Follow The Journey

Abadiania – September 25

It's Sunday. Some of the pousada residents are up early to watch the sunrise. I was awake before 5.00am. I heard them leave. Not for me. Maybe another day. Breakfast was at 7.00am. It lasted until until 8.30am. I headed to the Casa for my first meditation session. I settled on a bench seat in the garden. I was comforted by a light, cool breeze while meditating under the shade of a tree. It took an hour long meditation to dissolve the last of the dead cancer cells that had lifted from my prostate. A singing group was meeting in the assembly hall. I recognized most of the songs. I'd been part of this group on a previous visit.

I returned to the pousada. The day had begun to heat up. A young man had set up
a display of hand made jewelry on a footpath corner. I don't understand why he has chosen a Sunday when there are the least number of people around than any other day of the week. I saw him in the same spot last week.

I returned to the Casa hall for another hour of meditation. I started visualising on a
lymphoma tumour in my stomach. I dissolved most of it by the hour's end. There's plenty of time this afternoon to return to it. I'm excited by the visualisations I started yesterday.

In the garden of the Casa is a bronze bust of Dom Inacio. It's been rubbed a shiny
golden colour by the many thousands of pairs of hands that have touched it. I've seen people embracing it. It's nearly midday. Time for lunch.

On the way back to the pousada, about a 500 metre walk, I'm the only one on the street. I see a lone car heading towards me. It turns off into a side street. The pousadas along the main street look deserted. Two elderly women sit in the shade outside one of them. The older of the two is knitting. There's one shop open. It's beyond where I have to turn. There are a few clothes displayed out front. The cafes, restaurants and other businesses are all closed. A couple of dogs roam the streets.
Abadiania is almost a still life painting at this time if the day.

After lunch I had my vitamin D time in the sun. Following a refreshing shower I'm still perspiring. I put on the ceiling fan to cool down. It's not working. The elements are in control this afternoon. I headed back to the Casa shortly before two o'clock. The number of people on the street has increased. Ten's not many. About the same number are sheltering from the heat of the day under the awnings of buildings. The man was still on the corner with his jewelry. He'd taken refuge from the sun in the shade of a wall while platting a necklace.

It took little time in meditation to kill off the last of the lymphoma tumour and dissolve the dead cancer cells. I then scanned my body for rogue cancer cells. They appeared as red dots. I killed them off. I moved through my entire body repeating this process. At the end if the meditation I stretched out on a bench seat in the hall and went to sleep for a little over an hour. It was a deep and peaceful sleep. I finished my day at the Casa with a fourth hour of meditation.

There was no sun to be seen in the sky when I went for my walk around 5.30pm.
After dinner I sat around chatting beyond eight o'clock. By then it had started to rain: first it was a few drops , but then it picked up a littlt bu hardly enough to wet the road. It's the first rain of the soon to arrive wet season. This was my Sunday in Abadiania.

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Abadiania – September 24

I decided I should keep up the intensity of my meditations. The difference between Casa and non-Casa days is that on those days when Medium Joao is not present I can spread out my meditations throughout the day. Today I managed four hours, one hour at a time.

There were lots of goodbyes today: most of the UK group have now left. There were just four of us at dinner tonight, although there are still quite a number of Norwegians, most of whom will leave over the next couple of days.

I did my four meditation sessions at the Casa where the energy is the strongest.
While in current the focus of my meditations is towards assisting whatever line is passing through. Of course, healing for me in the current, like for everyone else, is available by just being there and doing the work required. It's a place where the entities work on you while you do work for them: giving and receiving.

Today's meditations gave me the opportunity to put a visualisation in place. I use visualisations all the time, but not this particular one. (For anyone not familiar with
visualisations, it's creating a picture in your mind and holding that picture. The picture will have some positive purpose to it.). In the second hour I began to visualise Divine energy coming into my heart and which I redirected onto the surface of my prostate with the intention of that energy killing the cancer. I could see the surface of the prostate turn a red/black colour similar to a dehydrated sun dried tomato or red chilli.

I continued this vsualisation during the third hour by which time the red/black colour began to move off the surface of the prostate like a crust or scab to reveal part of a very healthy looking prostate. I saw the red/black crust as a collection of dead cancer cells that had all been drawn from within the prostate itself.

In the fourth hour this crust completely disengaged from the prostate gland and
settled to one side of it revealing the surface of a very new, healthy looking prostate. I could palpitate its surface. It felt soft to touch. When a prostate is filled with cancer it's surface becomes hardened and difficult to palpitate. I then set about dissolving the dead cancer cells so that they could be eliminated from my body. I had almost done that by the time my meditation finished and I got ready to go for my afternoon walk. While I was doing the dissolving I also directed healing energy into the prostate.

This was a very powerful experience I had this afternoon, especially as I watched while the blackened dead cancer cells detached from the surface of the prostate, and I was then able to dissolve most of those dead cells. I'm lookimg forward to getting back to meditation tomorrow to do some more work on my prostate, and perhaps begin to do something for my lymphoma.

Abadiania is very quiet tonight. Because Medium Joao will be away all next week most people have left or will do so in the next couple of days. Meditations at the Casa are very quiet experiences unlike Casa days when things can get a little chaotic.
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Abadiania – September 21-23

21.09.2011

At current this morning the last of the lines was for those people attending the Casa for the first time. The woman leading the dialogue asked us to remember the love we felt the first time we walked through the door to make our way towards Medium Joao. When she spoke these words I could feel the feelig I had back in December 2009. Tears welled in my eyes as I recalled that memory. The session went for three and quarter hours. As always, I enjoyed the Casa soup afterwards.

After lunch I had my vitamin D time lying on a deck chair in the pousada garden. It
was then back for the afternoon session of current which lasted three hours. Following my 45 minute walk it was time for dinner. These Casa days just seem to disappear.

22.09.2011

The two sessions of current today went for three and a half hours and three hours. I did my usual vitamin D exposure and afternoon walk.

A number of the members of the UK group I have befriended had surgeries these past two days. A consequence of surgery is to keep yourself isolated for 24 hours. Someone will take meals to your room. The idea is to have minimal contact with others. So the numbers around at meal times has been less. I haven't had any surgery this trip but had it twice back in December 2009.

23.09.2011

I did more than 7 hours of meditation today: three and a half hours hours in the morning and three hours forty in the afternoon. I find the afternoon current a little tougher than the morning session where I will have done at least three hours, even
though there is a couple of hours break in between. On my walk this evening I caught the sunset. It wasn't particularly spectacular, but I photographed it anyway.

There's a lot to be learned in current: patience, endurance, discipline, awareness, focus, and being in the moment. Patience is learned by being able to stay with the task until the end. Endurance comes about in fighting aching muscles, joints and limbs. Discipline is being able to keep your eyes closed for the whole of the time. Awareness is learned by being conscious of the distractions which can be considerable with lines being called, speeches being made from the stage, and people walking to
and fro through the current room, but not allowing yourself to dwell on those distractions. Focus is always to be directed to the task at hand which involves raising the energy in the room and from time to time directing that energy in a special way towards particular lines. Finally, it's important to experience all of the time spent in current from one moment to the next. There is only one moment that is important that is the present moment. So you see there is a lot happening even though the observer might just see a person sitting still. De autorin https://ghostwritinghilfe.com ghostwriter kosten dominikg stellt sich vor es klingt wie eine floskel, aber es ist wahr ich liebe das schreiben

Abadiania – September 17 – 20

17.09.2011

Today felt like a Saturday: the relaxed feeling you get after a full week. I changed pousadas which meant walking 150 metres down the street with suitcase in tow. Pousada Luz Divina has changed little since I was last here in January 2010. The dining area has been expanded. It's all under roof but it feels like it is outside the main building to which it's attached.

I had a 70 minute massage at 9.15am. Again, I floated out of the room and made my way to the Casa to do an hours meditation after stopping off at the pousada along the way.

The largest group at the pousada are Norwegians. I had lunch with John, one of the Norwegians. We discussed my healing regime and hypethermia. He was very interested for his sister's sake. She is still going through the full 'medical catastrophe' for breast cancer: mastectomy, lymph mode removal and massive doses of chemotherapy. Not surprisingly, the cancer has not been arrested.

Statistics indicate that the curative rate for breast cancer using chemotherapy is
between 2 & 3%. At best this therapy is palliative: it will just slow the progress of the disease. If you went to the races and a trainer (read trainer as specialist doctor who is in the know) said a particular horse had a 2-3% chance of winning you would not back it. Why do people keep backing chemotherapy with the same sort of odds?

Perhaps they are not told the odds. If they were surely they would ask, “What other choices do I have?” I suspect that a lot of western trained medical practitioners are ill-equipped to answer this question.

I feel blessed that I have never been afraid to try something different: not afraid to reject medical orthodoxy for both my cancers. I've never had a sick day from any of my therapies. I don't know anyone who has taken a conventional approach who can make this claim.

I did just two hours of meditation today, but I did have an afternoon walk.

18.09.2011

It's taken me a few days to get around to these notes. Any difficulty in recall is assisted by repitition. I did three hours of meditation today, the last hour starting at 7.30pm outside and to the side of the main hall of the Casa's assembly hall where I sat in a cool evening breeze. Each day I go into the sun to get my vitamin D. Meal times at the pousada are 7.00am, midday and 6.00pm.

19.09.2011

My first activity of the day was to attend the waterfall with a group who come from the UK. I now eat all my meals with them. The waterfall is about a 20 minute walk from the pousada. It's a place of healing and cleansing. It is now the dry season. There was no where near the amount of water coming over the rocks as was the case when I was last here during the wet season, and it was much colder to stand under than previously. In fact, it was quite breath taking: literally. A couple of minutes was sufficient. It's a place where men and women can walk to near the waterfall together, but attend the fall separately.

I managed three hours of meditation today, a half hour of which was at the waterfall. This afternoon I had a pedicure and a manicure: showing a little love towards myself.

20.09.2011

I'm reading a collection if writings by Christopher Hitchens: 'Arguably'. It was a light
on meditation day: just two and a quarter hours. I got my usual dose of Vitamin D in the sun while in the garden if the pousada, and I gave myself a little more love by having another 70 minute massage.

I'm enjoying meal times much more now that there is conversation – a definite change from my previous pousada where I read at meal times.
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Abadiania – September 16

There are two observations, which anyone who cared to look, can be made about the Casa: the first relates to the people who come here, and the second about those who don’t, and why they don’t. The Casa describes itself as non-denominational: everyone and anyone is welcome. But those who make the journey to Abadiania are not a cross-section of ‘everyone and anyone’. Perhaps it’s no more than a case of ‘horses for courses’.

