Monthly Archives: July 2016

Camino Primitivo – in the rhythm


40 kilometres of love to Santiago

I involuntarily started my walk in the early hours of the morning from Melide after a group of young men began packing their back packs at 4 am in the morning, waking everyone in the Albergue in the process.

‘Learn to be tolerant. Don’t go into anger,’ I had to tell myself repeatedly. And I couldn’t be angry because they kept smiling and wishing me Buen Camino!

In Melide the coastal and primitive  routes merge into the Camino Frances – the main route from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago.

In the mid 1980s only about a dozen pilgrims walked the Camino Frances annually. Last year the figure was about 150,000 and the figures are still rising. The Camino is meanwhile an economic factor in Spain with countless bars, cafes and albergues on the main route.

After spending the past 11 days sometimes walking the Camino Primitivo for hours in solitude, the Camino Frances is a bit of a shock. 

So today was a real lesson in staying in my own walking rhythm, in my own alignment despite the crowds racing to get to Santiago.

Thoughts during the day:

  • How often are we pulled off our path by others?
  • How often do we just follow the crowd without deeper thought?
  • Sometimes taking a deliberate step backward or to change the pace is the answer.

I had a nice chat to a young girl who is walking the Camino the first time with her grandmother. She was not feeling well. The Camino has been working on her throwing up many questions about life. It won’t be her last Camino. She is already making plans about walking again after finishing school next year.

I’ve lost most of the really nice people I bonded with on the Camino Primitivo. But we’ve been exchanging messages. We will all meet again at the Cathedral in Santiago tomorrow at 1 pm!

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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Camino Primitivo – walk into the unknown

An unidentified Peregrino left a message on one of the marker stones between Ponte Ferreira and Melide. 

‘Every day is a walk into the unknown.’

True, you never know what might come around the next corner.

Especially here in the northwest of Spain the weather can change by the hour from clear blue sky to drenching rainfall.

Although the route is well-marked losing ones way in some unknown territory is common. 

You have good days where you feel like skimming the surface of clouds and bad days where you feel every muscle in your body aching and every stone hurting your feet. 

Lessons from the Camino are lessons about life about dealing on a day to day basis with the ups-and-downs, yet staying in the moment in the full realisation: 

‘That this too shall pass’

Tolerating onself during long walks in solitude with different emotions coming and going is a good way of really getting to know in what state of mind you are in. 

All the great masters of the mystic tradition of Judaism, the Kabbala, therefore sent their students on long journeys as part of their training. 

Interacting with different cultures in an unknown enviroment, the walk into unmarked territory, opens the mind to self discovery and new experience.

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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Camino Primitivo – empty space

During the past two days I’ve walked 62 kilometres and I’m feeling my body going into rebellion with all sorts of aches and pains.

Entrance to cathedral in Lugo

When I walked my first Camino in 20o6 I had some hard lessons to learn. By the time I was reaching Santiago my back pack was falling apart from the weight of all the unnecessary clutter I was carrying with me. Now I’m down to a back pack with just 6.5 kilogrammes including just the basic toiletry items, lightweight sleeping bag, rain gear, extra pair of underwear, socks – thats it.  It makes walking so much easier.

It is surprising how little we really need. A lot of our precious lifetime is spent in preoccupation with stuff and clutter that blocks and hinders us from opening inner and outer space for new ideas, projects and creativity. Freeing ourselves from the clutter or ‘old energy’ not only helps to focus on that which is really important but on a physical level can give us room to breathe again.

We had a lovely evening in Lugo, eating the local delicacy pulpo or octopus. Lugo has an intact Roman city wall that dates back to the third century and many beautiful old buidings including a magnificent cathedral. Some of the Peregrinos I’ve been walking with include a really nice Spanish couple Eduardo and Monica from Tenerife, Sandra from Valencia, Patricia from Germany and a group of Italians. Monica, a mother of three daughters, miraculously survived the 2004 Madrid terror attack. 

Some of the stories you hear on the Camino would fill a book. Sadly language is often a barrier. I would love to hear why the Czech guy Frans is doing the Camino. I passed him again this morning, struggling along only 100 kilometres from Santiago. His hands are full of blisters from holding onto those walking sticks. Offers of help are politely and  steadfastly refused. 

Today I had to ask for help. Preoccupied, I missed a yellow marker, finding myself in the village if Vigo that was definitely not on the Camino. A grinning and toothless farmer and a kind granny helped me find my way again.

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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Camino Primitivo – Land of the Celts

Galicia is the land of the Celts. Many traditions like the bagpipe, called the gaita, date back to pre-Roman times. 

According to legend the Celts already walked the Camino as a processional route while following the milky way.

