The Seven Keys

It’s a fact: I love learning foreign languages.

Since I was a child, my favourite class at school was English. There wasn’t a day in which I wasn’t highly motivated to learn something new.

Now, as an adult, I keep in touch with different languages along the day, and I love it. However, I don’t want to say I speak a certain number of languages, as some people do, thinking that somehow it will increase their reputation in front of other people. On the contrary, I think this is one of the processes in my life that I enjoy doing, no matter the result, no matter if I make mistakes or if my accent will become an obstacle to the way I communicate. I don’t care, because what I love is when I grab a book, watch a movie or talk to people and I can understand them.

For me, a language is a key to the door to another culture. When you go to a foreign country, even as a tourist, and you don’t know the local language, you feel there’s some kind of locked door there: you cannot tell jokes to people, you cannot negotiate or what is worse, if you’re danger, you cannot survive, no matter if you speak two or twenty languages.

Nevertheless, what is crucial for me is the way it transforms me as a person. When you’re learning a new language, you’re not just learning a few words, some grammar rules and some strange exercises to improve your pronunciation. It gives you something more, much more: you connect to a new culture, new values, different ways of thinking that, if you open your mind, it literally changes you.

My story

One of the most impactful moments in my life was in 2006 when I went to Sweden as an Exchange Student, to the city of Lund. My goal was to improve my English and I remember how lost I felt, since my English level was really low then. Yes, when I was a kid I was highly motivated to learn it, but in Spain the applied methodology wasn’t good enough.

Lund's Cathedral

Cathedral of Lund. This building represents for me my growth in spirituality

One day, me and some friends decided to go to a house out there in the mountains. I don’t remember where but I remember what happened.

My confidence with English was very low then despite my motivation. I always had high marks in English and I felt frustrated that after learning English for many years at school (since I was 8 till I was 18), my level was not higher than A2. Something was wrong. But I was not the only one, my other Spanish friends were somehow suffering from the same, except those who could afford a really good English school.

Anyway, my stubborn nature told me I had to keep struggling to improve and so I did, I kept talking and talking to people from other countries until I met that person.

I remember her face, not her name, because her words were harmful enough to make me think. She was a Swedish girl who lived in Canada for some time and when I talked to her she arrogantly said: “You should stop learning English… You’re bad at it. Admit it. You’ll never make it.”

I felt devastated because of those words and I wanted to give up. I spent the rest of the weekend angry, upset, hurt, because despite of all the efforts in my life, I had the feeling that I’ve been lied to, that I wasn’t good at English as I thought.

When I got over it, my stubborn nature got back again on its feet and I started practicing harder, being more strict to the way I was learning: I read books, I checked grammar rules and started learning the pronunciation of some words. Also I practiced and practiced with people, no matter what.

Months later I was in a party and somebody told me: “Jorge, your progress in English is impressive!” I felt a won a battle. But what not many people knew was that I was learning Swedish at the same time, contrary to common advice that says that learning two languages at the same time is counterproductive. But after my experience with that person, I decided not to listen to people’s comment, since they mislead you. What is important is how you feel with yourself.

With this story, two things happened:

1. I changed the way I looked at myself. People were praising my progress and it felt good, but I proved myself that I could learn a foreign languages with time and effort.

2. When learning both English and Swedish, my relationships with people changed for the better. I learned new things and I found out that I even changed the way I thought. I became wiser.

When I got back to Barcelona in June 2007, I decided to start a journey of learning foreign languages as a way to grow up as a person, at the same time I was enjoying this new passion.

In all my life I could learn 7 languages, in some I can maintain a conversation, in others I can survive good enough. Now I’m going to describe each one of them in the order I learned them and how they changed my life in some way or another.

1. Spanish. The Key to Life: as my mother tongue, with this language I started my connection to my life and learn new things as a child. I’m happy I can speak this language, since it allows me to connect to many countries and enjoy the richnesses of the Spanish culture, and the marvellous landscapes of Latin America and its music. I also write my books in Spanish and try to improve even my own mother tongue.

My favourite expression in Spanish is: “Dime con quién vas y te diré quién eres.” (Tell me with whom you hang out and I’ll tell you who you are.” My mother uses a lot this expression. It means that the people you hang out with shapes quite often your personality.

2. Catalan. The Key to Innocence: As my second language, I grew up as a child watching  cartoon on TV in Catalan. Also, part of my education has been in Catalan. I feel very connected to the this culture and values and our History, even though my roots are not Catalan. They way this language sounds reminds me of an innocent child, its musicality and words sound soft and calm.

My favourite expression in Catalan is: “De mica en mica s’omple la pica”. (˜Step by step the basin is filled). It means that with small steps and patience we can achieve our goals.

3. English. The Key to the World: English is my third language but my favourite one. I especially love the North American accent. When I need to gather my thoughts or write short texts to connect with myself I do it in English, since for some strange reasons, it helps me meditate. I also love this language because it opens me a door to any country, since it’s for the language of the world now. What I find more interesting is the access I have to any kind of book written in the USA or English about human behaviour, since I can find many alternatives. I also study other courses in English.

I have as a personal rule that any word I learn in a foreign language, I have to know it also in English.

My favourite expression in English is: “Everything at the right time.”

4. Swedish. They Key to Openness: once I had a conversation with a Swedish guy and we both agreed that Swedish looked hard at the outside but soft in the inside. I remember my time in Sweden where I could have open conversations about almost any topic with Swedish people with little judgment. Maybe I was lucky then, but thanks to this experience, this language helped me express me openly about my feelings when the time was right with no fear.

My favourite expression in Swedish is: “Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder”. This expression means that there is no bad weather, but inadequate clothes. Apart from the weather, this expression has a big meaning for me. There are no hard times, only wrong attitude.

I promised myself to get back to Swedish when I improve in other areas, since I forgot a lot.

5. German. They Key to Strictness: I started learning German, honestly, because it was similar to Swedish and in 2008 I thought that if I could speak German I could more easily learn Swedish when I got back to it. It’s true, and when the right time comes I’ll get back to Swedish for fun.

Germany is well known for many things. Of them is their work culture: mistakes are not well considered, everything has to follow strict processes and on time. The language, if not spoken correctly, it can be considered authoritative.

This language taught me how to be strict when pursuing my goals and define roadmaps and strategies. When something gets into my mind, I often say: “I enter German mode” and I define and redefine the best plan until I get what I want and satisfy my stubborn nature.

My favourite expression in German is: “Übung macht den Meister”. It means that only through practice we can become experts in one field.

6. French. The Key to Charm: French language is well known because it sounds charming to many people. Also to me. French is one of those languages I always wanted to learn because the way it sounds: charming and elegant.

One of the things that this language teaches me is how to express my opinion in a polite manner, respecting the other person as well as my rights, even if I have to use many words to say it.

My favourite expression in French is: “Chercher midi a quatorze heures.” It means to complicate things uselessly. Since I learned it, I try to apply it quite often, since I’m a person who tends to make things more complicated than they should.

7. Polish. The Key to Reconstruction: Poland is a country that has lived many conflicts with its neighbours. In 2018 they celebrated their 100 year anniversary after the Poles got their Independence. Also, it’s a country that was damaged severely during the II World War. However, after they abandoned the Communism and entered the European Union, the country has been growing economically very fast and attracting foreign investments.

I came to Poland to learn from the Poles and their History. Moreover, the Polish languages is one of the most challenging languages because of the complexity of the grammar rules. Recently, I’m learning Polish as a way to prove myself that I can overcome any obstacle I encounter in life.

For now I don’t have a favourite expression in Polish, but I have a favourite word: “Masakra.” In Poland, they usually say it when something went wrong and they put a lot of emphasis on it.

And you, how did languages change your life? What did you learn from them?

I hope you liked this article.










Camino de Santiago – Triacastela to Sarria

Dear readers,

Today it has been the second stage of this adventure. I took the chance to sleep a bit more and wake up at 7:00 a.m., since the route of today is shorter and weather is cold. At the beginning of the route the temperature was 11 degrees celsius which is perfect to start.

Like yesterday, I start alone and I enjoy the landscapes. I screw it up in the beginning because I wanted to follow the route of Los Salmos, but I cannot see the sign from the way I come from and take the shortest one. It is five kilometers less, but it enfuriates me. Another time.

