Yes Camino

Yes Camino was made in Spain between October 2 and 29, 2017 on a 28-day walk from Pamplona to Finisterre. From Yogic curiosity it observes the physical, intellectual and mystical aspects of contemporary pilgrimage.

Day 1

1. Madrid, Hotel Lorenzo; I’ve slept here before and slept most of the two flights. Good idea to fly at night to erase the long leg while you sleep. Up early Saturday with jet-lag engine-rev, move fast towards Guernica, Spanish flags out all the way to the square - something is in the wind.

 2. I was 23 when Guernica caused me to gasp and weep as I first stood before it in New York. It stayed with me and I wanted to know why. Two years ago at the completion of my first Camino I faced it until it de-coded. I stand before it now with fervor and reverence as a sacred shrine.

 3. I stand staggered before Picasso’s epic miracle and know why I am bewildered, but I was cautious in Santiago about fervor and implausible mythologies. Santiago is a stop along this way, it worried on arrival me both times. I know I’ll stop after 28 days, I know why but I don't know where.

 4. Sunday night, clanging in the streets of San Sebastian. I'm on the top bunk in the same tiny room I stayed in last year, I turned 60 here a month short of a year ago. I run in the direction of the noise. Something is going on in the streets of Spain; people march with flags and bang frying pans with kitchen utensils.

 5. I set out on foot from St John Pied de Port two years ago to the day. I had no plan the first time; I jumped on a hunch and took off into it. I noticed early that I was a very fast walker and remembered that I was a race walker at school, the athletic memory embedded in my muscles surprised me.

 6. Day one, Monday morning, woke in San Sebastian, boarded the 7.28 train, arrived in Pamplona and set out on foot from the station. In a pilgrims store I signed my Pilgrims Passport and bought a poncho. Ready for a week now; easy walk to Puente La Reiva.

 7. Took some time Monday first morning to find my golden arrows. Golden arrows guide the way; I went the wrong direction several times today. Attention on physicality; I watched my Yogic body go to work. Back strength challenged, elongate the spine and prepare.

Day 2

8. Today was hard and hot all day. Be as fit as you like but you can’t take on the sun blasting from a cloudless sky on rolling hills and open planes with not many shade spots. I slept around today on benches and on grassy slopes and couldn’t wait for it all to be over.

 9. I bought a white sombrero in Puente La Reiva. I look like a senior lawn bowls umpire and I’m covered in UV 50+ block out. My white Indian cotton shirt dries as soon as you splash yourself cool. My back needs to strengthen around my pack; it felt heavy today.

10. If you asked me to describe Estella before I arrived I couldn't, but it didn't take long to find my way to the town square in the breezy evening. The locals come out for drinks and the kids play soccer. I’d recovered from the heat when I lay on a bench to flirt with cool air.

11. I was completely stuffed today - I had to keep pushing into my reserves. I didn’t propel along the track, I trudged like the pilgrims who do it hard. You enter a blurred state where you only see track with footsteps on pebbles as soundtrack; tired, fixated and determined.

12. The first Camino phase focuses on physicality; can my body do this? Will there be hills all day because my legs are pumped and what’s going on with my feet? Do I have enough water? Then we meet kindred blister fetishists and we're gentle as we clock and compare.

13. Pace slower third time, I’ve done this twice before, Ive got nothing to prove. I noticed gratitude today for shade, beds or benches and soft conversations with friends along the way. There's a team of us, two Basque guys, the Koreans and two Israelis. We shuffle through our villages at night.

14. Something else takes over after the day; you glow and a magical peace wafts around you. I slept above a cobblestone lane, up early and eager for day three, out hunting coffee - shufflers ahead. It occurred to me this morning that I feel completely free, not a bad place to be!

Day 3

15. Eduardo was outside my Pension with his Canon on washing when we spoke. We’re photographers. My Sony is much lighter, he carries multiple lens. We tracked each other for the first hour then Claudia, Eduardo and I started clicking. It starts like that out here.

16. It wasn't easy again today. I should have read the guide book; "no food and water stops." I set off unprepared and had to borrow water. I'm learning to recognize my needs. What does my body say when I need water? When does is ask for petrol? When should I rest?

17. Slept around midday for an hour under an apple orchard on my lightweight towel, parker to cover me. I craved for flat bed, water, food and a shower most of the day. I counted kilometers and clock watched, not a good idea to be concerned with distance, it’s a weight to carry.

18. Enquiry and audacity everywhere. Not up for theological discussions, babble de-coded, doesn’t play for me now. I had a brief chat with a guy who assured me he believed that marriage is only for a man a woman. I sped ahead with better things to do with my day. 

19. Walk six days this week and earn a rest day on Sunday. Make physical adjustments as you go. Feet do the work of Trojans, special thanks and acknowledgement. Sensible shoes, light for maximum circulation. Fingers crossed, I approach day four no blisters.

20. Night sweats last night; it happens a lot, heated to eliminate, process of purification. I’m hungry and only want food for life. I've tried having a glass of wine after the day but my body doesn't want it; it wants food, water, routine and rest. It focuses on basics.

21. I took off at eight day four today to get 10km done in the cool of the morning and get up to pace as early as possible. It's serene in the morning in half-light with sleepy travellers beside, ahead and behind you, sun like a lantern in a half light mystery; you walk into it.

Day 4

22. Eating ice cream I saw Eduardo in the distance; I hadn't seen him or Claudia since yesterday morning. We spoke about gestural photography, action in moment to metaphor. He shared his passionate shot, different eyes in the same terrain and two ways of seeing.

23. More adjustments today, refine the strategy. Today the book said difficult with little food and water but it was the easiest day so far with food and rest along the way. It’s still stinking hot out in it but I'm better at rest in shade. Yes it’s a shock to the system but a good one.

