It’s been more than a week after I arrived in Santiago de Compostela at the end of my 1000 km walk from Seville. Because of an unexplained and continual longing for sardines and vintage port, I ended up traveling to Porto to relax, catch up on sleep and indulge (in moderation) my desire for such things.
Why the picture of the above famous stairway in a bookstore? Because J.K Rowling spent time here in Portugal teaching to make ends meet before finding literary success with her Harry Potter series. Not that there’s any connection with my modest little literary effort entitled “My Camino walk – A Way to Healing,” published by IslandCatEditions and available as an eBook with Kindle, Kobo and iTunes.
Meanwhile, I’m just spending time hanging out, enjoying the city and surrounding areas and trying to process this recently completed journey……and, for that matter, my “Camino Frances” journeys in 2010 and 2015.
In the above photo, I am drinking a 2003 Dow’s Vintage Port and I am pleased to say it has some of the complexity that I want. I am on the property of the Symington family in Pinhao in the Douro Valley which for several generations have owned this vast estate.
Here in Porto, I bump into people carrying backpacks, some adorned with the scallop shells, that indicate that they are walking the Camino. I frequently engage them in conversation. I’m almost feeling jealous that they are at the beginning of their journey when it’s barely a week since I was walking. Like me, several have walked the Camino several times. I still ask myself why the attraction? Why am I already planning to walk again? What is it I get from the Camino? I still don’t have full clarity.
It gets beyond the physical challenge of walking anywhere from 25 to 45 kms each day although there is probably some endorphin release from such activity, much like the high that runners experience.
There is a sorting out of thoughts that happen when walking, especially when spending time alone. Still, I haven’t noticed any great flash of understanding even though my journey morphed into a book.
You may have noticed that I have spent much time writing about food and drink. It’s not just thoughts fueled by gluttony although I have always enjoyed good food and wine. For me, these are not just sustenance for survival but are an important part of the ritual for celebrating life.
The above dish I had last night and is a Portuguese specialty of Salt Cod cooked with layers of breadcrumbs and potato. The combination works.
At the Majestic Cafe in Porto – also previously a hang-out spot of J.K.
As I have written in my book, when walking the Camino, the central activity is to walk a set number of kilometers every day. Any other incidents that happen, whether that be the stories you hear from others, together-time around the dinner table, the camaraderie of people stretching themselves sometimes to their physical limit this all becomes a shared intense experience. With sometimes accompanying physical pain, this reminds us all that we are alive. I need to feel alive rather than being a spectator in the sometimes surreal experience that we call life.
To be continued……because our Camino continues.