Walking across Spain with no money and other such adventures.

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Ive made it! Obligatory Cathedral photo coming soon ­čÖé Can you walk the Way, tired, hungry, injured, with empty pockets, and still feel the birds are singing you onwards and the flowers are smiling as you pass them? Can you accept that you may experience the worst but also, great gifts of abundance? Step by step, day by day. Don't worry about tomorrow. Appreciate this moment. . . . . . . #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #cami├▒odesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside ┬á#iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames ┬á#peregrino #ultreia #caminoprimitivo #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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‘The world reveals itself to those that walk on foot.’
Werner Herzog

I’m currently in the small electronics room of a hotel in rural Bosnia. Around me buzz computers and hard drives, surveillance equipment and alarm systems. The air is still with an intense dry heat. My quick dry travel shirt is drenched with sweat. But I have access to a laptop and feel the need to write something of my recent experiences.

I walked the Camino Del Norte and Primitivo over 42 days, 28 days of which I walked without money.

I lost my wallet, most likely pickpocketed, and after the initial shock, decided I liked the feeling of having empty pockets and nothing left to lose.

I made some rules to test my idea that I could live without money –
*Dont accept money
*Dont ask pilgrims for anything
*Only accept help from someone for a limited time (eg 2 days)

I learnt what herbs to eat along the way. I learnt some basic Spanish to ask for old bread at cafes and bars. I did odd jobs for a bed in Albergues like painting, cleaning and cutting grass.

I photo documented the journey on instagram, so to save time, and also get out of this sauna, I will share some pertinent photo posts.

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Sometimes you meet angels, sometimes you meet healers. Four days on the Camino now with no money. Maciej from Poland practises Zen. He said because of his belief he must help those in need. I have developed bad shin splints in my right leg. He rubbed it with oil, used a roller on the shin (painful) heated it with a herb (Salvia) and then rubbed a paste on it and wrapped it in cling wrap. There are herbs along the way to nibble and today the third bakery l asked gave me some bread. It is humiliating and hard, but l think it can be done – reaching Santiago with no money. My Spanish is improving rapidly and my figure is slimming fantastically ­čÖé . . . . . . . . . #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #cami├▒odesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside ┬á#iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames ┬á#peregrino #ultreia ┬á#bilbao #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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Yesim from Turkey was one of the first people to help me and appreciate my strange experiment. In Australia l had a big issue with a Muslim activist @mariamveiszadeh giving a talk at Australia's biggest documentary festival about white privilege and needing quotas to even the playing field. I saw this as trying to fight racism and sexism with racism and sexism. I developed a strong dislike for Muslim extremism. Yesim is a Muslim. She showed me all religions have a version of the golden rule. And all religions have their extremists that see the world as us and them and not we. . . . . . . . . . #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #camiñodesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside  #iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames  #peregrino #ultreia  #bilbao #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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I took a detour to Oviedo. From here l flipped a coin to decide which Camino l chose. The coin said Primitivo, more difficult than the del norte ­čÖü Last night the local 66 bed Albergue would not accept me because l did not have 6 euro. It was 7.30. l saw a place earlier called Cocina Economica that looked like a food kitchen for the poor. I asked if l could eat and l could. I then asked where l can stay with no money. A volunteer offered me $50. I refused which was tough, but l want to stay true to the test. I went to the cathedral, there was a service, which meant l avoided the $4 fee for pilgrims. I saw a statute of St James, as the moorslayer and asked him if he could help out a pilgrim. I went outside and happened to meet the two guys l shared a table with at the food kitchen. I told them my problem and Alberto the Giant offered to walk me to a place. Using a phone translator he said 'lm helping because l too have had hard times' My Spanish is not good enough to get his story but he then said something very profound via his phone; ' l understand why you are making this offering.' The gentle dignified look in his eye almost brought a tear to my eye. We arrived at Cano Mata Caritas, a homeless shelter, just before the 10pm curfew and l shared a room with a recovering cocaine addict. The photo is of Pelayo, a the leader of the 300 warriors who defeated 3000 moors. Its a good yarn that involves a hermit, a virgin and a cave. Would l recommend a visit to Oviedo? Only if you have a full wallet ­čÖé . . . .. #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #cami├▒odesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside ┬á#iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames ┬á#peregrino #ultreia #caminoprimitivo #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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The most difficult thing about this experiment is how some pilgrims treat me when they hear my story. Some may avoid me, expecting me to ask for money, other's may avoid me because they think l am a scammer and possibly a thief. Others may just avoid me because l have no money, and maybe this spoils their camino holiday. Maybe it is my ego, or my pride imagining this. But this is the hardest thing for me, being treated like the scum of the earth. I know there are enough good people in the world to make it to Santiago. I know l will make it, with broken shoes and a belt notch tighter. But what an insight into money and people's relationship with it! I just hope before l reach Santiago l find a way to deal with these people in a way that doesnt make me feel angry and humiliated. This is after all an experiment l can end at any moment. . . . . . . . #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #camiñodesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside  #iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames  #peregrino #ultreia #caminoprimitivo #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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To live without money I had to live one day at a time. I had to simplify things, break my day into trying to achieve simple tasks – walk, eat, find somewhere to sleep.

I felt that by doing this I saw deeply into my own and other’s hearts. Money is such an important consideration for most people.

