Hello again! After a very busy summer I am back in the NYC swing of things and there is so much to talk about, but I have recently found out that many of you readers were interested in the last post I made about doing the Camino de Santiago (read it here) so I thought I would give you a little follow up.
The few weeks building up to my start were pretty stressful, it didn’t help that I also had finals and was trying to figure out how to move out of my apartment and get all my stuff back home from Italy. I had done plenty of research on what to bring, what to expect in terms of weather and terrain, and how to get to St. Jean, but I knew that I wouldn’t really be able to know what the experience would be like until I was actually walking, and I liked it that way.
Getting to St. Jean Pied-de-Port was pretty difficult. I had to fly to Bordeaux (via London for some reason) then the next day I took the train to Bayonne and then a bus to St. Jean. It was a little overwhelming, there were a lot of pilgrims all arriving with me and I didn’t have a room booked yet, although there were plenty of places catering to us there so it wasn’t a problem. The first person I met was a school teacher from New Zealand who was doing the camino because teaching didn’t excite her anymore and she didn’t know where her life was going next. I also met four girls about my age who were from Kentucky. I knew that the first day of the walk was going to be the hardest because you have to cross the Pyrenees mountains, so I was a little nervous to go at it alone. To make the day better it was raining at 6 am when I got up. Luckily, those four girls were leaving the same time as me and also wanted to make it all the way across in one day, so I joined up with them. Before I knew it, I had my walking buddies. We ended up walking all the way to Santiago together and even picked up a few extra people along the way!
To describe the entire camino experience would take pages and pages. Even then I don’t think I would be able to communicate the truly amazing time I had and all the fantastic characters I met along the way. It sounds corny to say, but this is one of those life changing experiences that can take you from crying and broken one day to looking out over a mountain range with exhilarated gratefulness the next.
I think everyone should do it at some point in their life. It is physically difficult, but not impossible. I met many elderly people doing the camino (and I mean 60 plus) as well as kids! One girl was 9 and doing 15 kilometers a day on her tiny bike; there was even a baby. A BABY. If a baby, well if a mother carrying her baby, can do it so can you.
The journey is more about the relationships you build with those who are also on this soul searching pilgrimage, and discovering about yourself. While it is important for your body to be physically prepared, I would say that preparing myself mentally was much more helpful. I definitely thought a lot about the questions I hoped to find answers for, and things I wanted to improve upon in my everyday life.
I will leave some pictures to try and give you a broad idea of what walking the camino (500 miles!) was like, and if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them! If people really show an interest I wouldn’t mind making more posts about my experience in greater detail, but for now I will be going back to New York/ FIT based posts.