Dear friends,

The first steps have been taken! Today I arrived in Kevelaer, as intended. I have walked over 60km in just two days. It just a matter of not stopping and I will make it to Istanbul in no-time. But as I set out yesterday, Istanbul was not at all on my mind. It was saying goodbye to the people I love most in my life; Anouk and my parents. Anouk walked me the first 5km, from there she ‘gave me back’ to my parents. They walked me to Kranenburg from where I was on my own. All so very symbolic.

The saying goodbye was tough, but as soon as these people were out of sight, they took refuge in my heart. I know they will remain there, whatever may come.

I ended my day in the forest just outside Goch. Setting up my tent felt like coming home. I slept better then I have ever slept in a tent (I have been camping all my life). This morning I awoke under a cool morning sun, soon to get way hotter.  After packing my home (a matter of just 3 minutes) I went for my long walk along the Niers to Kevelaer. Within an hour I encountered some one walking the other way on the Jakobsweg. We had a chat and she blessed me, a complete stranger.

The day was hot and my mind still restless. Wondering about what could have been, should have been and still can be. “Listen to the birds”, my dad would say. “They bring you back to who you are.” But it was too hot for the birds to whistle. It was just me, and the ticks of course, I pulled 3 out and discovered a dozen before they bit me. Same goes for mosquitoes…

As I had a schedule to make, I really had to push myself. When I finally spotted the church of Kevelaer when I walked out of the woods into the fields, I did feel like a pilgrim. The church meant life, food, drinks, people and shelter. No religious feelings arose, just the thought of satisfying men’s basic needs. But the joy I felt is beyond description.

On arrival a surprise awaited me. The cathedral has its 150th anniversary today. I visited the mass and drank some beer afterwards, as a good Catholic should. The rest of the square is filled with chapels and candles, I will light one for you all tomorrow. I now stay in the pilgrims house which shelters about 150 people. I have seen none…

For me it’s the history of the place which awes me. Thousands of people over the last hundreds of years came before me. Nowadays people come by bus, light a candle and move on. That’s not the way of the pilgrim, that’s not my way. I will walk and only stop when I have arrived. Wherever that might be.

With all my love,