Recently, I undertook the grand excursion to walk the Camino Frances. My journey started in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France and technically ended at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostella, Spain. Realistically, it ended at the airport in Vigo, Spain.
At the end of this journey, I find myself a changed man with a changed perspective —I guess walking 900km on foot with a pack will do that to a person. There were literal ups and downs, but to be honest with you– I LOVED EVERY DAMN MINUTE OF IT! It is something I would do again, and it is something I would recommend to ANYONE.
And I really mean ANYONE!
Perhaps it was the daily empowerment that coursed through my body and mind. Quite possibly, it was the instant and constant connection with nature. Perhaps it could have been the flower of love that I had found and experienced with another beautiful human being, or maybe it was simply the SIMPLICITY of it all. Or it could have very well been the combination of ALL of these things and MORE — these types of experiences always progress beyond words.
time persists— and that the journey then, would be over as quickly as it had started. At times, this thought got me down. And at other times, I was able to find extreme gratitude, happiness, and joy through the awareness of such impermanence.As infinite as the distances of the road looked at the beginning of the journey, I knew early on that
The truth is this, I am not much of a planner at all. I prefer to fly by the seat of my own ass because making plans stresses me out. Call my attitude what you will, but I like to think that I go with the flow of things — where when I really try to control situations or scenarios, they usually blow up in my face.
Okay I lied, maybe I am more of a loose planner. I usually come up with a general idea of a plan versus getting caught up in the subtle intricacies — Okay, that’s enough of this tangent.
My loose plan “Pre-Camino” was fairly ego driven — maybe. It’s no secret that a large part of my identity is wrapped up in my athleticsm, so I had the idea of walking these long distances while pushing my physical limits to a maximum. My mind fantasized over the idea of walking 40-50km per day and going through things as fast as I could.
If my hindsight can interject for a moment:
I now find myself asking WHY?
What was I trying to prove, and to whom?
Was I simply scared?
Scared to take things slow– Scared of patience?
Scared to make connections– to let others into my life for more than one instant?
Was I scared to travel through vulnerabilities with farmiliar faces day in and day out?
What exactly, was I trying to avoid?
Bringing it back:
In recent times, I found myself highly stressed and anxiety ridden for various reasons — be it financial hardhsips, missed or botched opportunities, a struggling identity, and so many other interpreted failures.
For many of these reasons, I brought myself to a point where I really didn’t love myself. And in knowing this deep down, the daily struggle was trying to maintain my strong and captivating image through forced smiles, swallowed misery, and daunting feelings of helplessness.
Embarking on the Camino Frances:
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Once again– time is precious Make the seconds count for meaningful experiences in life. . Camino De Santiago 🇪🇸 Pushing past the halfway point, somewhere 300km left to go and always evolving! . . Day 16- Carrion De Los Condes to Moratinos 30.3km . Day 17- Moratinos to Bercianos Del Real Camino 18km . Day 18- Bercianos Del Real Camino to Mansilla De Las Mulas 26km . . #caminodesantiago #toenails #outdoor #lifestyle #goodvibes #bestself #religion #reflection #live #laugh #love #wanderer #wanderlust #timeisprecious #time #spain #travel #selfie #food #nature #footbath
During the camino I found comfort in the feeling of awareness, and I let myself submit to the essence of experience. I took on the days from the get go to LET MYSELF EXPERIENCE WHATEVER I WAS MEANT TO EXPERIENCE. This concept became my philosophy throughout the entire journey, and it is one that truly redefined my lifes perspective in the aftermath.
What I experienced and re-experienced on the daily was a true connection with the universe, and to God — whatever or whoever that may be to you — For me, MY God is universal in nature. I have never felt more connected with the universe in my life, than the connection I felt during the arduous Camino trail.
There were days that brought me to tears simply by how the impecable landscapes of beauty in this world happened to catch my eye in perfect and irreplacable moments. The perfection of imperfection found in the sheer magnificence of this world, is one that constantly danced, played, and breathed life and light into my heart — into my soul.
It was a daily practice for me to start my walk by setting out my intentions towards the universe and God. I allowed myself the willingness to begin healing through whatever I was meant to experience.
I litterally spoke such words:
“Please let me experience, WHATEVER it is that I am meant to experience for today”
“Please help me express whatever it is I am feeling– OPENLY, and constructively”
These words could have been whatever I felt them to be in the moment. And at other times, my words weren’t so eloquently phrased. They often contained vulgarities, linguistic impurities, or other offendable specifics. But the reality of my God, is the ability to recognize my own humanity and imperfections. If I felt negativity, I was free to express it because THAT IS WHAT I WAS MEANT TO FEEL AND RESOLVE IN MY DAY. I wasn’t pretending to myself, I was being open, honest, and truthful about myself, through myself.