Except for Brazilians, the majority of people who attend the Casa are white Europeans. In this group I include North Americans, Australians and New New Zealanders. Broadly speaking this group comes from a Christian background. The
people you don’t see around the Casa are from Africa (except, perhaps white South Africans), the Middle East, India or Asia (although I have seen a few Japenese). Again, broadly speaking these groupings come from a non-Christian backgrounds.

Add to this past lives and reincarnation, a fundamental belief of Spiratism upon which the Casa is based, and it becomes a little clearer why people from these latter areas just don’t come. While some religious traditions accept reincarnation into forms other than a human form, they are unlike Spiritism where in order to evolve, reincarnation must take a human form. Reincarnation per se is not accepted by some religious traditions. For example, the Catholic Church would have it that you have one life at
the end of which you either make it to heaven or you fail: there is no second or
subsequent chance to get things ‘right’.

Further, a participant at the Casa accepts that the healing which takes place here is the work of thousands upon thousands of ascended spirits, some of whom are known by name (eg., Dom Inacio and Drs. Agusto de Almeida, Jose Valdivino and Oswaldo Cruz) who work through a medium (Jao de Deus), but most of whom remain unnamed and who support the work of the doctors. Many find this idea simply too difficult to accept, whatever their background.

Spiritual beings such as God, Jesus Christ, Mother Mary are regularly mentioned at the Casa. The names you don’t hear are those of the spiritual leaders of major traditions like Islam (Prophet Mohamed), Hinduism (gods like Shiva, Krishna or Rama)
or Buddhism (Buddha). The ‘Our Father’ and the ‘Hail Mary’, both Christian prayers, are recited each day both before and after each healing session. The Casa definately resonates with to a ‘christian’ message. It seems obvious to me why some won’t make the journey to Abadiania for healing.

My day:

I had another two long sessions in current today: the morning session went for 3 hours 15 and the afternoon session for 4 hours 15. I was amazed at the conclusion of the afternoon session after opening my eyes and being told by the woman who had been seated next to me that it was ten to six. I had my regular ‘afternoon’ walk but got back to my pousada in the dark.

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Abadiania – September 14 & 15

14.09.2011

I had a teary time in current this morning. There is an Irish woman who leads the dialogue: sometimes it was her words and sometimes my own thoughts, but all the time I felt them to be joyous tears. I simply love the meditations in this area. I feel like I can give so much to those passing in one of the lines, but I also receive so much by being there.

The morning session started for me at 7.30am and finished at 11.50am during which time my body complained a little but any discomfort cannot outweigh the benefits I
feel I receive. During current I kept thinking 'I just want to be a good person'. I can't articulate what 'good' means, but I feel I know it's meaning. I don't know how this will play out in the months and years ahead but I am confident the criminal law will not be the medium in which it occurs.

This afternoon was a marathon: I settled into my meditation in current at 1.35pm snd opened my eyes at 5.50pm. Needless to say by the time this session finished, despite all the exercises I did during it, my left foot was quite swollen from all that sitting. I walked out of the Casa into darkness, but still managed to take my walk. I
know my way up the mountain path by now.

Dialogue does make the meditation sessions easier. There was little of that this afternoon. When you've sat through a few current sessions you get to know the different lines: spiritual operation line; second time line; first time line; and revision line. As the day drew on I could hear someone in the main hall talking for what seemed like a very ling time. At the end of the talk there was another line that passed through current. This was quite an unusual order. After the session I found out it was Medium Joao (John of God), who had incorporated Dr Agusto de Almedia,
was doing the talking. After the talk he did three physical operations onstage. This was filmed. We are asked to keep our focus. Having a little information helps me do that. Having no information can be a distraction. It was for me this afternoon.

15.09.2011

The Irish woman was back again for this morning's session which was a little over three hours. It's obvious how many people love her dialogue by the number who go up to her after a session and say so. The day commenced with Medium Joao on
stage telling stories, after which he again incorporated Dr Agusto de Almeida who did some physical operations on stage. This was filmed by a Brasilian TV crew who also did some filming in the grounds and around the soup line and tables. I was later told that a famous female Brasilian TV presenter was there to do a story on Joao and work at the Casa. There is certainly a place for this type of scrutiny of what happens at the Casa.

Mateus picked me up from the pousada at 12.30pm to take me to Anapolis for the ultrasound. On the way he telephoned the radiology centre to be told that I needed an appointment. Earlier I had been told I had to wait in a queue. Fortunately they had one at 3.00pm. We arrived in Anapolis at 1.00pm with two hours to spare.

Mateus took me to a bank so I could get out some money. There is no ATM's in Abadiania and there don't look to be many in Anapolis. We went to a cafe for a drink and at the radiology centre he acted as my interpreter. Where else do you get a taxi service like this?

I eventually started the US at 3.45pm and was out seven minute later. The US machine operator told me I did not have a thrombosis. The report and pictures won't be available until Monday afternoon. Mateus will pick them up when in Anapolis. On the way back we called into the pharmacy so I could cancel my order of injections only to find they had not been ordered because the pharmacy owner made a mistake in price: instead of being $30 an injection they are $60. I still needed to get another four for air travel I'll do between now and my return to Australia. At these prices
forget about getting a thrombosis in Brasil.

On the way to Anapolis I spoke with Mateus about the potentially disastrous effect Joao's death would have on Abadiiania. He said they were all worried last week when Joao spent time in hospital. Apparently about 50% of businesses in Abadiana would go broke if he was to die. Mateus isn't waiting: this year he started a five year, part time law degree at the Anapolis University. He's married with two teenage boys. I congratulated him. It can't be easy starting lectures at 7.00pm at the end of a work day five days a week. The report also claims that apple has increased production of iphone 5s orders http://topspyingapps.com/ by 75%

Abadiania – September 12-13

12.09.2011

Today I did four, one hour meditation sessions and a half hour between 8pm and 9pm. I enjoy these hour long sessions: some appear to pass quite quickly while others less so, but they don't 'drag on' as has been my experience in the past. I think if you have in the back of your mind at the commencement of a meditation that you have something else to do it's going to be a source of constant distraction. Here in Abadiania I have no such distractions: when I am doing a meditation that is all there is to do.

There is another energy process available at the Casa: the crystal bed/bath. A woman I know in Australia has one which I used before my first trip to Abadiania in 2009. It is a series of seven colored lights which shine through crystals. The colours are those of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Each crystal/light combination is mounted on an arm. When you lie on the bed each combination is position above the seven main chakras: crown, third eye, throat (communication), heart, solar plexus, reproductive and base. Each session lasts twenty minutes and costs R20 ($12). I had plenty of them in my two previous visits.
It's not difficult to drift off while under the lights/crystals. I'm yet to have one on this visit, but that will happen.

I enquired this evening why my room had not been cleaned since my arrival. I was told, for the first time, “We clean the rooms three times week but you have to leave your key at the front desk”. Information: the lifeblood of communication.

13.09.2011

You can definately feel the village come alive on Tuesdays. There are more people on the streets; buses arrive with those seeking healing; taxis deliver their passengers to the pousadas from the airport at Brasilia; and there are those who have been here for a week or longer. They all have one thing in common: they are looking forward to Wednesday at the Casa, some with apprehension because it will be their first time, and others with relish because they've already experienced its healing and wonder.

The vegetable cutting was so crowded with volunteers by the time I arrived I was told I was not needed. So I headed to the main hall to do the first of three one hour meditations for the day.

I am enjoying my afternoon walk. I've picked out some hills where I can get my heart rate up to around 160 bpm for about 20 minutes. Gee the countryside is dry. In the late afternoon clouds formed over most of the sky but they never looked like
they'd deliver any rain.

I had a unique experience this afternoon- unique for my time in Brasil, that is. It's one of those things you don't want to have to confront when overseas, especially in a small place like Abadiania. I'm talking about getting medical attention. I probably
picked up a DVT on the flight over. This is something I'd be onto immediately if I was at home seeing my doctor, having an ultrasound, and getting onto the drug warfarin. I've had experience of this condition after a previous overseas trip. They can be fatal, to put a not too fine a point on it.

So who do you go to? A taxi driver of course. Mateus has a taxi business. I have used him on all my visits here getting to and from Brasilia airport. He speaks English. I thought I'd have to go to Anapolis, a big city to the south-west of here. I got a taxi with a driver who spoke a little English but who was to call Mateus if any translations were needed for me.

When we arrived at the clinic the doctor was sitting around looking very relaxed, unlike doctors in the conveyor-line image of some Sydney surgeries. He spoke some English but it took a little time to get him to understand I needed an ultrasound, and a re-supply of the injections I take for air travel, and which I can use if I actually do have a DVT. While he saw a mother and baby I got driven to a local pharmacy where I was able to order my injections: no script needed. In Australia these same injections cost a little less than $6.00 for a box of ten (PBS subsidised). Here each injection is going to cost $30.00. Back to the doctor where I paid my R50 (no receipt) and got a referral to a clinic in Anapolis for an ultrasound, which are only performed on Tuesdays and Thursdays. No need to take a detailed history. All that was necessary was my name and whether I'd previousy had a DVT. I've got a taxi ordered for after lunch on Thursday to take me to the Anapolis clinic where you can't make an appointment: I line up and wait my turn while my taxi driver waits for me.

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Abadiania – September 9, 10 & 11

Friday – 09.09.2011

Only one word can describe today: meditation. John of God returned to the Casa and his return reflected the amount of time we spent in meditation: 3 hours 45 in the morning session and 3 hours 30 in the afternoon. I found the afternoon session, which often don't take more than 2 hours, quite tough. I sat in a different section where there was no dialogue. It is interesting how when one of the brothers or sisters of the Casa, usually a sister, is saying something which has a spiritual basis to it, that time is not an issue. Sometimes I am listenig to what they say and often not. But there was nothing that could distract me from the aching butt and stiffening neck
muscles as time wore on this afternoon. When I finally opened my eyes I was surprised to see it was nearly five o'clock.

When I first came to Abadiania and the Casa I imagined it would be difficult to keep my eyes closed during these long meditation sessions. Surprisingly, I found this not to be so. There are good reasons for keeping the eyes closed: it allows the energy to build and flow. Energy dissipates if eyes are being opened and closed, opened and closed.