Walking on this ancient path and seeing these old homes with stone and slate one does lose the sense of time and space. Parts of the forest trail are pure solitude.

The jolt into reality when coming into the Spanish towns is all the more real. Spain is a noisy country and you don’t find a cafe, bar or Albergue without a blaring TV.  Last night the news had just come in about the brutal murder of a French priest by IS terrorists. 

He must have been as innocent and warm-hearted as the Spanish priest of about the same age who blessed us pilgrims in the little church in Fonsagrada. Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepard) seemed particularly poignant in that moment.

Inevitably some of the pilgrims were asking: ‘Well how safe are we on the Camino?’ and for that matter in public places. 

There is no alternative. We cannot let our lives be dictated by these evil and deranged people. Send out light and goodness. Let us stay in trust that humanity will prevail over fear and darkness.

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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Camino Primitivo – hero of the day

Leaving Grandas de Saline this morning for Fonsegrada  – a good 25 km hike – our group of pilgrims spotted a familiar face. It was Frans from the Czech Republic, cheerful as ever and still going his pace. 

He arrived at the Albergue the previous night at 9 pm as most of the other pilgrims were getting ready for bed. For the past two days we had been wondering about him. The guy is amazing, limping, red-faced, his back hurting. If he has made it so far I’m sure he will manage the remaining 160 km to Santiago. Its amazing what will power and a positive mindset can do. I call him the hero of the day.


Frans – our hero of the day

Compared to the previous stages, the route to Fonsegrada is a relatively easy walk, taking us from the province of Asturias to Galicia. In Asturias the Camino scallop shell, that serves as the route marker along with the yellow arrow has the longest line of the shell pointing to Santiago with all the other lines symbolising the different routes on the St. James Way. In Galicia the shell points in the other direction which is sometimes confusing.


The scallop shell in Asturias

For the past few days I’ve been walking with Patricia from Germany. She has walked the Camino three times and she is an excellent help as she speaks fluent Spanish. Every morning at the start of our walk and climbing another steep hill I hear her mumbling: ‘This is my last Camino!’ Well I’ve taken a bet with her that she will be walking again.

 The Camino is challenging physically and mentally but it gives so much on so many levels.
Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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Camino Primitivo – soul purpose

It was another foggy morning starting out from Berducedo this morning. Walking to the next village of La Mesa the clouds opened up to sunlight spotlighting the chapel of Buspol – another magical Camino experience.

The Camino Primitivo has many more pilgrims on the path than I had thought. At the strong recommendation of a Spanish couple we have had to reserve beds in the towns ahead. It goes against the Camino spirit but like on the main Camino Frances more and more people are walking the path. From the conversations I’ve had with some, especially younger Peregrinos, there is a search for meaning in a world that is becoming increasingly complex with difficulty to find orientation in an age of information overload. 

There is a deep yearning for soul purpose and many people – and not only on the Camino – are expressing unhappiness with ‘treadmill jobs’ that provide no room for self-development. 

We met a guy in Borres, who looks like Balu the Bear, who has been on the road through Spain with his dog for more than two years. He is one of those people who have obviously decided to extract themselves from the obligations of a normal life. 

Some people certainly are able to walk things off on the Camino for others the problems lie deeper. One guy, who reminds me of the Hobbit in The Lord of The Rings, is very talkative – but only to himself. 

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author


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Camino Primitivo – Faith and Fear

One of the many lessons on the Camino is  dealing with life’s ups-and-downs. After a bad night in the fly infested village of Borres, today was one of the most physically challenging sections I have walked on the Camino.

 It is called the Hospital Route because the ruins of the hospitals run by nuns for pilgrims in the Middle Ages can be found in several places at an altitude of 700-1200 metres. The modern day Camino is a walk in the park compared to what the pilgrims accomplished centuries ago who were on the road for months many not surviving. 

For the past few days I have bonded with an interesting group of pilgrims from Italy, France, Spain, Denmark and a teacher-radio journalist from Germany.  Poor Frans from the Czech Republic is having a really hard time not understanding any of the languages spoken here. I saw him the first time a couple of days ago having a really hard time getting up a hill – one of those Peregrinos who are really suffering physically. But I’ve never heard him complain always smiling and greeting us with a cheery Buen Camino! A Hospitaliero (inn keeper) wrote in his Credential (camino passport)

 ‘Have Faith in the Path and you will forget your Fears’

The other interesting Peregrino we met yesterday was Guillermo, who is on the Camino with his donkey Marcel and his dog Willy. They are a real attraction with Marcel greeting every horse on the paddock with a ear-piercing ‘eeh ahhhh!’

Reino Gevers – coach, trainer, author

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