how provocative that would be in a public place anywhere else. Blasphemies and obscenities would be scrawled all over it. But here, instead, was written: "Not the only way."

A little further on, I came upon a couple, one taking a photo of the other. As one away does, I offered to take a a picture of them both, and recognizing the accent, asked where they were from. They were Kerry and Greg from Bunbury, Western Australia, and they knew my cousin, Jan. It was another coincidence, and yet there were so many people that I was bound to meet someone I had a connection with. There was another coincidence too, but I won't bore the pants off you.

I ran into the Australians again at a bar a little more than half way to to Santiago. They had been planning to stay at an albergue a couple of miles back and had just realized that they had gone too far. There was the fellow from Sydney, the two Bunburyites, and a girl from Canberra. Listening to them talk was music to my ears and I say that without the slightest touch of irony.

How did we miss the bloody sign?
I don't know. You were bloody in front.
Well, we're not bloody going back.
Well, we can't bloody stay heah.
We'll have to bloody go on to the next one then.
We can't. It's too bloody far.
Well, we can't bloody stay heah.
But it's bloody seven kays to the next one. I'll whinge all the bloody way if we go on.

Well, they went on to the next one, and poor Kerry was dragging herself along. But they made it.

I was booked into a hotel on Monday for I want to follow the results of the Canadian election via Wifi, but I thought I would stay tonight as well. I phoned. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: Do you speak English?
Hotel: English tomorrow morning. Spanish today.
Me: But I would like to book in tonight.
Hotel: English tomorrow morning. Spanish today.

I pressed on anyway, chancing on finding a room, and I did. I can recommend the Hotel Mapoula, very clean, very comfortable, very central, with good Wifi, and the BBC World News on TV. I am paying 50€ for a double room, for there were no singles left, but Preben has a single for 30€. Preben is well organized. He returns home from one Camino and by the end of the week he has planned for the next, or the next two, for he walks in both spring and autumn. He has invited me to walk the Primitivo with him next fall, but this is my last Camino. Mind you, the Primitivo is a short one. But to train for it I would have to climb Mount Doug every day and Mount Finlayson once a week!


  1. If it is your last Camino thank you for all your blogs and thoughts on the routes walked. Mind you the Primitivo is a very precioso path.

  2. Thank you for your blog, it has been very enjoyable reading. I will be following you on del norte in 2 weeks and your experiences have been informative and entertaining. All the best on the rest.

  3. Hello Carolus. I have followed your blog every day. An avid walker of pilgrim routes myself, I have just returned from walking the Via Baltica in Germany. So many of your observations struck a chord with me. I love the eloquence of your writing by the way. If you are interested my blog is to be found on
    I live in New Zealand and since 2006 have returned to Europe most years to knock off a trail or two. Enjoy the rest of your trip. Kind regards, Gitti