Once you commit to sitting in current, you really shouldn't leave unless there is some convincing reason for doing so. If you need water, (I don't because I always take a bottle in with me) or need to go to the toilet you simply hold up an arm and someone will come to you to find out what you want: if it's water they will bring it to you, and if it's the toilet they will guide you there with eyes closed until you exit the meditation area.

Saturday – 10.09.2011

I did just three one hour meditation sessions today. I'm trying to control the swelling
in my left foot which I've had since I arrived in Abadiania. I now wear my compression stockings (knee high) while meditating, and do leg exercises sporadically. This, together wth my afternoon walk, seems to be working, but not as quickly as I had hoped.

This morning I had the most fantastic 70 minute, whole body massage. I didn't walk, I floated onto the street afterwards.

I'm becoming bored with the pousada food, except breakfast which I feast on. So I'm eating less for lunch and dinner. This has coincided with a lack of desire to eat the volumes of food I was consumig while on my walk when think my metabolism got into top gear very early on and stayed ther for four months. Since I stopped walking its gradually slipped back a gear or two.

Saturday night in Abadiania: nothing to report.

Sunday – 11.09.2011

Another three, one hour meditation sessions today.

I thought I had finally cracked the erratic sleep pattern. Last night I had my first decent night's sleep since arriving in Abadiania. This afternoon I went to the assembly hall of the Casa where there are padded bench seats, stretched out on one, and slept for two hours. There's a wonderful energy about this place. I had no
difficulty entering a beautifully deep sleep on a narrow bench. This did not seem to assist my night's sleep, not being able to drift off until around 1.00am. I used the time to get the blog more up to date.

Abadiania is shut down on Sundays. There is definitely nothing to report from the streets.

I picked up a copy of 'The Slap' before leaving Sydney. I'm thoroughly enjoying it. It's my mealtime reading here in Abadiania. On the plane from Sydney to Sao Paulo I read 'Harry Curry. Counsel of Choice', a first novel by my friend and former legal colleague, Stuart Littlemore. It was a good read.
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Abadiania – September 8

After a very difficult night trying to sleep I eventually found some peace in the early hours of the morning only to not wake until 8.15am. The day at the Casa commences at 8.00am. I threw on my whites and made haste to find that ‘current’, which opens its doors at 7.30am, not surprisingly was full. I felt disappointed. I settled in the main hall and meditated until 11.00am. Meditating in this area is something of a challenge because of the constant movement of people, and because of talks and instructions being given to those gathered, especially those in the queue.

Today was the second day that John of God was not present. He was in hospital under care for high blood pressure, however, those in the queue still made the walk
past the area where he would have sat in the knowledge that the entities would still do the work they needed to have done. I’m sure many of them would have felt great disappointment, especially if it was their only day at the Casa. Many travel from parts outside Abadiania to the Casa by tourist coach. It’s nothing to see four or five coaches parked nearby to the Casa each day.

John of God will not be in Abadiania for my last two weeks here. He is doing some work in the USA. I’ve noticed posters around the place that speak of a recent visit to Vienna and an upcoming one in Germany. I was disappointed to learn he would not be here becaue there will be no Wednesday to Friday sessions where I could sit in
current. I spoke in yesterday’s blog about the amazingly powerful healing I feel when in that place. But I was in current for this afternoon’s two hour session.

It’s always wise when in an unfamiliar place to check on prices before engaging a service. Today I sent three pages to the clinic in Germany. It wasn’t absolutely necessary but I thought I would give them some recent test results in advance of my arrival. It cost me R45, the equivalent of $9.00/page.

I am becoming bored with the pousada food, however breakfast, a meal I always enjoy, is still o’kay. Another predictable dinner. I found my way to Fruiti’s, a popular cafe/restaurant, by 7.45pm drinking jasmine tea and ‘cookies’. (It’s the same in Australia, but why do other countries adopt these North American expressions? For my part it’s still a biscuit and always will be.)

Most, if not all countries have their child entrepreneurs. Sometimes it’s out of necessity, but not tonight where a boy of about 7 years was selling his colourful drawings of butterflies to anyone in the cafe who cared to buy one. The price was R1. A woman next to me bought one. The boy looked quite chuffed, especially when he was asked to sighn it.

The main street is still full of Casa people, a lot of whom are still in their whites. The main street is used as a footpath. Drivers don’t seem to care. Some people stop by
the cafe. Others chat with friends and newly found acquaintances in the middle of the street. A Military Police vehicle with it’s lights lazily flashing, drifts by. It’s the only sign of authority in the village. I get the impression that this is a very law abiding place. There is no alcohol sold near to where most of the pousadas are located. You have to go down to near Highway 60 if that’s what you want. It was still a balmy night around 9.00pm as I headed back to the Casa and bed. In spite of her very public and inexorable decline, winehouse did wrie my paper effectively set off an era of soul-revival that would basically pave the way for the success of figures like duffy, sharon jones, and of course, the mighty adele

The Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola – Abadiania – Brasil

The Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola (the House of Saint Ingatius of Loyola) was located in Abadiania because of the crystal deposits found in the local area. It is the spiritual home to the worlda��s best known medium, Joao Teixeira de Faria, otherwise known as Joao de Deus, or John of God.

Spiritism, practiced widely in Brasil, has as a fundamental belief that spirits exist both before and after they have an incarnate existence. The Casa is based on this belief. There are many a�?casasa�� in Brasil but none is as well known as the Casa de Dom Inacio and no medium is as well known as John of God. (For more understanding of Spiritism see the written works of Alan Kardec).

John of God is a full trance medium, and as such, while healing work is being carried out consciousness is set aside and an evolved spirit uses his body as a vehicle to perform the healing. He says that after a session where he has incorporated an evolved spirit he has no conscious memory of the healing work he has performed. Some of the evolved spirits that are incorporated include St. Ignatius of Loyola, King Solomon, St. Francis Xavier, and Drs. Agusto de Almeida, Jose Valdivino and Oswaldo Cruz.

Faith is imperative for someone attending the Casa for healing. St. Ignatius of Loyola said, a�?For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who disbelieve, no amount of proof is sufficienta�?. Two types of surgeries are performed: physical and spiritual. Physical surgeries are carried out without the use of conventional instruments, anesthesia, or sterile surroundings. Spiritual surgeries are performed without any physical contact with the person being operated upon. Healing also takes place without the need for surgeries.

John of God has been doing his healing work since age 16, and that is now some 55
years. For anyone interested in learning more about what happens at the Casa, a 2010 DVD documentary called a�?Healinga��, directed by David Unterberg (more famous for his films about extreme sports) is available. This documentary also looks at the life of St. Ignatius, a nobleman, warlord and healer, whose name has been adopted by the Casa.

So this is the place where I will spend four weeks. I am here for the healing that is available in the extremely powerful group meditation sessions, and otherwise.

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Abadiania – September 7

I said in my previous blog that I was here in Abadiania at the Casa de Dom Inacio for the profound healing that comes from joining with a large number of people meditating in the one space.

Imagine entering a T-shaped room at the base of the vertical leg of the T; there is an aisle alongside a wall immediately to your right; on your left are rows of bench seats filled by about 70 people, all seated, all with their eyes closed, all meditating, and all dessed in white clothing. Imagine walking about fifteen paces before arriving at the horizontal section of the T where to your right are more bench seats with a central aisle where there are another 40-50 people meditating. You turn to your left down
the central aisle on either side of which are further 60-70 people meditating. At the end of the central aisle is a cleared area around the edges of which are another dozen people meditating and at the end of which facing you is a large chair occupied by the full trance medium John of God. This is the short path walked by those who are seeking healing by one of the entities or ascended masters, who for a few hours each morning and afternoon on Wednesday’s, Thursdays, and Fridays use the physical body of John of God as a vehicle to do the healing.

Prior to walking this path the person who cannot speak Portuguese will have attended a translator and had their request put into writing in that language. When they stand before the medium they will hand their written request to a translator who will read it out discretely to the medium. Within seconds a decision will be made and conveyed to the person who will be directed to another area to either wait for the work that needs to be done to be done, or be directed elsewhere.

The part I want to describe in a little more detail is the first area to the left of the aisle where the seventy or so people are all meditating. It is called ‘current’. There is an obvious analogy with electrical energy, measured in amps, which is also described as current. But there is more to this room.

The idea of having so many people in the one space all meditating with joy in their hearts and an altruistic disposition is to raise the energy level or vibration of that space. The energy within the space heals those who are meditating. It also acts as a cleanser of the energy fields of those who have joined the queue to go before the
medium. People come from the streets with all manner of eneregetic refuse attached to them as a result of being in the places they have been, the people with whom they’ve had contact, the behavior in which they’ve engaged, or the thoughts they’ve had. The idea is to run this energetic vacuum cleaner over them before they meet the medium.

The healing benefit for the meditators is profound. Why is this so? Assume one of these sessions lasts for three hours. Assume an individual goes off by themself and does three hours of meditation alone. That person gets the benefit of what those three hours can give. But when you combine the three hours done by one person with that done by seventy other people the result is an exponential growth in energy and healing.

Sporting life is full of examples to demonstrate this point. Imagine a sports stadium that can hold 70,000 spectators but on the day of the game everyone stays at home and cheers for their team in front of the TV. The impact on the performance of the opposing teams would be non-existent. Now take those 70,000 people and put them in the stadium where they cheer for their respective team. The whole dynamic of
that stadium will be altered as will the impact on the respective teams. How many times have you heard a commentator describe the atmosphere in a stadium, even before the commencement of a game, as ‘electric’? How many times have you heard the same commentators describe home crowds as being a ‘distinct advantage’ to the
home team’s chances of winning?

Today I sat in current. The morning session went for three and a half hours and the afternoon session one and a half hours. I didn’t just get the benefits of five hours of meditation. I can’t imagine how many hours I would have had to have done to
receive the same benefit I got in those five hours. I am now much clearer about this potential for healing than I was on my visits here in 2009 snd 2010. I believe that if I sat in current long enough I could heal my cancers. ihre Erklarung ghostwriter gesucht

Abadiania – September 6

Predictably, I had vey little sleep last night because of jet-lag. My experience when I recently returned from four months in Europe to Sydney for three weeks was that it took me well over a week to get my sleep back into an acceptable pattern. I’m expecting it to be longer this time because the time zones are further apart. I’ll probably just have it back to normal when I travel to Germany and another time zone.

