Camino from Porto to Santiago de Compostela (270km), September 2018
School governors Marion and Markus walked the famous Camino, a pilgrimage of 270km, in September. Read their accounts below.
I don't believe Markus expected me to say "yes" when he invited me to join him on the 270km Camino from Porto to Santiago. But he didn't know that a few years ago I cycled from Land's End to John O'Groats. Walking is simple, you put one foot in front of the other. However, we both found it hard when the first day turned into a 35km yomp through heavy mist. We spent the whole day walking along the Atlantic Coast but never saw the ocean! What stopped us jumping into a taxi, as some pilgrims did? Well, we were determined not to let ourselves down, especially not on the first day. So we carried on putting one foot in front of the other, oblivious to our complaining feet.
We encountered a lot of ordinary women doing extraordinary things. One middle aged lady from Hawaii, walking with her husband, was really suffering as she pushed her way uphill. Clearly not built for this walk, she nonetheless threw us a broad smile whenever we met. It seemed unfair to quiz her as she fought for breath, so we never discovered why she was putting herself through this. We also met a group of widows from the US. One of them, 60 years old and with open heart surgery behind her, was walking to give thanks for all the blessings in her life. They set off every morning three hours before dawn and made their way with torches on their heads. None of these ladies had set out to inspire, and yet they all did.
Mrs MM Parsons, Chair of the Curriculum Committee
I was quite surprised when Marion accepted my invitation, but really grateful to have her skipping alongside me (and once even running along!) with a youthful playfulness which belied her 74 years. On the very first day we walked 35km. That’s 21 miles. A car would do it in half an hour, but on foot it’s 7 hours of actual walking. At the end of that day, exhausted and with our feet aching, we were accosted by an annoying fellow pilgrim. We wanted nothing to do with him, we agreed.
But the Camino had other plans for us. A few days later we ran into him again. This time he introduced us to his friends and they invited us to walk with them a while. From that point we seven became inseparable; we walked together, talked together, dined together, and laughed together. The more we learned about our “annoying” fellow walker the more we realised that his life story, 74 years in the making, was truly inspirational.
The Camino taught us the pleasure of simplicity, and the value to be gained from doing some things slowly. But most of all it taught us to get to know a person before rushing to judgement. Everyone has a story to tell; are we ready to listen?
Mr M Jaigirder, Chair of the Financial Committee