Whilst walking today, I started thinking about the Camino and how so many people walk the path to Santiago. I am not a religious person but the Camino seems to have its own spirit. ‘The Camino always provides’ is often quoted amongst the pilgrims, and it really seems that just when you need something, it is there. You may be looking for the perfect place to stay, or need a coffee/lunch, and you turn the next corner and it’s there.
The Camino feels like it is alive somehow and has it’s own pulse. It is not something you can describe. It is an experience like no other. It hurts. It is exhausting. But the friendships made are instant and intense because we are all sharing and feeling the same thing. It certainly isn’t a walk in the park. If is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but the achievements each day of distance, mountains climbed and even harder still, de-climbed, are so elative and exhilarating. The exhaustion at the end of the day and the camaraderie of the pilgrims is so worth it. We look after and care for each other. We share first aid items, food and Ibuprofen. People stop and help each other.
Then there is the respect and help you get from the beautiful Spanish people. It is in their upbringing to look after pilgrims. If you have a backpack on, everyone, and I mean everyone, will stop and say Hola or Buen Camino. It is really comforting when you are struggling and tired. People just give us stuff. We get pilgrim discounts like a free breakfast or cheaper accommodation.
I can’t believe that I have actually done this. I’m now getting close to the end. Anyone that knows me, knows that I hate walking, but it is the friends I’ve made, the physical endurance, the pain, the elation of success that brings it all home. I have achieved what I know many thought I could not and I wear the badge with pride.