Camino Portugues Day 11

Teo – Santiago : 13 Km

Hungover. Everyone gone. I raided the fridge and headed out into the pouring rain.
Just 13 Km today maybe i’ll make the Mass at Santiago Cathedral.

I walked and walked and walked. 13km my arse. I hit the outskirts of Santiago and it kept on going. Where the fuck did these arrows finish. My feet were soggy and i was tired.

Crows circled the grey skies around the Gothic spirals of the Cathedral. The nun sung spookily to a packed out service and i shuffled through the people and slumped onto the floor with my smelly bag and dead laptop. I closed my eyes.

Was i supposed to feel emotional? I know when i arrived here in 2004 after walking the 800Km Camino Frances a tear rolled down my reddened fat cheek as the organ hit its 1st bassy chord. But today after just 11 days walking, i was feeling, i dunno. I guess the hangover didnt help. I was tired. Soggy. Pissed off. The huge cold cathedral offered no warmth to my heart or soul.

“Jathon” whispered a voice, as a tiny hand touched my shoulder.
“Heeey.” I inaudibly hummed as i just about turned round…
It was Esther smiling her big Spanish smile.. she looked refreshed and bent down to join the pathetic soggy lump that was me.

I couldn’t be bothered to speak. All i wanted was a bed. A Priest started chanting some weird monk type stuff real quiet and a baby cried behind me.

“I’ll meet you at 5pm by the Cathedral Entrance.” was about all i could muster up.


Got a bed. TRIED to sleep. Some Italian guy had a 1 hour animated conversation with his Mum on his iphone, so happy he finished the Camino, crying…. GRRR. So much for that….

We had a coffee in the town. It was swarming with the biggest pile of tourist shit all built around St James and the Camino. The old town was nice.. but yeh i was stuck in a tourist trap.. Everything was expensive. WE talked lots of how Esther was lost and needed to get the headspace to think things through. She had the perfect life back home but for some reason was unhappy. She didn’t know why. I was surprised as to how open she was with me. I wondered if all the Lone Pilgrims were lost.

She invited me to dine with her at her hotel. It was the one next to the Cathedral, 5 star, there were stretch limos out front and horses and carriages. Several wrinkly men in white robes were being escorted in. Women in gowns and diamonds. Men in suits. More religious looking people in robes. And then an old dude draped in a purple curtain.

I weaved between the gaggle of rich weirdos with my toe poking thru the hole my trainer and my muddy combats tucked into my socks. My TK Maxx raincoat hugged my cold body, the sleep crusted in the corners of my eyes and my hair stuck up in a sleepy mess..

We ordered the finest food you can eat in Galicia while a guitarist weebled sweet harmonics into the atmosphere between us. We gulped wine and talked and laughed. I ordered another vino as her husband paid for the lot on his credit card over the phone.

I spent the night listening to a guy sleeping on the bed above me snore like a diplodocus with the flu.

I had made it. Santiago. This was it. I had arrived.
The destination didn’t move me a great deal. Crazy walkers walked for miles to reach this place for centuries. But it’s not the destination that matters i thought. I had heard people along The Way say that the Camino could be a metaphor for life. Your life. And everyone must walk their own Camino. No two caminos are the same. One thing ringed in my mind while lying here:

It’s The Journey That Counts.


Camino Portugues Day 10

Pontverda – Teo : 25 Km

Walking has a way of ripping you into the moment. Empty sparse landscapes; no people; nothing, alone. What you find though is that it`s hard to think, as the simple repetitive act of putting one foot in front of the other, and following yellow painted arrows across beautiful wet countries forces you into the moment and empties your mind. Kind of in the way they talk about in meditation but this pulls you into the moment without no hippy nonthinking ability from you. It’s a great place to be and all the important encounters of the day are all put into separate drawers in your mind and filed away at night as you sleep – just before you enter dream mode. This is the way it was supposed to be. Thinking can be bad for you!

And now the only thing that stopped me from being in the moment, my laptop…..  was dead.
This is it! The Universe was FORCING me into the moment. Really the past and future only exist in our mind. So by shushing your mind you are in the moment.

The sun tried to peak out of the eerie Galician mist. Around a corner a sunray beamed onto a rock next to a lovely tiny waterfall where, munching through a slab of chocolate, sat Thomaas the Astronomer!

I told him about my writing up of my Camino on my blog and how he featured in it.
“Eeeeers. Why bother?” he replied, “No one gives a shit! Your grandkids won’t give a shit, your friends will be too busy to give a shit, I don’t give a shit and in a coupla weeks you wont even give a shit! Eaars”

His excited Yes – “Yeeeeeeash!!” of the other day had calmed into “Ears”. Like the way English people say Ears.

