Arriving in Santiago de Compostela and the Aftermath

Up by 5:30 am. Rushing to arrive in time to receive the Compostela for completion of the 500 mile / 800 km journey across the north of Spain. Then the Pilgrim’s Mass at 12:00 noon in the Cathedral where we can’t miss the gigantic swinging incense burner. After that, check-in to a hotel, eat something, take pictures, feel like crashing but it is too late to sleep. So you push on.

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After finally getting to bed, you realize you don’t need to set an alarm or walk tomorrow for the first time in 35 days.

I slept very well.

I got up. Ate breakfast. Booked my train ticket to Madrid. Tried to figure out when I’d go to Finesterre. Saw people I’d probably never see again. Gave hugs…

Then a range of feelings set in all at once. Sadness, anger, boredom and exhaustion.

I wanted to push them all away so it would hurt less.  Every hug was another goodbye. Another cord connecting me to a fellow pilgrim was cut. And another. And on and on. I became so sad and angry over the feeling of constant loss that I went back to my hotel and hid myself just to deal with it and try to recover. 

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These were once the familar faces that encouraged you on the way, shared their stories. People I saw everyday. It is like a family that you get to choose. These are special people. Then they disappear from your daily life one by one.

I am trying my best to deal with this unexpected feeling on the camino. We are no longer planning together to get to the same destination. We are now planning how to go our separate ways.

I feel a terrible severing.

Buen camino from aneternaltraveler ;(

Regroup – Camino de Santiago

With only 80 miles /134km remaining before reaching Santiago de Compostela, people get kind of crazy – as if competing to “arrive” first.

To make matters more interesting today is the commemoration of the martyrdom of St. James (Santiago) so there were tons of people trying to make it on time. There will be another batch of party-rockers between now and the 29th since the celebration continues.

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So like being caught up in any mass hysteria, I got shoved along by the momentum.

Today was thoroughly miserable for me. I was already feeling rung out from the previous days of pushing myself and then I didn’t sleep a wink last night. 

I thought I might do as I always do tired or not – just slog the full 24 k today like taking a prescription medication.  I just prayed that I would at least find a tranquil place to revive myself.

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7 k away from my goal I came upon a place that drew me in and I knew my prayers had been answered. Later when I looked in my guide it literally states that this is “an oasis of peace and tranquility”. It is called the “Alburgue de Paloma y Leña”.

All of the beauty and the nurturing environment drew me in. Hammocks, a piano (which I played), cats, a beautiful lounge, unlimited beverages, the family, the clean welcoming rooms…paradise on a budget!

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I realized while marinating in the juices of this place that I really needed to regroup. I was becoming pretty miserable and not enjoying myself one bit.  

To make matters more interesting, I had a delightful conversation with an Anglican priest who also informed me that the paramount event of Pilgrims mass in Santiago – the “swinging of the gigantic incense burner” only happens Friday’s at 7:00pm mass. I would arrive on Wednesday at my current pace, so I have one more reason to slow down.

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So, I learned my lesson. Slow down. Go at YOUR pace. Have a great conversation and equally good food. Remember to stay present and enjoy the journey.

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The destination is the journey.

Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Stop Expecting People to Be Happy All the Time!!

Please don’t try to change how I feel without at least first understanding what I feel.

I am surely not alone in this experience. I’ve noticed it on the Camino as well. They are the people who “need” to be happy or need YOU to be happy all the time in order for them to be around you.
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Can I just say…this is just so damn exhausting!

For example,

Me: I’m so exhausted. The extremes in temperature really wear on me.

Eternal Sunshine: Oh really? I love nature. I appreciate all the natural beauty. It doesn’t make me tired at all. Try to cheer up. You should be happy. Tomorrow is another day!!:) 🙂 🙂

Me: Ummmm… (silently to myself: Do I have to hate nature to be exhausted?)…Well I’m gonna go check on my nature-dried laundry. See ya…

Here is the thing. Before you chime in like some mindless, compassionless sun-shiny a**hole, take a moment to give a shit about the person who is sharing their feelings with you. Maybe then they’ll even care to listen to what YOU have to say. Heck they might even change how they are feeling based on your compassionate understanding.
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Another note…Not every comment from another person requires your view. Sometimes it is ok to just explore one side for a bit. This is particularly the case if you happen to notice that the person in front of you might be too low on emotional resources to listen to the message of “hope, gratitude, & renewal” that you’re spitting out.

Learn to recognize & accept other states of being, besides happiness, in yourself as being ok. That way when you meet someone who is tired, angry, sad, lonely, etc…you can identify with them instead of trying to change them. People are not broken or happiness deficient. We just feel what we feel and feelings change.

I find that the fastest way to get to a new feeling is to accept the ones we feel and be surrounded by others who are mature enough to do the same.
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Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Walk with Me? – Camino de Santiago

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Very few people will walk by your side through life. Most people think the destination is the goal.

