Chapter 46 from the collection of pilgrim stories: “guest in Paradise”

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Machteld and Ronald have been saying it for years “all those pilgrim stories, we can write a book about it” and they did. Now for the 4th time. Today we let you light up one of these stories, straight from their paradise, their B&B or rather: Bakhuisje, Heideweg in Overasselt.

Number 46: Backpack

If you are planning to go on a longer hike, you can of course even decide to do this camping. You will have to bring a lightweight tent, sleeping bag and mattress. Campsites can be found along the route of the Walk of Wisdom . The price of an overnight stay is less than at a B&B, but for a little more money you also have a nice shower and a nice bed.

Even during the last summers it was hard work even without luggage. Temperatures of well over thirty degrees, often entire stretches in full sun and then with a pack that also contains camping gear, it will be hard. A lady with dog and luggage made a reservation for a night with us. She had already walked for three days, camped for two nights and now she was ready for a real bed. It got very hot that day, she had to cover at least 25 km, with luggage. The backpack that we put on the scale afterwards weighed 18 kg!

In the course of the day I had already let her know via a message that I would be able to pick her up if necessary. The last stretch goes along an industrial estate, over two bridges and then for at least another two kilometers along the sunny edge of the forest. Around half past six my phone rang. It was the runner. She didn’t like it anymore and was very grateful for my offer, because it would be an hour’s walk before she would arrive at our place.

I drove towards Malden where I found her just outside the built-up area. She walked along the bike path, heavily weighed down by her luggage. Gratefully, she stepped in, crying closer to laughing. The dog crawled into the back seat with his tail between his legs. The backpack, which could hardly be lifted, in the back. When she got home, she flopped down on the bed and broke down in tears. It had been so hard! Why had she started this journey and why with so much packing. I tried to comfort her, brought her a cup of tea and promised to make her something to eat.

Exhausted, she crawled into bed a little later. The next morning she was a little better. A rest day would do her good, she decided and luckily I had room for an extra night. The next day, she was able to walk with another hiker. She eagerly accepted my offer to take the pack to the campsite in Ravenstein.

At the end of the day, this pilgrim was waiting for me at the entrance of the campsite. Her pitch was next to that of an elderly couple with a car. The next stop would be in Bergharen, again more than twenty kilometers in full sun and at more than thirty degrees. She was reluctant to ask for help, but I encouraged her to talk to the couple. Especially if you are a bit older, have a lot of life experience, have had the necessary setbacks, you don’t mind helping someone at all.

That became clear afterwards when she sent a sweet message when she had crossed the finish line. This couple had walked the Camino, had been through a lot in their lives and wanted nothing more than to help this pilgrim finish the Walk of Wisdom . She was so happy that she had managed to make the arduous journey with her dog and that she had come to this surprising realization. That people like to help someone. This week there had been saving angels on her way.

Another runner had planned to make the trip camping with her 9-year-old son, but in Corona time that turned out not to be easy. Most campsites were still closed and camping was only allowed with their own sanitary facilities. If she could camp in our garden. I had offered her the bakehouse so that she would have a nice bed for herself and her son. But no, she really wanted to camp and would only use the sanitary facilities.

Those two had a wonderful afternoon and evening. The two hammocks were a hit. The pancakes at St. Walrick had tasted good and the night had not been too cold. They left cheerfully the next morning, with their packs. On to the next camping opportunity.

So special in this day and age. An unsprayed mom, a son who still reads comic books and walks a part of this trip without sulking.

These three hikers were able to take off their backpacks after a day of walking. They only had to walk with luggage for a week. However, you don’t just discard a spiritual backpack, which also turns out to be very heavy. Another runner of the Walk of Walk of Wisdom ran to clear her head. Her youngest child had just left home, she could finally pick up her old life. When the youngest of her three children was two years old, her husband decided to take his own life. Her sweetheart, for whom she had put everything aside through their marriage. How she had exchanged her city life for life in the countryside. Her work as a nurse had given up working for a farm with livestock. She had done it with love, but after his death she had had a lot of trouble getting her life back on track. She had succeeded! At the time, the animals had been sold and she had resumed her old profession.

Now she was really alone. She enjoyed everything that came her way, but there was still so much sadness underneath. You really don’t just take off a backpack like that. The bonds with which he is attached to you are almost fused with your body, so deep have they penetrated.

I hope she succeeds.

This week became the beginning of a new life, she said.

Want to read on? This can be done in the Bakhuisje or on order. Machteld’s email address is [email protected] (costs 12,95 excluding shipping costs)