24. I checked into a hotel in Viana and paid a little more. Got in at one, washed the car, emptied the pack and slept. Athletes rest to perform; this is big. It concerned me to hear of a pilgrim who fasted. Beware fanaticism and listen to the body, it speaks and already knows.

25. No question I'm sixty now, no admission of defeat, my canvas. I can do big things but I have to prepare physically then I have to rest. There are big highs for me along this way - I’ve known them, then it’s back to myself for repairs. The focus is on practical needs alone. 

26. Technologies: 12 inch Macbook, Iphone 6, Sony AR711, 28-70 lens, chords, adapters, Toiletries: SK11 cream cleanser, essence, moisturizer, sunblock all in little plastic bottles. Deodorant, Argan oil, callus scrub, hair wax, nail clipper, Castille rose and hemp oil soap.

27. Clothes: Lightest walking shoes, 3 t-shirts, two short one long, Indian cotton wedding shirt for walking. Black boxers, 2 jeans, one pair of shorts (but they may have to go), parker, poncho and a micro-towel. Security pouch: passport, back up cards, keys, back up drive.

28. Gymnasium: I’m a big fan of my elastic, it travels with me wherever I go. I can do everything my body can do with resistance. My body is worked in it's entirety. I do a kind of sun salute with my elastic; it’s Yoga now in an open field gymnasium for play as you go.

Day 5

29. Evening Navarette, a sleepy hilltop town. I don't remember being here I must have zoomed through. Something shifted when I set out at eight out this morning - today was light, I found time to smell roses. It could have been midday when I arrived but it was two.

30. My biggest obstacle so far has been my own expectation. I'm not a better person because this is my third Camino; I'm the same person in a different present. Even great experiences have to be handed back to fire to burn and renew. This is different again.

31. I can explain my heaviness; I've had a chest infection. I didn't want to admit it to myself because I can’t be sick at the moment. I rested yesterday and it’s fine. I was confused about a slightly delirious frame of mind, it was partly fever now learn about food and water.

32. It’s blissful to arrive in a different village every day and bleed into the soft ambience of local life. And it’s gorgeous and blissful to notice feet cool down. Some local kids poked their tongues out at me and I poked mine back then It was on; they knew I had a camera.

33. I wandered into the church at Navarette and stood startled as I faced the wall of gold; it was unexpected. I imagined the impact this had on pilgrims at the time of its construction and thought about architects as I took shots of myself amongst multi colored candles.

34. Friday night in a village in Spain, locals wind down for the weekend. I feel it is a privilege to be embraced by this gentle rhythm. I love the village life and love how it snuggles its warmth towards me. Wafted around a bit, had some laughs, felt happy.

35. Saturday tomorrow, another easy one then off Sunday for a full day down. Yes a day to rest and stock take. I’m looking forward to a full day of food and poetry, games and big sleeps. I prime and prepare for the highs of vigorous activity amongst rest and structure.

Day 6

36. Present Saturday today, in rhythm with the movements of sun and moon. It’s normal to be up at five to do my thinking in the sleepy night till dawn. I’m down by nine most nights at home. Today a full moon was out on a sun lit morning so I walked into both and out again.

37. Don’t have much to report about the smallish walk today. It was like a stroll over breezy planes with the soft howl of wind in my ears. I was present to the soundscape because I'm not so worried about by ability. I started to play with shadows in the square and light. I'm a performer at heart.

38. I didn't remember anything about Najera but I decided to stay here for two nights regardless. It looked seventies and run down on the outskirts but I remembered when I saw the river and checked into my old Hostel Hispano. You cross a little bridge to the town.

39. Pack hosed and left to dry in an open skylight window. Showered, eaten, and its not even seven. Lay by the river in the afternoon sun but didn’t feel sleepy. I had my elastic out in public today; I stretched and made shapes on the grass. This may have been noticed - good.

40. Happy and proud to say that I don't have an itch, a blister or a twitch to register as ailment; its all in perfect working order. My elastic does wonders. It got all the little glitches in the hip joints and middle back and I'm set to go. No pack weight on back issues I notice.

41. My body is redistributing resources, pumped legs, tough back and spaghetti arms. I started to eat big as soon as I rested, alert for signs of emaciation. People do fanatical things out here; fast, carry weight for sin and walk on blisters that should be rested. Dont go there that’s no.

42. In my top floor room with my own open skylight I stand on a bed with my head through the window. A weathered clay tiled roof like a picture postcard of old Spain with medium density public housing in the background. I’m curious about what is fantastically real.


43. I went out into the cold before light this morning to the bar that opens at six for pilgrims; I was first in. Coffee and a chocolate croissant then I took my elastic to a square and made myself spaghetti. I did big stretches today with a strong instinct to restore and replenish.

44. Sunday morning, the town of Najera is asleep and the streets are empty. I’m hooded in a black parker with my elastic in an empty town square. I doesn’t matter if I vogue it a bit so I’m in the lanes, self as subject, looking for the magic light that creeps around mysterious corners.

45. What fervent state am I conditioned to and how does it control my vulnerability? What fervent empire obliges me to invest in its coded mythologies and what musical franchise runs around as hooks in my mind? Clear and central facets of intellectual focus emerge.

 47. Yes Camino is Yogic. I have twice reached a point where dogma is transparent. That doesn't mean it has left me or that I don't continue to argue its imprint out of credibility. It is a valuable collision. Like any physical tension from opposition; you learn and invent as you work it out.

48. What coded society empowers oppression? What fervent allegiance obligates me to silence? A week ago I was in a demonstration in San Sebastian, I still don’t know what’s going on but it’s all over the news. I may be in a time of revolution but its delightful here.

46. Sunday in Najera, I’ll have been a local for almost two days by the time I walk into tomorrow morning. I don't know if the locals went to church today but I know they love to be out in the evening together and hearty. I love to eat lentils on days like today and did.

