On the Camino de Santiago there is a hill you must climb and it’s murder, it’s called La Cruz de Hierro or the Iron Cross. Everybody puts a rock next to it for luck. We were all there!
In the middle you see a German called Wolf(aswell), who has magical hands and healed my friend Florian´s(who took the picture) knees, the guy on the left´s feet and my back. This man has spent an eternity on the Camino already and is known by everyone. He has even treated disbelieving medical doctors(until they experienced the result, that is) and is also mentioned in the guidebooks. On the right is some lazy bum, who just happened to be there.
And then some days, time dragged its feet and the road itself grew weary of just going on and on in endless monotony, sick to its stomach of being trampled underfoot, longing to merely lie there in pristine silence. The flowers grew depressed under the midday heat and craved a nice shower. The fish were gasping for water in what was left of the brooks. The birds, their wings they flapped no more, too exhausted to utter a “tweet”.
The humans on the other hand were never too tired to snap, snap their cameras and post on Facebook, to immortalise the immutable spirit of the Way, eager already for old age to drop by and allow them to show these moments of bliss and pain to their progeny… every so often forgetting to live in the now.
That is until yet another sight of nature in all her majesty took their breath away anew. Mother Earth is somehow always ready to nurture our spirits and renew our energy, when we most need it. And need it we did! We all, without exception, got the “Iron Cross” in a superhuman fight against a mountain, a fearless enemy, who would not give in. After this unequal contest, I lay there exhausted and battle-worn, wondering how in the blazes I would ever be able to put one foot in front of the other again.
But of course I did, as did everyone and on we went tirelessly marching to our own inner rhythm. Onwards and upwards the children of the Pilgrem´s Way went to reach their salvation: Santiago! There to embrace the Golden Saint, who would deliver them from all their earthly worries. Amen!
- El Camino: The Experience! (ralphiesportal.me)
This is a subject, which is hard to write about. It being complex in its spiritual nature. There is a duality to it, because on the one hand the road is always changing. You see a new village every five to ten kilometers, you constantly meet new people, who are all in some way connected to the Camino and nature in its effervescent diversity unfailingly surprises you with its beauty.
On the other hand, there is the physical exercise of walking, which after five K´s or so of getting into your rhythm, lifts you up into a kind of trance like state. Your whole being expands and connects with that of your fellow pilgrims and with the road itself, which is drenched with the energy of innumerable supplicants, who have travelled it over the past two millenia. The power emanating from it is enormous. Nobody who travels it is immune to it. Time starts playing tricks on you: it slows down, speeds up and at times seems to stand still.
You body is of course taking a severe punishment, which it is not used to. The aches and pains are your constant companions, but you learn to push them aside and finally to ignore them. As time goes on, you are pleasantly surprised at the developing muscles and at your own staying power. I feel stronger and fitter now than I have in decades!
Then there is the destination Santiago, which is both a blessing and a curse along the course of the Camino. Because although you long to reach it and hope for the deliverance from whatever ails you after reaching it, at the same time the further you get, the longer you wish it would take. It´s almost addictive, in fact it is addictive. Many people have decided, after traveling this mystical Camino, that they never want to leave it again and build their lives along one spot on it, which suits them best. then there are the others, who although they to home to their regular lives, keep coming back to it time after time. To those of you, who are contemplating doing this pilgrimage for the first time, I give the following caution: think it over carefully before you start, for it WILL change your life forever!
If you think that this is just a Catholic or a Christian thing, forget it! Jews, Muslims, people from all denominations and even atheists have travelled this path and not one was unmoved or unchanged by it. Another thing which surprised me was the good will of all the pilgrims without exception and their sense of companionship. You will never be left wanting for help. a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on. The Camino furthermore has its own rules of pureness. Respect for nature and for others is paramount. No littering or stealing going on there!
Back to the nature. I´ve alwaysliked Spain for the beauty of it, but the part along the Camino truly is breathtaking. At times, you ask yourself if you have not stumbled into a fairy tale. But then… maybe you have! The roiling wheat-seas between Burgos and León and the wooded mountain landscapes of Galicia are the most beautiful I´ve ever witnessed.
Now, be honest, are you not longing to come over here and experience it all? Hugs from Ralphie!
- Buen Camino! at Seasons (skerriessoundwaves.com)
- I did the camino… my way (moireosullivan.com)
- 7 Days walking el Camino de Santiago, Spain (nicfreeman.com)
- The highs and lows of the Camino de Santiago trail (moireosullivan.com)
- Walking the Camino de Santiago with John Brierley (blogs.abc.net.au)
- El Camino – Day 1 (caminohokies.wordpress.com)
- The Way (growingyoungereachday.wordpress.com)
- Why walk the Camino de Santiago? (blogs.abc.net.au)
- Enter The Magic! (ralphiesportal.me)
For those of you, who do not already know them, I would like to introduce the mythical Celtic band Milladoiro from Galicia. With their guitar, violin, keyboard, percussion and gaita(= pipes) they combine the ultimate of all good things Celtic. These lads are true masters of their vocation. I had the honour and the pleasure of hearing them live at the Quintana in Santiago de Compostela on the 20th of July 2012. Next they are going on a tour of the Caribbean. Guys, if you need someone to carry your guitar, violin of whichever, Ralphie is your man! Guys… GUYS!!!
