It has been two years since we walked the 790km Camino trail. We learnt lessons we still apply to our life. In fact, since then, we have found the Camino is a metaphor for life.
When life becomes challenging, my husband and I will ask each other, “Where were we on the Camino when we experienced this situation or emotion?” We then know how we handled it and can continue to move forward in our lives.
Reliving the journey
It was an amazing experience. For six weeks we left behind all our usual responsibilities. We packed two sets of clothes into a backpack weighing only eight kilograms and we walked across Spain.
Throughout time people have made pilgrimages to sacred places across the globe—the “Way of St James”—is one of those routes.
The walk –from St Jean Pied De Port in France to Santiago De Compestella in Spain wasn’t on my list of “must see” places in the world. But as the countryside unfolded one step at a time, I was entranced.
Back in our normal lives we were always rushing and not really seeing. When you travel by foot, there is a peacefulness and honesty about the journey. You cannot overlook what you see.
We were serenaded by frogs living in the ancient nourishing aqua ducts of the farms we walked by. Watched caterpillar trails as they made their way across the path. Saw our shadow grow smaller each day as we walked towards the west. Cranes built huge nests next to the church bells that rang out. Houses were built from the stone. Farmers herded their cows through towns. Spain was stunningly beautiful, green, lush and vibrant and the people were the warm and generous.
A simple way of life
A pilgrimage is a simple way of living. Each day we would get up, put our packs on our backs and follow the yellow arrows—these mark ‘the way’—walking until we decided to stop for the day and find a bed.
Breakfast each day was had after walking five kilometres in the morning. Bars opened at 7am offering coffee, toast or a croissant and the most amazingly sweet freshly squeezed orange juice.
Lunch was a bocadillo (Spanish sandwich) and dinner was a pilgrim’s menu – 10 Euros for, soup, salad or pasta; followed by meat or fish and potato; dessert; accompanied with a bottle of Spanish wine and bread. After walking 22kms simple food can taste amazing and yes, you can lose weight on a diet like that.
Our accommodation was mostly in Albergues along ‘the way’ – bunk bed dormitory style accommodation. The cost was between five to 10 Euros for a bed. After a day’s walk, a bed and a shower is all you need.
Now you might ask ‘what about the snorers?” Yes there were some and my husband had practiced his snoring before we left home too! We took earplugs, but I didn’t use them. After walking 22kms, I guarantee you were tired and you slept soundly.
I’m proud to say after walking all that way, I did not get any blisters on my feet. My footcare beside good shoes and socks involved taping my feet in the morning and oiling my feet after the walk. Sounds a bit like giving your car a good service! I was the exception to the rule though.
Arriving in Santiago at the Cathedral was emotional. It wasn’t just the achievement of walking 790kms for 35 days, it was the connection that we had having walked the path that many thousands of pilgrims had walked before us and the gift of each day living a simple life with simple needs in a peaceful way.
What we took from the journey
Our key takeaways from this amazing pilgrimage were:
- Just put one foot in front of another;
- Only take that which you need; and,
- Simple needs are simply met.
We still live by these every day. It was life changing and we will do it again.