It’s been some time since I last published about our experience on the El Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage walk we did earlier in September, beginning of October 2016.
It’s December now, two days after Christmas, busy as usual with business, preparing for 2017, and I decided to wrap up this year by writing two more stories about The Way – a truly transformational experience for both of us.
Apart from the heavy weight on our shoulders, the most difficult thing was dealing with having no control, being constantly reliant on strangers’ goodwill and not knowing where we’ll end up sleeping at the end of the day. Here’s how I see it now, with the help of hindsight:
Having no idea where we’ll spend the night.
Because we hadn’t had much physical exercise beforehand, we had no idea whatsoever how much time we’ll need to do 20-30km, let alone how much distance we’ll actually be able to cover each day. Therefore, we didn’t know where we’ll end up sleeping each day.
Luckily, and to my surprise, I managed to cope with that rather well. If we couldn’t find accommodation in one town, we just had to go to the next – rather challenging when you have the odd 20km in your feet, and you want to spare every single step, but hey!
Everything is figureoutable.
Being constantly reliant on strangers’ help and goodwill.
I love being in control of my day and my schedule, knowing what’s happening when. I’m pretty good at navigating and logistics. But when there’s a language barrier (we only speak a few words of Spanish) and you’re in a completely new place, not knowing customs and what’s ok and what’s not, things can get rather complicated.
We encountered situations where we got lost and had to ask for help, sunset was about to set in and we’d still got 10km to go. But not having enough cash to pay for our accommodation and card payment being a no-no, no cash machine anywhere near and Sunday being a day when life stops was probably the most difficult dilemma that we managed to solve with the help of our kind host.
Basically, I had to learn to accept that I can’t solve everything on my own, that I need to ask for help, and yes, there are times when we are dependent on others, but that most strangers are kind and helpful.
This sense of trust, openness and channelling my own intuition was something that got perhaps not lost in me but it was definitely pushed back. The rediscovery was exhilarating and refreshing.
As I’m writing this, suddenly I remembered this beautiful thought from Paulo Coelho’s book The Pilgrimage that I read a few weeks before our journey:
When you travel, you experience in a very practical way the act of rebirth.
You confront completely new situations. The day passes more slowly. And on most journeys, you don’t even understand the language that people speak.
So you are like a child. Just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them.
You begin to be more accecible to others because they may be able to help you in difficult situations. And you accept any small favours from the gods with great delight – as if it were an episode you’d remember for the rest of your life.
At the same time, since all things are new, you see only the beauty in them and you feel happy to be alive. That’s why a religious pilgrimage has always been one of the most objective ways of achieving insight.
Paulo Coelho: The Pilgrimage
Letting things take their own natural course I learnt that sometimes, it’s best to let go and let life happen spontaneously to then discover paths I’ve never even dreamt of seeing.
I guess it’s time to land this plane on a tweetable:
Now, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Can you relate to any of these experiences and if so, what was the single biggest insight you discovered during your travels? Leave a comment below and let me know.
As ever, thank you so much for reading, I’m really appreciative for your time and attention.
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