49. I just had a big laugh in the sweet shop. Spain has sweet shops with rows and rows of brightly colored sugar; just take a bag and scoop. I was really into it, so was the lady next to me. We caught each other at it and strangers started laughing. We still play a bit on Sundays.


Day 8

50. It was all new this morning when I woke. I didn't need to shower - I was out. The mornings are magical, I'm a cold person, love it. I love walking in it and I don't feel it as cold; it’s a bracing provocation. I walk very fast when I’m fit, its my natural body tempo.

51. I run on a fast engine and need to get to my pace to feel light on my feet. I learnt in Yoga to stand feet slightly turned in and to grip the earth with outer toes to raise arches. This throws serpentine energy up my spine; I leap along highways when I’m tall and light

52. In routine now and thriving. Last week was like orientation week the first week of school. I learnt my routine and scrutinized my physical responses; I needed to learn about overheating. I also confronted the physical reality that I'm alone on foot across Spain.

53. The physical is routine now as intellectual processes surface. At this time many challenge the authority of religion; having walked the Camino twice, no religious institution or superstition filters my observation. I undertake to orchestrate my own mythologies.

54. 21ks down by 2.30 when I landed in Santo Domingo de la Calzada past potato field panoramas and ploughed tapestries in orange and green. I could have kept my eye on that carpet alone; the potato ploughman's weave, fascinated by its patterns that pass by.

55. Better today at heating and hydration. Carry two water bottles, drink from every tap then refill. Stop regularly to rest, cool feet and engine, remove shoes and wear thongs, put head and feet under fountain. Good idea the white Indian shirt, washed and dry in no time.

56. The land gets flatter towards the Meseta. Burgos ahead of me by Thursday then out to that vast open plane. Will burn some miles out on the Meseta. Will be with my thinking by then; that always speeds me up. I woke to my thinking voice first Camino; it was lyrical.

Day 9

57. I had vivid memories of everywhere I walked today and of the hotel I stayed at in Belorado two years ago. That hotel was fully booked tonight so I'm in a sun-lit room on the other side of the town and very relaxed. I don't care how far I walk but I arrive somewhere.

58. I twice walked by locals as they roasted peppers. The peppers looked all black and charred but smelt of ripe land. The landscape goes capsicum colors in the morning light then bleaches to white as the sun heads up. Roasted pepper colored landscape today.

59. I remembered a feeling today as I retraced my steps from two years ago. I was alone on a vast unknown plane with no human or resource in visible distance and I felt safe. I felt safe, alone and free to strive. I spent that night sunburnt in a place called Hotel Las Vegas

60. I carried that feeling all day today; I feel safe and I feel love all around me. The honey is flowing out here amongst the shell people as we open to our need to seek the intangible, magical and the mystical. It’s out here - believe me! Everyone has magical stories.

61. Eduardo and Claudia came over last night. Eduardo was in a panic; he’d lost all photographic data from his memory cards. All good his camera gave a false reading. I travel light in the technical department so I can carry a small computer without burden.

62. I lead two different lives out here; one on the road and the other in the towns and squares at night. It's cool amongst the tress and bandstands in the village squares. I'm a fly on the wall of sorts in the tranquil state of observation; I breathe into it.

63. Feeling very much on top of this now and spend less time concerned with physical challenge. I enjoy the walk as fragments of unresolved anger and conflicts spar off each other. When dogma appears I use it but no previous prayers or mantras are allowed.

Day 10

64. We danced in the forest today. We rested at a volunteers stop; she had food, hammocks, flags and music for us. It was a breezy walk this morning through mysterious tapestries of dappled light. I walked through a pack of truffle dogs this place last time.

65. We grow closer now the ones who bump into each other after being lost for a few days. We clock mysterious coincidences and laugh. I wonder who'll be with me when I arrive in Santiago or wherever this Camino closes as I open to intuition and mystery.

66. I was open when we danced in the forest today, we all were and saw that in each other. I overheard a conversation about our broken state. The guy with the wisdom worked for refugees. He said he was a sort of missionary. Everyone here is here for a reason.

67. The honey flows as only woman knows. I take pride in my femininity but I don't get anywhere near what a woman feels. I’m at blistering pace now and powering. I spent a lot of time working my male hero now I'm working for a hero with a woman's open heart.

68. Expected accommodation issues today and remembered the first time I arrived in Burgos, two years ago to the day. I had to walk 49km. No room in San Juan de Ortega so I shared a Taxi with the forest dancers from Geneva; a considered alteration and this is fine.

69. Burgos: the plazas are full of locals on the eve of a national day of Spanish celebration. I love the Spanish people - but only last June I was in love with the Swedes and Norwegians. I must love people, I keep saying that and walk with love as feeling.

70. We saw our grace as we danced in the forest today, singular and audacious as we reveled in something that we cannot define. We danced together then I wandered the plazas of Burgos hungry for tomorrow’s Meseta. Tomorrow I eat from an open plane.

DAY 11

71. Thursday morning 4.08. It’s itchy and enticing and I can't wait for morning light. Best writing happens in the morning. I know what’s before me for the next two days. I will climb a doughnut mountain and disappear when I look out. Then the big gasp. Let me at it.

72. I will be diminished on a vast open plane. I will disappear and yelp in wonder across a lunar landscape. I will echo across that bewildering plane and someone, somewhere will yelp back at me. A team of insect cyclists yelped back at me when I was up there last time.

73. Slap my voice into yelps of wonder on a mountain as cyclists ride by. Slap my eyes so they can read the poets of graffiti; ambassadors who weave present and tangible metaphors for all along the way. Slap me to wonder, the Meseta is out there!