On my way I meet one guy from Argentina. His name is Diego and we talk a lot along the way. He tells me he has worked in Northern Ireland and now in Barcelona. He is an introvert, just like me. Then I have my third revelation and I learn that I attract introverted people, with whom it seems that I have a special connection.

We get to Sarria in record time and we go into separate ways. I go to the hostel I booked the day before and I see that I have to share room with people I do not know. I have no other option than to accept. I decide to sleep on the upper bed. I go out and I go to the city’s downtown, where I have lunch at Plaza de la Constitución in front of the city hall. I finish and go for a walk, go to the youth hostel and buy a pilgrim’s shell. I go to the swimming pool where I meet Diego and tell him about my books. He shows interst and he encourages me to keep writing.

After the swimming pool I feel renewed. I go to have dinner near the river and I run into the two guys from Murcia that play guitar. They spot me from far, they look happy to see me and they sit with me at the table. I go soon to the hostel, since I am tired and I want to sleep. I learn that in these three days out of home I have been learning things about me that I did not know about. Tomorrow I have the intention of doing the way alone, but I feel more in the mood to connect with people and keep making new friends. I am expecting a fourth revelation.

I hope you enjoyed this post.

Have a nice day

Camino de Santiago – Pedrafita to Triacastella

Dear readers,

After some weeks of changes in my life I started the first journey in my new life: El Camino de Santiago, an experience in solitude that I need to turn in the person I want to be, in who I must be.

This has always been a dream that wanted to make true and now that I can, I grabbed my backpack and started this adventure on the 11th August, taking a train from Barcelona to Ponferrada and from there, a bus to Piedrafita where I spent the night.

12th August

I wake up at 6 a.m., I say good-bye to the guys that I met last night and head O Cebreiro, where I oficially start my way. The temperature is 11 degrees celsius and as usual I am wearing a t-shirt with short sleeves, but I have experience in trail running and I know that I will warm up soon. I was not wrong.

Thirty minutes later I am starving. I want to have breakfast at the hostel but I was closed. Fortunately, I know that the body has enough fat reserves to use to consume energy and that I can survive. The problem is that it is cold and that makes metabolism to speed up. Soon I have the feeling that I am getting tired and I eat almonds to keep going.

At 8:30 a.m. I spot a bar. There are pilgrims from different countries. I order a toast with butter and coffee with milk. I recharge my energy and I get my first revelation: I can with this. I realize that despite the backpack I can walk fast and with good endurance. I get to the conclusion that this is due to my experience as a trail runner, since my bones are strongs and can resit the way, keeping in mind that when you are running the impact on your knees, ankles, feet and lower back is higher, since it is as if you weighed three times your normal weight. Anyway, the way is not very complicated, but walking 20 km is no joke.

I continue enjoying the Gallician landscapes.

I get bored in a part of the way. There are not so many people as I expected, but it is better this way. No one bothers me. What I feel is like when I go for a run. Walking helps me meditate and it is a way of finding myself, as long as to heal inner wounds.

Around 1 p.m. I arrive at Triacastela and I finish this stage. There are many pilgrims that have already occupied several hostels. Luckily, I had booked a hostel which is a bit expensive. From now on I will book something in advance to avoid surprises.

I go to have lunch and I try “caldo gallego”. It was not bad but I was expecting more. However, the wine is great and I drink the whole bottle. I run into the guys from Murcia, but I am exhauted, I want to sleep and the wine does not help. I go to the hostel and sleep two hours.

I wake up around 7 p.m. I go downtoan and take pictures of everything I see. It is not a big place, so I finish soon. The Church of Santiago of Triacastela looks beautiful. I daydream with a wedding and leave.

I go for dinner in a bar whose sign makes me laugh, since they ensure they can talk any language with signs. I run again into the guys from Murcia, that came from the church. They stay with me for dinner and I learn they are singers. I listen to them and have another revelation.

I record them while they are singing a birthday song to a friend of theirs. One of them plays guitar. However, he carries a small guitar due to the trip. Afterwards, they sing a song to a family who was sitting next to us and go to another restaurant to keep singing. I do not stay. I say good-bye and go to the hostel. I meditate about all the learnings and I decide that I have to follow their example and focus my passion for writing on just that, on the passion, and forget becoming a best-seller, since I know that if I forget enjoying what I do, I will fail.

I write this post and go to sleep. Good night.

Camino de Santiago – Bonus Track – El autobús de vuelta

Estimados lectores:

Pese a que el viaje ha terminado, en el autobús me siguen ocurriendo cosas. No sé si es por el Camino, o es que algo ha cambiado. Os contaré la historia de Heydi.

Dear readers,

Despite that the journey came to an end, things keep happening to me on the bus. I don’t know if it is because of El Camino, or because something has changed. I will tell about Heydi’s story.

Me esperan unas dieciséis horas de autobús. Hemos salido a las dos de la tarde de Santiago de Compostela y en teoría llegaré a las seis de la mañana a la estación de Sants en Barcelona, eso si no se retrasa.

Sixteen hours await me on the bus. We left at two in the afternoon from Santiago de Compostela. As long as there are no delays, I am supposed to arrive at 6 a.m. at Santos Estació.

Me entretengo viendo los capítulos que me faltan de la serie de Jessica Jones y, cuando acabo, empiezo con la segunda temporada de Luke Cage. Cuando me canso de Netflix, agarro el libro de It, de Stephen King, y pese a que disfruto de la lectura, me agobia pensar que todavía me quedan unas 800 páginas para terminar con el libro.

I watch the last episodes of the tv series Jessica Jones and when I finish, I start the second season of Luke Cage to have some entertainment. When I am tired of Netflix, I read Stephen’s King book It. Despite enjoying the reading, I’m overwhelmed to think that I have still 800 pages to read.

Y, cuando me canso del todo, pienso en mis novelas y decido que escribiré la historia de Ramón, el peregrino. No es el señor a quien he conocido en el camino, sino un personaje que aparece ya en mi primer libro, Encadenado. Él es corredor de montaña y le enseña al protagonista que la vida está llena de cuestas, sobre todo cuando queremos alcanzar nuestros sueños. Muchas veces no nos vemos preparados y abandonamos, pero si decidimos subirlas corriendo, y nos resulta difícil, siempre podemos hacerlas andando, aunque tardemos más, aunque nos paremos a reponer fuerzas. Si somos perseverantes y alcanzamos la cima, la vida nos regalara una vista hermosa, señal de que hemos triunfado y lo hemos logrado. 

When I am tired of everything, I think of my novels and I decide that I will write Ramon’s story, the pilgrim. It is not about the man I met along the way, but a character that already appears in my first book, Encadenado. He is trail runner and he teaches the protagonist that life is full of hills, especially when we want to follow our dreams. Many times, we do not see ourselves ready and give up the idea, but, if we decide to run up the hill and it results difficult to us, we can always walk, even if it takes us longer, even if we have to stop to recover our strength. If we persist and we make it to the top, life will give us a wonderful sight, signal that of our triumph and that we succeeded. 

Decido que Ramón tendrá su propia historia y que transcurrirá en uno de los recorridos de El Camino de Santiago. Con esa novela completaré mi universo literario. Pero aún queda mucho que aprender. Debo vol.ver a Galicia en el futuro para ello.

I decide that Ramon will have his own story which will happen in one of the routes of El Camino de Santiago. With this novel I will complete my literary universe. But there is still a lot to learn. I have to come back to Galicia for that purpose.

Hacia las nueve de la noche nos paramos en una gasolinera para cenar. No me acuerdo en qué provincia era. Creo que en Burgos. Pese a que llevo una semana caminando sin parar, para mí es peor permanecer sentado sin moverse y aprovecho para estirar las piernas y comprar algo para cenar.

At around nine in the evening we stop at a fuel station to have dinner. I do not remember in which province it was. I think it was Burgos. Despite the fact that I have been a week walking without stop, for me it is much worse to sit without moving. I take the opportunity to stretch out my legs and buy something for dinner.

Mientras espero, pues somos muchos, advierto que una de las pasajeras del autobús me mira. Nunca he sido muy bueno descifrando el lenguaje corporal de las personas, pero creo que le resulto simpático. Le digo «hola» y empezamos a charlar. Me cuenta que ha trabajado en La Coruña y que vuelve a Zaragoza, donde ella reside. Al cabo de un rato, se une a la conversación Ernest, un señor de Barcelona que ha hecho también El Camino.

