Today I lost a pilgrim. Dear Anna decided that she could go on no more and hopped on a bus to the sea to relax. She was confronted with her fears and she wasn’t ready to face them. She left knowing that I loved her and accepted her even if she CRIED AND SCREAAMED her little heart out. So, we parted ways in peace.
It made me think about how we love and make space and accept one another in relationships. No matter how we may wish to advance someone forward to where we’d like them to be, we can’t. We don’t have that kind of control. Then the question becomes, can we sit with them and love and accept them “as is” anyway?
This camino is teaching me the true meaning of friendship, love and acceptance (of yourself and of others).
The rest of the day I walked with “Gibbs” 20 miles in virtual silence ( maybe only 10 min of talking). It was one of the best experiences I’ve had because I stayed completely present. A walking meditation. Absolutely NO THOUGHTS of past or future. JUST NOW.
Overcoming physical feelings of pain and discomfort led to mental testing, as the negative voice in my head tried to tell me to quit, and finally a kind of spiritual question that sounds something like…why are you doing this? Then comes a trance-like state that shows you — when your mind is made up your body will follow.
I’d already been traveling for 22 hrs the day before I found myself 10 hours into hiking the French Pyrenees from SJPP en route to Roncevalles (27 km/15 miles). To make matters worse the wind started whipping around & the fog was limiting visibilty to no more than 1ft. My trek buddy & fellow pilgrimn”Gibbs” were tired and about to be stranded.
It was a beautiful but brutal trek – climbing and climbing with little reprieve. I noticed my knee starting to bother me and though I took breaks and slowed my pace, it only got worse.
We needed to find shelter because we weren’t going to make it the last 6 km into Spain.
As we walked, we discussed what gear we had to make an outside shelter for the two of us to make it through the night.
Then we came upon a shack at the top of the mountain. We tried the door and it opened. There was another pilgrim named Anna who found shelter there and we asked if we could crash. She agreed so we went about pooling our resources for food, bedding, survival skills. I made a fire, Gibbs had the food prep, Ana collected wood and donated blankets.
We slept well overall. But I was in excrutiating pain through most of my body but my knee was seriously inflammed. It felt like the tendon was going to snap. When I stood on it at first, I almost collapsed. I thought “please don’t let this be tendonitis!”
We packed our gear and got ready for the final 6 km. I hobbled along but as the path began going down hill, I was barely moving from the pressure on my knee. Gibbs took my pack to relieve me of 6 kg of weight which helped. Both tried to keep me in good spirits.
But the constant walking and pain management broke me near the end and I distanced myself from the group as I burst into tears. When they finally caught up I got very angry and started yelling at them. It wasn’t their fault.
When we reached Roncevalles, I was relieved and let myself feel the full extent of the pain. They all came over and comforted me. I apologized for acting out. They said, “what did you think you could get rid of us that easily? You’re stuckbwith us”. I laughed and then cried — this time from being touched deeply by their friendship.
Alan another pilgrim, offered me a combo of pracetemol & ibuprofen and Gibbs gave me a lidocaine stick to rub over my knee. I had a capsesin patch that I stuck over top. That helped alot. Then, I got a beer.
I have no doubt I’ll expand on this when I’m less exhausted but suffice it to say that there is something here about realizing that the people I am traveling with (who have found me along the way) are parts of myself and something more about acceptance.
I sit here on the plane to Madrid en route to begin the Camino de Santiago tomorrow. I think about why I am taking this journey and how grateful I am for what I do have in my life.
I’ve spent so much of my life not wanting “strings attached”. I saw the things I had, wanted to have, and the people who loved me as anchors – things that weighed me down. I came to believe that the more you commit, the fewer the options you have. The fewer the options, the less enjoyable life becomes. I wasn’t going to fall into that trap. So I set my life up like that – to keep people at a distance.
Lately I’ve noticed that something is changing. I am letting people in and starting to trust for the first time. Oddly enough, it’s been feeling good to be attached.
