I did it! I can now say I have walked across an entire country!
My Camino de Santiago is over. I walked St Jean to Santiago, then onto Finisterre and finished in Muxia. 916km in total. And holy shivers was that 916km a life changer. It has been confronting, challenging, cry inducing, painful, and some days just hard. It’s over, but in truth your Camino never really ends – We never fully find our way, just keep taking steps forward as we journey on our path…wherever that path leads.
The experience is one I struggle to understand, let alone put into words. I am still learning from those 6 weeks. I am still processing, and will be, into the weeks and months ahead.
I decided early on my way that I wouldn’t attempt to capture my thoughts in blog form because I didn’t want to step away from my experience, and there just wasn’t the time (nor energy). I have been thinking how best to capture and share my experience with people. Truth be told, it is difficult – particularly as I am still traveling and will be for some time.
So I thought I would share some of my initial reflections from the Camino. Then at some later date, when the dust has settled from my boots, my feet have recovered and my mind calmed – I will attempt to consolidate some of this experience to share with you. I want to share both the practical and the spiritual aspects of my journey. In the very least I have a somewhat ridiculous number of photos to share – so that’s something!
So here is some of what did I came to realise on my Camino…
- Walking this far every day hurts – anyone that says otherwise is a liar, in denial or quite possibly Superman.
- Compeed is a false prophet – needle and thread is your saviour!
- Copious amounts of very cheap wine will be consumed. Embrace this fact and enjoy.
- You will confront all of your insecurities and while you try to hide from them – you will eventually fail.
- Baguette + Chorizo + Cheese = Every damn day.
- Your badass body is capable of much more that you think. Mine walked over 900km and SURVIVED – despite blisters, a chest infection and a fractured foot!
- Relationships will be spun into overdrive.
- Collecting and throwing rocks is a powerful metaphor for letting go. Subsequently you will realise you have a stockpile of rocks in your pack.
- Music increases your walking speed exponentially.
- Always carry a block of chocolate in your pack.
- Dancing with a backpack is fun and also conveniently provides comic entertainment for fellow pilgrims.
- You will begin to adopt the accents of the pilgrims around you. One day I was Irish, the next Canadian.
- “I will walk with you” is one of the most comforting things someone can say.
- You will cry…on mountains, beside rivers, in the embrace of another pilgrim, in random fields, when having injuries treated, alone…you will cry a lot. Or maybe that’s just me.
- You will laugh a lot!
- Emotions, memories, feelings, smells, will come flooding back from times you never knew remained in your mind.
- The experience of the every day is much more fulfilling when shared.
- Café con Leche (aka crappy coffee with milk) will remain a morning ritual just like home.
- Community, relationships and family – is a powerful thing.
- Life is a continual act of loving, forgiving and embracing yourself, embracing the moment, and knowing that everything will be okay – even when you think it won’t. This has to be intentional practice, and the Camino is a perfect classroom.
- A good hug can fix anything!
- I am a fighter. I push. I confront. I walk forward.
- Gratitude will result from the simplest things – a comfy bed, a hot (private) shower, freshly washed clothes, SALAD!!!!
- You will continually feel defeated. By your body, mind, relationships…but each day you will reach the end, rest, and do it all again tomorrow. You are not defeated!
- A little mascara on a bad day can be a Godsend and make you feel human again.
- Self-assertion is difficult when you don’t know what you want.
- Having fast walking friends makes you walk faster – be aware of this!
- Letting go and saying goodbye, while hard, is okay and a necessity in life.
Truth be told this is just a list I journalled in my second week…with many more insights circling in my brain as I write. So I’ll leave you with the last excerpt from my Camino journal:
“I am so glad I did this. The openness to experience. The vulnerability. The dependency and independence. The strength. The relationships. The belief in myself and the forgiveness of myself. Looking back, in this moment, the Camino has been all I wanted, and everything I needed it to be – even when I didn’t know what that was. I am sure the story will expand and grow – but it’s starting off as pretty amazing.”