Those who love challenges.


You get home late. A little after 11 pm. You’ve had a good time. If tomorrow was a free day, you could have stayed another two hours. It’s wonderful that, even two years after leaving university, you can still keep the rhythm of life from your student years. Well, it is probably due to the fact that all of you are single. Almost everyone. One female colleague had to take care of a family quite early on.  Whatever, she should have been more careful. Of course, we have to exclude the two colleagues who decided to work abroad. But you hear from them on the phone occasionally. If they had been with you this evening, would they have also been caught up in your story of The Road of Santiago? You only told them what you had read, after you’d listened to that conversation between two ladies in the café. No, you decide, they didn’t mean it. Now you go to bed and it’s over.

Sleep doesn’t come to you. You’re thinking about it. Because they really took your proposal seriously. You were the one who did not share the enthusiasm with which everyone started to make plans. How to get the vacation days to match. How to secure the necessary thirty or thirty five free days. Everyone was serious. Don’t fool yourself at all. In about three months, you are leaving. First thing tomorrow, you have to begin the preparations. Now go to sleep.

The twentieth of August. That was the date. An early flight of the Italian airline landed at the airport. You were among the many arriving passengers. Along with the Colleague with the charming smile, the Guitarist, and the Little One. Only four from the whole group. But it wasn’t important if the others were actually having difficulties or if they had simply found convenient excuses to bail out. Your enthusiasm was the only important thing.

стрелка 1You concentrated on you, on the whole organization and, at the time, it was flawless. Fortunately, your boss is an accommodating man, so it wasn’t necessary to get into the embarrassing situation of begging for a vacation. Even your colleagues supported you and accepted the distribution of your responsibilities without whining. Well, most of them did.

The Colleague – that’s what you’ve called her ever since university – is a serious and tough girl. She doesn’t accept any cheesy one-liners and casts off anyone that is being slick or is trying to suck up to her. She worked for a year for a company in the service industry. She only found satisfaction after she started her own small business. While she’s away, she has transferred the responsibility of the business to the person she is closest to – her father.

The Guitarist. You call him that because of his musical inclinations. Until the end of his high school education he, along with four of his friends, entertained their classmates and dreamed of the big stage, but life scattered them. Even these days, he still picks up the guitar with pleasure. His voice doesn’t betray him either and he always manages to get the attention of the people surrounding him. An irreplaceable friend.

The Little One. They called him that because he started school a year earlier than everyone else. His classmates were all older than him. Older, but only in years. He had an excellent memory and faultless logical thinking. After graduating from university, he received two job offers from companies that everyone dreamed about working for. He refused them both. He is an independent, freedom-loving person. He joined a company in the field of education. He claims there is no greater pleasure than to look for a way to share and pass knowledge onto others. You are all convinced that this is just temporary and that, one day, he will be a part of something significant.

A gentle melody from a phone. Where are you? Dark. The sound of someone’s phone and some kind of a sleeping bag. Of course, it is your sleeping bag and you are inside it. You are going to be inside it for who knows how many nights. Good morning. Get up, no slacking. The road is waiting for you.

The Guitarist obviously doesn’t have any intention of getting up. The Colleague nudges him and slips away to the bathroom. The Little One grins and wakes the rest with a not that quiet “Good Morning.” The first day.  Something resembling breakfast and, at 6:50, all of you are out. Excellent. след ранициYour gaze follows the backpacks, seeing where they are heading, and you go after them. Beautiful. The road begins with a trail towards the mountain. There isn’t a lack of jokes and there’s a slight confrontation between you and the Guitarist. He expected a little more time for breakfast. You are a bad manager. Evidently. The first coffee on the road awaits you. You didn’t know on the first day that this would be around noon.

The weather is wonderful. High in the mountain, heat can’t be felt. Aches and pains in legs and backs is the main topic. You meet people with visibly heavy backpacks. The four of you feel the joy of leaving all the indulgences at home. The rule that your backpack should be ten percent of your own weight works. You pass people and greet them. Small rests. You move as a group. You move individually. Small places with running water bring you together with the other passengers. You exchange looks, greetings, admiration, share the fatigue. All of you are learning. You recognize the lessons of the first day.

To be free. To never ever allow the dependency of something, or someone, to stand in the way of your life. To feel that every moment is desired from you and is in sync with you. The thoughts in your head are racing at first, colliding, interfering with one another. Days come and go and, with them, those same thoughts begin to arrange themselves. They shake off the falseness and the excess. In life, you alone take the decisions about yourself. You fulfil them. You achieve success at something and immediately look for a new goal, a new project. Here, on the road, you have the time to assess yourself. You haven’t been wrong. Even in those moments when it was necessary to lose in the name of the goal. The road of one decision leads only to its fulfilment.

On the road, it’s easy to start talking to someone. That is something that comes most easily to The Little One. Every day, he chooses a person or a group of people. He starts talking to them. He becomes a part of a group or creates a group around him. Today, he has outdone himself. He had fun. кафене - жена колаAt the café, after the third kilometre, he managed to convince a woman of around forty that the dark spots on her hands were probably the consequence of drinking Coca Cola. The can of cola remained unfinished. The woman vowed that she would never reach for it again. To have health or to give into the weakness of a habit? Health.

There are people that seek contact with The Little One. They want to know more about him. They tell him about themselves. They share. The sharing gives solutions. A boy and a girl tell him with pride how they are managing their lives on their own, without the help of their parents. It is hard, but wonderful. A man of about thirty five, a teacher in a big city, gives advice about how children should be given the chance to make choices. About everything. The Little One is a good listener. He asks questions too. When he senses that someone is restricting the conversation to his own world, he contradicts his interlocutor and leaves him in deep thought, looking for a way out or an answer.

