Only 589.2km left before I reach Santiago!
Sometimes, even now, I look at those numbers and I’m quietly stunned.
How on earth did I walk 800km across France and Spain?
How does anyone walk such distances, especially in just a few weeks?
I think the human body is an impressive piece of work. We’re built to move and even in this age of high-speed travel, we’re capable of walking hundreds of miles. We’re quite a bit removed from our caveman ancestors but I’m glad we haven’t lost our capacity to walk long distances and go see what’s out there.
Despite all the modern conveniences, we’re still able to go back to basics. I love it.
And to all the pilgrims, past, present, and future – I salute you!
I salute your willingness to embark on the Camino journey. I don’t care how many miles you walked or how many blisters you endured. I don’t care whether you went home after a day, “finished it”, or have walked it a dozen times. I’m hoping it was a positive experience but even if it wasn’t, I salute your willingness to get up from your couch, move away from your desk, and go take your body for a long walk. I applaud your sense of spirit and adventure, and your courage to go do something different.
It would have been easier and quicker to take the train, right? And I’m sure it would have been more convenient to book a beach holiday instead of sweating your way across the Iberian peninsula!
Beach holidays have their place but they’re no Camino. Sometimes the world tells us that the beach holiday is normal and that to walk 800km across Spain is not. Whatever your reason for choosing Camino – whether you wanted a pilgrimage or a cheap walking holiday – I’m sure there were some people who couldn’t relate to your choice.
Maybe they thought it all sounded a bit dull. They might have thought it was very odd. They might have thought you were having some sort of mid-life crisis.
I’m sure you knew people, just like I did, who thought you were mad to propose walking across Spain, especially if they’d never heard of Camino before. Some of my nearest and dearest hadn’t heard of Camino and thought I was heading off into the wilderness alone, to navigate and trek my way across rural Spain, for however long it took. “Mad” doesn’t even begin to describe what they thought of me! I will always remember their worried looks, trying to decide whether to be more concerned about my mental health or my chances of getting killed in rough scrubland.
It took a long time to convince them that I wasn’t unwell and I would be okay. Spain is quite a civilised country, really!
But I understand their concern and their desire to talk me out of my hair-brained idea.
Maybe some of the people in your life responded in a similar way? I’m sure it made your decision-making just a bit more complex. It’s one thing to head off on Camino when the whole world is applauding your choice. It’s a bit more tricky when the people around you are scared or resistant.
And yet, you did it anyhow. That took courage and faith. And I’m hoping you got to feel what I felt, at least once somewhere along the way:
That walking Camino was one of the most sane things I ever did!
I came home proud of, and awed by, the power of my human body. I came home feeling proud of everyone I met along the way, and of their enormous achievement to have walked the path, too.
I started out with the best intentions in the world but with no idea of whether I would be able to fulfill them.
800km (500 miles) sounded like an awful lot.
Make no mistake about it – 500 miles is a long way to walk.
But like many great things in life, it’s not something to be done all in one go. It takes steady perseverance, one step after the other, one day at a time.
Before you know it, you’ve covered more than 200km.
Before you know it, you arrive in a small village called Azofra and find that you’ve only 589.2km to go.