I haven’t written while on the Camino because I have just been taking it in. I haven’t taken many photos either as I’ve just really tried to stay present. Megan and I started the hike on September 18 from Saint Jean Pied de Port. We got our Pilgrim passports and began our journey. Right away I knew it’d be different than any hike I’d ever experienced. Within the first mile there was a freakin vending machine on the side of the road. Then as we climbed up the mountain passing people of all nationalities, ages, and health, we also passed food trucks. It was just too funny. A couple days into the trail I knew I wanted to hike bigger miles, as hiking a majority of the day makes me happier since I never know what to do if I’m not doing something. And Megan wanted more of a relaxed vibe and pace to her hike so after sharing our first ever Bocadillo together we went our separate ways. She has since ventured on some different paths and you can read her experience on her blog meganleedom.com. I paced my hiking pace primarily on where the Donativos were located. These are places set aside for pilgrims typically offering community dinners and breakfast and you just pay what you feel is appropriate. I really enjoy them. Getting to save money, Cook with everyone, eat with everyone, and then clean with everyone. It’s a fun experience and the food is typically way better than any restaurants. Some days I hiked 25 miles, others 35 or 36. Unlike most people I don’t feel the need to stop in every small town and sit at a cafe and spend money on coffee or booze. So since I don’t really stop, I can do bigger miles. But That meant the people I met, it was the only time I’d see them. The first few days were a joy as I met a couple other women, one from Sweden and one from Tahoe, which I immediately connected with and both want to hike the PCT someday! One of the things I love most about thru-hiking is the conversations. It seems for the most part the small talk is passed and you get right into deep shit. Before I know it I know a lot of peoples lives, what’s they’ve experienced, what they’re searching for, their fears, and their regrets. All before I even know their name. It is truly a beautiful thing.
A couple others came into my journey at really important times, and I find little to no coincidence that we crossed paths. On a day I was hiking almost into a town when an old man was passing the other way, not a hiker probably a local. He ended up really badly sexually harassing me and grabbing me to where I had to fight myself off. I left crying and just kept crying as I walked. I’m not going to go anymore into that other than that it happened, and it’s shitty. But what came after was really beautiful. Well what came after a girl hitting me one her bike. The next morning I met a man named Mike, from Denver, and I had a beautiful conversation. We walked and talked for a couple of hours and his wisdom and insight were extremely helpful to me. He understood me, even more than most people who know me. And then later I met 2 very special men Dan from Connecticut and Aimo from Finland. 2 father in laws traveling together. They too, shared more wisdom than I could have asked for. Again the power of deep truthful conversations showed itself. We talked about life experiences, hardships, relationships, religion, Love, self-love, fear of letting go of control, and all sorts of good stuff.
It’s like having that friend you can just sit with and talk and ask questions about the universe. To me it’s heaven.
Since then I have just seen a couple people for a couple of days since I’ve slowed down which is fun. The views along the trail have been way different than I expected. Beginning in the desert was my favorite. Every morning the stars and moon would light my way, and every morning I have gotten to watch the suns rise. Which is empowering and almost mystical. There was more forest and walking through farms than I ever expected. Great, but sometimes the smells were nauseating.
I arrived in Santiago on October 6, spoiling myself by getting a room for just me. I haven’t slept good once on the trail, staying in hostels is brutal. Every time somebody freakin snores. And there’s usually snoring competitions. Then some people start getting up insanely early and I just never get proper rest. I camped maybe 4-5 times and for some reason never slept too good doing that either. Which may be part of the reason I’ve come down with a cold to finish out the hike.
Santiago is beautiful, the cathedral there and in Burgos I found by far the most impressive.
One of the biggest questions asked on the Camino is why are you hiking the Camino? So I’ll share as I have a few reasons.
- I’m in Europe so why not do it?
- Find a relationship with God/Universe/Great Spirit, whatever name you want to call it.
- Get rid of self judgement and self hate. I really wanted to learn to love my body instead of continuing to live in this horrible cycle I have been.
So far I’ve noticed some subtle changes, life is always a journey. But I also understand sometimes the lessons don’t just pop up right away. So I’m eager to see my thought patterns and perceptions change and time goes on after the trail.