Day One – Arrival.
How did that happen? One moment you are taking part in a Lent course, the next you are at the gate at Gatwick airport, wondering how you came to be the owner of a pair of rip-off trousers at the tender age of 27.
The film ‘The Way’ (our Lent course material in 2015) struck a chord with many of the course participants, and a group of 20 including members of Wesley, Highlands and Belfairs, as well as friends, embarked on a recreation of the film (well the last part at any rate) on Sat 27th May.
It was an early start – the first bus pick up was at 2.30am, with the second at 2.45am. Our flight left Gatwick North at 6.45am bound for Santiago airport. A short flight later we reached our destination, and duly boarded a coach to take us to Sarria – the start of our Journey.
The Camino is a series of pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. Some routes start in France, another in Portugal, as well as other starting points throughout Europe. We will only be walking for 5 days, whilst other pilgrims (the name for Camino walkers) will have been walking for weeks. Added to that, we are having our luggage taken for us and have pre-booked hotels rather than hostels, so we are doing the genteel version of the Camino (to put it politely).
We arrived at our hotel in Sarria and, being too early to check in, went out to find lunch. A group of 5 of us found a lovely restaurant and sat in the sun sating our hunger, well aware that we were lulling ourselves into a false sense of security. After lunch we sought out the supermarket to stock up on essentials – for mum and I this consisted of water, fruit and mars bars. We returned to the hotel, gathered for drinks and further instructions and received the first of the reflections prepared by Rev Julia. We will get a new one each day, with pictures, a prayer and reflections and mediation points – many based on the writing of Teresa of Avila.
As we went to bed, I certainly had a sense of anticipation – would the walk be ok? Would I manage it? And just how many Compeed plasters would I have on my feet by the end of the day?
But most importantly – just what would it mean to be a pilgrim?