“El Camino? What is it? … Ohhh, yeees, the one in Spain, isn’t it? Yes, yes, I have heard about it… aham … and when are you going?”, “But isn’t it dangerous?” , “But why are you going?”, “Extraordinary decision, will you returnt as a new person”, “How was it?”, “Did you blister?”, “How long did you walk?” … here are some of the questions I was asked this summer before and after going on El Camino.
I decided to start the writing on my blog with a text dedicated to the El Camino experience, in the desire to respond with sincerity and maximum subjectivity to the questions I have been asked.
Short introduction for those unfamiliar with the subject of which I write – El Camino is a pilgrimage that is done in Spain (yes, pinches beats of France and Portugal, depending on your route), marking – symbolically – the path made by Apostle James, the preaching martyr of Christianity. Why do pilgrims go on this road? The motivations are as diverse as the people on the way … from finding inner peace, the desire to reconnect with nature or knowledge of people from other cultures. One of the magical aspects of the road is the feeling that the world has come to you. Everyday you meet people from all over the world. One morning you drink tea with a Japanese woman and an Irish boy, and in the evening you lay out the laundry in the albergue yard with a Finnish and a Moroccan couple. I have never perceived such a harmonious blend of nationalities and cultures in any other place.
Why did I decide to go to El Camino? I could write a month about the states I’ve been through preparing for this road. 🙂 In an amalgam of “to know me better, to clarify my thoughts, to test my limits,” I came to the conclusion that it was a spontaneous decision that represented a conclusion of a stage that marked a long road of taking and discovering the wisdom of my inner self. I am concerned about the continuous discovery of self and the constant evolution and refinement, which is why, when, the wonderful woman with whom I am working on the Gene Keys Coaching sessions (yes, you will read about Claudia in the future posts in the “People” section) decided to go to the second time on this road I said “Yes, I come.” For me, walking on El Camino was the end page of an intense search period. I wanted to experience this road alongside this wonderful person I have already explored my personal profile with, wanting to integrate and practice what we have worked for a good period of time together. Goooood! Taken decision! What followed? A daunting period. Pilgrimage begins long before leaving … before stepping on the road … As soon as I decided I’ll go, I promised myself to go with total openness to learn the lessons that I need now, and they fast beganto appearing. Preparing for the road was, for me, a ritual cleaning. How do you tell your loved ones that you go, what do you take with yourself, how do you respect your body … oh, but how many topics? All the buzzing of the preparations was silenced on the day of the departure and compacted in a 4.5kg rucksack. With the small green rucksack on my back (no, you will not realize by seeing the pictures how small my backpack was because after the stunning rain that caught us on the mountain peak from the first day, I did not detach myself from the oversized hood borrowed by Dana) I went from July 22 to August 8 on a path of lessons and life stories.
What troubles have I encountered? Countless! I started the road with the craving to take pictures that I can dearly keep and to show to my family and friends … only that the water that surpringly came in my way (raining cats and dogs… I no longer felt anything. except for the water that squeezed out of the socks i was wearking inside mywaterproof boots … waterproof!) entered the phone disconnecting me from everything that meant the magic of the media world. In this way, I’m letting you know that all the photos posted from this route are made by either Dana or Claudia or by me with their phones. I made herpes for the first time in my life, fact which totally took me out of my comfort zone, despite the pharmacist’s uncomfortable calm that explained to me how almost everyone suffers this condition on El Camino … fatigue, sun, road, stress. .. I found that summer in Spain can be like a cool spring in my country, so I rarely came out from polar clothes and long pants.
What lessons have I learned? Well, take notes!
Life in the city takes us away from some terribly simple truths. Waking up in the morning (yes, at 5 o’clock we woke up at 5, 6 we were already waking) and sleeping early (“lights off” at 22.30, maximum 23.00) disciplines you in such a healthy and pleasant way. The connection with nature is one of the main themes with which I have come back from this road … the sight of the sunrise every morning after about 5 km walking on the road, relaxing the back by laying in the freshly mown fields, eating the dewberry-drenched blackberries, drinking fresh water spring every day … there are realities that I loved on this road.
