Trying to keep the Camino alive

Right! So it’s been one month since we arrived back home to Sydney after our adventure abroad.

It was time to live our “normal” lives again ad try to put a bit of what we learned into practise. And have we? Yeaaahhhh….. of course!

Every day, we seem to experience a little something that reminds us of the Camino; a snail, a butterfly, a story about a Templar Knight, an email from one of our Camino pals. Nothing is “just” what it is anymore.And yes, we do want to relive the Camino moments again. Will it ever be out of our blood and bones? We hope not!

Yesterday, we picked up our framed passports and certificates and now it is hanging proudly on our wall. We can relive those moments daily now!

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But before we had this on our wall, in an attempt one weekend to take us back to those days, we watched the movie “The Way” starring Martin Sheen.

Before we had even left for Europe, everyone was raving about how we should watch the movie before we go. And then on the Camino, people talked about the movie so fondly. But we didn’t want to see it until after our Camino. We wanted the Camino to be an experience without any preconceptions. We were SO glad we didn’t watch the movie before we left.

Were we disappointed? Most definitely. We felt it was rather an inaccurate portrayal of the experience. Maybe we were fortunate but we never met a single pilgrim that was so negative, cynical, rude and disrespectful as the ones portrayed in the movie. With all due respect, we get that the movie needed to have some sort of “drama” but we felt it was too over the top.

We don’t even want to go into detail about the other inaccuracies of the movie. The characters were enough to make us cringe. Maybe we should’ve watched the movie before we left after, we would’ve been pleasantly surprised.

BUT we will admit that the scenery was accurate. It did make us nostalgic.

Looking back at some of our photos, it still takes our breath away. These are some of the photos we shared on our travel blog.

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**A big sigh**

Eventually we need to let go of our Camino feelings. Why did it feel so good?

We’ve got to keep the momentum going with maintaining those positive feeling and energies in our every day!

So far … so good 🙂

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Day 43 – O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

So this is it, huh? Far from it!

It was forecast to rain today and it didn’t, except for very light rain when we were about half an hour from the Old Town of Santiago! We felt so blessed.

We had a wonderful and energetic day, setting off in the dark and then arriving just after 2ish.

We walked through lots of forests and up some more hills before we hit the asphalt that belongs to a city. And then we started seeing traffic, traffic lights and shops and this was when we knew that our journey was coming to an end.

The anticipation to get to the Cathedral was drawn out as we weaved onwards with other pilgrims to arrive and when we got to the square – there was nothing we could do except hug each other tightly and cry!

We DID it! We had done it! We had walked since September 5 and now we were here. Not once on the journey had we wished for anything different, or wished for this day to arrive but it crept up onto us.

We were so overwhelmed, humbled and emotional that we were both speechless. It couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be that we were really here. Looking up at the cathedral (ignoring, the scaffolding), it sunk in. We were in Santiago de Compostela.

We lined up for a long while to get our St James certificate and we also got our St Francis certificate (the one that is issued only ONCE every 100 years). Proof that we completed – not that we need it, because in our hearts and minds the Camino experience is enough proof forever.

We went to the Pilgrim Mass tonight and saw the botafumeria swing and it was quite a sight. We were also able to deliver the letter on behalf of Maria from Italy – the one we were handed back in Bayonne by the gentleman in the cathedral as our mission! J We found out her prayer, together with all the others handed in, would be brought out on October 31 and placed on the altar for prayer. We were so thrilled to have been able to do this for her, whoever she is in this world, we hope she gets some sign to indicate that her letter has arrived.

But although the Camino de Santiago is finished for us, the real Camino for us is only starting.

What an incredible journey and life-altering experience for us. We will never look at our lives the same again. Each day will look different and every up or down, will make us reflect on our time on the Camino.

We are so grateful that our entire journey was free of any serious injury or drastic weather. To be honest, we had a very smooth Camino. We feel so fortunate to have met the people we met, stayed at the places we stayed, had the weather we had, ate the foods we ate and saw the sights we saw and then be rewarded with the experiences we were given. We know deep in our hearts that we will take away our life lessons, the ones we have documented here. We know that we were meant to do the Camino when we did. We know that we have done the best things for ourselves by walking this Camino.

And although, we are at the end of the walking part, we will try to keep exploring our lives as we have had for the past 43 days. This is why we are so glad that we started this blog so we can keep this positive outlook on life alive for us and for everyone who cares to read 🙂

Stay tuned, our posts will not end here!

Day 42 – Arzua to O Pedrouzo

Boy, did it rain today! It rained from the beginning to the end of the walk with NO let up at all. We were walking through so much water that our shoes and socks had no chance at staying dry.

Actually the paths looked more like waterfalls, streams or mud pools, then they did walking track. In some parts, the water was at least ankle deep. The 18 km today felt like an eternity.

The scenery and hamlets we walked through were so lush and sweet but unfortunately we didn’t get to stop to enjoy much because of the deluge of water.

Only one day out of the Camino and we were hammered with rain, possibly to cleanse our grubby bodies and shoes. After 40-odd days of walking, all the pilgrims probably could do with a quick wash! Heheheh. Maybe today was a wake up call…. Kept us from getting familiar with the routine of having mighty fine weather.

