The joy of walking

In 1999 I walked from Konstanz, Germany, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain; in 2003 from Basel, Switzerland, to Jerusalem. The motto was ‘There is Enough Sun for All of Us’. I walked through the US, from Los Angeles to Boston.

Walking is a very simple way of travelling with renewable energy fuelled by food. I experience it also as a prayer with body and soul, connecting with Mother Earth, step by step. I discover how healthy walking is – if everybody walked one to two hours a day, didn’t smoke, only drank moderately and ate

The joy of walking

Figure 17.2 Sunwalk 2008: Martin Vosseler in Los Angeles on 2 January 2008

Source: Brad Graverson, Daily Breeze

a healthy diet, we could close a considerable part of our hospitals. I experience that what is good for me is good for the planet. When I walk all my senses are open: I see so many miracles of nature. After some weeks of walking I experience the curved shape of our planet and enjoy the feeling of walking on this amazing life ball. During my walks I live very much in the ‘here and now’. The days are filled with surprises – I never know what landscape will appear behind the next bend, where I will find food, where I will stay for the night and whom I will meet. On my walks I meet many helpful, hospitable people. I encounter them at a personal level; and there are many opportunities to exchange opinions, ideas and visions about our energy future.

I think of the lady owner, with red dyed hair, in a purple robe, in a full restaurant of a small town in central France. ‘Une table pour le pelerin!’ (‘a table for the pilgrim!’) she shouts into the room. They bring a small table and they serve a delicious four-course vegetarian dinner, ‘on the house’. And after the meal she addresses the whole crowd: ‘I am not only a restaurant owner, you know, but also an opera singer; and I will sing a song for this pilgrim’. And she sings with her wonderful voice: ‘Pelerin, suit mon chemin!’ (‘Pilgrim, follow my path!’).

I recall Ahmed and Sanae in Saraygik in the Turkish mountains. I arrive at dusk. It’s cold with a flurry of snow. I ask a shepherd where the Muhtar, the town president, lives. ‘There, in the house with the green roof.’ I knock at the door: ‘I am on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Do you know a place where I could stay for the night?’ Ahmed invites me into his house. Sanae brings a table cloth and spreads it on the floor. She brings a variety of delicious dishes. Then she prepares their sleeping room for me. She makes a big fire in the stove and prepares the bed. And soon I am dreaming in the warm bed listening to the singing stove.

It’s a very hot day in Virginia. In Lacey Springs, Conny parks her car in front of me. She brings me a big cup of cool spring water and a plastic bag with ice and a towel. From then on I wipe my face every half an hour with the icy water.

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