The second training weekend a great success18 October 2021 22:10
Saturday morning I'm at Karlien's door at 09:00. We've never met, so I think it's pretty exciting. We have to drive quite a distance to Boekel and what if there is no click. Her husband opens the door and we meet briefly. I immediately have the feeling of coming home, because she is from Belgium and my girlfriend is from Belgium. A friend I've known for 33 years and where I used to be a regular. Once in the car there is a nice click right away, because Karlien likes to chat as much as I do. Before we know it we have arrived at the Karmelklooster in Boxmeer and a lady is already waiting in front of the monastery. Just to be sure, I ask if she is the Corine who is walking with us. It has happened to me before that I just start chatting to someone and it turns out that I don't have to have that at all. Luckily, it's Corine! Nita, with whom I already walked the first leg, entered the monastery just before our arrival to drop off her things for tonight. I'm following her lead, because I'm staying here too. I'm really looking forward to this as I've never slept in a monastery before. Then we all get in my car to drive to the starting point, because today we walk stage six of the Kloosterpad from Sint Agatha to Boxmeer in 18 kilometers. And on Sunday we walk from Boxmeer to Boekel, 29 kilometers. So today we are actually warming up for tomorrow, shall we say.
Once parked at Sint Agatha we ask if we can make a sanitary stop before our departure. Fortunately, this is possible, because actually they are closed. Nita is immediately recognized by the friendly lady, that's what you get when you work for the Conference of Dutch Religious. Carly, the friendly lady, works for the heritage center and asks us to move the car due to a meeting that will take place later today. No problem, of course, so I'll do that right away. Then it's time to leave. The beginning is always difficult, but the tour around the monastery is beautiful. I quickly take a group photo, because now we are still fresh and fruity. Then we arrive at the official starting point and the walking tour can really start.
The first part of the route is on a road full of mud, so the child in us immediately comes out in me. Only my shoes think otherwise. They are soaked in no time. I really have to go to the store soon to buy a pair of waterproof shoes for the wet days when I go hiking. Once out of the mud, the road continues through the farmland along the Maas. Every time I am allowed to walk on someone's land it still feels a bit sneaky, but the gratitude is great. I think it's great that landowners give hikers the chance to really immerse themselves in the nature and beauty of the Netherlands. It is that I live three floors in Amsterdam, but otherwise I would just build a walking path in my garden. Everyone is welcome!
Everyone has their own pace
It soon becomes apparent that we are running at different paces. A moment we all have to get used to. I don't think I'm the only one who gets one of these thoughts at times: "Should I slow down?", "Where and when should we wait for each other?", "Is everyone having a good time?". As a social animal, I think it's important that everyone has a good time. Only this is the moment in which I also realize that I am actually filling in things for someone else. The solution is simple. We must express our expectations to each other. Take each other into account, but do not adapt to each other. By adjusting your own speed, you will get into trouble yourself. You can get injured and no one is allowed to do that. Especially not during a six-day pilgrimage. In addition, Uncle Frans visits a few times with his beautiful words: "Walking broadens your mind", "Let go of your judgments and thoughts", "Only if you have love for yourself, you can also give this to someone else". Easier said than done, but thanks for the reminder Frans! So I am confronted with myself again, but it also creates a connection. Once we have expressed all thoughts and expectations, we can all enjoy the environment, because in most cases it is beautiful.
Eating on the go is important
It strikes me how little appetite I have while walking. I have only experienced that eating on the go is quite good for your energy. That is why I always take a number of peanut butter sandwiches with me, which I manage to conjure up very creatively from my backpack while walking. I prefer not to take too long a break, because otherwise it will be difficult to get going again. I also know how to bring out the grapes that are on the menu today. Of course I like to share this with the rest if we have to wait a while when one of the ladies is hiding in the bushes for a sanitary stop. Karlien indicates that she likes to take a break and eat on a bench, so our next goal is to find a bench. During our search, a cat suddenly dives out of the bushes and after a few nice petting, it walks with us. Because finding a bench is quite a challenge, we take an alternative for granted. We settle on a wooden beam that serves as a roadblock. When Karlien takes her sandwiches out of the package, which her husband has lovingly prepared for her, the cat realizes that he has won the jackpot. There is delicious fish on the sandwiches. The cat can no longer be kept away from Karlien and immediately finds its way into her backpack. After all, you always have to take advantage of all your opportunities.
When we are on the road again and the cat has understood that there are no more fish to get, we go on the road again. Along the way we come across the most beautiful mushrooms. We eagerly take pictures of that. Even if you need some perseverance, we do everything for the best photos. On the way we stop at a restaurant, because it is possible and the weather is beautiful. Corine continues on because she has a wine tasting tonight and doesn't want to be late. Tomorrow morning she will hopefully join us fresh and fruity.