Patience and authentic communication. We talk so much, but we do too little. We complicate simple ideas and forget to be straightforward and transparent in communication. On the way, you have meaningful conversations, you have little time to spend with another person on that piece of road, which is why you jump quickly over the introductions like, “I work in the field of y, I’m x years old and I live in the capital city” and you plunge in themes important themes like the vision about life, motivations to make the pilgrimage, views about divinity, inner search and expression of self.
Respecting the body and connecting with the self. On the way everyone is careful to … legs. Suddenly, the interest in soles, relaxation of muscles, sleep, nutrition and hydration becomes undeniable. In addition to will, the body is the one who bears you on this road, which is why taking care of it becomes a priority. Without the problems of the body, the road becomes more pleasant, easier to pass and more revealing. For me, the morning’s walk, while the sun was still thinking about appearing on the sky, helped me create moments favorable for my introspection. I realized that the undone “homeworks” were catching my attention on El Camino as well, just that there was no way to run away from yourself. The simplicity of day-to-day walking with the mini backpack brought me to realise which are the homeworks I forget to do, or that I keep postponing or transforming them into things that make or not make sense … a ” higher” meaning of sense.
Making relationships with those who exist in our lives sacred. In the two days of the pause that I did at the Alchemist’s House (you will find the details soon in the section “Places”) I lived deep things. Here I will refer to something easier, but which for me has unlocked a powerful inner process for the coming week. I extracted from the “Medicine Cards” (which the Alchemist uses in his interpretations) the book the White Buffalo, which, among other things, talked about prayer, abundance, and treating relationships as sacred (“abundance is present when all relationships are honored as sacred, and when gratitude is expressed to every living part of creation “). I left the Alchimist’s house with this thought and – I admit – I still hold to, reason which is why I leave this theme still open … how do we respect our relationship with ourselves, our parents, our friends or with our partner? How much do we understand and respect the other and how much do we offer from our inner selves? The other, whether parent, friend, pet or partner, is a world. How much of this world do we explore and truly understand?
The Importance of Present TIME!!! Along with the connection with nature, understanding the present is one of the most important lessons that El Camino has brought to me. Without the phone, I was “forced” to take a good lookat what is around me and to enjoy everything I saw right in that moment. The photos for later were not a feasible option, which is why everything I saw had maximum impact at the present time. In addition to the visual appearance, the joy of being in the moment was at the highest level and when I was making the hot shower after 27 km of walking, when I smelled the fresh air with the eucalyptus flavour or when drinking a cold beer ( anti-inflamation beer, as the lively Spaniards called it). Being here in the moment, you in your own skin makes you feel more acute, more careful, spontaneous and happier. At least that is how it makes me feel…yes!
I went back to my home and avoided story-telling about the way, because my moods were mixed and I did not want to be misunderstood in what I had to convey. For me the road itself, coming to El Camino, was not the wow side. I think the route has become expensive and very commercial, that clean, good, subdued and profoundly religious component does not strike you in any way. But it shocks you how the money in your wallet disappears, be it on a cake, a fresh orange juice, an accommodation that is more expensive than what appears in the guide, a cream to treat the herpes or the pilgrim menu. However, now I can understand why people choose such experiences and understand why I would go again (tomorrow?). Because there is in many of us a search for the authentic, connecting with those who go into the world for the same purpose, because spirituality does not disappear when you stop off the road to enjoy a croissant and because you can offer and you get peace during a spectacular church service held in a forgotten place even for thepilgrim who overnight pounded the bags and did not let you sleep. Because leaving the comfort zone is revealing and because, however much we want, we do not have the control over what surrounds us.
So, YES, for a better understanding of the present, of those around us and a more authentic connection to oneself, I will make annually a pilgrimage. I invite you to experience such madness, whether on El Camino or in the Apuseni mountains or the Loire Valley with a bicycle.