Spain: Astorga to Manjarin
Distance: 30 km
Time on board: 3 hours 24 mins
Average speed: 8.8 kmh
Cumulative distance: 8392km
Ascent : 631 m @ 1500m altitude
5am, abruptly awaken by the thunderstorm. Bad omen. Waited till 8 am for the storm to stop. While the surface was still wet, I took my time to walk. Met two Taiwanese ladies and 2 Mexican cyclists. Rode with the Mexicanos for awhile till they follow the off road Camino way. The climb up to Cruz de Ferro began. First 20km to El Ganso was gradual slope, not too steep for me. I could easily but slowly push up the inclines. After El Ganso, it was different matter. The climb became very steep, i had to alternate between walking and skating. Walking most of the time obviously. Living in Singapore, flat piece of island since birth, breathing in 1500m altitude is difficult. I was panting heavily after each push.
Met a elderly lady who asked me to take picture of her. She showed me a leaflet in English, that she had no camera phone and requested me to send her an email of our photos. Good idea to get people started in conversation. The weather was cloudy after the morning storm. However, at 1500m it was freezing cold for me, given I come from a topical island.
Made it to Cruz de Ferro, Iron Cross. Iron Cross is symbolic landmark where pilgrims toss a stone which they carried all the way during the Camino. The tossing stone symbolizes leaving behind the burden the we carry in life. For me, I placed the soft toy Rabbit given by Celine in Tours. Since Tours was the official start of my Camino, it was only right that the rabbit represents the trouble and burden I carried in my Life. As I place the object, I said the traditional prayer
O Lord, may the stone which I bring to this holy place be a sign of pilgrimage to Santiago. When I reach my final judgment, tip the balance of my life in favor of my good deeds. I lay down this token which I carry from Singapore. Please forgive my sins and help me carry my burdens in life. Amen.
Naturally me skating gathered lots of pilgrims at Cruz de Ferro. More photo taking session. After Cruz de Ferro, it was 22 km downhill all the way to Ponferrada. However, 2 km into the downhill, I passed by an interesting place. Hospitales de los tempalos. It was run-down Refugio with no facilities, no running water, no electricity, no wifi, no shower. Why would anyone stay there? But there is something about the place that captivate me. It is raw basicity, like a place for the hippies. Tomas run this place, maintained by donations. He lead a simple lifestyle, don’t yearn for luxury. Tomas is rather eccentric being, who believes in the knight’s Templar. Doesn’t bother me for I am also eccentric one, choosing to travel the world on a longboard.
Pilgrims of modern era relies GPS phone, trekking boots, branded backpack to walk the Camino whereas centuries ago, pilgrims completely relied on faith to carry them through.
You see life don’t have to be so complicated. A simple sustainable life is actually wealth. Jose Mujica, former President of Uruguay, popularly known as the poorest president in the world. He donated away 90% of his salary to charity. He once quoted that he don’t need much, all he has is just enough to get by life. This way he isn’t enslaved to wealth and possession. Once you have wealth, you fight hard to maintain your lifestyle, as result you become enslaved to prosperity. When you live a simple self sustaining life, you don’t care anything else. It is freedom. Example, you might consider the tribal people in Africa, Asia, Papua New Guinea as living in abject poverty. However, that is subjective. They grow their own food, live off the land, they simply don’t need money. They can live comfortably without us modern society. It is when we hold them to our view of wealth and poverty, enslaved them. When we prevent them from living their traditional lifestyle and force them to work for money, they are unable to self sustain their lifestyle and grow food, that is when they are in poverty. In tribes, there is no things such as possession, everything is co owned by the community. Money is not an issue.
I am not saying that we should abandon our current lifestyle and become farmers. No, Consumerism and capitalism is what drives us to work and innovate. Without it, we don’t have the motivation to progress. But instead, I am saying we should live within our own means. I used to hanker over high tech expensive phones and chase after latest items which serve no purpose. I can get a simple Android phone instead of latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy. It both serve the same purpose to communicate and call. I can get simple clothes rather than branded items. Since going on my world tour, I learnt to live simply and go for functional items. Here , a shelter, food and water is all I need.
Money is only a value given by human. In a apocalyptic world, money won’t have any value as you can’t eat on money to survive. As so the hierarchy reverse in an apocalyptic world, It is the farmers, engineers, skilled workers whom will strive. Lawyers, bankers and politicians doesn’t contribute to any value to sustainable life.
My final thoughts to my readers is to contend and live simple sustainable lifestyle. That is true freedom and happiness.
For once, I decided to stay here for the night without any WiFi, totally free from shackles of society and civilization. This update will be posted the next day when I get internet in civilization.