While I wait -since we are many-, I notice that one of the passengers stares at me. I have never been good at deciphering body language, but I think she finds me nice. I say hello to her and we start to chat. She tells me she has been working in La Coruña and that she is coming back to Zaragoza, where she lives. Some time later, Ernest, a man from Barcelona that walked El Camino, joins our conversation.

En el autobús, cuando este arranca, nos ponemos a charlar. Congenio con Heidy más que con Ernest, porque tenemos problemas parecidos y nos desahogamos. Le hablo de El Camino y la intento convencer de que un día lo haga, que le ayudará a sanar heridas. Ella asiente y parece interesada. Simplemente hablamos de temas amorosos. Nada más.

On the bus, when it starts, we keep talking. Heydi and me connect better than with Ernest, since we have similar problems and we talk about it. I tell her about El Camino and I try to persuade her to do it, that it will help her heal her wounds. She nods and looks interested. We just talk about love topics. Nothing else.

Cuando llegamos a Zaragoza, me pasa su contacto y se baja del autobús. Me siento feliz, porque comprendo que para hacerme amigo de ella no me ha hecho falta fanfarronear, ni hacerme sentir superior, ni fingir como muchas personas hacen, como muchas personas hacemos. Solo he sido yo mismo. Le he hablado de las cosas que he hecho bien y las cosas que he hecho mal. Siendo más humano es cuando mejor conectas con los seres humanos.

When we get to Zaragoza, she gives me her number and gets off the bus. I feel happy, because I understand that to make friends with her I didn’t need to brag, nor pretending to be superior, not faking as many people do, as we many do. I have just been myself. I talked about my rights and wrongs. Being more human is when you connect better to people.

Tres horas después, a las ocho de la mañana, pues el autobús se ha retrasado dos horas, llegamos a Barcelona. Me despido de Ernest y separamos nuestros caminos. Es como despertar de un sueño. Sé que es real porque me duele el pie de la tendinitis. Miro el móvil y sí, las fotos, los WhatsApp, todo ha sido real.

Three hours later, at eight in the morning, since the bus had a two hours delay, we get to Barcelona. I say good-bye to Ernest and our ways split. I feel like waking up from a dream. I know it is real because my foot still hurts due to the tendinitis. I check the phone and I look at the pictures, the WhatsApp conversations. Everything has been real.

Camino quince minutos y llego a mi habitación en el piso compartido en el barrio de Les Corts. Al llegar, me doy cuenta de que olvidé lavar las sábanas. Lanzo mi saco de dormir encima del colchón, lo abro, porque el calor de Barcelona es abrasador. Me tumbo, cierro los ojos y me relajo. Me quedo dormido en unos segundos.

I walk for fifteen minutes and I get to my room in a shared apartment in Les Corts. When I arrived, I realised that I forgot to the wash the sheets. I throw the sleeping bag on the mattress and I open it because of the burning heat of Barcelona. I lay down on the bed, I close my eyes and I drift. I fall asleep in a matter of seconds.

Han sido las mejores vacaciones de mi vida.

These have been the best holidays of my life.


                                                                         THE END






Camino de Santiago – La catedral

Estimados lectores:

Me despierto a las siete y media de la mañana. Como buen adicto a la telefonía, lo primero que hago es consulta el WhatsApp. Los peregrinos que he conocido a lo largo de El Camino han partido desde O Pedrouza y se dirigen a la catedral. José me pide buscar una cervecería para encontrarnos allí y entrar todos juntos en la catedral.  Sin pensármelo dos veces, me ducho, me aplico la pomada en el pie y me embarco en la búsqueda de un punto de encuentro.

Dear readers,

I wake up at 7:30 a.m. As a good addict to smartphones, the first thing I do is to check my WhatsApp. The pilgrims that I met along El Camino departed from O Pedrouza and they are heading the cathedral. José asks me to find a bar where we can meet and arrive all together to the Cathedral. Without hesitation, I take a shower, apply the ointment on my injured foot and I go on the search for a meeting point.

Una vez cumplida mi misión, envió mi ubicación al grupo y me siento a desayunar. Al cabo de un rato, advierto que preparan una mesa afuera en la calle. Salgo y me siento allí  de cara a El Camino y disfruto viendo a los peregrinos bajar mientras me tomo un café con leche (para variar).

Once I accomplish my mission I send the location to the group and take a seat to have breakfast. Some time later, I notice that they are mounting a table on the street. I go out and sit down facing El Camino and I enjoy watching the pilgrims walking down while I drink a wonderful cup of coffee with milk.

Dicen que antes de morir, ves tu vida pasar por delante de tus ojos. La sensación es parecida, pero sé que no me estoy muriendo, sino que empiezo a vivir. Mientras espero, voy viendo algunas caras conocidas que me he encontrado por El Camino y saludo a aquellas personas con las que he establecido algo de conversación. Recuerdo cada día con total claridad y creo que no se me olvidarán jamás.

They say that you see your life in front of your eyes before dying. However, I know that I’m not dying, but that I’m starting to live. While I’m waiting, I spot some known faces that I met along El Camino and I greet those with whom I talked. I remember each day with full clarity and I think I will never forget them.

Controlo el WhatsApp y me informan de que están a punto de llegar. Preparo la cámara de mi móvil y empiezo a tomar fotos a medida que van llegando. Los primeros en aparecer a lo lejos son José y Vanessa. Me ven, me saludan y me dicen que van a por la Compostela y que vuelven enseguida.

I’m aware of the WhatsApp and I’m informed that they are about to arrive. I prepare the camera of my phone and start taking pictures as they arrive. The first ones to show up are José and Vanessa. They see me, greet me and they say they’re going for the Compostela and that they’ll be right back.

La siguiente en llegar es Silvia, a la que también traiciono con una foto cuando ella no se lo espera. Se sienta conmigo y pide algo para tomar. Charlo con ella mientras estoy pendiente de los peregrinos.

The next one to arrive is Silvia, who I betray taking a picture of her when she’s not expecting it. She takes a seat and orders something to eat. I chat with her while I’m paying attention to the pilgrims.

A lo lejos veo a Carmen y a Jesús, pero no los puedo fotografiar porque hay muchos peregrinos que me bloquean el ángulo de la cámara. Cuando están cerca los obligo a parar para tomarles una toma. Entonces, se sientan con nosotros mientras esperamos a las murcianas, que no sabemos cuándo van a llegar porque tienen el móvil en modo avión.

From far I spot Carmen and Jesús, but I can’t take a picture of them because there are many pilgrims that are blocking my sight. When they are close enough I command them to stop so that I can take a shot. Then, they also take a seat while we are waiting for the girls from Murcia, who we don’t know where they are because they have their phones in flight mode.

José y Vanessa vuelven de recoger la Compostela. Estamos todos sentados esperando a las murcianas, hasta que aparecen al cabo de un rato. Entonces, todos juntos, nos dirigimos a la Catedral. Pocos metros antes de llegar veo a Elena, la veterinaria y siento un leve cosquilleo en el estómago; va con su amiga Elvira, ambas emocionadas por alcanzar su destino.

José and Vanessa are back. We are all waiting for the Murcian girls. Some minutes later, they show up and go together to the Cathedral. Some meters before getting there I spot Elena, the vet and I feel a light tickle in my stomach. She’s with Elvira, both very excited to get their destiny.

Juntos, nos plantamos justo delante de la Catedral y celebramos que hemos llegado a nuestro destino. Pese a que llegué el día anterior, me siento como si no hubiera estado jamás allí. Las sensaciones son totalmente diferentes. Después de hacernos unas fotos, saludo a todos los peregrinos que conozco en la zona y me voy despidiendo de todos ellos.

We stand together just in front of the Cathedral and we celebrate that we made it to our destination. Despite the fact that I arrived here the previous day, it feels like as if I had never been there before. The feeling is completely different. After taking some pictures all of us together, I greet all the pilgrims I know in the area and I say good-bye to all of them.

Y allí están: José, Vanessa, Silvia, Carmen, Jesús, Charo y María; todos en el suelo alineados y los observo con una sonrisa en mi cara. Miro la hora y sé que mi momento ha llegado. La aventura llegó a su fin y debo volver a Barcelona. Me da rabia porque se van a ir juntos a comer y yo no podré estar. Me quiero quedar y me cuesta marcharme. Entonces, una revelación final llega justo en ese preciso instante y me doy cuenta de que pese a que los conozco poco, me han caído muy bien, pero una parte de mí se ha apegado a ellos. Reúno mis fuerzas y me despido. Empiezo a caminar sin mirar atrás con mi bastón en la mano. Mi tiempo con ellos se ha acabado, por ahora. No sé si los volveré a ver, pero no debo pensar en ello. He aprendido a vivir el momento y a no apegarme a las personas ni a las situaciones en los momentos felices. Debo disfrutar de esos momentos, pero cuando el momento llega, debo seguir andando. 