I was listening awestruck and in a trance and thinking for the umpteenth time since I entered Galicia: “YES, I have come home at last!” There is something about this magical land, its people and its culture that moves me to the core. When I let myself, I enter into a natural nigh. just breathing in the mystical atmosphere. The only thing I dread is the upcoming winter. I simply most find shelter before then!
I met a fellow artist (oil painter also) called Bob(Robert Rawlings!!!) from the U.K., who lives over here and he inspired me to make a quick but nice sketch and to write some more. Thank you, bob! The man actually has an exposition going in the library here, but due to lack of publicity, hardly anyone has seen it. I shall go to see it for sure tomorrow(written 22/7 saw it now: he´s utterly brilliant in his portraits!) and report on it afterwards. I shiver in anticipation, like a nun who is about to have communion with Jesus Christ.
Bob is the second painter I´ve met here so far. The first one was a Compostelan named Javier and he was painting under an arch and exhibiting at the same time. When I noticed him doing his thing, I went over and told him to move over and let me at it, followed by saying that I was only kidding… but only half! He didn´t let me, the stingy sod! Just kidding… but only half!! We started talking about art and the time just flew by, only occasionally interrupted by the odd, annoying prospective customer. Nobody bought though.
Did you know that Santiago is the final resting place of the remains of the apostle St. James? Peo`ple have been coming here to pay tribute to him for two thousand years and their combined religious and spiritual energy permeates the air somehow. Last Friday evening saw the entrance of Apostle Week, with concerts and spectacles(not me for once!) everywhere. I wich you all could be here to share in the festivities! But I guess I shall have to bear the weight of its lightness, accompanied by just a handful of new friends. I´ll let you know how it worked out. Toodeloo, gang. Hugs from Ralphie XXX.
- Galicia, Spain: a beginner’s guide (telegraph.co.uk)
- Stevie Parle’s Galicia-inspired recipes (telegraph.co.uk)
- Shearing of the Beasts (abcnews.go.com)
- Iberian wolf lives close to humans more for refuge than for prey (scienceblog.com)
- One Woman, A World of Music: Rhonda Larson in Concert (innovativeperformanceandpedagogy.wordpress.com)
- The Iberian wolf lives close to humans more for refuge than for prey (esciencenews.com)
Written on 12/07!
I landed in Portomarin at midday today, which leaves me with 86 kilometers to walk till Santiago. I´m out of money and am sitting by the side of the church to try to get the price of a bed and some food together. Some very nice German fellow invited me to join his little band of merry travellers for a picnic earlier, leaving me quite sated at the moment.
I slept in Barbadelo yesterday and went for a stroll through the village and in the surrounding countryside, when all of a sudden down an overgrown lane a strange felling came over me. It was as if a faery had touched me. I stopped and looked around and my eyes came to rest on a oaktree that must have been at least eight hundred years old. Someone had put three big rocks into a hole in its trunk some decades earlier and the tree had by now half enveloped them.
I put one hand on a rock and the other on the trunk and felt a surge of energy wash through me. I thought for a second about trying to dislodge the rocks, but decided against it and let it lie(there must be a good reason for it!) I bowed my head in respect to this majestic giant and felt very young and foolish indeed with my paltry half a century of age. There was a wall next to the road, made up of rocks that seemed to have been put there when Mother Earth was still a virgin.
Vines were trying in vain to strangle the mammoth tress. I just stared and stared in wonder and clapped my hands with joy. I actually laughed out loud! I had found my magic at last. I´m reading a book by a professor named Park, called Voodoo Science, in which he scientifically proves that magic is not of this world. I beg to differ, for I am living it every day. Nothing spectacular, just little things, like items appearing out of nowhere just when you need them and so on.
I ask no-one to believe me, but should they travel at my side for a while, they would surely be astounded at what they´d see! I do worry sometimes(I´m only human), but every time something happens to show me that I really shouldn´t. If you are pure of heart and clean of mind, then things just come to you as and when you need them(at least on the Camino).
I´m reminded of that fellow in Boadillo, who told me that a pilgrim needs three virtues: humility, patience and the ability to adapt. O only hope that I´m not getting too big for y breeches, for Karma doesn´t like that.
I am missing my internet friends and family terribly though. I hope I can settle down soon and go online every day again as before. I´ve been giving the address of Ralphie´s Portal to everyone I befriend and pray that they pay us a visit. Here´s a big hug from yours truly, Ralphie!!!