As a result, the universe provided!
It brought me tests of injury– physical pains to test my strengths. It brought me the ability to let go, to literally laugh out loud, or scream, or cry openly. It slowed me down and provided me a community of people that I was excited to see. It brought me face to face with the dynamics of my own family– my upbringing, and my relationship with them. It brought me to call out many of my own fears and insecurities.
Most importantly, it brought me the strong love of a beutiful woman who tested me in positive ways. She helped me express love. She helped me work through the challenges of my own faults in constructively productive ways. At times, the dynamic between us presented me with obstacles and blocks from the past, where I was grateful to be able to work through some of these in constructive ways that further strengthened my appreciation for her enterance into my life.
Overall, these were some of the places where my life needed healing, and the Camino trail provided me with many opportunities to work through these challenges in unique ways.
Let’s be clear here:
NO, I am not saying that it solved ALL of my problems — far from it. But it facilitated an experience where things could open themselves towards betterment — or at least a push start in the right direction.
Santiago De Compostella– October 13, 2018:
We got into Santiago, collected our final stamps on our pilgrims passport, and receieved a certificate indicating the 799km completion of the Camino Frances. Although technically done, it was a day that still felt incomplete as my flight back home to Toronto was scheduled 4 days later from Vigo, Spain.
During the course of the Camino, I made plans — as many pilgrims do — to walk onwards towards the coast to Muxia and quite possibly to Finisterre. As the days drew us nearer to Santiago — with the added pressure of keeping good timing for my flight home — My new plan included renting a bicycle to settle into the 125km+ road to Muxia and Finisterre.
However, when I finally got to Santiago on Saturday October 13, my plans changed again.
My plans changed because:
A) “Tomorrow” was Sunday– meaning that everything was closed.
B) It was also a holiday– so things were extra closed.
C) I would have had to wait 2 days until Monday October 15th to even question the possibility of renting a bicycle. IF all went according to my loose plans, I would have finally set out late Monday afternoon. This option would have left me a little over a day to cover about 125+km to Muxia/Finisterre, to travel the same distance back to Santiago, AND to catch a 1-2+ hour bus ride down to Vigo to make my flight.
The timing was tight. So late Saturday night, the next best plan that I came up with — “Plan C or D” at this point — was to WALK MYSELF to the airport in Vigo– litterally.
I followed the Camino Portugeuse — Also known as the route to FATIMA — in reverse. I planned for a 3 day walk to Vigo, and a last hurrah to the Vigo airport on the 4th day.
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Camino De Santiago 🇪🇸 799 km walked in 32 Days Across the Camino Frances: The things that got me through my mentally and physically worst moments: -For vanity purposes, myself. I had more laughs, more tears, along with many empowering moments along the way. -Rose, for her smile, her hugs, and for being able to put up with me along the way… and for Dumb and Dumber/Forest Gump references. -Peachtree city family (including fellow Canadian Heather, Helen or Heidi Houston/Poland depending on her appointed identity for the day.) I'd probably be missing more than just a toenail if it wasn't for my adopted moms. -A stick that I crafted, and cleaned with some stones. It was originally 1/3 longer, and got smaller over the days… Perhaps symbolizing my lifes crutches withering away along the journey. -Greek worry beads, helped me keep my mind off my blisters, or heat, or the monotony of some hikes through the Meseta. -Everyone who believes in me. I wouldn't be me without you. -Everyone who doesnt. I wouldn't be me without you. . Day 28 – Sarria to Portomarin 22.1 km . Day 29 – Portomarin to Palas Del Rei 24.8 km . Day 30 -Palas Del Rei to Ribadiso 25.6 km . Day 31 -Ribadiso to Perdouzo 22.8 km . Day 32 – Perdouzo to Santiago De Compostella 19.8 km . #caminodesantiago #done #lonely #solitude #balance #outdoor #lifestyle #goodvibes #bestself #religion #reflection #live #laugh #love #wanderer #wanderlust #timeisprecious #time #spain #travel #food #nature #statue #pilgrim #boreal #shithappens #runforest #forestgump #scenic #family
Onwards Towards Vigo, Spain:
On the 13th, I spent the last night in Spain with my new found love— a.k.a my girlfriend, my mate, my bunk buddy, my best friend, the love of my camino life and beyond… **Ahem**insert more sap here** — Sadly, I had to say my goodbyes to her the next day on the 14th.