And there they are: José, Vanessa, Silvia, Carmen, Jesús, Charo y María; all sitting on the floor forming a line and I stare at them with a smile on my face. I check the time and I know that my moment has arrived. This journey has come to an end and I must get back to Barcelona. It angers me because I know that they are going to have lunch all together and I won’t be able to stay, despite wanting to. It’s difficult to me to leave. Then, a final revelation arrives just in time just in that moment and I realise that in spite of knowing them so little, I liked them as people. I start walking without looking back with my staff in hand. My time with them is over, at least for now. I don’t know if I’ll ever see them again, but I must not think of that. I’ve learned to live the present and not get attached neither to people nor the situations in happy moments. I must enjoy these times, but when the time comes, I must keep walking.

Con una sonrisa en la cara, me dirijo a la estación de autobuses. En el momento que abandonamos Santiago de Compostela, mi mente decide cerrar esta aventura y a tirar hacia delante. Ya estoy preparado para el siguiente reto: nueva vida, nuevo trabajo, nuevo país. A continuar con el viaje de mi vida.

Estoy preparado para Polonia.

With a smile on my face, I head the bus station. In the moment I abandon Santiago de Compostela, I decide to finish this adventure and move on. I’m ready for my next challenge. New life, new work, new country. To continue the journey of my life.

I’m ready to go to Poland.


Camino de Santiago – O Pedrouzo a Santiago de Compostela

Estimados lectores:

Última etapa. Son más o menos las doce del mediodía y tengo fuerzas para seguir andando. Me he propuesto llegar hasta Santiago y hacer otra etapa este mismo día. El pie me sigue doliendo, pero no me importa. He visto gente en peores condiciones que yo tener fe en sí mismos. Algunos piensan que son idiotas. Para mí, son personas que buscan dar lo mejor de sí mismos y eso pienso hacer yo.

Yo los llamo Campeones del Camino.

Dear readers,

It is more or less 12 p.m. and I have enough strength to keep walking. I intend to get to Santiago and walk another stage the same day. My foot still hurts, but I do not care. I have seen people in a worse shape than me having faith in themselves. Some think they are idiots, but for me, they are people that fight to do their best. So will I.

I refer to these people as the Champions of the Way.

Antes de salir del pueblo me encuentro con Carmen de Donostia con un hombre que no conozco. Le explico que voy a recortar kilómetros, pues mi autobús sale a las dos el día siguiente y ya que he hecho El Camino quiero la Compostela. No es que sea lo prioritario, pues lo importante para mí es lograr mi meta y crecer como persona, cosa que he ido haciendo paso a paso literalmente todos los días, pero ya que estamos, quiero obtenerla.

Before leaving town I run into Carmen from Donostia with a man who I don’t know. I tell her that I intend to cut off the way, since my bus leaves at two the next day and I would like to get the Compostela since I finished El Camino. It is not priority, because what it is important to me is to achieve my goal and grow up as a person, something I’ve been doing step by step literally, but since we are here, I want to get it.

Salgo del pueblo y me adentro en un bosque. Suerte que la temperatura es buena para caminar. Es verano, pero no hace demasiado calor. Avanzo hasta que llego a un bar que se llama Kilómetro 15, pero la piedra que indica cuántos kilómetros faltan señala 16. Le doy vueltas e intento buscarle una lógica mientras me tomo una Coca-Cola, así descanso el pie y obtengo un sello.

I leave town and get into the woods. Fortunately, the temperature is good enough to walk. It is summer, but it is not so hot. I advance until I arrive at a bar whose name is Kilómetro 15, but the stone that shows the distance to Santiago points 16km. I think about and try to find some logic while I’m drinking a Coke to rest my feet and get a stamp for my credentials.

Después de quince minutos me levanto y sigo mi camino. Veo algunos peregrinos, no muchos, pues la mayoría se han quedado en O Pedrouzo. Les doy ánimos y les sonrío. Están como yo, motivados por llegar. En soledad cruzo los bosques y subo algunas cuestas, como la del Monte do Gozo. Cuando faltan unos diez kilómetros, decido que es hora de comer, pues son las dos de la tarde y quiero reponer fuerzas. Solo un esfuerzo final. Me paro en un restaurante y pido un menú de peregrino. Me ponen una botella de la casa y yo, haciendo caso a las recomendaciones, me bebo la botella entera.

After 15 minutes I get up and continue my way. I see some pilgrims, not many, since most of them decided to stay in O Pedrouzo. I cheer them up and smile at them. They feel motivated to get to the end, just like me. In solitude I cross the woods and walk up some hills, like Monte do Gozo. When I have only 10 km left I decide it’s time for lunch, since it is 2p.m. and I want to recover. Only a final effort. I stop in a restaurant and order a pilgrim’s menu. They serve me the local wine and me, following the recommendations, I drink the whole bottle.

Al salir distingo a lo lejos a la chica italiana atractiva que estaba en el hostal, pero no es hora de parar y continúo. Al cabo de un rato, coincido en el camino con una chica latina con la que entablo conversación. No me acuerdo de su nombre, pero sé que es de Perú y le he confesado que soy fan de la chicha morada. Se ríe y me explica que empezó El Camino en Saint Jean Pied y que luego había llegado a Roncesvalles. Es una persona muy espiritual y ve El Camino como algo divino que le traerá un despertar e iluminación. Me gusta su forma de ver las cosas. Le explico por qué estoy haciendo El Camino y le confieso que necesito crecer como persona, ubicarme tras todos mis problemas y convertirme en quien quiero ser. Me dice que tengo una sonrisa dibujada en mi cara y que eso la inspira, que tengo un aura a mi alrededor. Me hace sentir feliz. Realmente, desde que empecé El Camino me he ido sintiendo cada día mejor conmigo mismo y puedo confesar que me encuentro en un estado de felicidad. Cuando quedan cinco kilómetros para llegar a Santiago, me despido de la chica y le comento que debo hacer la fase final solo. Me desea suerte y nos separamos.

I spot the attractive Italian girl that was in the hostel when I go out, but it’s not the time to stop and continue. Some time later, I meet a latin girl with whom I engage into conversation. I can’t remember her name, but she tells me she’s from Perú and I confess her that I love the Peruvian chicha morada. She laughs and tells me she started El Camino in Saint Jean-Pied and that she got to Roncesvalles afterwards. She is a very spiritual person and sees El Camino as something divine that will bring her both an awakening and enlightenment. I like the way she sees things. I explain her why I’m doing El Camino and confess her that I need to grow as a person, find myself after all my problems and become I want to be, who I have to be. She tells me I have a smile on my face and that she feels inspired by me, that I even got an aura that glows. It makes me feel happy. Actually, since I started El Camino I have been feeling better with myself every day and I can confess that I feel in a state of happiness. When I have only five kilometres to get to Santiago, I say good-bye to the girl and tell her that I must do the final phase in solitude.She wishes me luck and we split our ways.

En esos últimos momentos, recibo la revelación más obvia pero escondida de todos: soy genial tal y como soy. Aunque no haya hecho tantos kilómetros como otros y aunque haya hecho más que algunos, me siento genial conmigo mismo. He conectado conmigo mismo y me he dado cuenta de lo genial que soy, que pese a mi carácter introvertido disfruto de la gente y conmigo mismo. Me quiero tal y como soy. Voy a llegar a Santiago después de seis días. No pienso en el pie, solo en que voy a llegar al final y que también lo hará la gente que he conocido en El Camino. Me alegro de sus logros y de cómo son y de verlos triunfar.

In these last moments I receive the most obvious but hidden revelation of all: I am great just the way I am. Although I haven’t done as many kilometres as others and done more than others, I feel great with myself. I connected with myself and I realised that I am great, that despite my introverted personality I enjoy people. I love myself just the way I am.  I will arrive to Santiago in six days instead of seven. I am not thinking about the foot, only that I will arrive to the end and so will the people I met along El Camino. I am very happy about their achievements, how they are and see them succeed.

