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 🙂

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 39 – Sarria to Portomarin

This is our last leg now! And we eased through the first day 🙂 It started off with a drizzle before turning into heavier rain for about half an hour. That meant sloshing through mud. There was some parts of the track where the path was no longer visible, probably submerged in about 4 cm of water which meant the feet had to wade in some water for a little bit.

But it was no big deal – it’s only water, right?

The track was busier today, which was really refreshing to see. Many more faces and a different type of energy. The energy of people who were only starting so it reminded us fondly of our first day!

There was plenty of chit chat and buzz around…. Which has certainly been different for us as we have been walking with little noise around us for the past 35 days or so!

And it certainly took some getting use to. It is like we are slowly being integrated and reintroduced into ordinary life again.

So what is that teaching us?

That our lives are filled with routine and we need to ensure there is variety and new things introduced. We can be creatures of habits and sometimes change rattles us a bit but mixing things up creates a little excitement and intrigue. Different and new doesn’t necessarily equal a change for the worse. It probably should be seen as fresh and revitalizing.

So with an attitude of welcoming change, imagine all the different opportunities and experiences that can occur. And if not, well at least life won’t be boring or dull!

 

Day 37 – Triacastela to Sarria

It was a “short” walk through mystical and enchanted forests today if you believe in fairy tales! There were toadstools and ferrets and spiders to see 🙂 What was beyond the green foliage, we cannot tell you because we stayed on the track, following the yellow arrows.

As always, we had rocky paths to climb up, entering villages and farms along the way. And then we have to descend… treading carefully to not slip and end up hurting ourselves.

We were graced with beautiful blue skies  and sunshine once again, although the weather has begun to turn cold, and the autumn leaves are visible on some trees.

And now we are in Sarria, we have our last rest day tomorrow before we take on the last leg to Santiago! This is when apparently the numbers and crowds increase as this is the most popular section to do…

We have continued to greet everyone with Buen Camino, Buenos Dias or Ola and sometimes a combination of all three… 🙂 And we have maintained our enthusiasm and cheeriness from the start!

A fellow pilgrim said to us the other day, “When everyone is saying Buen Camino to one another, we all look at one another in the eye.” And that is a very true point he makes. It is because we are in the present and we are showing each other the respect we all deserve.

So today got us really thinking about how we say our greetings to our fellow pilgrims.

When those words are spoken, do we really think about what we are saying or are we just saying it?

And to be fair to ourselves, we say it with sincerity most of the time except for when we are caught off guard by feather feet people who have crept up on us. Actually when we hear people approaching from behind, we will stop, step aside and be sure to look at them as we wish them with one of the above greetings.

Ok, so we can honestly say that we do on the whole, think about the words we speak when we are on the Camino but what about outside of the Camino life?

Undoubtedly there are times where we say things purely because it (1) seems like the right thing to say, (2) is what is usually said or (3) appears polite to say it!

How many times have we agreed with someone else just because it is easier to? Or asked someone a question because it rolls off the tongue but we haven’t really thought of the question? A great example of this one is; “Hey, how’s things?” And if we were really mindful of that question, than we technically could be prepared for any response but sometimes we are not, especially when the response is “things are not going well”. Uh-oh, didn’t expect that response!

Likewise, with listening, we need to be more active and mindful. Our minds are busy and noisy and sometimes we are not fully present. If we learn to be mindful when we speak and mindful when we listen – our communication and interaction will not only be more sincere but the interaction will surely become more meaningful and real.

 

Now when we speak or listen, we will try to be in the moment. Our undivided attention will be on the current conversation to absorb what is being said and what we are trying to say – who knows, we might learn something new or understand something better or just appreciate what the conversation has to offer.

We now understand for us the biggest lesson of life from the Camino is to LIVE AND BE IN THE NOW! From this one main key lesson, many other lessons branch off.