74. This is yours for nothing with little on your back - enthusiasm stripped of fraudulent fervor. No franchise holds power over these perceptions - they are present, available and given by earth to all. No fee for entry to these cathedrals, no illusions of ethereal light.

75. Thursday morning, day of National pride. Burgos Cathedral a cream convection as I set off towards the Meseta. Mutual waves with a brass band then I was offered local ham. A friendly brass band and a man with a leg of pig keen for a photo shoot with the pilgrim.

76. The little villages are the ones to stop at, you can be sure the food is local and the service from a small family operation. Rabe de las Calzadas is a tiny village made of sandstone, it's quiet today on a national holiday. Easy half-day walk down with free time to relax.

77. I don’t have a lot to do in the hours between walking. Everything is washed and clean. No blisters yet and feet in prime condition. No tension in the hams and hips thanks to my elastic. It’s routine to find seats in parks or squares to stretch, lengthen, twist and untangle.

Day 12

78. In a Hostal you stay with a family. My family Hostal in Hontanas closes for the season in two days. My hostess informed me that I would be the last pilgrim in my room for the season. My Hostal serves Paella and Sangria and it is fine. The walk today was business like.

79. Earth serves all that she gives life to, we are naked in her clay and I was a tenacious naked earthling all day. I soaked in sun on a magical morning out on a vast open plane and wanted to sing naked all day. I’m up to euphoric now, the endorphins kicked in.

80. I could only describe day twelve as joyful from the moment I set out. It was magical in the half-light where you have to be careful not to miss the arrows. Then dawn appeared over burnt paddocks of sunflowers, tan like cattle hide, but imagine the planes all yellow.

81. Wind farms and ploughs break the horizon line as footsteps on gravel propel towards the unfolding mystery. I walked in the presence of a dual narrative today; present to the sense of mysterious perfection and present to a concise and poetic interior musical dialogue.

82. Today I was present with a dual narration. It was so beautifully real that I started to play. I started my play around an altar of many colored candles then I took my elastic to a place on the hill where I stretched and invented. I did this as the child my body shows me.

83. Without intellectual collision, dogma or fervent paradigm I sat and faced the sunset. On a table cross-legged I felt a gentle breeze, heard crickets, dogs bark in the distance and saw stars, then I dreamy strolled down the hill to my village for the night.

84. At breakfast now in my Hostel in Hontanas, my host called me Michael all day. He told me that she was everything to him and I felt that when I caught them face-to-face in the kitchen. Hostel Hontanas won’t be forgotten; pretty heart full of Hontanas when I leave.

Day 13

85. I know that all is good when I know that I am free. Church tolls seven, up and on a clock now, out eight for morning light. Don't tell me show me a committed obligation, ripe with collision on all frontiers. Dialogue contains clear perceptions with positive incentives.

86. I knew that soon I would climb to the top of what I will call a mountain. I knew that I would look over a vast plane bewildered with no explanation for my sense of privilege other than the primal gasp at the first breath of life. I walked up to it in the heat of midday.

87. It stood before me in the blazing heat of day. Motorcycles zoomed a cloud of dust as I entered it and up the hill. I remembered a little place with two decaying chairs a little before I reached it; I remembered. It was a steep and challenging climb and it wasn’t easy.

88. It was hot and hard to get up there. The track took longer to wind upwards than it seemed from a distance. Endurance isn't easy, it’s full of collisions but don't remember the task as difficult, remember to see. Stop regularly to cool down, drink water and stay basic.

89. I stood before a pilgrim shrine and cross. The rainbow flag on top affirmed that we are one. Pilgrims leave personal belongings here; a woman approached to confide to me her story, she needed someone. I knew what to expect today only the light was different.

90. I expected vast infinity, a golden plane where sunflowers grew and gave their sun-soaked life. We looked out on that golden plane with serpent track and insects seen from above. We stood with the soft howl of wind in our ears and we kindred strangers clocked it.

91. It didn’t take long to walk the serpent trail into that infinity. Vertical and horizontal collision, strive vertically towards an audacious objective and thrive in its collisions. Recognize collision as an opportunity for invention and from invention the authentic self.

Day 14

92. I stood in the middle of the road today, white sombrero my little halo, fourteen days down, fourteen to go. Eyes on golden arrows, I zoomed across the flat Meseta playful like a child on a treasure hunt. Then I zoomed towards the Tee-Pees in the distance, I remembered.

93. I remembered a place where geese chase around a hostel made from Tee-Pees. It was a nomad’s fantasy place where animals roamed to chill music. I’d had a big thinking morning and landed back at Sydney University full of gratitude for its diversity.

94. It was an important day as part of me observed moments in my history where 'ways of seeing' expanded and part of me observed from apart and above. That same day I affirmed myself as an artist and performer, it was obvious but never so clear and present.

95. Second Sunday, easy morning to the hat trick Tee-Pee show. I thought to stay in a Tee-Pee amongst geese and donkeys but I wanted to walk and set a pace to arrive at Carrion at midday. At midday I remembered Carrion with the name of another place.

96. Sunday afternoon under yellow, green autumnal poplar grove, I sat and stretched. I gave myself a floor class on a mat of golden leaves. Pose of child, look into the holds and release them. The organism tells me what needs to be elongated and released.

97. Strong with determination I landed in crow, elbows pressed into the sides of legs then up, I am an Artist. We navigate outmoded dogma to new and vibrant affirmations of life's evolving process. We find form from process committed to inclusive investigation and liberated expression.

98. Art does not subscribe to franchise religion where unaccountable brands trade on superstition to hook fragile ferver. How many public oaths should we take to receive free bread and what is its content? From powerful collision feel the outcome as irrepressible incentive.


Day 15

99. Sahagun is the halfway point on the Camino Francais and here begins a de-construction of my temple. I walked into rage the second time I approached Santiago and struck out at thought walls to investigate my loyalties to imaginative places of refuge.

