Life Lessons unravelled along the Ways of the Camino De Santiago (Part 1)
Buen Camino Peregrinos!
Whether you are about to embark upon, currently walking, or the idea of the Camino is currently floating around in your mind (this is how it started for me) thank you for taking this time to sit down and read this blog.
Recently I walked 3 different routes of the Camino De Santiago (also known as the Way of St James). Throughout these 38 walking days, covering approximately 1,200km across 3 different countries I was given A LOT of thinking time and feel so blessed to have given myself this gift. This blog holds in it many experiences, reflections and wisdom’s that I had formed over this course of time. These have been brought to light through my own introspections, the incredible people I met along the trail, and the gift of the Camino itself that it provides to each peregrino (pilgrim).
There are many various route of the Camino De Santiago with the original and most famous being the Camino de Frances (The French Way). This is the first one that I commenced upon from St Jean Pied De Port in France and my favourite out of the 3 different Camino De Santiago routes that I undertook. It may be because this is the traditional route that started as a Christian pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago De Compostela in Northwestern Spain over 1,000 years ago and now has been walked by thousands of pilgrims since then. As I was deciding upon which route to undertake first I found that the Camino De Frances called to me and now I know the reason for this because it holds a very special place in my heart. This pilgrimage has taught me many lessons, provided me with a feeling of grounding, and allowed me to find my answers that I was searching for during this 800km of walking meditation.
The second Camino route that I undertook was the Camino de Fisterra. This route starts in Santiago de Compostela taking 90km to walk to Cape Finisterre, a rock bound peninsula in the west coast of Galicia, Spain. In Roman times Cape Finisterre was believed to be the end of the world and was the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St James.
On this path it was the first time that I was able to see a glimpse of the ocean since starting the Camino. I first saw this from the town of Cee, and from someone living in Sydney for their whole life I had the most overwhelming feeling of nostalgia, familiarity and comfort. As I reached he Milestone in Cape Finisterre noting 0km and watched the sunset over the ocean I felt complete peace and tranquility inside. That all the experiences along the way made this destination so special that it is undescribeable.
Despite Cape Finisterre being the end point for many pilgrims walking the Camino De Santiago, personally I still had the desire to continue with this lifestyle that I had come to live and breathe.
I decided to take a bus from Santiago De Compostela to Porto, Portugal to begin the 300km walk of this portion of the Camino de Portuguese heading back to Santiago De Compostela. My decision to walk this Camino was mainly due to having extra time before my next destination in my travel plans and also the oppoertunity to walk and experience this way with a friend from back home which created a very different experience then my original reason for walking the Camino De Frances and Camino de Fisterra which were for more spiritiual reasons.
The Camino De Portuguese offered a different experience once again to the other routes allowing me to view the villages and landscapes of Portugal which were more rural and widespread then that of the villages and towns along the Camino De Frances. From my personal experience this route was my least favourite due to mainly walking along the road and barren towns. Undeniably my favourite part of this route was when my friend and I spontaneously took the alternate spiritual route not knowing that this would lead us off course by 30km up through the mountains and rivers. Even though thias resulted in walking a 50km day this is when I found the joy once again in this route as I was able to connect to nature once again. Upon this route I reached the point of acceptance that I was now ready to leave the pilgrim lifestyle behind for the moment as I had found everything that I was looking for and much more.
The Camino De Santiago calls to each pilgrim for a different reason and it is not for a luxury holiday that you can be certain of. Along the way I met many people and they shared with me their stories, how they discovered the Camino, and also their reason for embarking on this journey. Quite a number of people’s reason for walking the Camino changed along the way, and even some people did not have any specific ‘questions’ or deep intrinsic reason initially for walking the Camino but they discovered many things along the way that were unique to their experience.
The first time I had heard about the Camino De Santiago was a few years ago after watching ‘The Way’ and this left a lingering thought and feeling within myself that I would one day hope to walk this beautiful spiritual pathway. At that point in time I did not know if it would transpire, until last year when I had made the decision to backpack solo that it came to me right there and then that this was exactly the right time for me and what was needed in my life’s journey to move forward as there were lessons to be learnt along the way.
These lessons constantly remind me and hopefully yourselves that it is important to walk your own path in life and that life has many beautiful gifts to offer us all.
Stay tuned for my upcoming articles on the lessons learnt along the Ways of the Camino De Santiago.
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