Sarria is the beginning of the metaphorical ‘U- bend’ of the Camino. It is the last town where one can start the pilgrimage and still receive a compostela.

Leaving Sarria in the early morning Galician mist. Less than 100 km to go.

Leaving Sarria in the early morning Galician mist. Less than 100 km to go.

I don’t wish to be unkind, and many peregrinos will probably disagree, remarking that I should be more charitable; however this is my view after a lot of consideration.

As you know, the ‘U-bend’ is the part of a pipeline where the detritus collects, and is a difficult and vulgar place to be after so many miles among dedicated folk. The whole Camino can become a shock to the system with the rise in prices and naked capitalism so far absent. I understand that the Spanish economy is in a dire condition right now, but one can’t help feeling like a shower to clean the dirty residue away.  With about ninety kilometres to go, I’m beginning to get sick of it all. Not the Camino per se, but what it is becoming.

The spectacular and vertigo inducing approach to Portomarin, last night's arrival point.

The spectacular and vertigo inducing approach to Portomarin, last night’s arrival point.

So why do folk do the Camino?

let’s start at the bottom, so to speak…

The Camino is a vehicle used by many as a place to pick up members of the opposite sex and enjoy a ‘holiday romance’. The wayside posts are littered with grafitti; messages of love and admiration and promises of future rendezvous possibilities. This strikes you almost immediately when you begin, and by the time you reach Sarria, it’s not uncommon to witness illegal acts of cohabitation within the dormitories.

The more authentic, positive side of the Camino... A wayside Donativo, offering refreshments for a small donation.

The more authentic, positive side of the Camino… A wayside Donativo, offering refreshments for a small donation.

Many folk are here for the culture, whatever that means. It seems that this is consuming as much food and wine as possible, and filling up the small aubergue kitchens with their things, forgetting that some of us need to use the facilities as well. After eating they sit at the only communal table and drink for the next few hours leaving all the dishes and pots dirty in the sink.

The amazing Billy (right) and Eileen of the huge heart. Two people who have changed my life.

The amazing Billy (right) and Eileen of the huge heart. Two people who have changed my life.

Sarria sees the final group of ‘credential getters’ arrive with just one hundred kilometres to reach Santiago. They walk in huge noisy groups with tiny, light packs, oblivious to those who have battled for miles in all conditions. Billy, is the example. How on earth she has made it this far is a miracle, yet she just prays every day for strength and is answered with just enough to get her through.

A lunch break in the beautiful Galician countryside, far away from the madding crowd.

A lunch break in the beautiful Galician countryside, far away from the madding crowd.

Billy and Eileen represent everything good and noble about the Camino. In my silence, I can rest in their company without demands and ridicule. In Portomarin, a Canadian couple thought it would be amusing to ridicule my hometown thinking that I was deaf and dumb. I pointed to my ears to let them know I could actually hear their insults. It’s amazing how many folk think I am a form of village idiot. It’s a real insight into the world of the deaf and dumb, something I’d never really considered before.

So Santiago is about four days away now and a lady who I met crossing the Pyrenees told me that she never wants it to end and crys everyday. She is another Camino heroine, hobbling along day after day and still here.

Is this spider a tarantula? I know they have them in Spain. It raised its forelegs in defence when I approached it. The knife shows scale.

Is this spider a tarantula? I know they have them in Spain. It raised its forelegs in defence when I approached it. The knife shows scale.

I remember meeting her for the first time and thinking she’d never make it, and yet she’s still hanging in there. Take note and have respect, new arrivals from Sarria. Turn off your damn mobile phones and become aware. Question why you are here…


I still don’t know, but it isn’t for the world… Whatever that means. Maybe if I make it, Santiago will give me some answers; however something tells me that my heart already knows…


About Viking Queen

I am a sailor and I live on my boat 'Free'. I have no home but originate from Tyneside. I have no allegiance, just a desire to do no harm and live with courage and an open heart.
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13 Responses to Why?

