Hello all! I have sadly neglected TheGoodishTraveler during the Summer (as I sometimes [always] do). I'm not going to pretend and say I was really busy. I was simply just luxuriating in the nothingness that was the Summer after having spent such a physically/mentally challenging time on the Camino Frances during the month of June.
During the time that we were there, you realize just what you're made of. When you're in the midst of something so physically demanding that it makes you think, "there is no way I can get up and do this again tomorrow" but then, delighted, you do and you realize how pleased you are about it, you see what you can really handle physically, emotionally and mentally. Even when my feet were covered in blisters, I was happy to be walking. Although that's not to say that some Excedrin and San Miguels didn't also do the trick.
You wake up, you eat, you walk, you eat again, you walk, you drink, you walk, you cry and you walk and you shower, eat, sleep and then wake up and walk again. For me, personally, it really was a struggle as I had so many problems with my feet from the second day on. It was an emotionally challenging experience for me as, if you know me IRL, I'm extremely hard headed and can be pretty prideful. I didn't want to have my bag shipped on. I wanted to carry it. I didn't want to skip a town. I wanted to go through each and every stage of the Camino and experience what it had to give me. However, it was also a huge awakening personally and emotionally as I realized that sometimes you just have to say, okay, this is okay. I will take care of me. The biggest lesson learned: every person's Camino is different and personal to them.
While the Camino left me in tears on some days, there were just as many days, if not more, where it left me laughing, speechless, smiling, talking, shouting and singing into the darkness during our pre-dawn walks. It also left me emotionally filled to the brim. The Camino taketh away and the Camino giveth back your sanity!
I don't regret a single step and fully intend on returning to complete the entirety of the Frances. I appreciate the time I had to just empty my always running mind and just be on the trail. There were times where Justin would look back at me and I would just be so focused on each footstep, he would ask if I was talking to myself. Then I would realize I was idly singing to myself watching the rocks pass by. You become so fully immersed in your Camino, that everything else is gone if it is not directly in front of you. A pasture, a mountain, a freely roaming goat. Also, a cute puppy with a gimpy tail and one eye.
During our last day of hiking, we walked for two hours in the complete darkness in an incredibly creepy eucalyptus forest. We sang Jack Johnson so loud and for so long, I felt we knew all the words to each song as we trudged through the hard packed trail with only one bobbing headlamp far ahead of us. When the sun finally inched it's way up, more and more pilgrims started to crop up as we all hurtled our way into Santiago de Compostela. There was a buzzing energy and many a frantic "Buen Camino!" as we all went from cafe' to monument to cathedral searching for sellos to put into our Pilgrim's Credential. You have to prove you've walked from city to city during the entirety of the Camino but must obtain two stamps (or sellos) a day during the last 100km. When we finally hiked (limped) down the steps into the courtyard in front of the Cathedral, I sobbed. With my Buff covering my sweating, dirty face I thought about each painful step, each friend we made, each lesson I learned, each sunrise, each sunset, each yellow arrow and I mourned it being over. As we walked to the Pilgrim's Office to receive our Compostela, a Pilgrim walked out carrying his and gave a knowing smile and said to me my very last "Buen Camino". Teary eyed, I nodded and smiled. Buen Camino. Good Way. May your path be good, safe and fulfilling.
It took me a while, but here is a little video of our time on The Way. Each photo and video has a lot of heart, pain and happiness behind it. We hope you enjoy it, friends!
Since the Camino, Justin and I have become fully in love with hiking, long distance walking and physically demanding adventuring. In three weeks we finally fulfill one of our major bucket list adventures of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru! While I'm completely blown away by the idea that I'll be hiking an ancient Inca path in just a few weeks, I'm also super afraid. Of zip lining. Omg, why did I sign up for it.
Until next time, y'all.