Day 0: The first step of a 1,000 mile journey


(27/Sep/2017) It’s 1:40AM at Cricklewood Station and I’ve missed my train to Gatwick. The next one is an hour later, so I have time for some selfies and some self-reflection.

Eric Morcambe joked that “Life’s not Hollywood. It’s Cricklewood.” I’ve always liked the joke but I used to imagine that Cricklewood was a genteel suburb, and that Morcambe meant us to understand that real life is less glamorous than the movies. In fact, Cricklewood is a bit of a dump. It’s rough, dirty, noisy, and a little frightening, although quite vibrant in its own way.

I killed time by exploring the spices and exotic foods in one of the 24 hour grocery shops on the Broadway. The fruit looked tired and bruised. I picked out an apple, some middle eastern corn snacks, and a can of coconut water. The shopkeeper wouldn’t take my pennies. He preferred to give me too much change than to let me get rid of coins. Odd. Perhaps he thought I needed them more than him – After all, you must have made some bad choices in life, to be carrying your whole life on your back and trying to find an unbruised apple at 2:00 AM on the Cricklewood broadway.

Strangely, though, I was feeling pretty buoyant and excited about the road ahead. I’m looking forward to living simply for some time, to not having any deadlines, to seeing beautiful places, and meeting some interesting people. With luck, I’ll learn some Spanish and make it all the way to Santiago.

The things that I’m anxious to avoid are:

1) Succumbing to blisters (or that twinge in my knee, or the old plantar fasciitis, or something going wrong with my back) at an embarrassingly early stage.

2) Being so out of shape that I simply can’t handle it

3) Getting frustrated and irritated about missing signposts and going the wrong way – instead of embracing the journey and enjoying it

4) Becoming a Camino bore who writes boring, mundane stuff about the minutiae of the journey like “Arrows That I Saw On My First Day” instead of moving and thought provoking things

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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