Tuesday morning at the Casa is vegetable cutting-up time. Each person who attends the Casa on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday gets a bowl of vegetable and pasta soup. The soup is made fresh on the mornings of each of these days, but the
vegetable preparation is done each Tuesday when volunteers attend to help in this task. Fortunately, in one way, technology has arrived in the form of a machine, donated by someone in Switzerland, that does the cutting up of the vegetables into tiny pieces. I didn’t get there until 9.45am by which time all the peeling had been done, but there was still plenty of cutting up remaining. Sadly, technology has reduced the need for as many people. On my previous visits there could be as many as twenty people participating in the processes and this made for a wonderful way to meet others as you sat around doing your thing on a giant basket of chokos.

In the grounds of the Casa there are a meditation deck and lots of bench seats for meditation. After the vegetable cutting I chose the deck which overlooks a valley and hills that are looking quite dry. The daily temperature is around 30 degrees, and I’m told it hasn’t rained for months. In the afternoon I did two further meditations, one in the garden and the other in the main assembly hall where the seats are much more comfortable.

My main purpose in being here is for the healing I will get from the meditations. This healing will be more profound on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays when I will be able to join with a large number of others all meditating in the one space. I look forward to tomorrow.

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The Road to Abadiania – September 5

It’s been more than eight years since my first cancer diagniosis and more than four years since the second. The journey to find a solution to these problems has occupied all that time: I’ve walked long distances, given up my career, experimented with unusul ‘therapies’, become a more spiritual person, complety re-structured my way of life, and always maintained a belief in myself, and a belief that everything I did was integral to finding that solution. Traveling the road to Abadiania is another part of my journey.

I’ll say something in my next blog about the healing that happens here in Abadiania, but for the moment let me share some of my experiences in getting here. This is not my first visit: I was here for two weeks in December 2009, and again for another
week in early January 2010, this latter occasion with my two sons. For the boys, Abadiania must have been quite incongrous after we all had spent a week in Rio de Janiero celebrating the New Year at Copacabana Beach.

Abadiania is about an hour and a half drive by car south of Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, located in Goias Province in the centre of the country. It’s easy enough to get
to for us Sydneysiders with a direct flight to Buenos Aires, and then onto Sao Paulo and Brasilia. On the flight to Buenos Aires I had three seats to myself: this has never happened to me before. One of the first things I noticed was the age of the cabin crew who all looked older than fifty. However, they managed vegetarian meals for me although they were not ordered in advance. The female staff member who did this was the one who didn’t blink an eye as I was about to step into a rear toilet after the fasten seat belts sign had been illuminated for take-off when I showed her a packeted syringe while telling her I had to inject myself to guard against a deep vein thrombosis. They’ve heard and seen it all before.

It’s an odd experience changing time zones by 13 hours: I left Sydney in morning daylight, flew into darkness before it was due, and then flew back into daylight again – all in the space of about 10 hours of flying. It was announced that we were going
to be an hour and a half late getting onto Buenos Aires because of a change of flight path to avoid a volcano. But the change of course gave us a spectacularly clear view of the Andes with it’s snow-capped peaks and occasional flat stretches that looked like a brilliantly white sheet had been thrown over the landscape. The further east we traveled the mountains gave way to a vast, flat, brown plateau etched with long,
narrow, intersecting roads that appeared as if someone had taken a pencil in a lighter colour and drawn them in.

There was a lesson to be learned in Sao Paulo. After I arrived I had just 50 minutes
to clear immigration, customs, and re-check in my luggage on a domestic flight to Brasilia. There had to be a hundred passengers in front of me at immigration and with only about half a dozen staff checking documents this process was going to take some time. I looked around for someone who appeared like they could make a decision to allow me to jump the queue but didn’t see anyone capable of making a decision of that type. After spending about twenty minutes in the queue I resigned myself to the fact I would miss my flight. It was a good lesson in acceptance: I had no power to alter my circumstances. It would be a waste of energy thinking about what might have been.

I was concerned to call the driver I had arranged to pick me up at Brasilia airport. If I didn’t get to him before 7.00pm he would likely have left his base in Abadiania and a futile trip was going to cost me an additional $120.00. it’s marvelous how quickly we can learn. It was just before 7.00pm when I cleared customs, but I managed to find out where to buy a phone card, buy one, make a call and put my driver on hold
until I’d got a new flight. I eventually arrived in Abadiania at midnight, exhausted after 25 hours in the air, standing in queues, and hanging around airports. As the
Europeans kept saying to me while I was walking the Camino, “Australia is such a long way away”.

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Remembering Naomi Kleinman

On Wednesday, August 17, 2011, I lost my dear friend Naomi, to cancer.

I first met Naomi when I was giving talk in Sydney to a group of cancer affected people who were learning about The Gawler Foundation’s approach to healing. She was the one who asked questions. I remember clearly the beret slanted across her head disguising the ravages of chemotherapy. She was diminutive in stature, but not by any measure diminutive in spirit, strength of will, intellect, and a desire to live a long life.

We were both members of Canhelp, our Sydney based cancer support group. This is where we cemented our friendship. It’s hard to articulate how it happened, but we just hit it off, sharing lunches together, exchanging information about diet, herbs, healing and cancer, or simply talking on the telephone.

Naomi had a fierce desire to defeat her cancer. This was reflected in her dedication to her dietary principles, her meditations, and her research into what she could do next to improve her chances of living that long life. Sometimes I would listen in awe as she explained some aspect of her approach to healing which took considerable
discipline to maintain. Her dedication was inspirational. There have been many an occasion when I was about to eat something that wasn’t beneficial to my own cancer management when an inner voice would caution me, ‘Naomi wouldn’t eat this’.

Cancer is an ever so silent prowler; a thief. It creeps around our bodies looking for a place to hide from where it can rob us of our lives. If it decides to conceal itself in the stomach, as it did with Naomi, it’s life-robbing ability can be particularly difficult to arrest. Even when detected it can still defend itself against every form of treatment, conventional or otherwise. Some of us are diagnosed with more manageable cancers. Naomi got a tough one. I’m convinced that Naomi gave herself more time than she might otherwise have had by integrating her healing into her life spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.

The last time we spoke was in April this year when I telephoned a Canhelp meeting from overseas. On Wednesday I had the privilege of sitting with her and holding her hand after her passing, and to share some of that time with her partner Andrew. Being able to sit with Naomi, hold her, and cry was immensely healing for me. Good on you gal, you’re still doing good. We all benefited from knowing Naomi and having her in our lives. Thank you for having been my friend and sharing a part your life with me.

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Santiago de Compostela to London & A Day in London – August 9-10

August 9: Leaving Santiago de Compostla has left me wondering about my feelings for it. I’ve had a very differnt experience to my previous three. There was none of that excitement of being there and wanting to stay longer. I was more than happy to leave. I suppose my feelings simply reinforce the importance of my journey and not its destination. Every journey has to finish somewhere.

The train trip to A Coruna, all 34 minutes of it, was in one sense a minature cameo of parts of my walk with views, albeit from a speeding train, of forested hills and valleys, farmland, farm animals, and tiny villages in between.

I’d arranged to meet with Fay in London. After taking an hour and a half to clear border control and another two on the underground I didn’t arrive at Paddigton Station, near where her hotel was located in Bayswater, until around 7.30pm. As I was making my way towards Sussex Gardens I saw her walking down the street in my direction. So began what has become for me a quite surreal experience. There is more to this experience that being in one city in one country in the morning and that evening being in another city and country quite different socially, culturally, and politically, but this is part of why I feel like I do.

The riots and looting provide another dimension, although not occurring in Bayswater. They have occupied the TV for the past three days. That night we went for a meal at a Lebanese restaurant on Edgeware Road. On the TV was a continuous coverage of these latest events and on the street there were no less than about twenty police cars and trucks, sirens blazing, heading not far away towards Harrow Road to where there was some disturbance. At least this is what the restaurant owner, who had lived for three years in Hawthorne in Melboure, informed us when we chatted with him after our meal. There is a large Lebanese population in this
area. As you would expect it is reflected in life on the streets, a most obvious example of which was men sitting outside cafes smoking ‘Hubbly Bubbly’ water pipes, an activity that was offered on the restaurant menu.

August 10: Last night I got myself one of those tiny single bed rooms in the same hotel as Fay who left to go on a tour early this morning. There are many of these hotels in the one terrace on Sussex Gardens. I needed to sort out my visa for Brasil, not knowing if my current one was still valid. I stayed up until midnight to call the Brasilian Consulate in Sydney. They don’t give advice over the phone. With a little
more research on the net and a visit to the Brasilian Consulate in London I knew I needed a new visa. I had to decide what would do: wait in London for a new visa to be issued or return home. My trip on the underground to Oxford Circus, near to where the consulate is located, the walk along Oxford Street, and the implications for me of time it was going to take to get a new visa, sealed my decision to return home immediately.

Waiting for a new visa meant another 7-10 days in London. As I walked along Oxford Street which is full if shops selling fashion and jewellery I felt very strange. It was
an experience so totally at odds with my life for the past four months. I just wanted to get off the street. I couldn’t cope with the thought of becoming a tourist for a week or more, not after the most nourishing of experiences I’d had while on the road. This afternoon I bought myself a ticket for a flight tomorrow evening which will have me back in Sydney very early Saturday morning.

I needed to return to Sydney for medical tests preparatory to the hyperthermia treatment in Germany. (They are outrageously expensive to have done in Germany.) I intended to get these done after being in Brasil. It seems that circumstances have
prevailed to provide me with a better option: return home now, have the tests, get a visa for Brasil while home, and travel to Brasil before going to Germany. A month of meditation in Brasil immediately before my treatment in Germany will be an ideal preparation for it. So I’ll be leaving Australia for Brasil around September 3. I love the ability to be able to change plans as spontaneously as I have even though it was the surreal feelings that drove that change.
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3 days in Santiago de Compostela – August 6-8

August 6: I was very tardy getting going this morning. It was an 11.00am start. I walked around the city a little. I had some ‘house keeping’ to attend to like checking out the address of the Brasilian Consulate and getting some more credit on my mobile phone. I caught up with a pilgrim friend while wandering the streets. It’s not hard to do but the expectation of seeing someone you know usually only lasts a couple of days. Within this time those I’ve met on the path will arrive or will have already arrived. Most pilgrims only stay in Santiago about two days.