Alcanzo la ciudad de Santiago de Compostela y animo a los peregrinos que me encuentro en este último tramo. Todos están cansados pero todos sonríen. Somos campeones y lo vamos a lograr. Me adentro en el casco antiguo de la ciudad. Los lugareños que me cruzo me sonríen y me dan ánimos en estos últimos pasos, que me saben a infierno con el pie hecho polvo. Sigo las indicaciones y tras un último esfuerzo, llego a la catedral.

I reach Santiago de Compostela and I cheer up the pilgrims that I encounter in this last track. They are all tired but they all smile. We are all champions and we are going to make it. I enter the city’s old town. The locals I encounter smile at me and they also cheer me up in these last steps that feel like hell with my hurting foot. I follow the signs and after a last effort I reach the cathedral. 

Saboreo el momento en ese día soleado en el que he andado 38 kilómetros de un tirón. Al llegar, recibo la revelación de que para lograr nuestras metas a veces debemos enfrentarnos a momentos de dolor. Veo muchos peregrinos con vendas en las rodillas o en los tobillos, pero todos llegan y rebosan de felicidad. Yo me detengo frente a la catedral y la miro orgulloso por un rato.

I enjoy the moment of this sunny day in which I’ve walked 38 kilometres at once. When I arrive I receive the revelation that to get all our goals, we must sometimes face painful moments. I see pilgrims with bandages in their knees or ankles, but they all make it and are excited. I stop in from of the cathedral and stare at it with pride.

Noto mi cuerpo enfriarse y antes de que caiga, voy a buscar la Compostela. Cuando la obtengo voy al hotel que he reservado y me ducho. Al relajarme, el pie me duele mucho más y decido ir al hospital donde me diagnostican una tendinitis. El médico me sonríe y me confiesa que está acostumbrado a tratar casos así. Vuelvo al hotel tras comprar las medicinas y me voy a cenar. Me hubiera gustado salir de fiesta, pero estoy agotado.

I feel my body cool down and before it collapses I go take the Compostela. When I get it and I go to the hotel I booked and take a shower. When I relax, my foot hurts even more and I decide to go to the hospital where they diagnose me with tendinitis. The doctor smiles and confesses me that he is accustomed to treat cases like this. I go back to the hotel after buying my meds and go to have dinner. I would have liked going to a part but I am shattered. 

Abro el WhatsApp y chateo mientras  me como una hamburguesa botafumeiro y veo la iglesia que tengo delante ensombrecerse. Se está haciendo de noche. Decido ir a dormir, pues el pie frío me duele bastante y cojeo. Mañana me despertaré temprano para saludar a los peregrinos que he conocido a lo largo de El Camino, pues José me ha sugerido buscar una cervecería donde encontrarnos para entrar en la catedral a la vez.

I open WhatsApp and chat while I eat a hamburger botafumeiro and stare at the church I have in front of me being covered by the shadows. Night is falling. I decide to go to sleep, since my foot is cold and I limp. Tomorrow I’ll wake up early to greet the pilgrims that I met along El Camino, since José suggested me to look for a bar where we can meet to enter the cathedral all of us together.


Camino de Santiago – Arzúa a Pedrouzo

Estimados lectores:

Ya queda menos para acabar El Camino. Lo siento en el ambiente. Un par de etapas más y alcanzaré mi destino tras siete días de caminar. Me duele el pie izquierdo al apoyarlo, pero no me importa. Mi alma es fuerte y confío en que alcanzaré mi destino con éxito.

Dear readers,

There is no much way left to finish. I can feel it in the air. Two more stages and I will reach my destiny after walking for seven days. My left foot hurts when I walk, but I do not care. My soul is strong and I trust that I will succeed.

Ese día tengo que llegar a Pedrouzo con tiempo. No he podido reservar un albergue y debo apresurarme con el pie hecho polvo. Pero he visto gente peor que yo y más valiente. En el albergue, entablo conversación una chica italiana que me resulta bastante atractiva. Su móvil, que está enchufado a la pared porque se está cargando mientras ella desayuna algo, empieza a sonar y ella no se da cuenta. Se lo hago saber y hablamos. Le caigo simpático. Se le nota. Me cuenta que quiere llegar a Finisterre, si puede, y va a caminar con shorts tejanos. Sus palabras me motivan aún más. Mucha gente tiene más fe en sí misma que la que tengo yo conmigo mismo. Me puedo exigir más porque no me estoy muriendo. Aún tengo mucho para dar. Me levanto, le deseo suerte en su caminar y me embarco con un pie que me duele a recorrer unos 19km hasta Pedrouzo.

That day I have to get to Pedrouzo as soon as possible. I could not book a hostel and I must hurry with an injured foot. But I have seen people in a worse shape but braver. In the hostel, I talk with an Italian girl. I find her very attractive. Her phone, that is connected to the socket because it is charging starts to sound while she is eating something, starts to sound and she is not aware. I let her know and then we talk. She fins me nice, I can see it. She tells me that she wants to get to Finisterre, if she can, and she is going to walk with short jeans. Her words motivate me more. Many people have more faith in themselves that me with myself. I can be more demanding because I am not dying. There is much way left. I get up, I wish her luck and I start walking with an injured foot 19km to Pedrouzo.

El camino es oscuro al salir del pueblo. Son las seis y media de la mañana y no se ve nada. Me equivoco de camino y me meto por la ruta complementaria. A otros peregrinos les ha pasado lo mismo y deciden volver atrás a encontrar el camino correcto. Yo decido seguir, porque no me he equivocado, solo he tomado un desvío que es igual de válido que el camino normal. Luego me doy cuenta de que estos peregrinos han decidido lo mismo que yo.

The way is dark when I leave the town. It is 6:00 a.m. and I cannot see anything. I take the wrong way and step into the complementary route. Other pilgrims made the same mistake and they decide to come back to find the right way. I prefer to keep walking, because it was not a mistake. I just took a detour which is as valid as the normal way. Then I realise that these pilgrims decided the same.

Cuando llevo un rato caminando, conozco a Carmen, una señora en sus cincuenta y poco que camina a la misma velocidad que yo. Me cuenta que su hijo está en otra parte de El Camino, pero no sabe si delante o detrás, solo que está en la misma etapa que ella. Lo llama y no le responde. No se preocupa, pero se enfada. Entonces me cuenta su historia, así como yo le cuento la mía.

When I have been walking for a while, I meet Carmen, a woman in her early fifties that walks at the same speed as I do. She tells me that her son is somewhere else on El Camino, but she does not know if she is ahead or behind. Only that he is on the same stage. She calls him but he does not answer. She does not worry, but she gets upset. Then she tells me her story as I tell her mine.

Se divorció y ahora está casada de nuevo. Asegura estar muy enamorada de su segundo marido, que sueña con hacer El Camino de Santiago pero lo ha dejado en Alicante, donde ella vive. Si no recuerdo mal es porque estaba lesionado. Nada grave, pero como ella quería hacer El Camino a toda costa, lo hace con su hijo. Entonces hablamos de relaciones.

Me explica que su hijo estaba con una chica, con la que había roto porque se había desenamorado de ella. Que ella estaba disgustada pero que lo acepta, pues su hijo es más feliz. Yo le explico que tome la misma decisión con mi ex mujer por la misma razón. Me entiende y eso me gusta. Me da ánimos, pues me dice que ahora que tengo treinta y tres años, seguramente tenga las cosas más claras y me da esperanzas a que encontraré a alguien en mi vida con quien seré más feliz. Tengo fe en lo que dice. Yo me lo creo. Me siento conmigo mismo y capaz. Siento que me quiero más a mí mismo y me respeto más. Entonces llegamos a la conclusión de que uno tiene que ver primero por sí mismo, por muy egoísta que suene, pues si no estamos bien nosotros, no podemos hacer feliz a quien queremos de verdad. Gracias a sus palabras, no me siento tan culpable y castigado por romperle el corazón a una persona, porque lo he hecho por mí, porque me quiero un poco más que ayer y mañana me querré un poco más que hoy.

Pasamos el resto de la etapa charlando. Nos paramos en un bar a desayunar y ella localiza a su hijo con el móvil. Gente del bar reconoce la camiseta que llevo puesta. Es de la Behobia, una carrera de 20km que hice el 2015 por última vez y cuyo recorrido va desde el pueblo de Behobia, que hace frontera con Francia, hasta el boulevard de San Sebastián. Me admiran porque tiene fama de dura. No me siento arrogante, sino que me siento bien, con confianza. Recuerdo que puedo lograr lo que me proponga.

