by Barbara Halbig
My pilgrimage on the Camino began in May 2003, took time for seven weeks and resulted in 1081 kilometres. I started in Aragon on the Sompor-Pass which traverses the Pyrenees in the high of 1640 m.
I felt pleasure to go on a long way for a long time, because I wished to be free and independent, free from family, duties and everyday life.
I was used to walking for jogging in the wood near Erlenstegen three times the week. So I was in a good condition and was sure to arrive some time at Santiago de Compostela.
My backpack weighted about 13 kilos. However, after one week I sent back all unnecessary things in a small but expensive parcel. My shoulders should be thankful to me.
During the whole time of my pilgrimage I met many German pilgrims and I was happy about a small-talk for a while. And after the greeting “buen camino – hasta luego” everyone went his own step again.
In the evening we met each other very exhausted in the “albergue de peregrinos”. Then we took dinner after having washed our clothes in cold soaping water, after having had a warm or often cold shower and after being went by sightseeing on light sandals in the little town or having visited an pilgrim-mass in a Romanesque Church. Several times it was later than eleven in the night, before we found silent to sleep.
The next day often I was on the way before sunrise, wishing to walk the most of the daily distance. Only at high-noon the heat caused me to have a break and take a “café grande con leche” in a bar.
My dream was, to reach Santiago de Compostela. This was my pray in the churches at the way and I thanked God and all his Holies every day for a good luck and healthy pilgrimage. I sent good wishes by this way home, for my heart was full of love. I felt the presence of countless pilgrims of earlier centuries on this old way of Saint-James – a way about thousand years. Never the stream was broken off during wars and other dangers and risks. The pilgrims’ spirit and their hard life took captivate my thoughts.
I was alone on the walk, and if I saw nobody in front of me, I could think every thought to its end, I could look at every tree, every flower, every stone, every butterfly and every bird so long as I would. This freedom made me open for all impressions and gave me the power to be tolerant with others.
The silent inside me let grow up the confident to reach the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela after long weeks and - at the end of my pilgrimage – the last point of the known world at that time - Kap Finisterre, where I found “Conchas de Santiago”.
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