I went to my favourite menswear store in Santiago and bought a pair of lightweight jeans. (Hands off Vincent!). I was shocked that a 32R was a little loose on me. I
knew I’d lost size, but this was really unexpected.

Fay and I had drinks in the early evening with two pilgrim friends she had walked
with: a Japanese woman who was heading back to Tokyo the next day, and a Spanish woman who lived in Sweden and was going home to Stockholm.

On the way back to the hotel aound 10.30pm pilgrims were still arriving.

August 7: We changed hotels. I’m now in a hotel next door to the one I’ve stayed in
after my last two Caminos.

I got to the cathedral around 10.45am to get a front row seat for the midday pilgrim mass. I wanted to video the incense burner in action, but it was not to be today. It’s not done every day. I didn’t quite make the front row but got close. Mass was presided over by a bishop who was assisted by three priests, and looked over by another 13 priests, some who looked quite young, and others not so young. It seems the Catholic church is still managing to attract numbers of young men to the priesthood, at least in this corner of the world. I’ll go back to the cathedral tomorrow to see if the incense burner is going to be used.

I had lunch with a young Czech woman, Anezka, I met along the way. We didn’t have a lot of contact but enough for her to see me, so she said, as a ‘father figure’. What I find interesting is how others perceive me when all I’m doing is being John Bettens: not trying to create any particular persona.

The lunch proved to be not such a good one. By late afternoon I was feeling off colour. The night brought on vomiting and diahirrea. Food poisoning can be so debilitating. I think it was the tuna on my mixed salad that was off. This sort of illness reminded me of a really bad hangover, and I haven’t had one of them for
more than eight years since I stopped drinking alcohol. While taking a walk in the afternoon I saw a man drinking a beer. I looked at the beer and thought one sip of that and I’d be sick.

This illness made me realise once again how our health is a gift. We should value every second of it while we have it and not do anything to abuse it, as is so common in our communities. I did not have a single sick day for my entire walk. It was one of the great blessings of my journey to be able to complete if sickness free.

August 8: Last night was not a good one. I awoke this mirning still feeling quite unwell. I suspect it might take a couple of days to get back to normal. Despite how I felt I still had things to do. I knew I had to give food a miss until I was feeling really hungry. I soon learned that the Brasilian Consulate did not handle visa enquiries – how odd! You might have inferred that I’m off to Brasil. Correct. I am returning to the Casa de Dom Inacio de Leyola in Abadiania where I was in late 2009 and early 2010. I’ll be there for about a month. More of those wonderfully long meditation sessions and the healing that goes with them. This, and my walk are
preparatory for the hyperthermia treatment for my prostate cancer I intend having in Germany later in the year.

I soon learned that going to Brasil via London is far quicker than leaving from Santiago where you have to go via Madrid and elsewhere. The Madrid route means an overnight stop, whereas you can get a direct flight, or almost direct flight from London and save at least twelve hours of travel time. Also, getting to London via Madrid is nearly three times more expensive than leaving via A Coruna, a large city in the north-west of Spain. So I’m off to London tomorrow on a 3.10pm flight. I’ll get either a bus or train from Santiago to A Coruna. It’s about a 35 minute trip. My
preference is the train. More relaxed. I’m over bitumen roads.

It was a steady as you go day with both activities and food. I felt much better at the end of it, but clearly not back to my usual self.

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Camino statistics- From the mundane to the esoteric – August 6

Here are a few Camino ‘statistics’ I thought I should share with you:

1. I was on the road for 127 days.
2. I walked for 116 days.
3. I had 11 rest days, but only 2 because of injury (blistered toe).
4. I walked non-stop from Toulouse to Santiago de Compostela, some 52 days.
5. The journey was a little more than 2,500km.
6. I walked an average of 22km/day.
7. Until Bilbao (July 5) my backpack weighed about 28kg, after which it was 15kg.
8. I spent 58 nights in hotels/B&B’s/pensions, 33 nights camping (5 in camping
grounds), 29 nights in albergues (1 in France and 28 in Spain), 5 nights with friends,
and 1 night in the home of a stranger.
9. I had one blister for the whole of the journey, and that was on day 3. It took until day 14 for it to completely heal.
10. I never fell once in either Italy or France, but about 4 times in Spain (3 of these times in the space of about 20 minutes).
11. I always used 2 walking poles.
12. I never got sunburnt once.
13. I always wore shorts, long-sleeved shirt, hat and sunscreen daily.
14. I hand washed my walking clothes around 60 times.
15. My ‘going-out’ long trousers only got washed twice in 4 months.
16. I wore 1 pair of boots for the entire journey, the current condition of which could be described as ‘trashed’.
17. I never wore deodorant for 127 days. Body odour is not something regarded with distaste on the Camino. It’s the one thing everyone has in common.
18. I took 750 photographs along the way.
19. I posted a story on my blog for every day of the journey.
20. I lost 7kg of weight in the first 2 weeks.
21. I have lost muscle mass, particularly in my thighs. (Vegetarians don’t have too
much muscle mass to lose. Have you ever seen an overweight vegetarian?)
22. A 32″R waist is now a lose fit.
23. On most walking days in Italy and France I drank around 5 litres of water a day.
24. I ate a salad (lettuce, tomato and cucumber) almost every day.
25. I never met another Australian on the road during my entire journey.

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Arca-O Pino to Santiago de Compostela – August 5

I have arrived. It surprised me how unemotional my arrival was. Previously I've experienced very emotional arrivals: like a homecoming after a very long absence; like a feeling of relief after completing a difficult journey; or like rejoicing after completing a special goal. There was none of that this time. I need more time to consider the meaning of today's arrival. My initial thought is that my journey is incomplete. I have this feeling that there is something more I need to do, but I don't yet know what that something is. Could this walk from Rome to Santiago merely be preparatory for what is still to be done?

The inner journey is never complete. I'm not speaking about that when I say there is
something I'm yet to do. If I looked at my the walk as a discreet occurrence, yes,
it is physically, mentally, perhaps emotionally, and maybe spiritually complete. But we can never look at these events this way. They are always a part of a much bigger picture. Perhaps today's arrival is no more than a reflection of that Camino truism that it is the journey, not the destination which is important.

I feel like I could walk again tomorrow, and continue walking. I know I am capable of it. I wonder what it is going to be like not having to do so. Will I be restless? Will I be satisfied with a life that doesn't offer the possibility of experiencing something
profound each day, as is my experience on the Camino?

Today was dull and overcast, but a good one for walking. I was one of the estimated 600 pilgrims who spent the night at Arca, a large number of whom slept on mattreses in a sports centre. These last two days I've done my strongest walking. I think my body is just recovering from the huge weight I was carrying. I shed the bulk of it (13kg) at Bilbao, another 2.5kg when my water bladder developed a permanent leak, and a further 2.5kg when I eased up on the amount of food I was carrying. After my arrival I went to the post office and collected the 13kg of gear I'd sent from Bilbao
and put it in my backpack. When I put on my backpack the difference was profound. I just can't now believe how I carried it for some 1,800km. The answer obviously is that the mind and the body were willing.

I had another of those exchanges which acknowledged the magnitude of my walk, but this one had a surprise at the end. I was sitting on a fence at Monte do Gozo, 5km from Santiago, resting and eating when two men walked up. One spoke to me in Spanish. I told him I did not speak Spanish. He then said in English, “Where did you take your first step?”. I thought this odd, so random. I knew what he was asking so I replied, “Roma”. Both said things to indicate that it was a long way. One asked how far. I told him. As they walked off the one who didn't ask me the first question said to me, “You're from Australia?”. It was more a statement than a question. I confirmed I was from Australia. This last statement was a surprise to me. They must have been told by another pilgrim about me and asked their first question about where I took my first step to inform themselves that they were talking to the right person. Word of mouth is quite pervasive on the Camino.

I've had my credential stamped and received my certificate. I showed the staff at the pilgrim's office a summary of my blog to demonstrate I had walked from Rome. They were quite amazed I had an 'electronic credential'. One got my website address. I know we do't need pieces of paper to prove what we have done, but I'm old fashioned, I like them.

I met up with Fay who has been walking the Camino Frances. We'll spend a few days in Santiago before she flys to the UK to do a tour. One of the things I look forward to here is bumping into pilgrims I've met along the way while in Spain. There is a very powerful energy in the old section of this city, particularly in the vicinity of the
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Arzua to Arca- O Pino – August 4

When everyone in my room was up and moving around at 5.00am there was nothing I could do but join them. On the way into Arca I spoke with a pilgrim who confirmed that it has been like this for as long as she has been the path: pilgrims are up early and race to the next albergue to ensure a bed. Walking a Camino should not involve a ‘bed race’, but during the summer months it obviously does. My advice to anyone wanting to walk the Camino Frances is to do it between April and June. It’s spring time, the mountains are full of beautiful wild flowers, and getting a bed in an albergue is a matter of course.

When I walked out of the albegue at Arzua with a big breakfast on board it was
6.40am, and still dark. I have enough trouble seeing the way markers during the
daylight hours. To take the challenge out of it I just followed other pilgrims, and there were plenty of them with flashlights and headlamps. I had a slight fear that in the dark I might roll an ankle on a loose rock, but that never happened. My eyes were firmly on the ground immediately in front of me. By 7.00am the flashlight crew had turned out their lights.

My assessment of the pilgrims who have walked the Camino Frances is that they are a jaded lot. It must be those early morning gallops that are taking their toll. Try as
I might I found it difficult to get an enthusiastic response to my ‘Buen Camino’. Most could barely reply.

I was at the albergue at Arca at 10.30am. It didn’t open until 1.00pm. I occupied myself by eating and writing. One of a group of four Spaniards who I have been talking with the last few days approached me at the albergue and said he’d heard I’d walked from Rome. When I confirmed what he’d heard he asked if the group could have their photograph taken with me. It’s happened before. I don’t take it too seriously, and of course I agreed today. They joked about me being their hero. I was surprised to learn that they only had 6 days of holidays and were fitting in as much of the Camino del Norte as they could in that time.

I couldn’t avoid the wall of pilgrims today. At any given point I could see up to a dozen or so ahead of me, or as was more likely, passing me. I had to put aside the need to feel I was the only pilgrim on the road.

I had a hair cut in Arzua yesterday at a barber shop. Now this is significant. I thought about now long it had been since one of them had cut my hair and came up with 1972. I still remember my first cut (and blow dry) at a male/female salon. I can visualise the layout of the salon which I think was owned by Lloyd Lomas. I
thought my masculinity would be under threat on that first occasion, but as in life, reality can very often be quite different to our pre-conceived views.