  1. Your vow has afforded you a revealing and shocking insight into some people’s personalities. Thoughtlessness, fear, and insecurities perhaps, drive this kind of mentality. Shame on them. The longer I live, the more I admire the strength and tenacity of persons with disabilities. We have no way of knowing just how many ‘wounds’ they are forced to endure/deal with, in their lives, when they are exposed, in going about their daily lives, to ignorance, ridicule and derision from people who, by luck of birth, find themselves in more fortunate circumstances. May Karma teach its valuable lesson. As for those whose reasons for walking the Camino include seeking a partner/romance: they seem to have missed the point. But even if they did get the point, would it change them? I’m not sure.

  2. Christine says:

    Because Poppy, because.


  3. Michael Murphy says:

    Still following, Poppy.

    Yours, Mike

  4. Lynda Hulme says:

    Dearest Poppy, Is’nt this the the world in general you are witnessing sweetheart? The evil and the godly. You choose to observe and not partake of its so-called “pleasures” You are truly, truly a wonderful and strong human being and my admiration for you doubles with each one of your “reports!” Stay unique my friend. Lynda and Tony xxxx

    • Viking Queen says:

      Thanks for your lovely reply…

      The reason I keep returning to this theme is to challenge why humanity rarely seems to change. I really have to believe it can or we’re doomed and the passion was for nothing.

  5. As always,Poppy,you probe to the heart of it all,but still manage to hold on to your purpose for this unique outer and inner journey,a real inspiration as I read each bulletin.Am sure you won’t let anyone divert your dedication to your goal. You’re so near it!
    Here’s a first “Bravo” my friend !
    Love for the final sprint, Ruth

  6. Niamh says:

    Poppy can you share about your camping experience?
    I did the Camino Frances 13 months ago and thought of taking a tent but everyone said, “there is no place to put it”. Honestly I only saw one tent up on my trip and that was at the base of the statue of Mary going over the Pyreneese. I wondered how often you are using it, how you are selecting where to use it, what kind of tent do you have…and what kind of weight are you carrying? I’d love a post on your camping if you have the time 🙂

    Buen Camino!

    • Viking Queen says:

      All this advice is fine and valuable in its own way. I choose to be different and totally self sufficient. I love the freedom of the mountains and being able to have a place to sleep when albergues are closed, full or just unpleasant. The alternative of having to take an expensive hotel is not an option on my budget, but I am an experienced trekker and mountaineer so I think I can make up my own mind on what weight my pack is, and to whether I can carry it or not.
      People sometimes die in the mountains on the Camino, become disorientated, lost or catch hypothermia. If they meet me, I can save their lives. Just a thought…

      My tent is a ‘Big Agnes’, reputedly the lightest single person tent in the world. It is expensive, but worth every cent in my opinion, I use it about 25% of the time. I love sleeping out, always have… But I do understand that it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, and respect that most folk want to walk with almost nothing. I am very fit for my age an strong for a woman, but that doesn’t mean that it can be done with good pre Camino preparation. Please ask if there’s anything else you wish to know and thanks for your feedback!

      • niamh says:

        So glad to hear this as next time I want to camp! 🙂 In my heart I always wanted to camp but folks talked me out of it saying there was no real place to do it…and then when I got over there I just didn’t notice anyone camping so I was thrilled to see that you are doing it.
        Funny thing we have searched the Big Agnes and they do appear wonderful.
        As we plan Camino 2014 I might have more questions!
        Buen Camino

      • Viking Queen says:

        Well done….. Fortune favours the brave! If in doubt you can always ask a farmer or in one of the villages. It’s important to dry out your tent as much as possible because sometimes you’ll have to pack it away damps. There’s usually a place to do that in most albergues. You say We… You can split the minuscule weight between you and if you don’t use it then so what? At least you don’t have the pressure of full albergues over you And …. You can sometimes walk beneath the stars! Be brave and don’t be a sheep!!! ;0)

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