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It is really fascinating to travel without money. It is like you see into a person's heart. Last night, Alberto the Giant, possibly a homeless man, with shoes more beat up than mine, helped me out of the goodness of his heart. The Manager of the Albergue on the other hand, would not even hear out my story. He only heard l had no money, and that for him was enough. The signs were bad though, they even charged pilgrims $3 euro for their new primitivo credentials! I have realised during this experiment that we all have an abundance or poverty mindset. Years of shoestring travel has lead me to have a bit of a poverty mindset. It made me very cheap with my money. Living day by day, only concerned with my next meal or next warm bed, l have come to realise all the energy we invest in our 'careers' and hoarding money, misses the true essence of life, the true joy of life – to share. . . . . . . . .. #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #cami├▒odesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside ┬á#iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames ┬á#peregrino #ultreia #caminoprimitivo #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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The last 100 kms was the toughest. I saw the true filthy heart of the money circus the Camino has become. In fact I would suggest anyone who only walks the last 100 kms of the Camino is kidding themselves to think they would get any type of benefit out of it. I didnt even stay in Santiago long enough to get my Compostella.

After my experience I decided I needed to give something back, so traveled to Lesvos, Greece to volunteer to help refugees at Europes largest Refugee Camp. Unfortunately I got a staph infection in my arm and spent a week in bed on antibiotics, but got to meet enough refugees to get an idea of their predicament.

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I met this group of Afghani refugees today – Ali, Abdul, Mohammud and Sharif. Despite them striking a serious pose for the photo they were a lot of fun. Abdul told me his story. He had his right hand blown off by a suicide bomber in Kabul. For a long time he was very angry and bitter. Despite his parents pleading, he told them he couldnt live in Afghanistan any longer. He found a Turkish people smuggler on facebook and paid him 700 euro to sail from Turkey to Lesvos with 70 other people in a 9 metre boat with a faulty engine. He has been in Greece for 5 months and is confident his life will be better here if he can find work. None of these young men can leave Greece. ?? ????? ??? ???? ????????? ?????? ?? ???? – ??? ???? ?????????? ????? ? ????. ?? ???? ????? ???? ???? ??? ???? ? ???? ?????? ???? ????? ????? ????? ?????. ????????? ?????? ?? ?? ?? ?? ???. ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ??? ???? ??????? ?? ???? ???? ??. ???? ??? ?????? ?? ????? ?????? ? ??? ???. ?? ???? ??????? ???????? ?? ?? ???? ??? ?? ???? ??? ????? ?? ????????? ????? ???. ?? ?? ??????? ????? ?? ?? ??? ??? ?? ?? ???? ? 700 ???? ?? ????? ?? ???? ?? 70 ??? ???? ?? ???? 9 ???? ?? ????? ????? ??????. ?? ??? 5 ??? ?? ????? ???? ??? ? ??????? ???? ?? ??? ?????? ??? ???? ????? ?? ???? ????? ???. ??????? ?? ??? ????? ???? ??? ?????? ????? ?? ??? ????.

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There is a book l really like called Shantaram, which follows the adventures of Australian author from prison escapee, to indian slum dr, to afghani freedom fighter. It is a great yarn, but holds nothing on my lesvos flatmate's story. Joy's father died before he was born and when his mother died when he was 11 he had to fend for himself, working in restaurants. As a Shia Muslim in Sunni dominated Bangladesh, he often feared for his life. The scars on his left forearm from a machete attack represent the unfortunate lack of tolerance many in the Muslim world have for other belief systems. When the persecution lead to the burning of one shia families home, Joy decided to flee to India to work illegally in Calcutta restaurants. He decided to contact the Mafia to try and get asylum in Europe. Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and finally Lesvos. Many poorly paid jobs where he couldnt leave the factory for fear of arrest. £600 euro to join 35 others on the short boat trip to Greece. He has been on Lesvos since 2016, has had two asylum claims rejected, but is positive his next interview in feb 2020 will be different. His dream is to open his own restaurant and share Bangladeshi cuisine with Europe.

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The Camino experience seems a long way away now. Normal travel seems dull in comparison, very dull…and pointless. There was something about having a challenge, a goal, and putting all your energy into achieving that goal. I also felt I had to live in a certain way if it was to work. I felt I too had to share the little I had to be able to receive. One night I woke at 3am and wrote down this little poem/prayer about my experience. Reading it again, it is probably a good metaphor not just for the Camino, but life. Hope youve got something out of my ramblings, feel free to comment below.

‘Can you walk the Way, tired, hungry, injured, with empty pockets, and still feel the birds are singing you onwards and the flowers are smiling as you pass them? Can you accept that you may experience the worst but also, great gifts of abundance? Step by step, day by day. Don’t worry about tomorrow. Appreciate this moment.’

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Maybe one must step outside the system. Fail in fact! End up broke or on the streets. Or ride a motorcycle round Australia for a year. Fully disengage! You won't know who you are at the end of it. It will be very confronting, to do nothing. But by breaking down your role in society, just maybe, you get more of an idea of who you really are, and what you are capable of. There is a glorious sense of freedom, and fear, because one day you have to return. And that will be the time that one hopes the lessons of the road will help you live with more integrity, where your actions do fully match your ideals. You have faced the unknown, you relied on yourself and the generosity of strangers, and realized you can survive. That is a powerful lesson to learn. . . . . . . #thewayofstjames #hiking #pilgrimage #camino #theway #travel #elcaminopeople #caminodesantiago #jakobsweg #caminhodesantiago #wayofstjames #stjamesway #chemindesaintjacques #caminodelnorte #camiñodesantiago #igerspain #walkingtrails #greatwalks #getoutside  #iperegrinos #wayofsaintjames  #peregrino #ultreia #caminoprimitivo #trekking #vivecamino #xacobeo #hikingadventures

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