SKIPPING THE UGLY OUT OF LIFE. Tales From The Walk Behind Me, No.1

Portugalete. Biscay, Spain.

I love writing.

It’s no secret. Well maybe it is, I guess whoever is reading this doesn’t really know me.

Then again, who does?

Shit, my own family doesn’t even know me, and we’re familiarly close!

That said, maybe the series to come will give you some insight into my mind, if you’re interested.

I don’t know, I don’t care, because I love writing for the sake of writing!

But, if you do gather something unique from my stories, or at the very least, you look at me like the asshole you don’t want to be like, I’ll still take some credit, because an example of ‘what not to be’ is still a good example– HA!

“An example of ‘what not to be’ is still a good example”

G. Kourtesiotis, 2020. — cynical asshole.

Okay, enough!

The following is Number 1 of 14 in the series of blog posts to come called “Tales From The Walk Behind Me”, and I will likely be posting one journal entry daily over the coming weeks— ideally.

It is a series of originally journaled entries through a few of my days —events, experiences, thoughts— along the Camino De Santiago.

This was my second Camino that took place over 26 days through September to October, 2019 that covered 1010+km along the Camino Norte route, including Muxia-Finisterre.

It might not be what you expect because my thoughts can be ugly.

The content will vary, and the timelines will be all over the place, and that alone should give you an indication as to the inner workings of my mind–Ha!

In all honesty, you might even question my own benevolence as a human being.

I digress, let’s begin.

En Route Camino Norte-Colindres, Spain.

Monday September 9, 2019. 7:17pm

I feel that I should write something.

Well here it is…

I’m just going to reflect on my day, that’s a start.

I woke up at about 7:30a.m, —cold— in my bivvy bag, in a tent in the backyard of an albergue located in the beautiful oceanside city of Castro Urdiales (Cantabria, Spain). Such a beautiful place!

Castro Urdiales- Cantabira, Spain.

Moving on, I awoke after a light sleep from the chill of the night and the lack of warm clothing. To be honest, I had warm clothing, but I was too stubborn to get out of my bag to put it on.

In the sleeping liner next to me slept a German fellow named Vanya. He awoke before I did as he left the tent to pack up, and to get a move out on the day.

“Leave it open.” — I groggily told him, as he started to zip the tent screen back up.

Albergue Municipal – Castro Urdiales. Cantabria, Spain.

I was late to get up, chilled from the night, and from continuously tossing,-– the result of a strained right hip from the excessive mileage walked on the Camino so far. Excessive mileage without rest, the lack of space in the tent, —damn European proportions!-– the constriction of my body within the bivvy itself, and lastly coupled with the foul gas that was passed with the full head of lettuce I had eaten for dinner prior to bed.

I finally woke and rose, proceeding inside the laundry to pick up my charging phone left to tender overnight. I then went inside the albergue itself to use the toiletries, you know, to brush my teeth, to urinate, and to put some underwear on— because I slept in sweats, but commando. For explanation, I was only in a tent because the dormitory bunks had filled up within minutes of the albergue opening its doors.

Back outside, I waved goodbye to my young German tent-mate Vanya, Hasse, and Kristoff. I like Hasse best. He is a 67-or-something-year-old Swede, who is kind, respectful, and humble. Kristoff, another 50+ German fellow, was alright. He was well-meaning, but he rubbed me the wrong way.

I finished my wave as the three of them set off across the street on their start to chase down the yellow Camino arrows for the day. I set off 30 minutes afterwards rather annoyed that I had a later start than intended, but mostly because these three people were out ahead of me.

Santiago Cathedral – Bilbao. Biscay, Spain.

It was certainly no race, but my efforts to put in countless miles on foot through multiple days before, were squandered by the trio’s choice to take the metro from Bilbao a single day before, which brought them right back through my path.

Again, it’s no race, and the late start was no fault or issue but my own. But the nuisance lays with the ease in effort to cut corners and miles with alternative transport when the choice is there to walk.

“My guidebook recommended to skip that part of town, to take the metro” — I recalled one of them saying after our first encounter from the distance that I put between us.

The fact that they took the metro had bothered me greatly, because that’s what my Camino is, and it’s what life is… You don’t just skip stuff because it’s ugly!

“You don’t skip out on life just because it’s ugly!”

G. Kourtesiotis, 2019.

I didn’t like walking through the industrial filth of Bilbao’s backstreets either, it was shit!

It displayed some of humanities worst qualities, —a blatant disregard for environmental concern, an over-materialistic/over-consumed way of being, and both, the hoarding and dumping of discarded items — Garbage!

Don’t get me wrong.

This isn’t a knock to Spain, or Bilbao, because the city center was beautiful in its own right, it’s a knock to humanity.

WE ARE ALL GUILTY of such behaviours in life,– every major city has evidence of the same repulsive characteristics in disgusting habit.

Nevertheless, it was shit– But, we can’t skip the experience of seeing it because of the gratitude in experience it was to witness its contrast, like the beauty that came afterwards in Playa La Arena.

La Arena – Biscay, Spain.

Fast forward into today again

I momentarily played that thought in my mind as I carried on my fasted walk for the morning.

I entertained not resting, or eating until I hit 25km that morning, a battle for another day, but, I stopped as planned after chasing a 13km hike to refuel and recharge.

I continued to walk and shortly found another familiar face, Dimitar, a Bulgarian fellow living in the Czech Republic. He was one of my first roommates embarking the Camino Norte back at the municipal albergue in Zaurai.

Dimitar is a nice man, soft spoken and pleasant to talk to. He is a forensic accountant for KPMG, who’s sister happens to live in Missisauga, ON. Canada. Small world.

Again, he is humble and kind, and we shared a few momentary chuckles as we shuffled along. He too took the metro, but I didn’t think too heavily about it for much longer.

My plans are for distance, so I waved goodbye.

We’ll have to see if our paths cross again, I hope he makes it.

I believe he will, but I hope so too.

G. Kourtesiotis, September 9, 2019.




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