I meant to write a final entry right after I got home, but I came home sick with upper respiratory crud and it’s really taken it’s toll on me all week. I suppose my body was just saying “I’m done!”
I spent one last day (Sunday) in Santiago with Molly – mostly shopping, but we also took the Cathedral Rooftop tour. You can see in the 2nd photo how corroded the structure gets over time. That’s why the front of the cathedral had all that scaffolding and work going on. Trying to make it pretty again.
Stats: In total, I walked approximately 438 miles (706 km) of the Camino over 30 days. The hardest and longest was Day 1 going over the Pyrenees. I carried my backpack for all but 2 of those days. Total cost of the trip was about $3000 (not bad for 5 weeks of travel!) Pounds lost: zero! I’m probably the first pilgrim in history to NOT lose weight (I do admit to a hearty appetite while on the camino!)
Will I do the Camino again? Not the French Way (the route I did). Perhaps another route – a shorter route. There’s a Portugal Camino route that looks interesting. There’s a walk across England, and even a short one in Australia. Many pilgrims do the same route over and over again, but I really feel like it would detract from my initial experience – that I would be constantly comparing the two. Plus there’s just too much of the world that I haven’t seen yet!
Am I glad I did it? Absolutely! There are some things I would have done differently (like added more days so we weren’t so rushed), but absolutely!
My trip was like none other, and I DID love it. I loved meeting new people from all over the world. I loved learning about a new culture. I loved the many sunrises, the quiet time… oh and I REALLY loved the triple chocolate flan dessert! Despite some meaningful pre-Camino training, the daily and repetitive pounding of my feet and elevation changes were MUCH harder than anticipated. And lastly, I know that I am changed – how could you not be after an experience like that?
The following 2 paragraphs I found in another blog by a pilgrim. It articulates pretty much exactly how I felt about the camino, and why I felt compelled to attempt it in the first place. Enjoy:
“I think the Camino provides many useful tools and lessons for life. The pilgrimage is merely a metaphor for our life journeys, right? We move ever-forward toward the inevitable end, facing many joys, challenges, and heartbreaks along the way. Our bodies slowly deteriorate. We find comfort and support in the beautiful souls who intersect our path (and some who challenge it.) Some walk with us for only a short time, and others become permanently imprinted on the journey.
I think the pilgrimage demonstrates to us our own fortitude. It shows us that we are capable of things we never imagined. It teaches us the value of a kind gesture, of service to others, of laughter, and of pain. I have been fortunate to have been in many classrooms in my life, both literal and figurative, but perhaps never one so prevailing as the Camino.”