Few understand that – being by the side of another sharing the joy and the pain, slowing down for another when you want to go faster, healing another when you are well, and the simple beauty of knowing how to be comfortably silent with someone – is the whole point of the Camino “the Way” of life.
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Your wisdom increases by reaching outside of yourself, not by reaching the next town…

Buen camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Don’t Stop Walking – Camino de Santiago

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Today I was amazed that I could walk 14 km., take a half hour break and then walk 14 km. more. This sign seemed to sum it up.

I was refreshed from having taken a day off due to the “camino virus” that’s being passed around.

Today, I found the joy in the routine and things seemed a little less routine somehow. Oddly though, now I’m having a hard time sitting still.

I sit for a bit and then I feel like walking. Problem is that while this is a beautiful town, it is small. This makes me feel like a gerbil caught in a wheel (or better one main street with a really amazing bridge). It only adds to my anxiety.

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It is like my body got revved up and can’t idle or turn off the engine. 

I absolutely loved my walk today. Right now, though, I feel a bit like an animal kicking at her cage.

Así es la vida…

Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Finding Joy in Routine – 200 miles to Santiago de Compostela

With Santiago de Compostela less than 2 weeks away from my feet, I notice something a little sad on this final part of the journey.

I seem to have lost the depth and spiritual breadth that I experienced in the begining.

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There is so much to learn at the start  that you might imagine that there would be less time for such contemplation than in the following weeks where one becomes a seasoned pilgrim.

I find that the day has become routine and in that the magic is lost. Much like it feels at home in our daily life.

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For me, my day is – wake, walk, eat, walk, arrive, shower, wash clothes, eat, siesta, dinner, sleep. Repeat.

How many of you can make a list like this for your life at home – maybe – wake, eat, work, gym?, home, eat, chores, sleep. Repeat?

It seems as though no matter where you go, no matter how exotic it seems at first, eventually routine sets in.

The challenge seems to be noticing how awesome things are around you DESPITE the routine you find yourself in.

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I think to myself, really it isn’t that this part of the Camino is less amazing than the begining. I’ve just learned to take it for granted and get into a routine where I am blind to it.

Maybe tomorrow I will try a different approach – at each step of my routine, I will ask of myself to notice something wonderful. I will pick up my head more and appreciate my environment as I walk – no matter how barren or busy the landscape.

Perhaps that’s the key to happiness – finding things to be grateful for amidst the routine of life.

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Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Three Kinds of Pilgrims

It has now been almost 2 weeks on the Camino de Santiago and I’ve come to the realization that there are really three types of Pilgrims (Perigrinos).

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The Althlete
This is the pilgrim who completes the camino by doing small sections at at time because they don’t have or can’t make enough time. They zoom through to complete their section in time. And despite having never completed the camino they will tell you “how the camino is” much like…

The “Tour Guide”
This person has walked the camino several times and really hasn’t found what they’ve been looking for so they seem to settle for a position as a “camino tour guide”. The camino tour guide is like that person who sits beside you watching a movie they’ve already seen and proceeds to *jump* and *scream* a second before the important part happens effectively ruining the anticipation. Yup. A walking spoiler alert.

Finally, we have…

The First Timer
This type of Pilgrim had any number of ideas in their head before they came to walk 500-miles /800 km across a whole country. They are either geared up too much or show up in sneakers like a Nike commercial. But they are still excited and scared and pure. They are about to have their first and for many their last Camino. There will be blisters and threadings and tendonitis and wtf? But this should be experienced poco y poco (little by little) not shoved down your throat. This experience is a beautiful thing and should be respected and honored.

So I asknyou to remember as you walk…

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The Camino is your Camino. It is not the sum of the lessons or wisdom from the Tour Guide or the short distance races won by The Athlete.

They say you never forget your first time. Make it worth remembering. It belongs to you.

Buen Camino 😉 aneternaltraveler

The Lonely Road to Los Arcos

Today’s walking theme is lonliness. One is confronted with wandering wheat fields, rain, and very few facilities.

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You are not given a choice. You must walk alone in this to answer the question of why YOU feel empty..lonely..that something is missing

Sometimes we push those we love and who love us away because we believe we are not worthy of that love. We believe that our past or our inadequacies or our weaknesses disqualify us from being given that opportunity to be loved. We sometimes believe that we must shelter others from our sadness, fear, & hurt. We feel we are a burden.

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On this trip, I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes you carry someone else’s load and sometimes they carry yours.

Allowing yourself to give and receive as you are is what love is. Seeing yourself in others and seeing them in you. Being seen & seeing.

When we isolate ourselves we neither give ourselves or others the chance to know love. So we are lonely, sad and afraid when all we have to do is reach out.

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Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Camino de Santiago – A very hard day

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This has been one of the very hardest days I’ve had. My feet were in chronic pain for 10 of the 15 miles I walked today. I could only take baby steps for the last few miles. I thought I might never arrive.

It reminded me of those movies where you see someone walking in the desert looking for water & seeing only one mirage after the other. The sun was blazing. There was very little interesting scenery and my trek-buddy Gibbs, said he’d catch up after he went to church. We never found each other. So it was one long, quiet painful walk.

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At least it ended in me finding a free bed in an alburgue run by the local church parish in Estella and a vino tinto to cure what ails me (hopefully). 

Buen camino aneternaltraveler 😉