Walk a mile in her shoes

on 25 Nov 2015 

Our bequest supporter reserve trips allow us to showcase our work and thank our supporters directly for the foresight of leaving a gift in their Wills. However, just as importantly, they're a wonderful chance for bequest supporters to meet like-minded souls and for us, at Bush Heritage, to get to know these special people on a personal level. 

On a recent bequest trip to Yourka I met the inspirational Christine Jensen. Over the three days of the visit we discussed Christine’s approaching trip to Spain to walk the Camino De Santiago. Her intention was to walk all 800 kms.

Unlike many others who make this journey, Christine was not trying to work through a crisis or overcome any of life’s issues. We talked at length about what she expected would fill her mind as she walked. It was as a result of these Yourka chats with myself and others that the notion of Christine being sponsored per km to raise funds for Bush Heritage arose. Myself, others on the trip and Christine’s family and friends were only too happy to offer support and were delighted to hear that Christine had completed all 800kms and that Bush Heritage was the recipient of funds that celebrated her achievement.

Christine's daughter and son in law donated to Bush Heritage with the following message:

Dear Mum,
Congratulations on completing your Camino adventure. We're incredibly inspired and proud of you! These donations have been made on your behalf in recognition of your amazing achievement

And so say all of us!

Christine’s Camino de Santiago story

To walk the Camino de Santiago is indeed a joy. Much has been written about this walk and there are many ways to complete it depending on fitness and motivation. This is my personal experience. For me it was not a pilgrimage. It was much more than a long walk though. It was a time of being completely in the present. No one could be more surprised than me with this fact. I never leave for any walk from home without a listening device to accompany me. To realise I walked 800 km with no need or wish for such entertainment is hard to believe.

I chose to walk the Camino in the most basic way possible. I walked alone, walked every day, carried all my belongings in a back pack and slept with dozens of other pilgrims in traditional municipal albergues each night. Many times throughout each day I found myself walking for varying lengths of time with different people or with someone I had met on previous days or sometimes I walked for up to three days with individual people, taking refuge in the same albergues. 

The Camino is a multinational endeavour. The traditional greeting as pilgrims pass along the way is "Buen  Camino". From this salutation one either slows or quickens the step to accommodate conversation if that's the inclination.

Each day walking the Camino is new and different and starts full of anticipation. The route, largely unchanged from its beginnings in the 12th century, passes through dozens of medieval villages that developed to support the pilgrims. The landscape, ever changing and interesting, varied from gently rolling farmlands and vineyards to mountains and valleys with water courses that could be almost dry to those that were fast running with rapids. The infamous  Meseta, the high central plateau that many avoid walking through by catching a bus, had its own beauty. The luminous skies accentuated the colour of the golden cereal crops and the rich fallow land.

My day started well before daylight. Finding the way by headlamp was a challenge at times, however the exquisite serene quietness of the villages and countryside at that time of day was special and experiencing the large towns and cities before the daytime bustle began left a peaceful impression.

Walking through the darkness to the break of day and the eventual  sunrise was not only a delight, but ensured that the 25 to 30 kilometres, sometimes more, was covered by early afternoon in an unhurried pace.

September/October was indeed an ideal time to experience the Camino in regards to weather. Although many of the days were overcast with cloud they were mostly rain free and the cloud cover kept the temperature ideal for walking.

The three rainy days were decidedly memorable though. One rain event was accompanied by horrendously strong winds that made standing upright a feat and I managed to lose my expensive prescription glasses. The friendship and camaraderie of the Camino was displayed in a most exemplary fashion later when a pilgrim, one I had not met before, hearing of my plight and with a similar prescription requirement as me insisted I accept a spare pair of glasses he was carrying.

When the Camino ended for me I queued in line to collect my "credential" and was delighted to see so many familiar faces I had seen over the days of the walk. All in all I recommend the Camino to anyone who enjoys walking, meeting people from all over the world and who doesn't mind being out of their comfort zone for the experience. The feeling of achievement on "completo" is quite unsurpassable.