100. My mind on a big hot walk, with singular preoccupation, I spend good time with other walkers but I'm with my thinking now, I don’t want to teach and don't want anyone around. My thinking is not nice as I push through stations and walls till they crumble. 

101. You meet the Emperor without a pee-pee when you buy a ticket to the Vatican, the statue at the entrance. The theatre of Rome imprints violent homophobia for profit but why do I re-act? Why do I continue to argue for basic human rights and freedom of expression?

102. I argue with authority over aspects of entitlement, sacrament, shrine and enactment: Why should I obey an emperor in a fortress state? What is the source of that mystique? Why should I retain oaths and secrets and why should I fear the imagined after life?

103. Yes its hot and hard when I appear tenacious and fast. People comment that I’m really fast. I don't really know why I'm out here, but I'm out here and at it. I suppose I'm thirsty and my legs are tight and I want the pack off my back. I pushing into big miles now.

104. I passed the place today where two years ago I hung my clothes on a red cross, it said something dangerous but it felt right. I defy superstition when superstition causes damage to my peace of mind where blinded fervor spooks and primes me for subjugation.

105. I watched my torrid conflicts well today and arrived in Sahagun, the middle of the road soon after four. Not sure what to do tomorrow; I may take a rest day to process the de-construction of my temple. I’m more involved with the intellectual than mood or physical.

DAY 16

106. I saw the Sahagun station and wondered if a train went to Leon. It had not occurred to me to jump ahead a few days. Is it sin to abandon my commitment to pilgrimage on foot? Am I entitled to indulgence in a confessional and who is entitled to grant the indulgence? 

107. I don’t like all the pilgrims I meet on this walk. Should I go to confession for lack of charity or am I entitled to choose my friends? I processed this as I stretched on Sahagun station and on the train then I walked into Eduardo and Claudia in front of Leon cathedral.

108. I thought I’d lost them but they hired a car to get to Leon. I met another friend who should not have been in Leon. Same story; we needed to get away from fanatical intimacies. Do I observe remorse and should I be open to everyone? No I won't pay to enter a cathedral.

109. I’m with him in the confessional, the priest who invited me to suck him off. Yes Camino this happened in the confessional at St Peter Julians Roman Catholic Church Haymarket. The priest was drunk and granted absolution. No I won't pay to enter the Cathedral 

110. Forty years later same confessional, I could not contain the outpouring of grief. I heard; ‘this is horrible contain yourself’. Then he wouldn't look me in the eye, nor any priest in the community. I stretched before Leon Cathedral today no I wont pay to enter.

111. How many actors have played Hamlet over time and how many queens play Jesus. How many productions of Hamlet have interpreted a text and why are Gospel texts anything other than theatre? What authority do we grant to superstition? No I won't pay to enter the Cathedral

112. I could be ex-communicated from something for this but from what? Banished to a Hell that does not exist? Ostracised politely from the sect or team? ‘Save the church’ the collective anxiety stretched me today so I took my elastic to Leon Cathedral and I won’t pay to enter.

DAY 17

113. It was overcast and wet when I left Leon this morning but I felt exhilarated, fresh and excited to be out in the pre-dawn cold. I didn't know how far I would go today, time didn't matter all day. I went into a play zone, where I am about age seven and I know who started it.

114. Fun in the corn fields and I didn't count the distance to Hospital de Orbigo. I could have gone further; actor in a poncho in the rain. Raincoats makes me naughty. Naughty boy play with words and voice by Darren Hayes pushed time and effort away, it was mischief and fun all day.

115. I didn't need as much water or food to power through to Hospital de Orbigo, I propelled without obstruction with musical assistance by Darren Hayes. I take him with me for rocket fuel. No dilemmas to process today, a relief not argue with time that has passed.

116. Released, I ran on rage and moral indignation and wicked, I laughed to myself all day. Cheeky child in a garage train of horrors, where I will say what I need to say. Alchemy; Rage is a catalyst for creation and rage makes Art from play. There’s a lot going on.

117. I’ll be in Astorga again tomorrow. Two years ago I trudged up slippery hills through arteries of orange mud till I arrived at a hilltop oasis with free food and gifts for my way. The generosity touched me. Yes Astorga third time tomorrow and if it rains...I’ll get wet.

118. It will be time three when I reach Golgotha on Friday. Golgotha is a shrine and at Golgotha I will listen. There was a time when I concealed my secret affirmations and blockades as have many but they are present. At Golgothat I will be present to the secrets of many.

119. However I intellectually understand violence done to me, I cannot remove it from my timeline. So I ride oppression as virile warrior and sculpt icons of beauty and worth. Art gave face to religion and Art comes first; artists paint icons for worship, from a devoted place.

Day 18

122. Somehow I arrive in the same places to the day. I sat in the same restaurant in Hospital de Orbigo two years ago and probably at the same time. I heard strange music and followed it to a festival of local culture. The village danced to its inherited traditions.

120. No rain this Camino when I set out from Hospital de Orbigo on a clear, crisp morning. I haven't entered the bliss yet, I’m present with a probing intellect that churns and processes. Provoked but not conflicted, intellectual toxicity needs to surface to release.

121. I remembered the place where a concerned local called out to me not to cross the mountain in the rain, then I was in the cascading mud. No broken arteries of pouring clay this Camino but orange morning light, clear skies and firm earth up to that refuge on the hill.

123. Spa Hotel on the hilltop of Astorga; I had blisters from the wet and mud first time. This time I bathed, had a hair cut and spent half an hour filing the calluses from my feet. I’d never do that at home. My legs are pumped now and the walking machine is in very good shape.

124. I arrived before midday and had a free afternoon. The season moves towards autumn and I was cozy-sleepy all day. I relish the cool as I head further towards west; I get more done, walk further, strong with positive intention. I woke up hungry and went out to eat.