And today, we shed our first tears on the Camino. Not tears of sadness or pain but tears of elation and humbleness that we have made it so far. That we have achieved what we set out to do! That we have stayed so mentally and emotionally strong and positive and with such ease. To achieve such happiness and bliss and to be able to do it together! To be pushed to our physical limits and to endure grueling conditions at times, yet enjoyed every second of it! To be so close to completing a pilgrimage that has been around for centuries, walking the paths that so many millions have done before us.

We cried and we too felt that skies were crying with us, as the rain kept on coming!

But throughout the entire day, we didn’t wish for anything different. We accepted the rain for what it was and enjoyed every minute of soaking our feet in our shoe baths 🙂

As only in the past few days, other people have stated to us that the Camino is a metaphor for life and isn’t it just?

When it rains, it pours! And it taught us another valuable lesson. That preparation is fantastic but sometimes there are things that pop up into life that you just cannot prepare for. And although, you try to walk around it, or over it, or try to avoid it… sometimes, you just have to walk through it! That is how we felt when we had to walk through those puddles of rain. There was no more avoiding them, we just had to face them head on and deal with the “aftermath” later. And we came out unscathed and stronger.

Unless we called it quits, the result for the day would be the same – i.e the feet, shoes and socks were getting wet but what was more important and the overarching achievement was that we walked another day of the Camino! We are one day away now from Santiago and tomorrow is predicted to be raining again. But that doesn’t affect our mindset at all – never has on the Camino and so why let it now?

Day 41 – Palas de Rei to Arzua

If there was any day that would’ve brought us to tears, it should’ve been today.

For the record, of the 41 days on the Camino so far, today was by far the toughest in every way possible or so it seemed.

The weather forecast was for rain and rain, it did! It might have let up for only minutes at a time before it would come down again. It would be really heavy at times and then really light in parts.

We also had to contend with crazy winds, muddy and slippery paths and inclines and declines, crossing highways as well. The rain and the mud seeped into our shoes and soaked our socks and feet so when we finally got our boots off, the soles of our feet were wrinkly – our feet had aged about 50 years! We both also got stuck in the mud, trying to navigate our way through the safest and driest passage on the path.

What added to our grief was our sore legs. David was getting shin pain and Le was getting pain in her left foot – so we were both a walking mess in horrendous agony. But we soldiered on as best we could. And it proved that today was a test of our endurance, patience and tolerance. And if it was a test, well we both failed slightly because we had individual dummy spits over stupid things. Not at each other but at the situation at the time.

We got over the mini tantrum pretty quickly and stopped feeling sorry for ourselves pretty quickly too.

We comforted ourselves by saying that we were so lucky to have gotten this far with only 3-4 days of rain …. So we had been spoilt until now. Guess we needed to have the momentous day and character building day at some point.

And the biggest take away message was that when we are living our life outside the Camino and we are having a rough day at work or the weather is crappy – we will remember this day! The day we had to walk 28km or so in pain, with driving rain and we did it VOLUNTARILY on our holiday! So at least we will remember what having a tough day truly means!

The bar has been raised to what that actually entails to us. It certainly puts our lives of comfort into perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 40 – Portomarin to Palas de Rei

The weather was glorious today and we felt so fortunate to have the blue skies. But even when it rains we feel fortunate. We cannot stop smiling and being happy.

We walked with a wonderful friend that we met back in Belorado and we have constantly been running into her since. We have become Facebook friends with her and some people you just click with and she is one of those people we were meant to meet on the Camino (at least that is the way we see it).

We saw more cows on the road and have seen the scenery change so much since when we started. There were teenage school students on the trail today and as noisy as teenage students are, it didn’t both us one teeny tiny bit. We chatted with some and we just enjoyed the hectic-ness. We were once kids so why get grumpy or annoyed at them. They were there like we were – to walk the Camino.

And slowly this walk has shown us so much already and over the 40 days…. We know what makes us happy!! We have found the font of happiness. It is within us. It is within appreciating every moment of the now. It is up to us. We choose whether we are happy or not with our situation. It is not our situation that makes us happy. It is not our travels that makes us happy. It is not the things we own that makes us happy. It is not the sun that makes us happy. It is US that makes us happy.

All those things that we enjoy and might contribute to our decision to be happy but ultimately, seeking happiness doesn’t need to be too far from home. There are things that we love that adds to our choice of being happy such as our families, our friends, our travels, our humble home, our life experiences, our hobbies and interests and so when we are back home or away from the Camino and we feel a little down… we know what it is that we need to reflect on, to help us turn our frowns upside down!

Walking this Camino has made us both so happy and as we said a few posts ago, we feel so free! We want this feeling forever so we will work to achieve it as it is up to us. It may be as simple as just living in the now! This opportunity to slow down and hit the refresh button has really given us a new perspective on the way we need to live our lives. We can make it happen and be happy while working full-time jobs or not. The choice is ours and always has been but until we were ready to see it, it was never going to be found!