When I registered for the albergue this afternoon one of the two women doing the registrations asked me if I was traveling ‘solo’. I said I was. I saw one say something to the other, but I took little notice. When I got to the top of the stairs I was making my way to one of the two big dormitories with which I was already familiar when one of the women who had done the registrations motioned me to another room. To my surprise it had just two beds. I had it to myself until another
solo pilgrim arrived around 6.00pm. It has a bathroom opposite which is not used by other pilgrims to shower. I’m treating it as my own although anyone can have access to it.

There’s a real festive mood in the albergue tonight. The jaded ones have come to life with less than 20km to walk tomorrow.

The curtain is closing.
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Sobrado to Arzua – August 3

I arrived in Arzua shortly before 1.30pm to join a queue of pilgrims waiting outside the municipal albergue which didn’t open until 1.30pm. The queue was moving so slowly after about twenty minutes I threw on the backpack and walked a hundred metres down the street to Albergue da Fonte, a small private albergue which has excellent facilities for just a��10 per night. I figured I could be unpacked, showered, and have eaten before I was allocated a bed at the other place.

Arzua I wall to wall with pilgrims. It’s here that the Camino del Norte, the one I’ve been walking, meets the Camino Frances, the one I’ve walked three times before. There must be at least ten albergues in this town and all are full. Some pilgrims have moved on and others have had to find alternative accommodation. You can tell you are getting close to Santiago because this town has its souvenir shops. Why you’d buy a souvenir here and then have to carry it to Santiago beats me. If you want a souvenir Santiago is the Mecca.

Last night I briefly caught up with a pilgrim I haven’t seen since Deba, and that was day three. It fascinates me that we are all walking the same path and yet we can go a whole month without seeing someone. Today we caught up again at a bar near my albergue and chatted for about an hour.

The first hour and a half of today’s walk was on beautifully quiet forest tracks and country lanes that passed through the occasional village, but from then on it was bitumen roads or footpaths beside them all the way to Arzua.

Don’t look back. I’ve made a point on this and previous Caminos to not look back on the road I’ve just walked. Sometimes I do when I want to take a photograph or when retracing my steps to check a way marker. Looking back is where I’ve been. After it’s walked it’s part of my history. What’s ahead is important, but what is most
important is the here and the now. Everything we experience is at this point, not behind us and not ahead of us.

I’ve set myself a mental strengthening exercise this Camino. When I become aware of a pilgrim behind me I never look back to see who it is. My first sight of them is if and when they overtake me. By looking back about all we do is satisfy our curiosity.
The urge to take a look can be a powerful one, but so far I’ve managed to resist. It toughens the will power.

Early on in today’s walk I thought about some of the more emotional moments of this Camino. It didn’t take much to bring tears to my eyes. I wondered what my reaction will be when I finally reach the cathedral in Santiago. After all, it’s my arrival at the cathedral which will mean the end of this Camino. Entering the outskirts of Santiago and moving into it’s historical district is merely preparatory for that final moment when I know this journey will be complete.
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Miraz to Sobrado – August 2

We had a very ominous sky until around 9.30am when it began to lighten up. It was one of those try as hard as you like, nothing happens days. The sun never made it out, and it tried to rain but couldn’t. I’m glad it wasn’t hot. My drinking water bladder has finally given up on me. The first one I had lasted four weeks and this one, its replacement, about six. I’ve been patching it to try to stem the leak but today it defied all my attempts. It’s been put in the complaints box until I get back to Sydney. I’ve had to resort to a plastic bottle in my pocket.

Early on on today’s walk I had a group of two in front of me and two groups of four behind me. From the closest group of four all I could hear was chatter. The talk was
incessant. I wondered if these pilgrims ever take time out for reflection, for thinking, or for contemplation. I call them the ‘Walk & Talk’ pilgrims. I find the chatter off-putting. I like to feel like I’m the only pilgrim on the road and cannot feel this way if I can see someone to my front or can hear someone behind me. Today I deliberately pulled over into a bus shelter, took off my backpack, and waited for the two groups of four to pass by and go out of sight. I was then on my way feeling at ease once again.

I had a terrific breakfast this morning. The hospitalero had set the tables with plates, cutlery, mugs and napkins. This is definitely not the sort if service I have become accustomed to on the Camino. They had a real toaster, a rare thing in Italy, France and Spain, and plenty of thickly cut crusty bread. I delighted in eating plenty of it, toasted. I think I’m putting on weight after the initial and quickly lost 7kg in Italy. Albergues like the one at Miraz stand out like beacons along the trail.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I had a ‘Lipton Jiggler’ in the bunk above me. There is a young girl and her older brother walking with their parents. The young girl tossed, turned and rolled around in her bed until midnight. Is this usual? Adults on the walk
take just a few minutes to fall into a deep sleep and then stillness. There was a funny moment, in a horror film kind of way, when the girl’s hand and wrist dropped over the side looking like it was loosely attached to the side of the bunk.

Tonight’s albergue is located in the Monastery of Saint Maria of Sobrado. I imagine this would be a very cold place in the winter. Aged sandstone looks cold. It has another well equipped kitchen and so pasta was again on the menu.

By tomorrow afternoon I will have joined the Camino Frances at Arzua. It will then be just two days to Santiago and journey’s end.
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Baamonde to Miraz – August 1

Since turning towards the south-west at Ribadeo I’ve seen the country getting dryer, even though this area has had a similar amount of rain to that which has fallen along the north coast. The dryness is quite noticeable with grass browning and loose dust, sometimes a couple of centimeters thick, along the track. We’ve had no rain for many days. It’s made walking that much more pleasant. Italy was quite hot in April. In France I experienced many days close to the mid thirties. I’ve had none of that in Spain.

Something else I’ve noticed that logging still seems to be an active industry. It’s not widespread, but it’s there. Eucalypt forests appear to be the main focus. Today I
saw small sections that had recently been logged. I still haven’t found out the use to which they put the eucalypt logs.

Today we had some more quiet paths but we also did a few stretches on bitumen, notably when leaving Baamonde. I haven’t enquired of other pilgrims what they think of walking along the edge of bitumen roads but their reply would probably be something like, “That’s the Camino”. In other words, you accept what is offered, hopefully with grace.

In the late morning I saw an elderly man crossing his yard towards the direction of the path I was walking. I thought he was headed to what appeared to be a water well. In fact, he came to his fence and asked me if I needed water. After I told him I had plenty he enquired where I was from. I told him and he held out his hand which I shook. I’m sure I wasn’t a one-off for the day nor the week. Passing pilgrims must provide him with a ready made source of conversations.

As I walked through the village of Subcampo I heard the sound of some lovely
singing. The songs were being sung in Spanish and sounded like love songs. I rounded a bend and saw that it was coming from what turned out to be the workshop of an artisan whose craft was to fashion from sandstone a variety of objects that contained some reference to the Camino, such as a cross or a scallop shell. The sandstone looked more dense than any I’ve seen in Australia. Some of the man’s creations had been cemented into the wall of his property that faced the street. I looked at his display which was a front room of his house but wasn’t tempted to buy. I was told by another pilgrim that the singer was Argentinian. Coming across this craftsman in some tiny village is one of the fascinating occurrences of the Camino.

Miraz is just 16km from last night’s stop. There is a bar, but no shop. The albergue, which has only been opened for a couple of weeks, is terrific. Great facilities, especially the kitchen. It’s run by the Confraternity of St James which has volunteer hospitaleros staff their albergues. At this one they provide tea, coffee and biscuits, as well as breakfast between 6.30am and 7.30am. The albergue has three hospitaleros, a man and woman from the UK and a man from Germany. They do a training course before taking up a post which lasts a little less than three weeks at each albergue.

The albergue was full by 3.30pm but they managed to fit another half dozen pilgrims on mattresses on the dining room floor. Of course, these pilgrims can’t get their beds until after everyone has had dinner and the tables moved. Because there is no shop in the village the albergue has its own which is really a bookshelf filled with tinned and bottled food. Their prices suggest they’re not trying to make a profit.

I took advantage of the cooking facilities and made spaghetti with a tomato and onion sauce which I was able to share with two other pilgrims. It’s so pleasurable to
be able to share food which is so essential to our needs. I think it enriches the human condition, even if only temporarily.

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Vilalba to Baamonde – July 31

Albergues are strange places when you take a close look at them. Over a number of hours commencing in the early afternoon a mob of itinerants move in. The albergue becomes a community home where its occupants are required to live on harmony for about sixteen hours, half of which is spent sleeping. They eat in the same dining area. They use the same toilets and showers. They do their handwashisng and share the same clothes lines and fences for drying. They sleep in the same rooms. By nine o’clock the following day they’ve all moved out. That same day along comes another mob who do exactly the same things as the mob did the previous day, and the previous day to that, and the previous day to that. But if the albergues did not exist the Camino would not be what it is today.

After clearing Vilalba (Centro), about 2km from the albergue, the walk took on much the same character as yesterday, but it didn’t have the same feel about it. Isn’t this one of the intriguing aspects of life: apparent similarities can in reality be quite different. Identical twins are the perfect example: while their appearances are the same that may be where the similarities end. Today’s walk was like that.

I saw two notable things today. Both were notable because of how oddly they stood out in the places they occurred. The first was a man carving a human form out of a
dead tree trunk propped up in the yard of his home. The trunk stood more than two metres tall. I could see a head and shoulders carved into the trunk half way up the side that faced the street. The man was working with a wooden mallet and chissel at the rear of his piece when I stopped to photograph him. There was another partly completed tree trunk sculpture elsewhere in the yard, but nothing else to suggest that this was a place of artistic expression.

The second notable event was a young man hooning around his village streets in a go-kart. He was driving it hard through corners and ignoring ‘Stop’ signs when he
could. What else are village streets for?

I stopped for a rest and to eat at a bend in the path after about three hours of
walking. A few pilgrims passed by. One was a young man walking by himself. I waved and wished him ‘Buen Camino’ (Good Way). I could tell from his actions he saw me but did not hear what I said. The reason for not hearing soon became obvious as he removed earphones from his ears. I repeated my ‘Buen Camino’. He acknowledged it and walked on. (It’s very common, and probably regarded as rude to not wish a fellow pilgrim a good way as you pass them by or they pass you by.) It
made me wonder what this young man might gain from his Camino if he walks while tuned into the ‘Top 100′. To me it would reduce the expience to just a walk, and you can do a walk anywhere.

