Saturday, September 30, 2017

Camino thoughts

In Finisterre at the 0.0K
Well my friends, now this camino is over and it is time to contemplate. The second week which was in Spain was harder for me than the first from a physical standpoint as my physical problems compounded with the accumulated mileage. I am sure you are thinking that I should have stopped but each day everything was OK in the morning and increased as the day went on so I went with my instinct to keep on as I could. I always told myself if I got to the point that I could not keep on, I would stop. Herein lies my lessons and work - how do I know when enough is enough? I am sitting here in Burgos, Spain for 2 days and doing nothing but sit and think and write (you are getting my instant thoughts) and hopefully my little physical problems will go as they came and I can attribute them all to overlong mileage on my feet on many days. We did do lots of walking training in Mexico, US, Germany and England before the camino but I guess not long enough and not everyday which is the difference. 17 miles on the last day into Santiago was the longest!
Starting the day in Arcade, Spain

Entering Spain in Tui.
I was graced with two new good 'besties' from Australia - Anne and Michael and they walked with us for several days but it was our last that was the most meaningful as we were able to distract each other, listen to our life stories, support each other on our ongoing spiritual walks as well as sing together. We had lots of fun and it helps to remind me how important community is in my life. I sometimes think that I would rather be alone but when times like this come along and one meets new friends and we just feel like we have been friends forever - this is a moment of joy and grace. There were other friends we ran into here and there that were fun and interesting as well.

Small buildings to keep grain
Those of you out there in our family and friend land often ask us about our "friends" and how and why we seem to have so many and why we stay connected with so many. Each of you know how we became friends and how important we are to each other. I feel we are all teachers and students for each other in life. I told Anne how I was looking for some lessons on this camino and after listening to me tell my story and connections and family life she was able to hear things and make suggestions that I will take with me for my future thinking.

Folks wonder why we would do a camino more than once. The first (French route across northern Spain in 2012) was longer and more arduous. This one easier in time and logistics was harder for me physically.
Scenery along the coast of Spain

I suppose I am always wondering in life if there are answers to the big questions - Why are we here? What am I put on this earth to do? How do I connect my head to my heart? How do I connect my head to my body? How do I accept my aging? 
Spa town of Caldas de Reis
with thermal waters

I thought that walking a camino might give me answers to questions but the thing I realized is that there are not always clear answers as the questions are always changing. The beauty of the land, the joy of exercise and moving my body, the challenge of something difficult, the happiness with Richard each day as we set off for the next town, the new friends along the way - these are the gifts. Are they answers to questions - maybe yes....maybe I am here on this earth to be in community, to share life experience, to listen, to help others, to be close to my higher power, to pray for my friends and family (I did place many stones on alters along the way) and to JUST BE.

Thanks for traveling along the "way" of my mind on this lovely morning in Spain.
Tomorrow we are off to Pau, France to stay in a little studio apartment for two weeks and have our first experience of French culture together. Au revoir mes amis.
Anne and Irma before Arcade

Notes to remember:

  • We walked about 140 miles.
  • Met Irma from Switzerland who now lives in Melbourne, Australia - she fell out of bunkbed and was sent to hospital. Broke her arm/wrist and continued but we never saw her again after Arcade.
  • Met Allistar and Aislinn who live in Brussels. They walked with us several days and we had meals together and enjoyed our day on the bus to Finesterre after reaching Santiago.
  • Will surely see Anne and Michael in Australia someday in the future.
  • Beautiful scenery - Eucalyptus trees, grape vines, fig trees, orange and lemon trees, chestnuts, apples, maples, pine - green everywhere.
  • Loved our support company - Portugal Green Walks.
  • Read blog about food - not the easiest for a gluten free vegan but we managed everyday.           
  • Remember our ritual of strong decaf coffee at every stop - different than our usual tea.
  • I am ready to make another walking trip but less mileage per day is my future.
Richard is "tree bathing"
And thoughts from Ricardo

There are as many reasons to walk a camino as there are not and I think that every reason seems to have equal value. So why did I choose to do it again? Did I not learn what I needed from the first one to Santiago through the French route five years ago? That is a question that I've asked myself and I am unable to answer it with much clarity. 

However, here are my thoughts after this camino. First of all I like challenges and putting myself in uncomfortable situations which I enjoy and walking 140 miles to a religious site meets this criterion. Was this enough of a reason to take on this journey from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain? Maybe yes, but walking everyday is a journey and does the destination really matter anymore? 

This is how I feel about life now, just living one day at a time which is my life camino. Caminos show me that we are human and fragile and being with other people from all over the world helps me to realize that we are all equal and deserve the same respect and consideration. I have come to see the world without borders and everybody in it as my brother and sister. After the walk I was certainly glad that we finished and now is the time to take the much needed rest. So like life, with yin & yang or hard & soft, these opposites were demonstrated in this camino where every day I needed to take inventory of my stuff and my body, then walk just walk. 
We reached Santiago with besties Anne
and Michael.

Yes I was very happy to do this camino and if my body allows I would do it again but now I rest.
Sending love,


  1. "...there are not always clear answers as the questions are always changing." That is so true, profound, and funny. Thank you for taking the time to share your journeys with us. Your friendship is a treasure! --Penny

  2. Always nice to hear wassup. I want to return to the Camino also. I do have one question for Ricardo. Why do you like putting yourself in "uncomfortable situations" as you put it.
    Cannot wait to catch up with you both.