The next morning, after breakfast and some songs Rosie left to catch a plain back to the UK and my and Garry where again alone on the boat, considering life and the future. We decided that it was time to walk to Santiago. Andy, Baha’i friend form A Coruna, had expressed interest in coming with us, so plans where made for us to start the next morning.
So maybe it would be useful to explain a little about the Camino d Santiago, we know verry little, but it seems that long ago a hermit was blissing out and he began to have a vision of a body buried and surrounded by shells. He followed some stars and with the help of some other Christian folk dug up the very body which he had seen in his vision. It seemed that one of the Apostles; St James the greater, who had set of to find the edge of the world to spread the new vision given to him by Jesus. At the time Finisterre was considered the end of the world (fin terre: end world, or there abouts), A church was built and pilgrims began to come to se these remains in such numbers that the, extension after extension had t be added. Pilgrims from UK and Ireland and the north would sail on flimsy boats, trying to avoid pirates and death, to A Coruna and then walk what became known as the English Way. So we where well placed to do this journey
(now, there is a soundtrack to go allong with this blog. listen to it HEAR (<_click) whist you read for an audio visual experience.)
Provisions and sleeping gear where packed and early in the morning we gathered at the church of Santiago in Coruna, the starting place of the English Way, for a song and a prayer and some meditation. This time trying to leave A Coruna was easier. Andy: Joyful, boyant, strong, clean, wonderful young Baha’i who lives in A Coruna with his wife and unborn child became our guide and translator. As the morning slid by the day became hotter and hotter, not a cloud was I the sky. It emerged that we had started our walk on Galicias hottest day of the year. We trod on out of town and in to the countryside with high spirits and legs eager to prove themselves. As the sun reached its zenith and the heat began to pound we found shelter by a village fountain and slumbered and played mellow sweaty tunes.
The road wound on deeper in to the beautiful countryside, al the people we passed greeted us with smiles and laughed at us for having chosen such a day to start the walk. Like mad dogs and English men we stoically, gallantly, stupidly strode onwards though the heat. Towards the end of the day having already walked 25km we began to walk up a great hill. The evening heat was still fierce as we walked up through sleepy Spanish villages, Garry’s eyes where filled with so much sweat that he had to walk with them closed, only taking a peak every few steps to check he was still on course. For me and Garry the going was tough, however, the jolly Andy strode up the hill like it was nothing.
Eventually the assent ended but there was still another 5 km to go till the next town, we had already walked 30km. We where dependant on the town because it is illegal to light fires outside unless one has permission from the land owners. And all we had to eat was lentils- no good raw. Before we got to the town, and in the late evening, just as the sun was setting, we cracked and went to a truckers café to fill up on great big slabs of tortilla. The night set in and we began to look for some place to sleep. Andy , who was not used to roughing it and with our the necessary jumpers and sleeping mats to make life happy whist sleeping in out doors decided that the mission, whilst glorious, was silly, and rang up his wife who came to collect him. it was wonderful to have spent a day with him and we where sad that he would not be with us to complete the mission. An interesting thing he said was that if bad things happen, there is no need to worry, you should only worry if you are not close to God. I think if you translate this in to non-god language it might be; shit happens, no problem. You are far from your true Self/most beautiful Self, problem. Let me know if you have better translation, I’m interested to hear
Me and Garry awoke the to the misty morning after sleeping in a field next to the road. After a breakfast of oats and nuts we set off again. Without our Spanish guide we became dependent on the some times subtle yellow arrows that are spray painted on to walls, the road and lamp posts and which direct the pilgrim to Santiago. It became coffee time and after walking through beautiful woodland we strode in to a café where in 2 pairs of fellow pilgrims and a cycle pilgrim where already enjoying the first break of there day. We sat together and shared tails of our adventures, drank delicious coffee, made music. Soon it was time to be off again and all went off at there own pace, confident that we would meet each other again along the road.