Sigo con Carmen andando hasta el final de la etapa en Pedrouza y la acompaño hasta su albergue. Me despido con dos besos, pero no nos damos el teléfono ni nada. Me sabe mal porque no la veré más quizás en su vida ni conoceré a su hijo, que seguro que es una bella persona. Sin embargo, creo que nuestros caminos se han acabado. Tengo esa sensación de que nos sentimos bien el uno con el otro, pero no nos hacemos falta. No tenemos por qué ser amigos. Me despido con dos besos, le sonrío honestamente, pues es una gran persona, pero tengo que dejarla marchar. Me da pena, pero no me duele. Me parece que estoy aprendiendo a no apegarme a las personas.

Pese a que me duele el pie izquierdo y estoy a 19km de Santiago, no tengo albergue. Decido seguir caminando hasta encontrar un lugar donde dormir. Total, ya he completado la etapa. Si recorto kilómetros y encuentro un lugar donde dormir, podré llegar temprano a la ciudad y conseguir la Compostela, para luego tomar el bus con calma, que sale a las dos de la tarde y hacerme unas fotos con los peregrinos que he conocido.

Apoyo mi bastón de peregrino en el suelo, pues me duele el pie, pero sigo andando.




Camino De Santiago – Palas de Rey a Arzúa

Estimados lectores:

Hoy me levanto con ganas de comerme el mundo. Me esperan 28km por andar. Lo noto. El Camino me está cambiando como persona. Me siento más vital, mis pensamientos no son tan tóxicos y ya queda menos para llegar a Santiago de Compostela.

Dear readers,

Today I wake up willing to conquer the world. 28km are waiting for me. I can feel it. El Camino is changing me for the better. I am feeling more vital, my thoughts are not so toxic and there is no much way left to get to Santiago de Compostela.

Salgo de madrugada y emprendo el camino tirando hacia abajo del pueblo siguiendo las flechas amarillas. Entro en un camino donde solo hay oscuridad, pues solo son las 6:45 de la mañana y no se ve absolutamente nada. No obstante, me encuentro con un grupo de peregrinos y reconozco a Carmen, la donostiarra.

At dawn I start my way heading down town following the yellow arrows. I enter a way where the is only darkness. It is only 6:45 a.m. and I cannot see anything. However, I encounter a group of pilgrims along the way and I spot Carmen, the girl from Donostia. 

Durante el camino charlamos de varios temas. Admiramos las aldeas y “despensas” gallegas. Llegamos a un bar cuyo nombre no recuerdo donde hay una concha gigante. Nos hacemos unas fotos y me quedo a desayunar. Carmen aprovecha para sellar y avanza en su camino.

Along the way we talk about different topics. We admire the villages and the Galician “larders”. We arrive at a bar whose name I cannot remember where there is a huge shell. We take some pictures and I stay there for breakfast. Carmen puts a stamp on her credentials and continues her way.

Cuando acabo emprendo otra vez mi marcha hacia Arzúa. Pienso en que a mitad de camino llegaré a Melide, un pueblo famoso por su pulpo. Me espera una ración bien grande.

When I finish I continue my way to Arzúa. I think that midway I will get to Melide, a famous town by its octopus. A big portion is awaiting me.

En un punto del camino me encuentro con Raúl y José Luis, los chicos de Orihuela que conocí la primera noche. Raúl tiene una lesión de rodilla y le cuesta caminar. Van a ritmo lento. Sin pensarlo le ofrezco mi bastón de peregrino, pues solo lleva un bastón de caminata y creo que le puede ayudar. Su cara dibuja una sonrisa y me da las gracias, pero no lo necesita. Yo insisto. No necesito el bastón y creo que él le puede dar un mejor uso. Al final no lo toma y yo avanzo, pues tengo hambre y quiero llegar a Melide para comer pulpo. En ese tramo, noto una sensación de bienestar. Reflexiono, como he ido haciendo estos días por el camino, y me doy cuenta de que ofrecer ayuda a los demás sin pedir nada a cambio es uno de los actos de bondad más bonitos.  En el momento que le ofrecí ayuda, no lo hice por la fama, ni por el qué dirán. Simplemente no necesitaba el bastón y él quizás sí. No pedía nada a cambio, ni una cerveza, ni que él hiciera lo mismo por mí. Me prometí hacer actos de bondad por los demás sin pedir nada a cambio, sin esperar que los demás hicieran lo mismo por mí. Espero que el regreso a Barcelona no me intoxique de nuevo. Trabajaré duro para que eso no ocurra.

Some time later I run into Raúl and José Luis, the guys from Orihuela that I met the first night. Raúl has a injured knee and can hardly walk. They walk slowly. Without hesitation I offer him my pilgrim’s stick, since he only carries one hiking stick and I think it can help him. Her face shows a warm smile and he thanks me, but he says he does not need it. I insist. I do not need the stick and I think it can be useful for him. In the end he does not take it and I advance, since I want to get to Melide to eat octopus. On that track I feel happy. I think about it, as I did these days on El Camino, and I realise that offering helping to others without expecting nothing in return is one of the most beautiful acts. In the moment I offered him help, I did not do it for the fame. Neither for what others could say. It was simply that I did not need the stick. I was not expecting anything, not a beer, not that he would do the same for me. I promised to myself to be kind to people, without expecting others to do the same for me. I hope that in my return to Barcelona I am not poisoned again. I will work hard to avoid that from happening.

Antes de llegar a Melide, me encuentro con Jesús y Carmen.  A él lo veo mejor que el día anterior. Parece que cambiar de calzado le está sentando bien. Los alcanzo y nos paramos en una pulpería a disfrutar de lo que acaba siendo un par de raciones de pulpo.

Before getting to Melide I run into Jesús and Carmen. He is in a better shape than the previous day. It seems that changing footwear is making him feel better. I reach them and we stop in a “pulpería” to enjoy some octopus but we end up ordering a couple of portions.

En esa ciudad hay más peregrinos. Se nota que es un lugar donde se unen El Camino francés y El Camino del norte. Retomo la marcha y dejo a Carmen y a Jesús atrás. Bromeo diciéndole a Carmen que me atrapará cuando no me dé cuenta. Más adelante, paro a tomar una cerveza en un albergue alemán, donde les cuento mi vida y mis aventuras por Düsseldorf a la camarera, salgo y más adelante en el camino, me encuentro con José y con Vanessa, que están tomando algo en un bar y allí está Carmen hablando con ellos. Al parecer, estuve lo suficiente en el albergue alemán para que me alcanzara. Los saludo y me encuentro con Silvia, una chica muy simpática de Madrid que tiene la rodilla fastidiada.

In that city I can see there are more pilgrims. One can see that that is a place where El Camino francés and El Camino del Norte joins paths. I start walking again and leave Carmen and Jesús behind me. I joke telling Carmen that she will catch up to me when I am not aware. Ahead I stop for a beer in a German hostel, where I explain all my life and adventures in Düsseldorf to the waitress. When I finish I get out and continue my walk and I run into José and Vanessa, who are drinking something in a bar. They are chatting with Carmen. Apparently, I stopped for a longer time than the expected in the hostel and that allowed her to pass me. I greet them and some time later I run into Silvia, a very nice girl from Madrid who has also an injured knee.

Me pongo a su altura y, para variar, le cuento mi vida y por qué estoy realizando el Camino. Ella me escucha atentamente y me comenta que no hace el Camino por una razón aparente, pero que le encanta el reto de llegar hasta Santiago de Compostela. Una vez más recuerdo que las cosas debemos hacerlas porque nos hacen felices, no porque hay que hacerlas. Por suerte, estoy disfrutando un montón de El Camino.

I walk with her and as usual I explain all my life to her and why I am doing El Camion. She listens attentively and she tells me that she is not doing El Camino for an apparent reason, but she loves the fact she will get to Santiago de Compostela by foot. One more time, I remember that we have to do things because they make us happy, not because we have to do them. Luckily, I am enjoying a lot El Camino.

