Hola! I finally have a minute to blog. Where to start. Well first of all I am still alive! That’s always a good start! It’s day 5 of the El Camino trek.
I started on the 23rd of May and the first two days were the hardest of my entire life! Physically and now I think mentally too. In 2009 I started this trek but only completed four days of it, but it did include the two days of climbing over the Pyrenees. So, coming back four years later. I was feeling a little confident that I could do it quite easily. Well, I can tell you that I didn’t expect the temperature to be sitting close to 0 degrees! Then for it to rain and then for it to SNOW! Four years ago I started the trek at the start of June and it was so beautiful. The sun was shinning and I had such a lovely journey walking in temperatures of minimum 15 degrees. So, this time around I thought I would start a little earlier so I don’t walk in the heat. Well… my goodness didn’t that backfire! The Pyrenees mountains are 3,404 meters in elevation and the most incredible views you can imagine. With the rain, the mist was sitting just in between each mountain giving this mystical look. So the journey – although very hard the views around makes you forget about the distance and you just walk.. on and on and on. The first two days (60km) were so crazy! I was trekking through mud that was ankle deep, walking by waterfalls, through the forrest, on highways, through medieval towns, on farmlands, through large drains and on dirt roads. Every terrain imaginable it was there – just missing the desert but sure it will come.
All in all – I am having a fabulous time. It is truly such a tough trek, the minimum amount you walk each day is 20km whilst carrying a 13kg backpack. It doesn’t sound much – I know, I didn’t think so either. But I swear that every sign that says the next town is 5 km away it’s really 10km! Although, the sore muscles, dormitory rooms and heavy rain is forgiven by the most interesting people you meet from all over the world and the most picturesque views of a beautiful country.
Since the movie The Way with Martin Sheen the Camino has become increasingly popular. So the trek although at times you are walking for kilometers on your own, at the end of the day there is a kitchen full of rowdy hungry trekkers. For instance the other night, a bunch of friendly italians were singing happy birthday in the tiny kitchen of the Auberge cheering with red vino. They were so loud and sang with such happiness, they filled the room and made the atmosphere so joyous every person in the room was loving it. With no instruments they made a makeshift drum out of box and a plate and two knives! Was just incredible! They didn’t need anything. 3 days ago they were all strangers but now singing as if they were friends for years. I didn’t want them to stop as it was life as it should be – happy with the simple things! Also, I have met some fabulous Koreans, they are my favourites and they have totally showed me up. There aged 74, 72 & 68! Today, it was hilarious about 5km in I came by them as I was trenching in the mud with my head in the heavy rain I heard “POWELL!” which is the nickname the Koreans call me and with everyone else on the trek it’s either “Australia” or “Sydney”. With so many nationalities and obscure names to pronounce everyone keeps it easy and being the only Australian so far that’s how I got them. When I heard my surname it was John the oldest of the Koreans. I was so happy to speak and walk with him as the last 2 hours I had been walking solo, so was up for a chat. It then so happened to be that I walked with the 3 koreans the rest of the way. But the funniest thing was that I was tagging behind them the entire time – and at one point, I almost had a slip in the mud – John then said here have my walking stick. It was very comical and I was laughing at myself that a 75 year old gave me his walking stick! But my goodness it helped for the rest of the way in the mud and it alleviates the pressure on the legs (my curiosity of why a lot of people walked with them was finally answered!). In the heavy rain my boots soaking wet I got to the end of day 5 in record time, right on midday! But that was because I was with the oldest people on the trek!
Below are some pictures of yesterday, the only day it wasn’t raining! It was one of the most beautiful sunrise I have seen. Buen Camino (Good Journey!)