It amuses me that for years I could not find love. Yet one month before I head out on a major spiritual journey, love enters my life. Now, I believe the universe provides, much like they say the camino does for each pilgrim so I can’t help but believe there is a reason for the timing of this. As if I needed to experience this before I went.
I am certain of one thing – I am beginning the camino at a very different starting point inside and further along my “way”.
I have begun my official Camino Countdown! Although my journey to get to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a quaint little town in the southwest of France and the official start point of the Caminowalk, reminds me a little of that old movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (except that I would also add buses lol).
Here’s a look at my travel itinerary (just to get there!):
Three days from now, I will be dropped at the airport where I will fly for 8 hrs to Madrid, land at 7 AM with a 6 hr. time difference, then take a 3-hr Renfe train ride from Puerta Atocha-Madrid to Pamplona. I’ll then walk what looks to be 1.5 miles to the Pamplona bus station to hop on a bus (Alsa) to cross the Spanish/French border into Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (which I will now officially begin abbreviating “SJPP” for obvious reasons). At this point it will be about 7:30 PM. In essence, Day 1 – roughly 20 hrs of travel.
I will see how I feel the next day about starting the Camino by crossing over the tempermental Pyranees! We may not get along very well if I’m cranky too 🙂
Alright Already! What’s in the Bag??
Aaaanywho….I digress….back to the title of this post! What does one pack for the Camino, you ask??? Well here is what I have packed. If it makes a difference to you when considering my list, I am 37, female, have some neck and shoulder issues, and am a big fan of muliti-purpose stuff 🙂
As you can see in the picture below, I have everything laid out that will go into the REI Lookout 40 L backpack pictured for the next 45 days. Fully loaded weight is about 10 lbs. Water bladder will likely add only another 1-2 lbs. So, pretty lightweight overall and some room to spare.
* Electronics Adapter – You probably don’t need a converter. Most electronics now have a converter included that ranges 100V-220V. This covers US, Europe, and Asia. Put a Euro plug adapter on the end and you’re all set.
* Castile Soap – my shampoo, soap, & laundry detergent
* Phone – Samsung Galaxy S3 – If you can’t get your phone unlocked like me and you want to take your smart phone, here’s a work around. Just add Skype to make calls over wifi. Then while overseas, put your phone into Airplane mode which shuts off all receivers, data (and wifi which you need). All you have to do is go back in and manually turn on wifi which is usually just the tap of a button. No fear of International roaming and you get access internationally to phone and internet via wifi on the fly. Easy peasy! Also, added a 32 g micro SD card to double as a camera.
* Bungee cords, many uses and together a makeshift washline!
* Headscarf – also my bath towel and can be turned into a fun dress if needed!
Whew!! I think I got everything!
Have you been there, done that? Share, share, share!!
Well that’s about it for now.
❤ with love from aneternaltraveler and buen camino 😉
I am about to embark on a 500-mile walk across Spain, better known as the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, in a few days. My backpack has been packed and repacked with great disappointment each time. I’m becoming certain that it will never be quite right. Something always seems a bit awkward. I’ve put travel notices on my cards and continue to wrap up the final details.
At the same time, I can’t help but notice how my mind also seems to be reorganizing. Re-prioritizing. I think more about all the reasons I’m doing this pilgrimage. I think about what I’ll leave behind. What I’ll pick up. Along the way, I recalled something I read once upon a time. It seems to cut right to the heart of all those big questions we all have. So, I wanted to share it and challenge you to consider what / who you will hold close and what / who you will let go of in order to live your happiness.
There comes a time in your life, when you walk away from all the drama and people who create it. You surround yourself with people who make you laugh. Forget the bad, and focus on the good.
Love the people who treat you right, pray for the ones who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Falling down is part of life, getting back up is living.
Today may there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself in others. May you use the gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has been given to you.
Find love. Cherish it. Show it. Chase it. Savor it. – As always with love from aneternaltraveler 😉