We where sometimes lost and sometimes on the track, sometimes roasted by the sun and sometimes in the sweet shelter of the trees. The day past as gently as the miles. In the afternoon we met up again with some of the people from the café; Italians Amando and Keeran (female keeran, is and Indian nam). We depend our relationship and strode on at a meaty pace until shelter from the sun and rest for the legs was found beneath the shade of an oak tree. We sat in mellow serenity; Garry and myself played a sweet choon and then parted. Soon we where lost, but not to lost. We found our way in to a town ad back on to the route, where provisions where bought, then we set off again to find a place to stay for the night. We got lost again, but a wonderful Spanish man recognised that we where on the wrong path and sent us in the right direction.
That night we sat in the warm evening sun beneath some pine trees, on top of a hill over looking much of the landscape we had crossed during that day. dinner was consumed. Histories where considered and we went to sleep early, happily.
The next day was greeted with an element of tension. The tradition is to reach Santiago in the morning in order to attend the special pilgrim mass in the cathedral, we still had 18km to go. We smashed some oats in us, packed up camp, strode in to the day and quickly lost the path. We doubled back on our selves, but the reassuring yellow arrows that make one know that one is on the path where no where to be seen. We guessed at a few directions and wondered around, blind and longingly. Eventually sense came to us and a map was produced. We set of again, with a knowledge of where Santiago was in relation to ourselves. Luck or skill or the blessings of the universe where with us, for after a little while guessing at directions we stumbled upon a blessed yellow arrow spray painted on the road signifying that we where back on track. we tramped on eager not to miss the pilgrims mass, and began t meet friends that we had met on the previous day. By the time we entered the suburbs of Santiago we had become a group of seven, the Italians, two young Spanish girls, ad a super fit Spanish man.
We trod on, no time for a break and followed the path, still marked by the yellow arrows towards the centre. The Spires of the cathedral where sighted and anticipation mounted, the pace quickened. After walking 18km before coffee time and without a break we came to the great cathedral of Santiago and stood in the spacey plaza, surrounded by pilgrims, walking folk, bicyclists; all came in from different paths. There was an incedible feeling within the plaza, that of accomplishment, that of joy, of wonder.
We put bags in a hostel then got ourselves in to the cathedral for some hardcore Mass action. The cathedral was so full there where no spaces left on pews. Up at the front there was a whole krew of bishops and priests and holly folk, the catholic massive. Included in their posse was a wonderful nun with a incredible voice, who sang along to the original stereo sound system; two great big organs that faced each other across the cathedral, with pipes protruding at all angles, decorated by golden cherubs. The mass reached a dramatic peak when, at the end of the service, to a glorious piece of music played on the massive organs, a giant incense burner suspended from a rope which reached right to the top of the cathedral was lit and then swung so vigorously by gleeful priests in red robes that it almost touched the ceiling.
After the mass we found a space in the maze of medieval streets that wind away from the cathedral to play some music. we started mellow and contemplative, then we played joyfully banging vibes which attracted some prancing Spanish youths who bought us orange juice and span around to Irish jigs and silly reggae songs. By chance, one of the headlining acts of the folk festival that I had gone to happened to pass us in the street. They are a super animated super talented, bluesy folk outfit from Japan, with harmonica, guitar, fiddle and boron, called Harmonica Cream. Once we had finished playing we roamed the streets trying to find them. Whilst looking we began to talk to a group of three wonderful soles who where walking down the street next to us. It turned out that they had walked 800km from France to Santiago, then walked past Santiago to the sea at Finisterre and then walked the walk myself and Garry had done, but in 2 days! The group consisted of 2 brothers from California, and a sweet young woman from Canada, we searched for the Japanese folkies for a while together. They then went to try to drop there bags off some place. The band eluded us so we returned to the Cathedral.
When one goes on pilgrimage to the Baha’i holy places there are particularly beautiful prayers written to be said at the shrines of The Bab, Baha’u’ala and Abul Baha. Because the forces of the universe had restricted us from reaching that destination, we said the prayers at the end of our pilgrimage, in the Cathedral d’Santigo.