125. Astorga afternoon in a German in shop for pilgrims. We can invest in Christian philosophy without subservience to dogma and we can expect transparency. I feel guilt when I challenge religion but the German understood. That was a valuable conversation, we are not alone.

126. I get a little grand when I enthrone my power then I am Cardinal Hump. Cardinal Hump pops out in showers and is full of important things to say. Hump my inner prophet is vertical and horizontal in his own mysterious way. Cardinal Hump is also a magistrate.


127. We walked into mist this morning. I stopped when I noticed a woman photograph a rainbow on a sign post. Rainbows appear as graffiti all along the Camino. I looked up and saw a white arc in the sky then gestured to her to look up. We clocked our amazement.

128. I’ve never seen anything like it, a white rainbow against blue formed by the sun burning through the mist. My kindred observer noted the synchronicity. Kindred strangers photographed a rainbow flag and a magical arc in the morning sky and kindred strangers wondered.

129. I’ll leak tomorrow. I walked tranquil and open today in conditions ideal for water from happy eyes. I’m snug in a one horse village called Rabanal Del Camino. I’ve sped through here twice but its my bed for tonight. They call me Michael in the small family places.

130. Funny that I stroll after a big days walk when I should feel exhausted. There are towns out here that look like ruins. My camera could go crazy on the old doors and broken stonework but I can’t capture everything that enthrals me. Sometimes open, sometime closed.

131. Something happens out here, you meet a stranger, share your soul and move on. I’m usually more open with women but this Camino the deep stuff happens with the guys, hetro and homo open and exposed with no divide. I never really know where I am in life.

132. Something happens to me out here, I'm more myself than I know. I don't knowingly use attention seeking devises but people seek me out. I’m full of life and adventure out here, provocative and of service without intending to be. Its good to know a little for others.

133. If you asked me thirty years ago how I would play my final years I would have painted myself as a nomad. I didn't know that it would be exactly like this but the core of this is what I have always wanted to be. My pack is no load to carry because I’m authentic when I’m fluid and tiny.

Day 20

134. Over the past week I’ve walked through potato, sunflower and corn fields. Today I was in the mountains and tall pine forests all day. Were architects inspired by this verticality when they designed their cathedrals. Sense of smell open - pine and herbs.

135. I set out early this morning, it doesn't get light till after eight. I needed to get to Golgotha before the sun was too high in the sky. I’ve been there twice in full sun but I wanted the early enigmatic shadows and pushed out to get there. Its an important place.

136. There is something climactic about the shrine they call Golgotha. Pilgrims leave a rock or a treasure to mark their journey. What is my petition this time? We are beautiful and fragile when enact our secret sorrows; plaintive in our studios and self crafted shrines.

137. I didn't have an agenda today other than to be present with my camera. I’m not grieving or hungry now and I don't cry out in hopeless despair, but I have. I thought about light around objects, construction and immediacy. Then I thought about the Holy Spirit.

138. I ambled down the mountain with the statement; 'By the power invested in me by the Holy Spirit'. Who is this person and how can anybody presume to take the power of a Holy Spirit? What is the return for the investment? Who grants the licence? I didn't plan this.

139. I can’t explain Synchronicity or Magic but it spins around me when I’m connected. I can’t explain why I'm in Ponferrada on the same day three years in a row. I didn't plan it but I'm in Camelot tonight - Knight with Holy Grail. Ponferrada does Knights for tourists.

140. I can’t explain why I connect to people or the change since I grew my beard three years ago. I grew my grey beard to face my age and inevitable decline but I’ve never felt more accepted. The planet reigned today and I was a knight in its forests and kingdoms.

Day 21

141. I suppose I’m exhausted when I check into a Hostel after a big days walk. The routine: take shoes off and put them under the shower, free myself of smelly clothes and hose myself down. I feel all the fatigue I pushed aside and denied but try not to collapse.

142. I empty my pack, throw everything on the floor then put my pack under the shower and leave it to drain. Then the near death pilgrim hits the bed a wreck. I can’t sleep, too hyped, can't eat, too stuffed. This lasts for an hour and a half somewhere around the time that Spain does siesta.

143. By the cool of the evening I stroll around the town in a pair of thongs, my feet want cool air around them. By five I want dinner but I'm in Spain and kitchens don't open until seven. Starved limbo stroll between five and seven. Out after basics; food, water, plenty and rest

144. Dinner: mixed salad, grilled chicken with potatoes, small desert and a half a glass of vino blanco - shovelled in fast. I make a sign to the waiter that I want to pay in a hurry so I can go to sleep. By midnight I want do it all again, endorphins powered and charging.

145. I’m awake by six and want coffee but I can’t set out until at least 7.30, its too dark and I cant see my arrows. It’s habit now to spot the arrow, don't have to think about it, don’t worry about getting lost - shooters eyes. Ancient pilgrims didn't know about arrows and did’nt have ATMs.

146. Sunday today was as close to heaven as I can report. The easy walk took me through vineyards in autumn. This is the third time I've covered this section and it feels like my local park. We’re all in high spirits - bonded, intimate,  funny and most of us unidentified.

147. I took a shot this morning that I adore. You’d have to be a photographer to know the feeling. It all happened in the moment...alchemy. You’d have to be an artist to know this passion. It’s bliss time now and I’m in it. Physical and intellectual blend towards mystical.


Day 22

148. I met Stefan from Salzburg over coffee this morning, he is 23. He’ll be in Cuba for his 24th birthday. Stefan is the only person I've been able to walk with; we’re both very fast and walk the same pace but I showed my age on the hills and let him walk ahead of me.

