Sunday, February 13, 2011


* A number of Rotarians and other people pledged support based on the number of steps that I took. So I attached a pedometer to my backpack to record my daily steps. The final number was an astonishing 1,247,785.

Three and a half weeks of inactivity had taken its toll. The last ten km of the walk was a killer in the 30C heat.

Obviously promenading on the streets of Budapest, Debrecen, Vienna and Prague coupled with too much food and drink  is not the best training for the Camino.

I set off at 9:30 from the traditional starting point, the statue of St. James surrounded by the rest of the apostles in an archway on the west side of the cathedral.

Right across the street was the first of thousands of yellow markers that would guide me to Santiago de Compostela.  This one was barely noticeable at the bottom of the wall by the sidewalk.

As I walked through the outskirts of Sevilla a man leaning out of a big white truck yelled, "Buen Camino Amigo! Buen Camino!".

"Gracias" I yelled back. It felt great.

At Santiponce, barely 10 km from the start I met Marcel and his partner, Tryny from Holland. This was good news as I had not expected to see many pilgrims on this sparsely travelled trail this late in the year.

On the outskirts of Santiponce I toured the remains of the ancient Roman city of Italica.  The amphitheater was the fourth largest in the Roman world. As I walked across the floor it was easy to visualize the titanic gladiatorial battles that had taken place there.

The last 12 km was an absolutely straight farming road that bisected sullen harvested fields as far as I could see. There was not a speck of shade and the sun was hot.

I came across a low point in the road that was filled with dark muddy water and surrounded by thick brambles. Testing the pool with my walking stick, it became obvious that I could not go through. The only option was to skirt between the edge of the pool where it was shallow, and the brambles, which were thorny. About half way across I lost my balance and being top-heavy with the backpack, I was headed for a muddy bath. Fortunately, a last desperate effort with my walking stick saved me.  Even as I caught my balance with the stick, a vision of being extracted by a small crane popped into my head!

I was sitting  in the town square when Franck from Belgium arrived. We were to see each other daily for the next two weeks.

To get into the clean but spartan albergue you had to get the key from the local police station which turned out to be closed. Apparently the police also take a siesta in the afternoon.  Eventually someone came along to open up and shortly thereafter Marcel and Tryny arrived. 

Franck and Marcel

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