This afternoon I went for a walk to see what made Baamonde tick. At first glance it looked like one of those ‘Why is it here?’ towns. Walking through Europe I’ve gotten used to seeing the heart of the village, usually a square or plaza, that provides a central place where people meet. Then you have a place like Bamonde which has no such thing. It’s a string of buildings along a main road. But i discovered it had some
artistic credentials. I’m told that the owner of ‘Restaurante Galicia’, Xoan Corral, is
one of Spain’s best known poets. I saw the poet who wears a long grey beard. Apparently, if you eat at his restaurant he is likely to come to your table to chat with you and read poetry. Elsewhere there is a private museum where the artist shows you around the sculptures in the garden and you can freely walk around looking at his other works. The main street has a little gallery which mostly has small ceramic pieces. Maybe this town is an explanation for the man I saw carving the tree trunk earlier in the day.

Eating at the poet’s restaurant is probably out of the question tonight. When I asked what time dinner started I was told 8.30pm, but the barman quickly added ‘mas o
menos’ (‘more or less’). It would be impossible to sit and enjoy the food and ambience of his place knowing that the doors of the albergue close at 10.00pm.

And finally for a Vincent update. He has been in Denmark for about two weeks, mostly in a place called Aarhus where a Danish friend lives, and Copenhagen. He’s off to Berlin on Wednesday and is still traveling with his American friend Jack.

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Gontan to Vilalba – July 30

When I left Gontan just before 9.00am the town was still sleeping. A chilly wind was blowing. The sun had just made it over a nearby mountain. The sky was covered with cloud and looking dull and overcast. Despite this grey beginning some parts of today's walk were the most serene, peaceful, quiet, and beautiful to walk than any I've experienced so far in this journey. There were archways of trees. There were country dirt roads barely a car width wide. There were tracks with trees and shrubs growing a couple of metres high on each side. There were small herds of dairy cows grazing quietly, some watched over by elderly Spaniards. It was such a pleasure to walk these paths.

My right leg played up for the first half hour. I'm thinking about filing a 'Leg Report' because I've said so much about it. I had to threaten my leg with consequences. I told it, “If you don't behave you'll not be coming on another Camino with me”. It then settled down and did its job without complaint for the rest of today's walk.

The municipal albergues keep getting better and better. The one I'm in tonight, which was opened in 1999, has, like last night's albergue, been purpose built. It's three storeys high, has all the amenities a pilgrim could need, and is located in an
industrial/commercial estate about 2km from Vilalba. It seems that all these municipal albergues have their price set at a��5/night. This is pilgrimage on a shoestring budget compared with the prices I laid for hotels in Italy and France. If you 'Cook and Carry' (ie, prepare your own meals and carry what food you will need for the day) you can get by on a��15/day. This afternoon I spent a��18 at the supermarket (a 2km walk from the albergue into Vilalba) and got enough food, including a couple of Atlantic salmon steaks for dinner tonight, to last me until Monday morning. I never assume there will be a supermarket open anywhere on a Sunday.

Because today's walk was 18.5km a number of pilgrims who were at last night's albergue, thinking the walk too short, went on. But the problem as I see it is the next albergue is another 23km away. I've got a very relaxed schedule for my walk into Santiago. I see no point in doing a 40km+ walk and arriving a day earlier. It makes no sense to me but everyone has their own reasons for walking these longer distances.

From time to time I've given thought to the incredible demands I've placed on my
mind and body throughout this journey. For four months I've asked them to give me an average of about 22km/day, and they've delivered. It might seem to an observer that what I've done is seriously repetitive, and perhaps monotonous: packing the backpack, carrying it all day, and then unpacking it at the end of a walk. The rewards are what occurs in between. It's a sheer joy to think of how different today might be from tomorrow or how different it was from yesterday, and this has been the case since the beginning. Good on you mind and body. I love you.

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Laurenza to Gontan – July 29

I'm in the mountains tonight – somewhere around 500m. It's quite cool. A chilly wind blew for most of the afternoon. Gontan is another of those strange towns. It's Friday night and there's no one around. It's got three bars/cafes, no shop and no restaurant. I had to walk a kilometre to the next village, Abadin, which has two supermarkets, to buy food for dinner. I think some of these places are historical accidents.

It was a day of climbing: probably twenty of today's twenty four kilometres were spent going up hill. It wasn't tough, but it was consistent. The presence of wind turbines along the mountain ridges reminds me of now much Spain has invested in
this type of electricity generation. I recall the wind farms I saw from a bus while traveling from Barcelona to Pamplona in 2007 prior to starting my first Camino. Some of the farms appeared to have hundreds upon hundreds of turbines in them. Good on Spain.

The albergue in Gontan has been purpose-built by the local council. It's a��5 a night and you get throw-away mattress and pillow protectors. Most of the municipal albergues provide protectors. The odd thing about it is that it has a kitchen with a four hot plate stove but no posts or pans to cook with. Obviously the budget didn't
stretch that far. The departure rule is that everyone has to be out by 8.00am. I didn't leave today's albergue until after 9.00am, so I'll have to be on my game tomorrow.

Today's first stop was Mondonedo after a two hour walk. It looked and felt like a sane, thriving town. It had quite an impressive cathedral where I went and said prayers and lit some candles for friends who are in need. I then sat outside on a stone bench, ate and watched all the busyness around me.

Today we had another diversion of the path because of the construction of a motorway. Interestigy, on some of the concrete blocks used to build retaining walls, are impressed the scallop shell which is the symbol of the Camino.

On the way into Mondonedo I spiked a leaf with one of my walking poles. I think it was sent to test me. The leaf was adamant it would hang on and I was adamant I would pay it no attention. When I got to the cathedral I put down my poles, but it
wasn't until I picked them up to leave that I noticed the leaf was gone. Where it happened I don't know but I am aware that I picked it up at least a half hour out of Mondonedo. This experience reinforces for me what I saId in last night's post about not wasting energy on life's small annoyances because they'll likely disappear without us being aware of them going.

The old right leg was back today. In fact, it came back yesterday, but not with as much feeling. I'm expecting it to completely disappear as soon as I shed my backpack, and that's just a week away.

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Vilela to Laurenza – July 28

There seems to be no rhyme nor reason why pilgrims choose to stay at one albergue and not at another. Last night there were just six of us in a thirty two bed albergue. The night before at Tapia de Casariego it was near full, and the night before that at Pinera the twenty bed albergue had just seven of us. I like it when they are full. They have a vibrancy about them. When they are near empty it's like throwing a party when only a handful of guests turn up.

I had a seafood soup at the bar last night which I'd rank as the best I've ever eaten. Sometimes these little treasures present themselves at the most unusual of places. The bar owner said he would be open for breakfast at 8.00am. When he finally
greeted the waiting pilgrims at 8.30am we all knew that nothing needed to be said:
Spanish clocks are different.

It was a great scenic walk today. There were expansive panoramas one after the other, often extending from near the roadside to the top of distant hills, made up of patchworks of paddocks, crops, the occasional building, and forested stretches of land. Simply beautiful. We did a lot of steep climbing and descending, but the views were well worth it. Again, there were plenty of eucalypt forests. I tried to imagine what it would have looked like a thousand years ago when the hillsides were not
being farmed, indigenous trees grew in abundance, and pilgrims had to find a way to
Santiago under very different conditions to those I am experiencing.

This journey has been one metaphor for life after another. Occasionally one of my
walking poles will spike a leaf. It's been happening a bit in Spain. When it happened my response was to stop, flick off the leaf, and continue to walk. Not any more: I've decided to pay no attention to these little annoyances. Often the small annoyances of life come along and cause us to pay much more attention to them than they warrant. But if we choose to pay them little or no regard, they'll likely resolve themselves.
What about the leaves spiked to my walking poles? They simply disappear, often without me being aware that it has happened.

It's been a dull overcast day, but one good for walking. I didn't do the 30km I thought I might. When I took another look at my list of planned stops, tomorrow's walk was only 16km so I decided to tack the 8km I didn't do today onto tomorrow's walk. I did 14km this morning before taking my first and only break. This was at the albergue at Gondan. It was empty of pilgrims. The door was open so I boiled some water and made myself a mug of tea. I then sat at one of the outside tables to eat.
After eating it was just another 8km to Laurenza where I'm staying tonight.

Santiago looms closer each day. This has been true for the whole of the walk but with less than 170km to go the completion of my journey seems very tangible. There'll be a real sadness about finishing. I learn something every day. When its over so will be the learning the Camino offers. This is the source of my sadness.
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Tapia de Casariego to Vilela – July 27

In some ways its been a strange day. I started out on track and wandered off I don't know where despite my best efforts. Sometimes I am so deep in thought I suddenly come to a realisation that I have not be paying attention. A walk that should have seen me in Ribadeo in about three hours took me an hour longer. However, I was provided with views of some very green, flat farming countryside.

The Spanish love plastic, especially the farmers. They bail their hay in it. In Italy and France I've seen thousands upon thousands of rolls of hay which I've earlier described. In those countries they are bound with a thin mesh. Here in Spain they are sealed completely in back or white heavy duty plastic. I've worked out that this
is the cause of the sweet smell encountered everywhere in country Spain. I think
there is a little fermentation that goes on within the plastic seal that produces this smell.

The Principality of Asturias through which I've been walking these past couple of weeks is divided from Galicia by an imaginary line drawn down the centre of an ocean channel which begins at the Bay of Biscay and flows a few kilometres inland with Ribadeo on one side in Galicia and Castropol on the Asturias side. Linking the two sides of the channel is a motorway bridge. Civilians are forbidden to walk on the
motorway. Not this civilian today. The long way around is a 20km trip. However, I
did not know that there is a pedestrian crossing on each side of the bridge, but once on the motorway I couldn't get access to it because of a security fence.

After an uneventful and safe crossing I made my way into Ribadeo to find the location of the albergue. I keep meeting people just when they are needed. Walking into Ribadeo I stopped at an ATM which a man was using and a woman was waiting to use. The woman first spoke to me in Spanish and then in English. She was from Argentina and holidays each summer in Ribadeo. We spoke a little about my journey
from Rome. She gave me directions to the information office where I got directions to the albergue. The woman insisted that I go before her at the ATM saying that I
had walked so far I should not have to wait.