On the road, there is no anger or envy. Here, everyone is ready to share, to help, to understand the other. There is no disappointment either. In the days lived here, solutions to regular life questions are found. There is no tension, stress or lack of time or appointments. Everyone has found their own reason to walk the road.

The little villages along the road. They are there. They await the pilgrims with their yellow arrows, little cafes, sometimes a bench at which you can take a rest. Homes full with life and ones waiting for owners again. Owners that won’t race with time. You look around. Gardens with fruit trees. No one near the road. You bend down and pick up a walnut, a fallen apple or a pear. Here, life is in calmness. Probably monotonous and boring? No. With the feeling of life.  A matter of choice. You remove the tension and fill it with thought, time for your loved ones, the refusal to accept the depersonalization and the loneliness of the big city. People in small villages have time for themselves. They won’t pass you by. They will greet you. Locals appreciate what they have. They don’t destroy it. They keep their little villages clean and welcoming. They expect to be noticed and for others like them to find their home there.

It was a good party. The guitar was on one of the tables. It slipped itself into the hands of the Guitarist. Little by little, the kitchen and the tables filled with people. They shared the freshly prepared food. Someone had made more pasta, someone else had eggs to spare. An elderly woman had quickly prepared some vegetable soup. The Little One was offering salad. There wasn’t a lack of wine. Some were singing along with the Guitarist. Others were singing along quietly in their own language. The room filled with emotions and positive energy. That evening, a lot of photos were taken. Phones and e-mails were exchanged. Positive energy filled the Albergue. No limitations of nationality, language, age or principles existed. купон 1A man of around fifty five took the guitar. American country sound. Ovations. The Guitarist was happy. He’d met a soul mate. What was happening was a dream. The dreams of all those people were meeting. The dream of not being a part of someone else’s rules. Of not being restricted by formalities, work matters, or personal problems. They were free to express themselves the way they were in their dreams. Not that there are no parties in life – but, at that moment, they were brought together by the road. No one was thinking of sleep. The party only ended when the hosteliero announced that he was going to turn off the lamps.

On the road, there is another world too. The world of hustle and bustle. You are surprised, but it is there. You understand it as the days pass. People catch up with you with their mini backpacks. They often stop at the cafes, stay for a long time there. They move with a clear plan. Sleep in the alberget, where there is no lack of amenities. They don’t prepare their own dinner; they don’t wash their clothes by hand. It’s as if these people have brought their dull lives here. Are these people even feeling the spirit of the road? Probably not. Infatuated with commercialism, they are probably left untouched by it. This doesn’t make them bad. It takes away their ability to know the difference though. Maybe.

The Colleague got lost. More precisely, she didn’t get lost, we lost her. Early one morning, she briefly showed up in the kitchen and disappeared after that. You were joking that she had probably stored too much energy from the previous evening. For more than an hour, she and a man of around thirty five had shared a bottle of wine. Either the wine was that good or… You didn’t see her for the next couple of days. The Little one had just suggested that you should call her and voila – there she was. She was sitting in front of the alberget. She was smiling. “Hello.” One hello and nothing more. You understood that either something had happened, or was happening now. You had known her for many years. That impassive look meant something.

You got comfortable. Dinner. The usual salad and eggs with bacon. The Guitarist opened a bottle of wine. Cheers. You drank in silence. The moment came. He was an interesting man. Divorced. Didn’t have children. For nearly ten years, he had been running his own business. He was there to be alone with himself. за ръце (защо) 2Yes, he wasn’t very handsome, but there was some energy in this man. You listened and you kept silent. You kept silent because you were thinking about yourselves. It was not like we were very handsome either. Everyone was asking themselves what they had inside them. What was valuable inside each one of us? What was needed for you to seek or to change? Did you have to change anything? It was one quiet evening.

You walk. You feel that you can go further and further. You don’t stop at the planned albergue. Yes, you know that those who you’ve got to know at that moment – and have talked with, made friends with and have shared with – will be stopping there. You go on. You arrive late. You meet different faces. Getting to know them is what follows. You stay with these people for a day, for two days. You ask yourself “Now what?” To wait for those that you’ve got ahead of? To continue with the current ones or to hurry ahead again? The thought of the unknown doesn’t allow you to rest. It pulls you forward. You hurry ahead again. You think that you won’t see the faces you have left behind you ever again.

As our final destination approaches, the number of people on the road increases. Not everyone wants to walk, or is able to walk, the whole distance. What is the whole distance? There are no starting points. On the road, you will meet people that went on foot from their homes. They travelled one thousand, two thousand kilometres. You will also meet people that are returning, walking back to where they started. Every traveller makes a decision – what they want and what their soul needs. You feel bound to the road. You and it become one. What are you going to do when this journey is over? Will you miss it? Questions. The answers to which everyone has to find for themselves.

The day you enter Santiago de Compostela. You feel joy that you made it. You feel fear from going back to your real life. There is nostalgia, joyful cheers and promises to write to the people that you walked with. To call on the phone or send the pictures you’ve taken. You are surprised that you see people around you, people that you thought were days behind you or are days ahead of you. The road had been separating and reuniting you, without getting in the way of the meetings you had to experience, of the opportunity to be left alone when that was needed.

The return flight is in an hour. You are sitting there, quiet and waiting. The machine will bring you back to the life that you left and that you wanted to change all the time. You are convinced that each one of you will succeed. In their own way.

китаристаThe Colleague got married. Far away from her country. When you talk on the phone, she sounds happy. The Little One also went far away. He is creating in a team of people who share his thoughts. The Guitarist is here. Sometimes, you can meet him in his club. He opened it along with a friend from his childhood.

And what of you? You began to believe in love. You set off to where you always felt pulled towards. The love of travelling. “Buen Camino!”


Palas del Rey   29.9.2015


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