Finally made it to Galicia yesterday. YEAHHHHH!!!! It is sooooo beautiful, it´s indiscribable. I wish I had a camera! I shall have to start painting some day, for sure. Ooohhh, my fingers are itching for a brush and some paint. Hugs from Ralphie…
I have arrived in Rabanal del Camino, after leaving Astorga yesterday, where again I had some incredible luck. I was almost broke and set down to beg not far from a terrace, when a biker came over and gave me 25 Euros! I´m rich!!!! I have enough for two nights in a hostel and for two days food and the obligatory coffee.
Tomorrow we attack the Iron Cross, a mountain with a slow uphill run, but followed by an extremely steep downhill descent. This might play havoc with the knees. Let´s hope all goes well…
Here´s loving and leaving you, Guys and Girls! MUUAAAHHHH!!!!
- Astorga to Rabanal Del Camino (jaminwithnancy.com)
- “Rest” Day in Rabanal Del Camino (jaminwithnancy.com)
- camino albergues: where to stay between león and ponferrada, spain (lovingtheride.com)
- Rabanal Del Camino to Molinaseca (jaminwithnancy.com)
- Camino De Santiago De Compostela. (ralphiesportal.me)
Stranger: a friend you have not met before.
Yesterday I was walking along the Camino and I felt as if I were walking on air, fantasizing about living in this magical land of Galicia already and being able to help any number of people, when a long-haired stranger on a bike came to greet me. It was the owner of the Albergue Verde of Hospital de Órbigo(León) coming to make publicity for his establishment.
When I told him of my impecunious circumstances, he told me he would give me a bed and a meal in return for some help in the kitchen, the vegetable garden and whatever coins I could spare. I followed his directions and arrived at a green oasis, which exuded an air of relaxation and peace. The man Michu and his lovely wife are vegetarians, Buddhists and practice yoga. Their place is a little jewel and they themselves are two dear people. I did help as promised, but when I offered him the money he refused. When I protested, he asked me to please let him practice hospitality and wished me a good continuance of my pilgrimage(I did give him a big bear hug though!)
The Camino abounds with people like this and I am ever so glad that I decided to walk it, instead of taking the bus. I promised to make publicity for them, which I am doing at the present. The vegetarian food was delicious and plenty and was accompanied by some songs and guitar play from our host. One song was particularly inspiring, where Michu sang about a tree that talked to him and told him to practice patience! I can strongly recommend this hostel to anyone, who is in the neighbourhood.
May the Lord Buddha smile on you all. Hugs from Ralphie.
- The Foreign Becomes Familiar – Ponferrada, Spain (travelpod.com)
- Strangers Help Disabled Man See His Hero (fox4kc.com)
- Stranger in the Dark (cristenlee.wordpress.com)
- The Texture of the Camino – Sarria, Spain (travelpod.com)
- San Martin del Camino to Astorga (jaminwithnancy.com)
- Walking the end of my Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain (nicfreeman.com)
- The Stranger I Never Knew (phineasazcuy.wordpress.com)
I´ve been having daydreams about a bed, as opposed to sleeping on the concrete with a piece of cardboard as a mattress. A bed: a white sea of softness, to swim in while dreaming that smells of roses and lavender. A tender pillow, made for hugging during the long, cold nights. Silken sheets that caress my body with a soft ´swish, swish´as I turn from side to side. A light woolen blanket, the touch of which sends me into a deep slumber, the sheep having already been counted. And then to wake up in this little corner of paradise to the divine smell of brewing coffee. Mmmm… maybe someday Ralphie!
Since I wrote this, I have only slept on the street once, thanks to all the wonderful pilgrims I have met, who help me out! I shall hold them in my heart for ever!
Had to sleep outside last night and didn´t sleep a lot. I was shivering the whole night. I need a sleeping bag, because the thin blanket that I have does not suffice. Didn´t have the money for a hostel. The going is good, because the weather is nice(not too hot). See you when I see you and hugs from Lil Ralphie!(30/7)
Got a sleeping bag already, folks, from an extremely nice young countryman of mine. Am in León now(3/7). Love from me!
- Sent out with blessing – León, Spain (travelpod.com)
- Things are Not the Same Here – León, Spain (travelpod.com)
- Lil Ralphie~ (ralphiesportal.me)
After having a conversation with a young man called Alex from Barcelona, who is also homeless, I decided to follow his advice and walk it to Santiago along the pilgrim´s trail. I left Burgos four days ago and have walked about 120 kilometers so far, with a backpack on my back(very aptly named are those things!) I´m hurting all over, but I am getting fitter every day. Money is as always a problem though. Any donations towards food and a roof over my head for the night would be mightily appreciated. Up to you of course, I will survive somehow…
I have also decided to stay indefinitely in Galicia, which everybody tells me is a land of magic. Being some kind of a mage, that is where I should be and that is where I shall stay. However, the winters over there are harsh and brutal, with cold, snow and what have you. I´m doing this Camino to ask the Powers that Be to help me get off of the street somehow… Again, any help whatsoever would be appreciated.
I have to get moving again, as always: hugs and kisses from Lil Ralphie! Ciao, wonderful people!