Thursday, 28 May 2015

Camino De Santiago Day 0 Part 1

I was having a catchup lunch with a friend who just finished her PhD in Germany.  She was settling down quite well back in the country while I was psychologically preparing for my transfer to Spain for my MBA studies.

"If you have time, do the Camino De Santiago", she suggested.

That was the first time I heard about the pilgrimage.

Camino de Santiago

What I recall from our conversation was that the Camino is more of an offering, a sacrifice for people who walk at least 20 kilometers a day until they reach Santiago De Compostela.

Images of pilgrims who reek of sweat from a day-long hike entered my mind. Surely if I will do this pilgrimage I need to work on the sensitivity of my sense of smell.

After that fateful lunch, the Camino de Santiago became part of my bucket list.

I was planning to do it in July during my summer break in the MBA. But as fate would have it my buddy from Porto invited me to join him and his family for the Camino during Holy Week. Life indeed offers a lot of surprises.

And so much earlier that I expected, my Camino De Santiago began.

Airfare from Alicante (the nearest airport from Murcia) to Porto was quite pricey, so I took a cheaper alternative. I booked my flights to and from Madrid airport and booked train tickets from Murcia to Madrid.

It was a bit gloomy the day I arrived in Porto. It reminded me of the weather the first time I arrived there two years earlier. I also recalled how confusing it was to go to the tram station from the airport terminal.

As instructed by my friend I was to meet his uncle first so I could leave my stuff with him (things that are not important during the hike)

There is something about train rides and gloomy weather that makes me sad. I recall the the time I took a train to Hakone from Tokyo. The train was rather packed and there was this Japanese lady (perhaps in her early twenties) who went onboard and hang on the railing. She was probably late for work as she was still applying her lipstick while clamping a folder in one arm. She looked awkward in that position and looked a bit worried that she might get off balance if the train would suddenly stop. Miraculously she made it and boarded off about 2 stops before my stop.

I recall hearing the cascade of waterfalls when she got off the train. For some reason I really felt depressed that time (as if a dementor just passed by). Maybe because of the gloomy weather. Or maybe because of the sad reality that I will never see her again. And I guess it goes for all the passengers on that train (except maybe for my buddy Gabby who was hosting me at that time). I just felt sad that I will just be a sentence in someone's life pages. I could not  articulate this feeling until some genius guy coined a word for it. Sonder. The realisation that everyone has a story as vivid and as complex as your own.

Ok I now digressed a bit here. But I guess I had to capture that mood when I went back to Porto.

In every stop of the tram, a female voice in the intercom would announce the name of the station followed by "Direction Estadio do Dragao". There was definitely a certain nasal charm of the Portuguese language. The girl's voice sounded like she caught the flu or something.

I was not worried that I would miss my stop because it was the last one. The repetitive voice
of the train was like a wake up call for me during that lazy cloudy morning. I was already in Porto and my adventure was right about to start.

(to be continued)