Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Join the adventures of Dutch walkers Joost & Rob as they pilgramage from Seville to Santiago de Compostela (Via de la Plata)

Joost and Rob's great adventure--the pilgramage from Seville to Santiago de Compostela (Via de la Plata). Image by Stefan van Drake.

Tuesday, my very good Dutch friends Joost Schepel (above left) and his mate since age 13, Robert Sligting, did what they often do together during their reunions in Spain: walk in the mountains, into the valleys, up the hills.

Walk and walk and walk.

(Joost and family live in rural Competa. Rob lives half a year in Amsterdam, the other half at his home in Maine, USA.)

This is a three-month walking sojourn along the ancient pilgramage Via de la Plata, about 1,000 kilometres, which they started this Tuesday in Seville.

I've been with them on a "nice seven-hour walk" deep-in-the-mountains around Competa, Andalusia, a walk in a recent January that morphed into a 12-hour nightmare, at night and with only my very weak torch (flashlight) as we traversed very dangerous terrain.

In all fairness, Joost had never taken this route he was charting before. It was virgin ground for us all.

I collapsed three times, and I thought I was in pretty good shape. And realized otherwise and at one point, wanted to go to sleep under an inviting, large green bush, suggesting that the pair of them forge on without me.

That was not an option.

But like most Dutch, these guys are tough and intrepid travelers and refused defeat. We finally arrived in the village of Frigliana.

The first thing we saw: an open bar.

Survival can be a wonderful thing, especially after three beers. These guys never relented and also kept me going from one valley to another hilltop with the promise that was the last only to find more valleys and hilltops.

Good fun, that.

It's part of being Dutch, the hard-wiring of genetic history.

I recall in 1968 picking up a couple of Dutch hitch-hikers and we ended up traveling from Denmark to Prague and then spent 6 weeks camping out together (they had the tent, I had the 1959 VW bug) outside Prague during the Prague Spring under Dubcek.

The Dutch, most of whom speak 5 or 6 languages quite well, come by this from a long history of colonialization and trade.

And if you can climb a hill or mountain and see landscapes other than those that are grey and flat, this is a bonus for the Dutch: hence, Spain with its reputed 300 days of annual sunshine and diverse topography.

I invite you to tune into their blog, via de la plata daily. 

OK, today's entry, their first day's account, is in Dutch. Use Google's translator.

Joost, though fluent in English, is writing the Dutch; Robert, who looked as though he was dead on arrival after the first day, claims he will post in English. Either way, check these guys out.

Both are over 60 somewhat (I cannot recall exactly.) and possess huge energy and desire to inhale nature and new discoveries along this ancient trail, including art and architecture.

Walk with them. They invite you.

Also, note Joost's website:

Joost makes a living walking alone but mainly guiding others and forging new trails, mapping new outposts in the mountains.

These guys are bigger than life.

Walk with them.

Rock on and practice peace and love.

Stefan, the ArtTraveler(TM) See ArtTraveler videos on YouTube.

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