Backpacking Teacher

Travel, teaching and things in between. Saigon is the focus for now.

Reflections on my Camino de Santiago

with 4 comments


As my Camino ends I think it’s time to look back on it.

To me the Camino was a thing to be done because it sounded physically challenging and a completely different experience from those I’ve had before. It was in a country i knew little about and involved an intriguing history. The Camino certainly was physically challenging. In the beginning my muscles cried out with pain, going up mountains my breath came out as ragged gasps, my shoulders ached at their burden. In the later stages problems with new boots caused blisters that made it feel at times that I was walking on needles. By this stage the rest of my body was strong and could walk for hours on end if need be.

Mentally the Camino was also challenging. Some days it was difficult to get your mind into gear or to stop thinking about your aches and pains or to find the scenery monotonous. It was at these times that mental fortitude became important, the ability not to give up but just to move on. Mental toughness became necessary again when blisters came to play. Early morning starts were especially painful and it took some gritting of teeth to get through this.


The Camino was a journey of inner peace. The beauty of the walks, the simple daily routines brought you to a mental oasis that allowed your thoughts to soar. When your body began to walk automatically your mind began, like a bee flitting from flower to flower, to move from thought to thought in something that resembles dreaming but still being completely cognizant of what’s happening. It reminded me of how my mind used to fly around when sitting in a classroom as a bored pre-teen.

The Camino was about community, as disparate people from disparate age groups, ethnicities and beliefs became, for a brief time, a roving closely knit community, supportive and encouraging of each other. Lost things were returned, food was shared, commiserations given, blisters attended to by others, massages given, wine drunk, stories told, jokes shared, laughter joined and pleasure taken in each others company.

The Camino is for many a life changing experience. I can see how this could be. Everday is the same routine but delivers new surprises and joys. You never know where you’ll sleep or what the town you’re in will be like. You don’t know who you’ll have dinner and drinks with. You do know that it will nonetheless all happen somehow. This creates an inner peace, a confidence in the fact that things always work themselves out. You are someone who has walked 800km, almost a marathon everyday for a month. This is not a small feat. This creates an inner confidence.

I’m not sure if the Camino is life changing for me. Perhaps time and distance will tell me that. What I know is that it is life affirming. People are good, nature is stupendously wonderful, our bodies are remarkable machines and our minds love simple routines so they have time to thrive.

I loved my Camino. An entirely fulfilling experience. At the end of the Camino at the Cathedral Santiago de Compostela the signs for alpha and omega (signifying the beginning and the end) have been reversed signifying that this is a new beginning. It echoes the sentiments of the elderly Spanish gent, whom I walked into Léon with and who gave me a rundown on Camino history, when he said, “the end of the Camino isn’t sad it is happy because it signifies the beginning of something new”.

My personal take on the Camino.. Get up, walk, shower, wash, eat, drink, talk, sleep. These simple things are the Camino. Walk, just walk … the rest of life will take care of itself.

— Posted from my phone

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Written by backpackingteacher

August 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. So well said. I hope your experiences of the Camino continue to be a joy and continue to teach you something new each day!!!
    Rita

    Rita

    August 3, 2009 at 7:17 am

  2. Hi backpacking teacher
    My Brother Marcos(Mark)Casanova has directed me to your blog to read about your experience through the Camino de Santiago. I am planning to go to Spain in Sept 09 and my mission is to take me my 14 yrs old son’s ashes and my other three children that are with me back home to Tenerife Canary Isalnds. My brother speaks very highly of his experience he himself had in the Camino and I have this strong pull to do it myself and if my children wish to join me. We will be going back home at the time of my son’s/brother 1st anniversary since his passing. This is of course a very emtional time for all of us and I know just the thought of a long walk would do me a great of good to reflect on many things in my life and find a purpose to keep living a life I love. I haven’t read all your reflections but for the little I know I feel this connection has come my way to direct me and my family to an opportunitity to access and reflect on our life’s. Thank you for sharing your journey and I hope you can reply with information on where I can start to organise myself to be there….. I look forward in hearing from you. My intention is to be in Barcelona by the third week in Sept and visit my sisters in Barcelona and Valencia. I must be in Tenerife before the 27 Sept. I was thinking maybe looking to take the Camino in December 09. I hope to hear from you and any direction you maybe able to offer. Dulce-Maria Casanova

    Dulce Maria Casanova

    August 3, 2009 at 9:37 am

  3. I really enjoyed “walking along” with you on your journey. I was often without internet access over the past 6 weeks but came back when I could to get caught up. Hope you’ll recover physically soon enough! Your still young so it should be easy enough!

    Expatriate Games

    August 4, 2009 at 1:57 am

  4. Hi Dulce-Maria … nice to hear that Marc’s recommended my blog to you. I was sorry to hear about your loss, I recall Marc telling me at the time. If anything can help make sense of tragedy then the Camino is it … I definitely recommend it ..i will send you a private email about it …

    backpackingteacher

    August 8, 2009 at 2:27 pm


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