Ribadeo had a good feel about it. I decided I would stay for the night. When I got to the albergue it was shut. I telephoned about the key but the language barrier precluded me from finding out from where it could be collected. Collecting the key is quite a common practice where there is no hospitalero in attendance. Alteratively, the door is left unlocked an pilgrims go about settling in. The locked albergue was enough to change my mind about staying in Ribadeo. A note on the door advised the
location of another albergue at Vilela, 7km along the road to Santiago. It's an
albergue not mentioned in any of the literature I'm carrying. Before setting off I sat in the shade, prepared a meal, and ate. While eating three different pairs of pilgrims arrived. The last pair had the key, but this was not enough to convince me to stay.

When I got to Vilela I saw no evidence of an albergue. From a high point I scanned the village to see if there was a building that could be it. Nothing. I decided to walk onto Gondan, another 14km. On the way out of the village I went up a hill and then around a bend. As I cleared the bend there before me was a bar, literally in the middle of nowhere. An oasis. Food. I went in and ordered. An enquiry of the
owner resulted in him taking me outside and pointing down the street to a building
50 metres away- the albergue.

What a surprise. It's owned by the municipal council, has 32 beds, is quite modern, and has two very clean toilets and showers. It was 4.00pm. I was the first to arrive.
By 6.00pm I'd showered, my washing was out in the wind drying, and I was headed back to the bar to write up my notes and have a cup of tea. As I walked to the bar a Polish couple, Paul and Dorota, who I keep running into, were just arriving equally bemused about the lack of publicily amongst pilgrims for this particular albergue.
Dinner will be at the bar. It has a a��10 'Menu del Dia'. Dinner doesn't start until 8.30pm. Silly you for suggesting otherwise. There's no shop in this village so the bar is it.

Vilela puts me in touch with Mondoneda, some 30km away, to where I've decided to walk tomorrow. I'll be testing out my new leg. I couldn't believe the change today. I have come to expect a painful walk each day because of the three problem areas, none of which played up today. It was a pain-free day. I have no idea why this came about, but I like it.

My assessment is that Galicia prides itself on carefully leading pilgrims to Santiago. There has been a noticeable change in the frequency and positioning of signs to the number and locations that appeared in Asturias. On the pillars that have the scallop shell attached which point in the direction to be taken, is a band on which is inscribed the distance to the metre of the journey to Santiago. By way of example, the one opposite the bar where I'll eat tonight shows the distance to Santiago as 188km 274m. It doesn't get any more precise than this.

It took three council workers to perform the pilgrim registrations: one to write up the register, one to collect my a��5, and a third to stamp my credential. This is the Australian equivalent of two leaning on shovels while a third digs the hole.

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Pinera to Tapia de Casariego – July 26

I started the day thinking I'd walk just 16km but ended up doing 26km. There was an albergue at Arboces but that would have meant stopping after three hours of walking. I'd barely got into my stride by thennand it was far too early in the day not to be walking. There were supposed to be albergues at La Caridad but it was being rebuilt (according to another pilgrim), and at Porcia, but I saw no evidence of its existence. So here I am at Tapia de Casariego still on the coast and at the 26km point.

It rained all through last night. Today's walk commenced in the rain which gave up after about three hours. It was fine for the rest of the day and I understand that I'll likely finish the Camino without a full sunny day. As I was walking through Navia a
man leapt across my path and greeted me with, “Good Morning!” He must have wanted to practice his English. It's uncanny how many times I've been picked as an English speaker without first opening my mouth. He enquired if I had any pain. I pointed to my lower right leg with one of my walking poles. He then volunteered directions out of town. He had a big smiling face. I enjoyed the short exchange.

The path today zig-zagged on and off the main road. I'm surprised how adverse I've become to walking on the edge of a road with traffic streaming by. The trip through Italy and France has been effective aversion therapy.

There is no hospitalereo at tonight's albergue. It's up to each pilgrim to fill in a register, stamp his/her credential, and to place a donation in a box (solidly fastened to the wall). I've observed most people to attend to the first two tasks but ignore the third. This may account for the state of the toilets and showers which, if they got a clean tomorrow, it would be the first in months. My view is that a price should be set for a night's stay. People pay if it is obligatory, but if something can be got for nothing there are plenty who will take advantage of the situation. Hence there is little money to pay for essentials like cleaning. The system then has to rely on the
goodwill of volunteers for it to work.

My boots think they're ready to retire, but I've got other plans for them. With a roll of duct tape I'm trying to ensure the soles don't fall off. They took on water today so more tape was applied tonight to make them waterproof again. I feel this may be a lost battle. They really are ready for retirement but I'll make sure they reach Santiago on my feet.

There is a tradition at the end of a walk which is to go to Fistera (the most westerly
point in Continental Europe and about 100km west of Santiago), and burn something that was carried on the Camino. Guess what I'll be taking with me to Fistera to put to the torch?

Ribadeo was my planned stop for tomorrow, but it is only about 11km from where I am tonight. The problem is that if I move on from Ribadeo it will end up being a 30km walk because that's where the next albergue is located. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
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Almuna to Pinera – July 25

We can end up in the oddest of places. The albergue in Pinera is an old primary school – not that unusual – about 5 metres from a busy main road – now we're getting there. To get to the albergue you follow a well laid out path of arrows which leads to a house where the owners do the registration. They have a little shop in the room where the registrations are done, and also use one of the rooms in their house for pilgrims to dine in. You need to give one hour's notice of the meal you want to eat and return later to eat it. I ordered mine for 6.00pm – an early one for me. After registration it's about a 600 metre walk to the albergue. I arrived around 2.30pm. I had the place to myself for about three hours. Pinera is little more than a collection of buildings scattered over a wide area.

While waiting for my meal to be prepared I shopped for tomorrow and then sat outside the shop and wrote up my notes for this blog. It's one of those shops that sells clothes, foot wear, hardware and food. I may have made the point before but I find food on Spain quite cheap, especially compared with France. The a��9 pilgrim meal was magnificent. I was given enough zucchini soup for three bowls, and the pasta with tomato and tuna was enough for three giant helpings. I accepted defeat with the pasta. Then there was the salad. I'm a salad addict. I didn't leave any if it.

I've planned a very easy walk from here to Santiago. No more than 20km per day. (Today's walk was a breezy 16km.) I now expect to arrive on August 6, having split a 32km walk into two over the past two days. I'm calling this a 2,500km walk. I've got about 230km to go which means I've walked 2,270km. On Wednesday I'll be in Ribadeo and it's there that I turn south-west away from the coast to meet up with the Camino Frances at Arzua, just 39km from Santiago.

I didn't leave the albergue this morning until 9.30am, having not woken until around
7.30am. Yes, it takes me a while to get moving. After an hour of walking I reached Luarca, a thriving little metropolis built around a small cove. A river divides the town which climbs out of the cove up steep hills in a circular pattern. As I walked through it this morning Luarca had a vibrancy about it with the shops doing good business and street stalls set up in a square adding more colour and busyness. It's one of those places I'd like to spend time exploring, but I probably wouldn't need much more than a day to do it.

As a pilgrim I've tended to take liberties from time to time with people's private property. Like today when I was looking for somewhere to rest and eat. Normally finding somewhere is no problem. There's plenty of spots beside the road, but today it commenced to rain soon after I left Luarca. When I'd been walking for two and a half hours I was due to stop. I was passing a house when I noticed it had a room attached to one side. With its open front I could see some debris on the dry concrete floor. I assumed it wasn't used for anything in particular at present so there I stopped, took off my wet weather gear, got out my food and ate. About 20 minutes
later the owner drove away from the house. He looked at me and kept on driving. I suspect I wasn't the first pilgrim to use this space.

I took particular care today to stay on track. When I lost sight of the arrows in Luarca, directions from a couple of locals kept me on track. Part of today's route has been moved because of the construction of a major motorway. This is a common reason for re-routing the Camino.

Today is the feast day of Santiago (St James). It's not being celebrated in Pinera,
but in a neighboring village of Villapedre I saw a group setting off rockets that were making quite an explosion about 100 metres in the air. I've been told that the whole of Galcia Province, of which Santiago de Compostela is the capitol, today is a designated public holiday.

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Cadavedo to Almuna – July 24

Another lesson was learned today: don’t interpret signs to mean what you want them to mean. I’d had a good morning getting away from the albergue around 8.30am and walking through farmland with its cows, sheep and crops, and then onto the pleasure of a quiet wooded area with it’s singing birds. Very few people were around.

I then arrived at my lesson point. One small arrow pointed across the centre of a roundabout. On reflection, it was saying to go straight ahead. Just beyond the roundabout was a track to the right. There were no arrows pointing either ahead or to the right, but there was another sign which comprised a white strip above a yellow strip. I had followed the same type of sign earlier on in Spain. I decided to follow
these signs and went to the right. This is where I went wrong. I wanted these signs to mean what they did not mean.

It was only a twenty minute walk to a headland, where, from a viewing platform I had a fabulous view of a small cove with a headland opposite and a beach to my left about a hundred metres below where I stood. Also to my left was a track which I thought would lead me to the beach. I followed the track which soon petered out but not my confidence in reaching the beach where I expected to be able to reconnect with the Camino trail. I slowly made my way down the hillside through ankle deep
mulch, ferns, briars and trees. I suspect the only beings to have attempted this descent before I made my inglorious attempt today were the animals. I got to the base of the hill and had about two metres of head high lantana to conquer but it was too thick and entangled to break through despite repeated attempts by changing my approach. Maybe I was being saved from more dire consequences. I decided a retreat was necessary. I made my way back up the hill eventually locating the path I’d come down relying on some luck, guidance from above, and a little common sense.

Back at the viewing platform, lathered in sweat, I decided to eat and reflect. My troublesome leg had not given me a problem during the descent and ascent. The lack of any problem was profound. Later, when I was back on the trail it started to play up. I’m searching for meaning in this. After eating I made my way back to the intersection where I’d made the incorrect turn and within a 100 metres of it on the road that went straight ahead I saw a yellow arrow which confirmed I was back on the Camino path. In all I’d spent more than two hours on this digression. A hundred metre walk would have saved me the experience I’d just had.

I made my way to the albergue another 8km further on with a lot of scratches and a lesson learned the hard way to show for it. I really don’t know why it is taking me so long to learn this lesson of staying on the path unless a change is diected, but it is. After today I’d like to think it has finally sunk in. I hope so.

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