149. Stefan astounded me, I cannot recall such insight from a young man. I did not have his understanding at his age. The best that I could offer him in return for his wisdom was to assure him that he is good in a way that is inspirational to me. I hope he believes this.

150. I may never see Stefan again; he set out early this morning and is probably a day ahead of me by now. This is my great gift; two men of different ages shared all they knew as they propelled towards further insight. I know that I am blessed by this, I hope he does.

151. The climb to O Cebreiro is steep and doesn't get easier. It was tough, tough, tough straight up. I was exhausted by the time I reached La Faba where I had my usual beetroot and orange juice, follow by a salad with goats cheese that grew from the local garden.

152. Trance groove music accompanied my meal and I wanted to bask in the sun forever but I took off up the mountain. It was as hard as I can remember. I met Thomas from Hungary who now lives in Oslo; he's built too. I had let him get ahead, I'm not young.

153. I met Thomas again near the top, he introduced me to an Australian girl who recently graduated from uni and walks to ask for her next direction. Another glorious intimacy shared with kindred strangers, then I noticed that I wasn’t tired at the top of the mountain.

154. Some feeling can be described but mystery is beyond description. I can’t describe what I feel tonight but if my feeling is of any service or credibility, I wish it for everyone I know and love now and forever. A man loved today. Amen I guess whatever that means.

Day 23

155. I slept in this morning and slept deep; yesterday was big. I didn't really need to get out early, Triacastela is only a 20k walk and mostly down hill. I've reached it twice by lunch time and had the afternoon to wash my clothes and hang them in the sun - I'm prepared.

156. The photographer wasn't happy with the light last night as he stood on the mountain overlooking everything. But the sun did her majesty a favour this morning. She looked splendid. It was good that he set out in daylight; he consumed her with all his senses.

157. She is glorious our planet, her wealth is incomprehensible. She is gracious and loving to all and I am a child of her’s today. I am obedient and devoted to this mother who knows no nations, judgment or oppression. She is purity and light and I’m a bit Franciscan.

158. I was full of agitated thought as I strode through the morning mountains as an elite gazelle. I'm very strong, know my pace and looked forward to my bed in Casa David, Triacastela. I headed into certainty today and my inevitable outcome. I certainly will die.

159. I died here two years ago, then something broke all guards, fear, suffering, expectation, suspicion and judgment. I cannot describe this transfiguration just as I cannot describe life before or after my consciousness. I saw behind my veil and saw it as divine.

160. It didn't happen again when I came back last year. I created the same circumstances and visited the same locations. I lay on tombs and walked down to my dappled stream but it did not re-occur, nor did it tonight. It remains my treasured mystery with no repeat sign.

161. Tiacastela is a sacred site for me and the climax of my Yes Camino. I have no clear objective from here other than to understand my inevitable direction. I have died here three times and that is enough. I rest in a place where what I was is no more and it is finished.

Day 24

162. I set out fast this morning as fit as I can be and enjoyed the first 10ks into Samos where I ran into some friends. They intended to visit the monastery, I wanted get the job done. It felt a little cool as I left the coffee shop, saw the sign, 6 degrees and love that icy tingle.

163. I finish this on Sunday, day 28 of 28 and I imagined my third arrival into Santiago. I didn't want to get there emaciated. I thought to get in early morning then catch a train to Madrid. I don't like Santiago; I’m allergic to shrine towns, their miracles and commerce.

164. The Sarria to Santiago leg is a bit of a chore now. I’ve had great experiences both times. I noticed that I was grumpy and judgmental as I sped towards Sarria. I planned to walk about 30ks but I was intolerant of the spiritual egos of others; mine is much bigger.

165. Then I realised that I didn't want to be here anymore, I was stale and intolerant of others expectations because mine are different. The only reason for me to walk from Sarria to Santiago is to be eligible for the Compostela, a certificate that I don't need.

166. So I became a gazelle and affected a magical disappearance. I decided to catch a train from Sarria to Santiago then walk the Camino Finisterre to the end of the earth. I saw a quarry and took flight. Then I was light, energised, enthusiastic and without burden.

167. I flew into Sarria, asked directions to the station, bought a ticket to Santiago de Compostela and devoured a hearty lunch. I had no expectations of miracles as I arrived in Santiago but I became allergic again. I sneeze and cough when required to hug statues.

168. I wanted to embrace the pilgrims who arrived bewildered with no one to greet them. I wanted to applaud them and offer them free bread and wine but the miracle metropolis swamped them to fleece them of their cash. I want to re-define miraculous and we can.

Day 25

169. My state of aversion continued as I wandered the pre-dawn streets of Santiago. I didn't know where to turn. I’ve learnt to be careful when I land in a city after a beautiful wilderness experience. I’m softer than cities and expect connection and intimacy.

170. I saw the silhouette of a pilgrim as she headed past the cathedral and asked if she was headed to Finisterre. Camino Finisterre takes you to the ocean that was once known as the end of the earth. I left Santiago and followed a shadow into my next adventure.

171. Then I found my light, a golden arrow on the pavement and soon I was in forrest. I had no expectations, it could have been highway, hill, wilderness or suburb. I was glad to be out in something unfamiliar. I didn’t have pace to keep, prayer, goal or destination.

172. I walked into a blue gum forrest. It felt humid and reminded me of home. Yes I walked into a majestical gum forrest outside of Santiago and it felt like Byron Bay. I could have headed for Portomarin through a valley of fog and onto a bridge in mist but that was my first Camino

173. I stopped for coffee and Camino love returned; I lost it in Santiago. I heard a parrot sing and went to investigate. My host lifted the covers of the cage to show me his babies. They nested; she was on the eggs, he was on his perch keen to sing and perform.

174. Two Aussie girls sat near me for coffee, we clicked and laughed all day. Aussies do irony. I didn't know anything about them or their names until dinner but I knew about the souls of their feet and their sweaty armpits. They are midwives, buddies and funny as hell.

