A few weeks ago I blogged pair of pilgrims walking through Bellebouche. Sat at my machine this morning and I glimpse a pair of Donkey ears slowly walking through the hamlet. Another walker and a slightly different beast of burden this time. Just managed to leap up and catch my camera before they continued off on their way.
It’s very uplifting and not a little awe inspiring to imagine that if they are doing the whole Santiago de Compostela trek, from my front door to that destination is probably a good 1200 km still ahead of them. That’s a lot of shoe-leather and discounts wherever in France they might have set off from.
It set me thinking about great journeys and what motivates people to undertake travels like this. Slinging everthing you need on your back (or your Donkey!) and setting off for a marathon trek across western Europe like that is inspirational and bound to change your view of life.
In 1992 Joan and I had a fantastic holiday in Morrocco, staying just outside Tangiers on the North African coast. I’d travelled a bit in Europe at that point but this was an immersion into something completely different. We spent an excellent morning on that holiday sat at a pavement café just taking in the sights and we ended up chatting to a school teacher who had undertaken his own special journey. His trip was a difficult/arduous one to Mecca for the Hajj. He was keen to explain that he wasn’t a particularly religious person but it was impressed on him that it was his duty to do the pilgrimage and that for him the key thing that he took away from it all was that life was not about the destination but it was the journey that had meaning. He very graciously bought us our mint tea, wished us well for our own journeys and was then on his way but the memory of that encounter and his tale has stuck.
So, perhaps it’s this memory that resonates so much every time we catch a glimpse of a walker on a big trek past our front door. Next time I catch someone walking through, I’ll offer tea and rest and let their donkey have a stroll around our paddock.