Camino Diary: Walking The Camino Francais Day Forty Eight

DAY FORTY EIGHT: 25 November 2012 Muxia to Santiago de CompostelaIMAG1502 (2)I was sitting on an escarpment in Swaziland in August 2012 when I first saw this pilgrimage; a trail laid out across scrubby, foreign land, a long, long walk leading all the way, I imagined, to the sea and a sailor in a pea green boat.  Over the subsequent months I had followed the clues to arrive in Galacia and I am now curious about this rocky shore the end of the walk.  What would the reality of the metaphor be?  Could my sailor be Miel the policemen from San Sebastian in his high tech fluoro green walking jacket or is it the soul of Ireland on the distant horizon or perhaps something else all together?  What colour is pea green anyway?

I had dinner with Tobias from Denmark after the Marea documentary in Restaurent de La Lolo.  This was the classiest restaurant with a pilgrim menu so far.  Sleek, modern ecletic style more suited to hot Summer days than chilly winter but the heating was on and the staff were pleasant.  The 3 course menu proved to be pleasantly different from the usual pilgrim fare and the wine seemed extra special too. If we weren’t in pilgrim attire we could have been mistaken as a couple; me the cougar and Tobias my toyboy.  Tobias is polite, good company, has great manners and a Colgate smile.  He has a face that will only grow more handsome as he shape shifts into his life whatever that may be.

Miel is Tigger in the morning, eager for breakfast and company but my preference, Restaurent de La Lolo of the night before, doesnt sit well with him.  I hold my ground and have breakfast to my delight on my own.  I am assimilating this trip. I want to savour the last drops of it dripping slowly and honour it’s closure.  A short walk from the town is the headland where the Virgin Mary came to assure Saint James that his mission to convert the population of Fisterra from their pagan worship of the sun had been a success.  I have no intention of being blasphemous but my guess is that Mary was a mistress of metaphor while poor old James was getting all bogged down in the logical reality.  A bit like me and my sailor in his pea green boat.

Mary’s boat is said to be still here, petrified on the headland below the imposing coastal-Gothic style church of Our Lady of The Boat.  I was curious to see it.  Sure enough there are are three huge stones one of which definitely looks like the upturned hull of the boat and another has a look of a sail.  The third stone, supposedly the rudder is a little less convincing.
IMAG1527IMAG1529I suppose it is no surprise that my original curiosity to follow the Camino to the sea was spurred by an imaginary sailor man.  Muxia and Fisterra are fishing ports after all and where there be working boats, there be pleasure yachts and handsome sailors.  Over lunch of whole baby squid, slathered in butter I muse the symbolic currency of this stone boat with the romantic talisman of my imagination.  At the day’s end the boat I left on was a modern day coach, a behemoth of a vehicle muscling its way through the narrow arteries of Galacia’s rural rocky roads back to Santiago de Compostela.  And my companion? Miel in green, both of us passengers back to life.

Camino: A Heroes Journey

I had the privilege of meeting Liam Cullinane from Galway (Ireland) in Spring 2012 while on a retreat in the Aran Islands run by Greg Muller, human conditioning and performance coach.

Liam has a remarkable story to tell from the wild freedom of the French Foreign Legion to the inconceivable strictures of meningitis.  Liam choses daily to take action to be a fully functioning human being.  Despite or perhaps in spite of a bleak prognosis Liam has engaged his will over 20 years to inch his way back to being physically able and engaged in the world.

Last Autumn  it was a serendipitious surprise to bump into Liam again in the midst of a milling crowd on Oxford Street;  a million miles away from the lonely outcrops of rocky land off the western most reaches of the land of Saints and Scholars where we first met.   I was about to head off to walk the Camino Francais.  Obviously that meeting planted a seed for Liam as he has been inspired to walk the Camino for himself and is locked in on being able to do that in April 2014.

Liams story will be documented by David Souto, a basque filmmaker based in Galway for the last decade. David is choosing to tell Liam’s story because of his admiration for him as well as being compelled to document a life changing event and an adventure that ends in Galicia where his roots are.  They are working together to raise funds to create a documentary to inspire and serve.  Liam is now focused on enhancing his physical fitness even further and the first round of funding to faciliated Liam to travel to Atlanta USA for specialist treatment and for the filming of his trip has exceeded the funding target so he is on his way.

I am learning that the Camino is less about a walk and more about life.  Our lives are Camino stories;  starting with conception and winding on to the day we leave this mortal coil.  The journey from the lead of our human-ness to the gold of our spirits.  Be inspired by Liam’s story to see your story.  I look forward to sharing more about Liams journey here over the next few months.