Todo iba bien hasta que al cabo de un rato empiezo a notar un dolor en la pierna izquierda, justo donde comienza el pie. Me duele más y más y me cuesta apoyar el pie. Por suerte, Silvia es osteópata y me da algunas recomendaciones. Aprovecho el bastón de peregrino que me compré en Sarria para poder llegar bien a Arzúa. Al llegar al pueblo, voy al albergue y descanso un rato. Al enfriarse el pie, el dolor se incrementa y cojeo al andar.

Some time later I feel some pain in my left leg, just at the beginning of the foot. It hurts more and more and I have difficulties to walk. Luckily, Silvia is osteopath and gives me recommendations. I use the pilgrim’s stick that I bought in Sarria to get to Arzúa. When I arrive at the town, I go the hostel and I rest for a while. When the foot cools down, the pain increases and I limp.

Por la tarde, hacia las siete, tomamos algo en una plaza Silvia, Carmen, Jesús, Charo y María. Descubrimos que Carmen y Silvia serán compañeras de habitación en un albergue por casualidad. Nos reímos y charlamos de temas en general.

In the afternoon, I have a drink in a plaza with Silvia, Carmen, Jesús, Charo and María. We find out that Carmen and Silvia will be roommates in a hostel by coincidence. We laugh and we chat about different topics in general.

De pronto, me detengo a observar la relación que tienen Charo y María. Tienen un vínculo muy fuerte. Me dan envidia sana y añoro lo que tienen. Son muy diferentes, pero encajan. Se leen la mente mutuamente. Quiero tener una amistad así como la suya con alguien. Luego me pongo a pensar y caigo en la realidad de que no me valoro lo suficiente, que tengo amistades así en Barcelona, pero que mi falta de autoestima no me permite verlo. Y caigo en la revelación de que pese a no ser perfecto, tengo gente que me quiere pero que si no me quiero yo, siempre voy a creer que estoy solo en este mundo. Recapacito y pienso en mi ruptura, el daño que causé por creer así. Luego pienso en todas las amistades que dejaré atrás en Barcelona cuando llegue el momento y sé, que cada uno, en mayor o menor grado me echarán de menos, que también tengo amigos y amigas que me quieren y a los que yo quiero. Parece un pensamiento infantil, pero en el Camino he visto mucha gente cargando con mochilas. Sé que no es el único que sufre este dolor. Decido aprender a quererme y a aceptar que también tengo amistades tan fuertes como las de Charo y María.

All of a sudden, I stop and observe the relationship that Charo and Maria have. There is a strong bond between the two of them. I envy them in a healthy way and miss what they have. They are very different, but they are a perfect match. They read each other’s mind. I wish I had a friendship like they have with somebody, but I think about it and I realise that I do not love myself enough, that I have friends like this in Barcelona, but my lack of self-esteem blinds me. Then I have the revelation that despite not being perfect, there are people who love me but that if I do not love myself, I will always believe that I am alone in this world. I reconsider and think about my breakup, the pain I caused for thinking like that. After that I think of all the friends I will leave behind when the time comes, that everyone will miss me in some degree. I have friends and family that love me and I love them. It looks like a childish thought, but on El Camino I saw many people carrying backpacks. I know that I am not the only one who is in pain. I decide I have to learn how to love myself and accept that  I have friendships as María and Charo have.

Luego noto de nuevo el dolor en el pie, pero no digo nada. Escucho a Jesús quejarse de sus ampollas y dolor en la rodilla. Luego hablan de Merche y lo que tarda en hacer sus etapas. Reconozco que siento en mi interior arrogancia y superior por unos instantes, pues solo tengo una pequeña lesión comparado con lo que ellos sufren. Pero los demás admiran sobre todo a Merche, por como se esfuerza en superar las etapas pese a sus dificultades. Miro a Jesús, que viene desde Ponferrada con los pies hechos polvos y piensa llegar a Finisterre y a Xumía después de Santiago. Entonces me avergüenzo de mí mismo y valoro que soy muy afortunado, que he tenido unos días bastante cómodos y que el reto no me supone tanto como yo esperaba, no porque sea superior, sino todo lo contrario. Hay gente en peores condiciones que las mías que han sido más valientes y han roto sus propios límites.

Afterwards I feel again the pain in my foot but I do not say anything. I listen to Jesús complain about his blisters and the pain in his knee. They talk about Merche and how it takes her to finish each stage. I acknowledge that I feel arrogance and superiority for a while, since I only have a minor injury compared to what they suffer. But they admire Merche, because of her effort to finish eavery stage despite her difficulties. I look at Jesús, who started in Ponferrada with ruined feet and he is willing to get to Finisterre and Xumía after Santiago. I feel ashamed about myself and I acknowledge that I am very fortunate, that I had very comfortable days and that the challenge is not as hard as I had expected, not because I am superior, but because of the contrary. There are people in worse conditions than mine who have been braver and broke their own limits.

Entonces, me doy cuenta de que la lesión en el pie en verdad es una limitación, que mañana y pasado deberé caminar con ese dolor. Enseguida me doy cuenta del mensaje que me aporta y entiendo que no siempre voy a tener suerte. Que muchas veces, además de mi mochila, pasaré por etapas en las que no esté plenamente preparado o en condiciones y no me quedará otra que armarme de valor y seguir hacia delante. En el caso de los peregrinos, son comunes los dolores en los tobillos, rodillas, falta de condición física, pero muchos son valientes y caminan. Otros están preparados de verdad y no son capaces de salir ni de su casa. Ese día tomo a Jesús y a Merche como maestros y tomo ejemplo de ellos.

Then I realise that the injury I have in my foot is a limitation, that tomorrow and the next day I will have to walk with that pain. Immediately I get the message and I understand that I am not always going to be lucky. That many times, despite my backup, I will have to get through stages in which I will not be fully prepared or in good conditions, and I will have no more options than to be brave and keep walking. In the case of the pilgrims, pain in the ankles, knees, lack of good physical preparations are common cases, but many are brave and keep walking. Others are really good prepared and are not capable of getting out of home. That day I consider Jesús and Merche as masters and take example of them.

Tras una lluvia torrencial, después de cenar con Jesús, me voy al albergue a dormir. El día siguiente  me espera la penúltima etapa.

After a downpour, after having dinner with Jesús, I go back to the hostel to sleep. The penultimate stage awaits me.

Camino de Santiago – Portomarín a Palas de Rey

Estimados lectores:

Hoy es mi cumpleaños. Es el ecuador de El Camino de Santiago y no encuentro una mejor manera de celebrarlo que agarrar mi mochila y emprender el Camino. Me espera una dura cuesta al principio, pero la superaré.

Dear readers,

Today is my birthday. I am halfway to get to the cathedral and I cannot find a better way to celebrate it rather than to grab my backpack and start walking. A long and hard hill is awaiting me in the beginning, but I will succeed.

Es un día frío, pero no me importa. Me encanta el frío. Parece que vaya a llover. Hoy debo ir deprisa, pues debo llegar a tiempo a Palas de Rey para poder encontrar un lugar donde dormir.

It is a cold day, but I do not mind. I love the cold. It seems it is going to rain. Today I must rush, since I have to get in time to Palas de Rey to find some shelter.

Avanzo en mi camino y cuando paro a desayunar, un montón de peregrinos me adelantan en el camino. Me recuerda a la fábula de la liebre y la tortuga, pero me levanto y acelero. No quiero dormir en la calle.

I keep walking and when I stop for breakfast, a lot of pilgrims pass me. It reminds me of the tale of the hare and the turtle, but I get up and accelerate. I do not want to spend the night outdoors.

En el camino me encuentro con Ramón, un señor que tiene 61 años al que conocí en Triacastela y que dice que hará el Camino por última vez en su vida. Hago una parte del camino con él y charlamos sobre diferentes temas. Me limito a escucharlo. En un momento me llama mi abuela para felicitarme y le confieso que es mi cumpleaños. Me felicita y me comenta que su hija cumple años también ese mismo día. Una vez más, se cumple una de esas “casualidades” que me llevan ocurriendo estos días.

On they way I run into Ramón, a man who is 61 years old who I met in Triacastela and says that this is the last time he will be a pilgrim. I walk with him a part of the way and we chat about different topics. I listen to him. All of a sudden, but grandmother calls to congratulate me and I reveal him that it is my birthday. He congratulates me and says that it is also the birthday of her daughter. One more time, something by “coincidence” happens to me.