I told him of my laptop disaster and, thinking of his rant of how computers were fucking up the world the other day, thought he would respond with some negative quip. I was shocked to see genuine concern on his face as he tossed me a slab of chocolate;;; “Izfor Youu”
i scoffed the lot as i rubbed more cream into my bulbous varicose looking leg.

We tucked our brollies into the bucket by the door as a huge ball of a human rolled over to us and threw two bowls of piping hot soup in front of us. This perfectly round barman was hairy on his chins n arms, and slotted into oily dungarees – emitting a moldy stench.

“Heil Hitler!” shouted Thomaas throwing his arm in the air:
The perfectly round barman and his three round friends stopped and looked over in shock and Thomaas excitedly burst into an animated monologue about how the cabbage in our soup was popularized by Hitler and actually prevents cancer. “Yeeeeears. Its why we are called Crouts!”
“I thought you were South African?”
“I’m a citizen of the Universe!! Ears.”

Back in to the relentless rain and for several more hours he spoke his special kind of fucked up wisdom at me…

How today was Friday 13th, and was one of the most common phobias, to the point where whole harbours of boats would not sail. It is known as Triskaedekaphobia.

Thomaas had been building up the importance of River Ulla which we would pass today. This was the river that the angels and the apostles of Saint James pushed the stone tomb up to take his remains to Santiago. It was a biblical and ancient story and a sacred river, I looked forward to crossing it.

He spoke of Hannibal – the greatest military commander in history. And of how in about 200 B.C. he took 37 elephants across Europe and over the alps to shock attack Rome. Thomaas had retraced his steps on foot recently.

And about cutting the Gordian knot – a metaphor for solving tricky problems by cheating or thinking outside the box. How Aristotle’s student Alexander had solved the knot probem. It was said whoever could untie the knot would rule all of Asia. Many tried and failed. Then Alexander the Great simply took his sword and cut straight through it.

He told me how history was written by the victors. And therefore probably everything we knew was fiction, written to make the victors look good.

He also said how no real great businessmen in history had ever made money a goal in their vision of changing the world.

I recalled a line from The Teachings of Don Juan something about knowledge not being knowledge unless it has a use to you.

We stepped onto the bridge over River Ulla. and.. well, um, the sacred river was ….ugly. A big factory on the other side bellowed yellow smoke out into the grey day as the stinking river spued its mess below us. It looked a bit like Newport where i grew up. but more desolate and desperate. Ugly. This was a shit hole.

“What makes you truly happy?”
“Life is not about happinezz Jazon, What is this preoccupation you have wiz Joy? It is not important. Eeeeeears.”
“Why are you walking the Camino?”
“I am a Theoligian.”

I dared not tell him how, that when he asked me to pray for him, I had asked the Universe to send him a lovely Spanish wife to show him happiness(!)

Through a drizzly grey empty depressing looking fairground, through rows of knobbly trees and then i sat on a wall in the dodgy town of Padron.  My legs hurt and i was cold, shadows sloped behind corners eyeing me up. Thomaas told me he would leave me now and find a hotel and tomorrow we would arrive in Santiago but statistically the chances are we would not see each other again. I rubbed my leg and moaned something about my laptop and he cracked a wicked smile and blurted out his favourite line “It makes you more Spiritual!!” before he turned round and disappeared into the fog forever.


I decided to walk on out of Padron to the next town but it was getting late and just kept on raining. Finally after another two and a half hours i reached the tiny village of Teo.

I took a glass of the house red from a tiny woman in a tiny bar. The doors swung open like in cowboy films and in from the torrential black rain strutted a mysterious dark triangular looking figure. Everything was pointy. His big white pointed quiff. His protruding pointy chin. His strong isoscoles nose. His goaty. His thin pointy moustache. His arms n legs were tapered and even his torso was a equalateral triangle. His pointy boots finished off the pointy man.
He leaned on the bar clicked his fingers and lit up a pointy cigarette. In a puff of smoke he threw back his triangular head swigged down his wine and his pointed adams apple rose up to his chin and then dropped back down under his triangle collars with a gulp. Leo Vignola from Uruguay, now living in Galicia and playing the blues for a living.

He demanded to buy me a drink and then took me to his house down the road. A crazy little place where a fire burner crackled in the gloomy dusty den. He filled up a random bottle to the brim from a old battered looking barrel; and whacked a cork in it with the palm of his hand. “For your final day of the Camino!!”, he barked with a wild massive dairylea grin… he looked like the singer from Gogol Bordello. He winked and shook my hand vigorously for about 8 minutes almost dislocating my shoulder,  grinning and staring at me, winking occasionally.

At the albergue i got drunk into the early hours with a German guy who looked like the plasticine man Morph. He couldn’t speak a word of English but could sing “Jingle Bells” perfectly and jump round the room, this guy was happy, and completely nuts.

13 Km to Santiago!