Tag Archives: France

800 km of Insights – Return from the Camino de Santiago

There are no two ways about it.  Walking 800 km across an entire nation will change your perspective on things.  I have returned from my Camino and I look forward to the manner in which this experience will continue to unfold throughout my life.  Thus far, I have had a few important insights that I would like to share with you.  As a fellow traveler, I hope you find them useful.

  1. We are always alone (and that’s ok 🙂 )
    No matter how much or how long we may walk side-by-side with someone, each step we  take  is our own. It is our journey. Solitary even when shared. We always have a choice in  where to  put our next step.
  2. Friends are recognized not made
    Too often we demand of others what they do not have to give. We fit with whom we fit and  not always forever and in every condition. Kindness is optional. When it is shown towards  us, it is  a gift. When it is consistent, this is friendship. There is nothing to force. There is  nothing to create. It is given and received freely. You recognize a true friend by their  actions in the moments that really count for you.

  3. Set time aside daily for reflection
    Stay connected to your true-self, soul, core-being.  Too often we find pieces of ourselves pulled away to go in one direction or another.  We eventually notice that we’ve become fragile, empty, incomplete.

    Unknown to ourselves, we’ve given up the “something more” we always were for “some things” that make us less.We doubt our worth, our intelligence, our usefulness, our purpose, our ability, our reason for existence.We have given up so many pieces of our soul that we’ve even lost our way to it. We must nurture the person whom we are everyday if we expect to sustain any kind of peace or contentment.Loving oneself is not “my way or the highway”. It is not selfish. It’s no different than any other type of love – it is kind.

    Kindness to oneself brings about kindness to others around you. In this we are united. We are one. You are a part of me and I am a part of you.  Unconditional love cannot exist with discontent towards oneself. If we love our selves with conditions, we will love others with conditions. We can only love others as well as we know how to love ourselves.This affects every part of your life. It is essential to your well-being. It is not optional if you expect a healthy life at peace inside and with the world around you. So MAKE the time to maintain the connection to your core self, to find your way back, to fall in love with your self again or maybe for the first time.  I promise, you’ll be glad you did.

  4. Finding Joy in Routine
     At some point no matter how exciting new people and places feel, eventually the initial thrill is gone. We often take them for granted and they slip into the routine of our lives. Then we seek a new high. It is madness. It is important to maintain an attitude of gratitude for all that you are blessed with.  It helps us to always remember how much beauty surrounds us.We can only attract joy with joy. Being ungrateful and failing to pay attention to the people and goodness in your life, only brings frustration, blindness sadness, anger, hatred, discontent. The expression “misery loves company” comes to mind. Ever notice that you never see joyful people at that party? Remember how fortunate you are with everything that is novel and routine in your life.
  5. Write down what you want, Store it, Check it
     When you get clear on what you really want, write it down and put it in a safe place. As you invite people into your life or take stock of those who are already there, refer back to make sure they are people who will support what you really want out of life.  Also, important is to remove those from your circle who keep you away from achieving your life purpose. These people, they hold on because they have nothing else to cling to inside of them. They need you to “feel good”. Eventually, they become very heavy to carry. You do not help them by letting them stay with you. In letting them go, you each are lighter and free to fly.

That’s all for now…

travel well. be well. live well. – with love from aneternaltraveler 😉

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You Can’t Teach a Person Who They Are

You can’t teach a person who they are, you can only help them find the answer that already exists within.

As I walked, I began realizing that the camino is an external representation of an internal landscape. As a result, we each have a unique experience, no two alike.

The Camino de Santiago simply offers us the opportunity to show us who we are. If there is life changing transformation in reconnecting with one’s authentic self, then in its simple offering, the camino truly provides a personal roadmap.

Embrace the Gap

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“Never walk the path laid out for you, it only leads to where others have been.”

The Camino de Santiago reflects the ways in which we walk in our daily lives.  Sometimes we walk without feeling, seeing or listening. We are too focused on the future to enjoy the present. We sacrifice those we love, including ourselves, in the process.

Bombarded everyday with expectations and messages that we are not enough, eventually we begin to internalize this. It becomes our truth because we have lost contact with ourselves so long ago.

We’ve learned to depend on others to guide us, to tell us the way, to give us recommendations instead of finding out for ourselves.

We are so “busy” that we settle for something like life and give up on life itself.

Many of us sense inside that there is something wrong or off. There is “something more”.

It is impossible to expect to connect to yourself while you continue to do things the same way you have always done. Allow yourself to be uncomfortable. Break away and embrace the silence. Be in the quiet. No music, no TV, no distraction. Just feel.

The “Camino” gives us the opportunity to surrender to our authentic self. The good news is that you don’t need to walk “The Way” to find YOUR WAY.

At every moment of our lives we are being asked to choose our way. You’ll find the answer if you really listen to yourself.

Embrace the gap between the noise – Silence – It is where you are.

Love & Buen Camino — aneternaltraveler 😉

Simplicity – Maximise your Minimalism :)

Simplicity – One of the most valuable experiences in walking the Camino de Santiago. Here we are given the opportunity to live day to day on a minimum – with only that which we hold on our backs.

Having to carry this weight long distances every day, you quickly learn what is necessary and what is excess.

Few people will open wide enough to let this new found wisdom take root inside of them. As a result, their return will find them with no more than a memory of brushing up against the meaning of life. Eventually even this will fade like the face of an old friend.

There is no doubt that the well trodden path is easier to follow. Everyone will support you because they understand it. They’ve done it and generations before and after will do the same. There is always a place at that table for you.

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Sometime after returning home, there will come a point when you will stand at a crossroad.  You will be asked to choose to continue YOUR Camino or to continue on the path you left. The choice and the outcome belong to you.

Although, if we stay where we don’t belong, our shadows wil forever chase us when it is we who are called to chase them.

Love & Buen Camino — 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 😉

Camino de Santiago – Packing List

map camino frances

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 Camino walk, 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!):

For the fans ;)
For the fans 😉

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.

Camino Backpack Contents - 10 lbs.
Camino Backpack Contents – 10 lbs.

Camino Packing List: (alphabetical)

– Adapter (Euro 220V)*
– Arm deoderant
– Travel Sheet
– Cloth Belt
– Bladder (for water lol)
– Birth control (no periods)
– Camino credencial
– Camino Guide
– Castile soap bar*
– Cell phone*
– Charger
– Clothes pins (6 sm.)
– Coin purse (sm.)
– Comb
– Conditioner
– Conversion pants (2)
– Cords (bungee 6 sm.)*
– Covertor
– Credit & ATM Cards
– Day pack (nylon)
– Earplugs
– Fanny pack
– First aid kit
– Fleece
– Hair ties
– Headscarf*
– Journal
– Mesh bags (3 small)
– Microfiber  washcloth
– Passport
– Pen
– Pillow (travel)
– Poncho
– Rain pants
– Razor
– Shale rock
– Dri-Fit Shirts (3)
– Small notebook
– Sock liners (4)
– Socks (2)
– Spf
– Sport bras (2)
– Start up money
– Sunglasses (clip on lol)
– Toilet paper
– Toothbrush
– Toothpaste
– Tweezers
– Underwear (3)
– Wallet
– Xtra phone battery

Notes:

* 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 😉