Summer Camino day 5 > excerpt 4

” ….. I wanted to attend Vespers in the monastery in León, which is sung every day at seven in the evening by the resident nuns. This restricted my afternoon movements somewhat and I furthermore found most museums closed. Consequently I enjoyed a beer on a terrace and continued writing my diary. There was so much to write about: events, thoughts, observations and ideas that had come to me as I walked and which I obviously could not jot down while on route. However, when I sat down after hours, the flow of thoughts had often evaporated, and at times it was even difficult to remember their content or the atmosphere in which they were born. All that one remembers might be that there was something important – which is gone. One should have a microphone strapped around the neck like those used by carpet-cleaning salesmen at a fair. But then, apart from looking ridiculous with this contraption, one might be tempted to say too much and express many trivialities like I did at the onset of writing this book.
It is amazing how the mind is constantly active on the Camino, often with thoughts of no importance, such as those about the ongoing changes of walking patterns, or about checking one’s backpack, or listening to the shoulder straps of the rucksack shaving and straining, which probably sounds not unlike the chafing noise made by a saddle when riding a horse at slow pace. One also gazes at pebbles in front of one’s feet, or registers a train or some other movement in the distance, or listens to people catching up – hearing their footsteps – or one contemplates how to greet the person you are about to overtake, after all, one meets many nationalities along the way. Thinking of profound matters while on the way was less likely to happen, and was hardly worth trying to achieve: concentrating on physical endurance came first. Thoughts might be scattered, but one certainly does not walk like a zombie unless one is seriously tired. The mind can be stimulated by any occurrence, maybe by some observation, or by a particular sound, even by smell or by others comments. Maybe even when hearing music or when one has to make decisions of some sort. Later one revives memories when describing the adventure, or when one writes the diary. I was not in a hurry to provoke deeper thoughts: there were many days left and, should such thoughts ever arise, I would deal with them. I did not start this walk with the expectation of experiencing revelations or reinventing myself; I started it because I felt it was the right thing to do. Some pilgrims, even those that had been on the Camino for months, were in fact disappointed that nothing great or profound or life-changing had touched them, so I should not anticipate too much…..”

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About Dieter Daehnke

Born in 1941 in Gdansk, Poland. In March 1945 the family fled the Russian army. Met my wife Uta in Hamburg and as she is South African, I followed her home. We live in Cape Town, have 3 children, and 2 wonderful grandchildren. I established an Engineering company and since its sale, I enjoy walking Caminos. I have recently completed my book 'Journey of a Stickman'.

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