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A long Way to the End of the World
A long Way to the End of the World
From the small French mountain
According to the Chapter of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, more than 114.000 people walked the Camino de Santiago in 2007, including 785 Australians.
What is it that makes people from all over the world shoulder those exertions? Tobias, the 24 years old student explains: “I found something on the way I was looking for, maybe my whole life – some kind of basic trust. I know now that everything that happens has a reason and is good.”
However, it is a long way until you get the answer for your quest. Besides the spiritual challenges, there are also physical ones. When you walk 20 to 40 kilometres a day with a heavy backpack, you reach your physical limits quite fast. This is what Tobias found out. After the first half of the Way, he got a painful periostitis, a bone infection. When he had almost decided to end, luck came to help him. The warden of the pilgrims’ hostel in the next town was a physiotherapist. The warden invited Tobias to stay in his house and medicated him for two days until the young pilgrim was able to continue on his way. He even refused any payment. “Without this man I probably would have had to give up,” says Tobias. This was just one of many fortunate coincidences that happened to the student on the Camino.
Another time, he ran out of water on an exhausting leg across a semi-desert, when suddenly a truck stopped next to him. The driver wordlessly handed him a bottle of water and drove away. However Tobias does not believe in wonders: “Whether it was chance or a wonder, I don‘t know! I think it is more the friendliness of the people I met on my way, that created a spiritual atmosphere.”
Although Tobias met a lot of interesting people on the Camino he preferred to walk alone. He got up in the morning at six o‘clock and walked till the evening. Thus he covered 40 kilometers a day, while most pilgrims just manage 20. However, for him the point was not to reach
“It might sound cheesy, but when you are alone with your thoughts for hours – without TV or radio – you suddenly realise what has influenced you in your life and what is really important to you,” Tobias explains.
Tourists and other dangers
In just three weeks – the average is five to six – the student reached the desired destination,
The pilgrim tourism in general has been growing more and more. “I even met a travel group with a portable navigation system, who was followed by an empty bus. It‘s ridiculous!” says Tobias. While in 1970 only 68 pilgrims walked the Way, the number of pilgrims has increased unbelievably in the last years.
In Santiago Tobias decided to walk further, until the proverbial end of the world: Kap Finistere, the West end of the Spanish mainland. This is the spiritual destination of the Way for most of the pilgrims, while
At the Kap Finisterre there is a fireplace, where every person to arrive burns a piece of his clothes as a symbol to leave their former lives behind. Tobias burned a t-shirt he got from is mother. It was cloudy, when he saw the boundary stone, on which is written: 0,00 kilometers. Finally he reached Finisterre, the literal the end of the world. He sat down on the cliffs with some other pilgrims and watched the sea. Suddenly the cloud cover parted and the sun shone through on the water‘s surface. "That’s God!“, whispered a Danish pilgrim.Map of St. James Way (French Route)