After a gentle session in the cathedral, we when back out in the streets and this time found the wonderful Japanese musicians, rocking out on the same street we had been, we danced, they rocked, it was a perfect relationship.
The next day, as we set off to the train station, we happened to meet the Californian brothers and the beautiful Canadian. We sat in the morning sun in the plaza together and played sweet gentle music of devotion. Joy was bubbling over. After music we went to a café to explore each others realities, to explore each others plans, it seemed we were all at a point of decision in our journey. One of the Californians had until 6 months ago been set on becoming a professional baseball player, he played 40 hours a week, but then he was freed from that destiny by injury and now, after the camino, wants to become a joyfully mellow chef. His brother dances through life and longs to learn how to make wine like the Spanish.. Bianca, the beautiful Canadian, wonderer had reached the end of her Camino and now has difficulty finding the next path. Garry set about convincing her to go to all the places most cherished in his heart, to go to Earthing the Spirit, to go to the west cost of Scotland to work in an incredible garden there. All had been on incredible journeys and all where now facing the future with wide eyes and hearts and so as we drank coffee all barriers where down and we where able to connect openly, lovingly, heart to heart.
We left to catch the train, in a sweet sugar joy at the mornings meeting, jumped on board just as the doors where closing, and made the return journey at 160km/h, thought the green, wooded hills of Galicia.
That night we played music with a group of talented grooving rhythm and blues kids at the Casa d’ Té, we met with friends from ACoruna, we made up strange songs about flying pies, and carnivorous chickens, we drank sweet mint tea into the night and deepened friendships.
Since our return to Acoruna, we have eventually developed our plans. I think the reason it has taken so long is that both myself and Garry are easily contented, which is good in some respects, but maybe reduces our drive to sort things out. However now things have been set. Mast estimations have been finalised and are about to be sent to the insurance. We have visited an in credible workshop in a harbour around the corner from ACoruna where the last man knowledgeable in wooden boats works with a young apprentice, 9who for an hour each evening works on building his own boat, slowly and with great love.) It seems like the right place for the job. However, in Malta there is a gathering, a small festival of music, spirituality and joyfulness that was planned to coincide with Winnys arrival, (in an other reality, at this moment we would be sailing from Sicily to Malta). We were going to help shape the gathering and infuse it with our style of devotional and with our music. The way things have worked out it looks like I (paddy) will go there alone, carrying the flame of the pilgrimage onwards, to assist in the creation on the gathering and, with luck, to invoke the energies we have experienced during this journey. Garry has decided that whilst his heart tells him to go to Malta, his head knows that now is the time to get everything ready for the new mast. Choices are always a balance of the head, heart and belly, wisdom is to know which to give more attention to in any given situation.
It seems that eventually the remnants of the krew will part ways, that the adventure as come to the end of one stage. Garry will see that all is made well, and then join all the family in Greece, where everyone had planned to gather around the boat, and then head home to continue, life’s adventures; running Burnlaw, rearing a herd of meat cows, writing his epic… I will continue my voyage and do my best to hold within some of this adventures magic, and do my best to share it with people I meet. And, insh’ala, I will get to reach the Holy Land, to bow before the shrines of some of the most Beautiful, Magical souls in the world , to take the dreams, visions, wishes hopes wound up within this adventure and lay them in these most holy places.
The future of the winny is uncertain. If she is to be blessed with a showering of money, it is possible that a krew will sail her onwards towards Hifa. Otherwise. More mighty sailors, musicians and mystics will gather next year to continue on a different route; back to Ireland, around the west coast and to her home on the west side of Mull. Along the way communities will be filled with music, song and spirit of her and her krew.
All is a journey, a pilgrimage, the only certain destination is death, along the way we have a chance to fill the moments with such a magic that can transform the living world, and transform our inner world. If it be blessed then the Winny will continue to be a vehicle for this magic and, in her little way, bring sweetness and joy to this world.
With the deepest love,