Whenever I start a walk, I adjust to the number of kilometers that I will walk. Of course I take a few extra meters into account, because I don't walk straight, take a photo here and there, thoroughly inspect the bushes or sometimes go wrong because the route description is not correct. This last one really isn't my fault. When I think about it, it's kind of weird actually, because it doesn't matter how far I walk. It is always the last three kilometers when the first aches and pains come and the need for a nice drink comes into play. On a hot day I can really look forward to the original Lipton Ice Tea or a nice special beer. Today I long for a beer on the terrace, but I have to be patient just like my feet. My feet are still as wet as they were a few hours ago and I forgot to put a pair of dry socks in my backpack. So I can't wear the dry shoes in my backpack until after the walk. After a short stop at Castle Boxmeer we smell the finish line. Unfortunately we miss the sign that tells us that the Kloosterpad has been diverted. This means that we have to squeeze through hedges, brave the sand mountains of broken roads and drape ourselves over a bridge in the most graceful way possible. Once we have arrived in the center we shoot the Etos is for sports tape and nourishing foot cream and we continue to the monastery, the end point of this road. After we have agreed where we will eat tonight, Nita and I say goodbye to Karlien for the time being, because she is sleeping with her friend Elza, who will also be joining us tomorrow, at a different location. Because we can't go to the monastery yet, we settle down on a terrace to enjoy the last rays of the sun of this day.
Sleeping in the Karmelklooster
My eyes start to glow when the door of the Carmel Monastery opens and we are welcomed by Minie, one of the sisters who lives there. The hall is beautiful and all the original ornaments and paintings smile at us. There is, of course, an atmosphere of tranquility. Minie shows us where our things are and accompanies us to the sleeping area. The doorbell rings halfway through. Minie opens the door and asks us to wait after the next door. This gives us the opportunity to look around a little longer. When Minie returns with the other pilgrim who spends the night here, she tells all the ins and outs about our overnight stay and shows our rooms. When the door of my room opens, I actually see exactly the same interior as Uncle Frans had in Syria. The room has a bed, a cupboard, a desk with chair and a washbasin hangs on the wall. Very simple, but you don't need more than that. It's great that there is such a resemblance to my uncle. Minie quickly checks whether the boiler for the shower is on and Nita and I agree that we will be ready for dinner at 6:45 pm. We eat delicious at the Italian in the street together with Karlien and Elza and chat each other's heads. I love that. After dinner we say goodbye and agree to meet again tomorrow near the monastery to start the next stage.
Once in bed I read everything about the seventh stage that we will walk tomorrow in the binding book of the Kloosterpad. Then I realize that for the first time I sleep in a monastery, the environment where Uncle Frans spent most of his life.
Own pace, lunch together
Because we have 29 kilometers to go, we leave at 09:00. It gives me peace of mind now that all expectations have been expressed and that we will have lunch together when we have about 15 kilometers in our legs. Karlien walks with her walking buddy Elza and I walk with Nita and Corine. The weather is beautiful and Corine has no hangover, but is also nice and fresh and fruity. We walk through beautiful tree-lined avenues, where we secretly hoped that they had already turned orange.
Already finished the 29 km?!
Because we walk at different paces, there is contact via our app group. After about two hours Elza asks if we have already covered 29 kilometers. I can't resist and write that we are already having a drink on the terrace. In my opinion this can only mean that the atmosphere is good. Shortly after leaving the beautiful village of Sint Antonis, we arrive at the Sint Anthonisbos where we agreed on the terrace of De Heksenboom to have a break together. We only have to wait ten minutes for Karlien and Elza to happily walk onto the terrace. After a quarter of an hour, the cold starts chattering. We decide to get our stiff bodies going again. Which doesn't mean the other two ladies are following us. They can take an extra ten minutes, because we have had that too, says Elza. I think this is great. The Sint Antonisbos is directly adjacent to De Heksenboom, so we soon find ourselves in the woods via the Kabouterpad and then leave this nature again via the heath through the forest.
The last mile is the longest
Once out of the forest we enter the landscape that the Netherlands is best known for, meadows and cows. Nice and flat, shall we say, so that you can look into the distance. I must confess that the thought "Do we have to go that far?" shot in the head a few times. Fortunately we get the chance to cut off a small piece towards Huize Padau. Meanwhile, we are told that Karlien is experiencing some pain in her toes, but that they continue to walk. They still have about an hour to go, which means that I, together with Nita and Corine, can already recover a bit from this stage, which is 29 kilometers even with a cut-off. This is because the ladies had forgotten where the car was parked again. But I'm not saying anything because they have the original Lipton Ice tea here.
Do you want to walk with us?
Walking alone gives expant your mind. Walking together is letting yourself be inspired by others and inspiring others. Would you like to join me and other hikers on the Kloosterpad? You are more than welcome! You don't have to be a participant of the 'Walk for Homs' pilgrimage. More information and registration can be done via the button below.