175. I loved the walk all day, had no idea what to expect and didn't care how far I walked. I guess this is relaxed. I don't have a blister, tension, sin or regret. Religion serves life, life does not serve religion. Aussies midwives, blue gum forests, Santiago Spain, what a hoot!

Day 26

176. Avoid cliches like the plague but wow I loved today and was amazed and full of wonder. It was awesome, glorious and funny. We all wondered if we were in Australia as we walked through the eucalyptus mist; we were. It was Aussie Aussie Aussie all day.

177. It started with my two Aussie midwives then Aussies kept appearing and we all laughed at the coincidence. By 2pm everyone in my company was Australian. We noted the ridiculous. I loved my cheeky folk as I headed towards my 61s birthday and Finisterre.

178. It’s over for me and Rome now and I was never on with Franchised Musicals. ‘Her majesties a pretty nice girl but she doesn't have a lot to say’. I don't hug statues and seek permission from relics, scapulars, raunchy clergy and flashy cardinal shower time play.

179. Here’s a glorious virgin for yaz glorious planet earth. Go to her any time you need her, she bought you in, you don't need to prove to her your worth. I’ve only got one father in heaven, my father Kevin Smith. My dad soldier Kevin in heaven, loved his only son.

180. I came out to my dad in my early thirties. Kevin James Smith ran the Catholic Youth Organisation and represented Australia at the Second Lay Apostolate Conference in Rome in 1967. He blew the whistle about all the dirty stuff back in the early seventies.

181. It was terrifying for me to say the words but I had to and got him on the phone. I said 'I'm Gay’. No silence followed; ‘Don't you worry about that I was in the army’. There never was a problem for him or his brother Fr. Cecil Smith SJ. They always knew and knew that it was fine.

182. I didn't know till after he died that his uncle Rex was arrested in a toilet. I didn't know that my father Kevin in heaven was the only member of his family to stand by him, defend him and protect him. My father Kevin in heaven votes Yes for Marriage Equality with me today and today is good for Yes Camino walking.

Day 27

183. I felt nostalgic today, my last day of walk and I relished every turn. I kept to no arrival agenda and had no visualisation of Finisterre. The morning of the day I spent in forest and on moor. Then in the heat of early afternoon I gasped at the horizon and the blazing sea.

184. No plans for birthday 61, did big 60 last year. In San Sebastian I stood on a mountain, horizon line Biscay. I breathed and looked out as far as I could see; Bilboa and Guernica as distant blue. I’ve walked through both to purify my temple and know that I am true.

185. Hootings around mountains with my two Aussie midwives. We cut through the crap together. Met an Aussie roady but he was Steve Angelical. The three of us got naughty to keep it real, like Aussies midwives have to be. But the midwife put a rock on a shrine?

186. We talked about aggressive people, insults, stings and how to walk away. The girls are medical professionals and get abused, sometimes all day. They agreed; it takes time to learn to flick it off you. Observe that now; no hurt from insult, learn how to walk away.

187. On day 27 of days 28 I report on my physical condition. I slowed down for three days to arrive in Finisterre in optimal performance mode; it worked. Glamour red carpet arrival: I look my best to eradicate myths of emaciated victims. Not me mate, keen, fit, sorted, real.

188. Arrival third time, beyond any construct of gorgeous. The last 10ks took me by the sea. I photographed myself to record my condition as I wafted without fatigue in seaside lanes in the place once known as the end of the earth; Yelp! How glorious can she be?

189. Revelations began on a floating jetty, Arias from the Eastern Suburbs, myself, boats and sea. And there I opened my Artists practice in a state as pure as I can task to be. It emerged three times, a ritual shrine, bound to the Yogic truth that all life on earth is free.

Day 28

190. When the clock turned back from daylight saving, it tricked my eye; I’d been out most of the night. I lay on a floating jetty, behind my head a light. No metaphor intended it really was a light, then I switched into Darren Hayes for my arrival shadow play in the Yes Camino arrival mania of infantile delight. 

191. Kindred strangers meet by co-incidence at the light house for sunset at Finisterre. Two Italians, at least six Aussies, and my two holy midwives, of course we met for sunset. I met a mysterious German girl and when I saw her on a rock, we clocked. We sensed something mysterious and intangible and felt a shared respect as we practised.

192. I've cleaned out the pack and thrown stuff away responsibly; they banned the fires on the beach. I'm back now to only what I need for the next chapter in what I suspect is an ongoing pilgrimage. I don’t know about the next one yet. I got excited to find a 50ml spray bottle for sweet almond oil. Cosmetics earn their weight each pilgrimage.     

193. I tested the Yogic proposition when I landed and yes it applied. I accepted my dazed state. The night of the third Camino arrival, time suspended and I Artist-played all night. I thought about Art and rebellion and mischief and naughty things but these are not for show. Art is my soul; I'm back with it now, Art is sacred, oblique and private.

194. My Yogic instinct emerged the morning of day 28. I headed for the ocean, cool salt and water no metaphor intended. I listened to my instinct to extend and enquire into the state of my body. Mind in post Camino mode, poetic and concise. Instinct to enquire tasked from Yoga Nidra – Yoga is intuitive now.

195. I report an energised and powerful physical body free from injury caused by force or over extension. Intuition to stretch curiously into sensation lead a recovery that started speedy then settled. I breath down to take the air in the breezy shade by the ocean at Finisterre. It’s over Yes Camino is done.

196. Yes it’s valid to regard this as the end of the earth; how can anything be more amazing? For my final enactment I climbed to the lighthouse for sunset at Finisterre and made myself a shadow with the sun. And when I knew that it was over I walked down the mountain and prepared for re-entry because it’s best to keep it real.

© Michael C. Smith 2018