Más adelante, nos encontramos con un grupo de chicas y caminamos a la misma altura. Como suele ocurrir, entablamos conversación con ellas. Tres son de Madrid y una de Jerez. Congenio con ellas. En un momento del camino, Ramón nos abandona y continúo con ellas. Disfruto del momento. Me caen muy bien, pero al llegar a Palas del Rey debemos separarnos. Me intercambio el número con una de ellas y voy a buscar un albergue desesperado. Por suerte, encuentro uno, pago y me acomodo. Dejo mis cosas y salgo a tomar algo. Al salir, me encuentro, bueno, más bien me encuentran, Charo y María, quienes me felicitan. Se van a su albergue y hablamos de vernos después.

Ahead of the way, we run into a group of girls and we walk along each other. As it usually happens, we start a conversation. Three of them come from Madrid and one from Jerez. I get along with them. In a moment of the way, Ramón leaves us and I continue with them. I enjoy the moment. They are very nice, but when we get to Palas de Rey we must split. I give my number to one of them and I go find a hostel desperately. Luckily, I find one, I pay and accommodate. I leave my stuff and go drink something. At the exit, I run into Charo and María, who congratulate for my birthday. They go to their hostel and talk about meeting later.

Camino y dos calles más abajo me encuentro con Carmen tomando una copa de vino blanco. También me felicita. Es muy agradable y me siento con ella un rato. La acompaño a su albergue. Más tarde, se unen Charo y María y nos vamos a comer a un restaurante donde el camarero no es muy simpático. En una hora se nos une Jesús. Cuando acabamos, nos vamos a tomar un café y acabamos en una terraza desahogándonos. Merche aparece casi a las 8 después de acabar la etapa. Cenamos algo y nos vamos a dormir. El día siguiente será duro hasta Arzúa.

I walk and two streets down I run into Carmen drink a cup of white wine. She also congratulates me. She is very nice and I sit with her for a while. I go with her to her hostel. Later, Charo and María join us and we go have lunch to a restaurant where the waiter is not very nice. Jesús joins us an hour later. When we finish, we go to have some coffee and we end up in a terrace talking about our problems. Merche turns up at around 8 p.m. after finishing the stage. We eat something and go to sleep. The next day will be hard to get to Arzúa.

Ese día tuve quizás la revelación más importante de todas: todos llevamos una mochila que cargar, pero además, aquellos más sabios saben desprenderse de todo aquello que les sobra. La mayoría llegaremos al final de El Camino, pero unos más doloridos que otros. Decido que debo aprender a desapegarme de aquellas cosas que me suponen una carga en mi vida. 

Por mucho que duela desprenderse de ello.

That day I had maybe the most important revelation of all: we all have a heavy weight to carry on our shoulders. What is more, however, those who are wise enough know they need to get rid of all those things that are unnecessary. Most of us will get to the end of El Camino, but some in more pain than others. I decide that I need to learn how and when I must disregard those things that might become a weight in my life. 

No matter how much it hurts.







Camino de Santiago – Sarria a Portomarín

Estimados lectores:

Cada día estoy más convencido de que haber venido a hacer el Camino es la decisión correcta. La mejor que he hecho hasta ahora. Este es el tercer día y, las anécdotas que me han ocurrido me dan mucho para pensar.

Dear readers,

Everyday I am more convinced that coming here is the best decision I have ever made. This is the third day and the stories I have to tell gave me a lot to think about.

Salgo del albergue, cruzo el puente y me dirijo al casco antiguo de la ciudad siguiendo las señales. Paro en una tienda y compro un bastón de peregrino. Me han dicho que estas etapas son muy suaves en comparación a las que vienen. Pero no me asusta. Sé que lo lograré.

I leave the hostel behind, I cross the bridge and head downtown following the signs. I stop by in a shop and buy a pilgrim’s stick. They told me these last stages have been soft compared to the ones that are coming. But I am not afraid because I know I will succeed.

En el camino comienzan a sucederse una serie de acontecimientos en cadena que me enseñan que lo que sucede en este mundo no es casualidad. Todo comienza cuando de lejos veo a dos chicas y sé que tengo que entablar conversación con ellas. ¿Por qué? No lo sabía. Mi instinto me dice que lo haga y lo escucho.

Along the way, some events start to happen in chain and I learn that everything that happens in this world is not random. Everything starts when I see two girls from far and my guts tell me I have to talk to them. Why? I don’t know but I know I have to.

Una se llama Elena, como mi hermana, y la otra Elvira. Ambas de Huelva. Charlamos y me caen bien. En un momento del camino nos separamos, pero más adelante me las vuelvo a encontrar. Elvira habla más, pero conecto más con Elena. Es veterinaria y charlamos sobre animales durante horas. Elvira entabla conversación con Jesús, un chico que empezo en Ponferrada. Cuando queda poco para llegar a nuestro destino, ellas se separan.

Their names are Elena, like my sister, and Elvira. The two of them are from Huelva. We chat and I find them nice. In a part of the way we split but we see each other again ahead of the way. Elvira is more talkative, but I connect more with Elena. She is a vet and we talk about animals for hours. Elvira engages Jesús, a guy who started in Ponferrada. When we are about to reach our destination, Elvira and Elena leave us.

Voy con Jesús y hablo con él. Es de Barcelona y trabaja en Capellades. Y aquí ocurre la magia del camino. Me cuenta que es dentista y que trata a gente de Vilafranca del Penedès. Le digo que tengo una amiga que trabaja en la televisión local que hace diez años que no veo y descubrimos que es paciente de él.

I go with Jesús and talk to him. He’s from Barcelona and works in Capellades. And here is when the magic happens. He tells me he is a dentist and that he has patients in Vilafranca del Penedès. I tell him that I have an old friend that works in the local TV, and we find out that she is her patient.

Ambos nos quedamos sorprendidos. Entre los centenares de caminantes, el destino ha querido que nos conociéramos. ¿Por qué? Ya lo descubriré. No quiero pensar. Solo vivir el momento.

We are both surprised. Among all walkers, fate made us meet. Why? I’ll find out. I don’t want to think. Just to enjoy the present moment.

Llegamos a Puertomarín y Jesús va a su albergue y yo al mío. Bajo a la plaza y veo a Jesús con un grupo de gente. Me da vergüenza, pero me invitan a sentarme con ellos y eso hago. Conozco un montón de gente. Me lo paso muy bien y no paro de reír, pero es tarde y voy al albergue a lavar ropa. Mientras se seca, bajo a la piscina un rato. Se apunta gente, pero a las siete y media me voy otra vez al albergue a cambiarme. Allí hablo con el dueño sobre la naturaleza y me aconseja cultivar mis propios alimentos para preservar la calidad.

We reach Puertomarín and Jesús goes to his hostel and I go to mine. I go to the plaza and spot Jesús with a bunch of people. I am shy but they invite me to sit with them and so I do. I meet a lot of new people. I have a great time and can’t stop laughing. But it is late and go to the hostel to wash my clothes. While it is getting dried, I go to the swimming pool for a while. Some people join me, but at 7 p.m. I go to the hostel to change my clothes. There I talk to the owner about nature and he advices me to crop my own food to preserve quality.

Bajo a cenar y tras una serie de acontecimientos, acabamos siete personas para cenar: Charo, María, José, Vanessa, Carmen, Jesús y yo. Tenemos un momento genial y nos reímos mucho, sin ruido, sin nadie que nos moleste. En ese momento me doy cuenta de algo y tengo una nueva revelación: debo dejar que las cosas fluyan. 

I leave the hostel to have dinner and after a series of events, we end up seven people to have dinner together: Charo, María, José, Vanessa, Carmen, Jesús and me. We have a great moment together. We can’t stop laughing, there is no noise around us. In that moment I realise that I have to let things flow.

Soy una persona obsesionada con el control. Ese día dejé que las cosas fluyesen a su manera y he tenido un día estupendo con gente a la que apenas conozco. No sé qué tipo de relación tendré en el futuro con ellos, pero esa hora fue genial. Aprendí a que no debo ser tan controlador.

I am a person obsessed with control. That day I let things flow their way and I had a great day with people I hardly know. I do not know what kind of relationship I will have with them in the future, but that time was great. I learned that I do not have to be so obsessed with control.

Vuelvo al hostal. Pese a que no tengo albergue para el día siguiente, no me preocupa. Sé que encontraré lugar en un albergue público.

I go back to the hostel. Despite the fact that I do not have a room for the next day, I am not worried about it. I know I will find some shelter.

Espero que os haya gustado.

I hope you liked it.