Camino Day 31 and 32 (Lamothe to the Bonheur Gite, near Manciet) 26K

The next day we had agreed to stay at the Bonheur. This was a Donativo recommended to us from someone we’d met at a previous Donativo (called the Par’chemin). Although my previous experience at the Par’chemin had started to challenge my prejudices that these places were stuffed full of stoned hippies. I still felt nervous throughout the day as we got closer and closer. With the questions on what he wanted to do with his life coming in and out of focus, we wondered what would a life together would naturally look like. Walking on the Camino had brought a lot of almost daily magic to us, so we’d started to discuss could we have a Gite on the Camino?

This is where the Magician and I had polar different opinions. I was beginning to realise I wanted enough money to have a comfortable life. But the most important thing to me was to be able to have time to write. The Magician wanted to continue to enjoy the magic of the Camino and have a place that he could work with magnetism. The biggest difference in this though, was the concept of a Donativo. I think people are generally good. But if they can get something for free, they will. The Magician strongly believes in the idea of exchange. That people will offer a fair exchange based on what they give to each other. Whether this is time, money etc. Here we were on a fact-finding mission, and the Magician was specifically looking to change my prejudices and show that a Donativo could give a good quality life together. Away from capitalism and stereotypical stress filled corporate jobs.

We walked 26k to get us out to the Bonheur, debating Donativo’s for most of the day. I needed my mind to go round and round the problem. The Magician left confused and frustrated as to why I wasn’t immediately seeing the obvious, and rushing in with both feet. Eventually finding the cross road to the Donativo, we walked down the dirt track to the small wooden house, and separate park home. The garden filled with vegetables, chickens clucking and butterflies floated everywhere. It was quite simply, a haven of peace.

Greeted by the couple running the Donativo we were immediately welcomed like long lost family. After we settled in together, we gathered round their small table to eat the vegetarian feast prepared. I am not exaggerating when I say this was the best food I’d had on the Camino. It all came fresh from their garden and this is what their Donativo is known for. We asked to stay another day, keen to see and experience more of what life could be like running a place like this. This is an unusual request, and the couple agreed, but admitted they didn’t normally like to do this, as its important for people to move from a Donativo.

The next day I wrote for most of the morning in the beautiful sunshine. Enjoying watching a peacock lumbering around the garden, whilst the Magician dug up weeds in the garden. Sweat glistening off his muscular tanned body. The Magician asked questions back and forth all day. And I saw as his excitement built as they continued to re- affirm that this could be a feasible way to live from the land whilst still being able to afford some limited small luxuries in life. I felt some of my concerns drift away, but fundamental ones still resonated deeply with me. When I tried to discuss these with the Magician I felt his palpable confusion, tinged with anger. Why wasn’t I able to see the vision clearly? But what he wasn’t seeing, was that I didn’t know how I could run a place like this and still have time to myself to write. Let alone the other general practicalities, like I couldn’t speak French and had only worked in corporate jobs to date (never with my hands). As with anyone who shows they don’t like my opinion, I feel into the immediate trap of silencing it, and my concerns. No longer wanting to be open about it, if it upset the Magician. What was a little compromise after all? It was only me caving on the first dream I’d had solely for and by myself in over 20 years. Not a big deal at all.

The last evening we spent in the Donativo was the first magical night I had without the Magician by my side. My second Camino mummy had just walked on the scene. She was French, but lived in the UK as a French teacher, and I’ll call her the Teacher from now on in. Earlier in the day I’d offered to massage one of the Donativo’s owners feet. The Teacher immediately thought this was fantastic and we began a 3-way massage, as we were serenaded with Spanish guitar music in the soft glow of Candle light. I felt a sadness that the Magician was missing this. He was on the phone to his Hareem. Two of the women he had and wanted to continue to have a sexual relationship with had very complex personal lives and it wasn’t uncommon for the Magician to be on the phone to them for a couple of hours whilst they cried and he tried to calm them down and help them through their latest crisis. Although I felt more comfortable about this, I still felt a pang of jealousy that he was missing this with me, for them. This was also the first time I really started to see how the Magician will give all his energy to others, leaving none for himself (to the point of self- collapse). He also missed out on the beauty of the moment because he was lost in other people’s problems. Some of which, from my potentially bias perspective were one-way pity parties, where I couldn’t see any positives brought to him. And during those moments, I would always be sat on the outside, waiting for him to return to me.

 

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