I was thinking of doing the walk for a very long time before I did it. Last year, somehow everything just fell into place, and I had to go. The Camino de Santiago walk – a total of 800 km starting on the French / Spanish border and finishing in one of the most famous pilgrim’s cities in the world – Santiago de Compostela.
I “only” walked 300 km from Leon to Santiago – 14 days it took me. That was all the time I had last year. It was a special experience that I got to share with Lucija - a friend of my family. Me and Lucija started in Leon and decided to do the 311 km that would take us to Santiago.
2015 was probably the hardest year of my life. Losing my Mum to cancer, my only close family- since I never had a dad, or any siblings. It made me put a lot of things in to perspective. What family means, what a home means. Although my friends, my mum's family and aunts, cousins and my cousins were and are a big support, I missed and miss my Mum every single day. That, and turning forty were probably the main reasons I felt the need to do the walk in 2016.
Once we started walking, we were surrounded by the beautiful nature and vast plains of the Spanish countryside. It gave me a feeling of freedom and lightness – a feeling that everything is possible.
Mostly, I loved the routine. Getting up in the morning. Having breakfast. Walking. Taking a break and having some fresh squeezed juice – “zumo de naranja”. Then, back on to the path. Taking in the surroundings. The sun and the wind, the road and the plains. Just walking. Finishing in the early afternoon, having a shower and resting. Writing everything I experienced in an email home. Having dinner and some red wine. Meeting people. Having a chat. Sleeping. Repeating. Every single day. The same routine.
There was something relaxing and freeing in being in the moment, just there on the road. Reflecting, thinking, crying, laughing about life, the past, the present and the future. I just loved it.
I loved meeting other ‘pilgrims’ on the road. Walking along them sometimes for 10 minutes, sometimes for a couple of hours, sometimes for a day. Some I would meet over and over again, and some never again. But still, we shared something special. Sometimes we would chat away sharing stories, and sometimes we would just walk in a comfortable silence. But the funny thing was, the more people that were around us, the less we spoke, and the less people that were around us, the more we spoke.
Strangers- so different in many ways, but each sharing the same journey. Everyone there for a different reason- some overcoming great pain and adversity on their way and not giving up. It just shows you how strong we are, and all the strength that comes to the surface when we are pushed to the limit, not realizing that it’s inside of us all the time.
Physically, the walk wasn’t easy. I was also in pain. I started the walk knowing that my injured knees could hurt and I brought a kinesiology tape just in case. The pain – mild tendonitis came on the second day, and was a constant, growing pain until the end of the walk. It did hinder me, but not once did I think about giving up. Not with so many people around me. So much inspiration.
There were also outside challenges - the weather, the sun, the heat, the rain, the hills, … whatever came we just took it in, because that was just the mind frame of people on the path. It is what it is – you try and make the best of it. A lovely way to look at things and life.
Every afternoon, I would sit down, reflect on the day and write an email home to my friends and family. I would always think of my Mum, how I would like to share those things with her, tell her about all the exciting things, that I now share with my friends.
I still wish that sometimes, when I’m proud of myself, happy or sad. I wish I could tell her.
A lot has changed since then. I have moved country, changed my profession… set new goals for life.
I don’t know if it was because of the walk, but I do know that it was a special and precious time. Something to be cherished and remembered.
These photos capture part of my journey, that I wanted to share. I know it’s not the lightest read, but I don’t think it’s supposed to be, so I hope you enjoy the pictures and my story.