An abrupt farewell, that felt like I was about to start losing the pieces of myself that were just freshly patched together over the course of the trail. And in stretching time out as far as I could stretch it — and an “OK BYE” later — I set off late in the afternoon. Over the next 3 days, I found myself running through my original plan as it took me 3 days to give myself shin splints, to strain a quadricep, and to cover 100+km to Vigo.
I DID IT! I did what I originally intended to do — to push myself and my body to its limits — and I FELL APART physically and emotionally in the process.
If I may interject for a moment:
I found myself asking Why? What was I trying to prove, and to whom?
And I found an obvious answer:
I wasn’t trying to prove anything to anyone. Simpy put, I did not want to sit with myself. I did not want to sit through the sadness of the soon to be ending journey. I did not want to go home to face the hustling and bustling “reality” of another Pre-Camino.
More so, I had enough solitude! I did not want to sit still and feel loneliness. I did not want to sit still, or to think about what was left back in Santiago.
Bringing it back:
Through stillness, and through movement — and whether I liked it or not — the evolved Camino philosophy came through. The flooding sadness was EXACTLY what I was meant to experience.
And though darker and more depressing in nature, it definitely wasn’t a negative experience. I firmly believe that it brought more challenges from my past that needed further processing:
- Being able to cope with space away from love was a big one.
- Some of the darker sides of my family dynamic and upbringing were presented.
- I crossed paths with some sleuthy characters, who were less friendly, and even devious — where as I did not encounter anything of the sort over the previous month.
It was a very interesting turn of events at this point to see such a shift in the subtlty of experience.
Vigo, Spain, October 16, 2018:
When I finally got to Vigo, I officially retired my hiking pants, my hiking shoes, and my walking stick. I received my final stamp at the Cathedral of Santa Maria after attending the mass. Afterwards, I transformed myself into a tourist– I took in some of the local sites, I spoiled myself at a few good restaurants, and I checked myself into a private hotel room for the night.
Aeropuerto Vigo, Spain, October 17, 2018:
The following morning on the 17th, I hiked up to the castle ruins overlooking the city and ocean. And though the scenery was stifled by the foggy overcast of the day, I was still very satisfied with the experience.
From there, I still couldn’t let go of the pilgrimage, so I straddled a small portion of the Camino Portuguese route as I walked the last 10km to the Vigo airport under a progressing rainfall. It was there where I was about to take an alternative mode of transportation after well over a month. As a form of travel that was going to be powered by something other than my own two legs and feet, my feelings were mixed — I was ready to stop walking, but I wasnt necessarily ready to take myself home.
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Camino De Santiago 🇪🇸 Bonus- Tacked on another 110km, taking me past the 900 km mark walked for my Camino. It only felt fitting to walk myself right to the airport in Vigo, Spain. Heck, after a month of walking as the only means of transport– why not. Also, the pilgrims stamp officially concludes the camino in Santiago, but I got one last stamp at the Santa Maria cathedral in Vigo. This was a definite conclusion to my journey. I then checked my broken body into a hotel, threw out my ripped cargo pants, ditched my worn hiking shoes, and left what was left of my walking stick at the edge of the cathedral. I then turned into a tourist in Vigo, until the next morning where I straddled a part of the camino one last time to walk myself to the airport for a final 10km– instantly regretting not having hikers. Buen Camino, wherever that may be. . Day 33- Santiago de Compostella to Calas De Reis 43 km . Day 34- Calas De Reis to Redondella 41 km . Day 35 -Redondella to Vigo 16km . Day 36- Vigo Airport 10 km (+5000km by plane) . #caminodesantiago #done #solitude #balance #outdoor #lifestyle #goodvibes #bestself #religion #reflection #live #laugh #love #wanderer #wanderlust #timeisprecious #time #spain #travel #food #nature #statue #pilgrim #boreal #caminoportuguese #caminofrances #forestgump #scenic #family #vigo
The biggest fear that slowly festered within itself through the Camino high that I experienced was going home and having all of the emotional progress instantly unravel. Perhpas the thought alone is what caused it to manifest itself into a reality with my arrival.
As soon as I got home, I jumped right into the overwhelming responsibilities of my everyday life. I opened tons of bills, to add to the piling list of expenses that were eagerly waiting for me as I got home. And though I budgeted my finances properly for my trip and this was expected, I still wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming feelings attached to the experience that flooded me through it.
Furthermore, I was completely overwhelmed:
- I was unprepared for the drop in energy from not walking.
- I was unprepared for the lack of a simple day to day mission and routine.
- I felt lost and alienated, as any sort of connection with other human beings was stifled by the coldness of big city living.
- I felt overwhelmed with the traffic of people, the endless honking of horns, the constant urban drilling and construction that echoed into my brain through all hours of the day and night.
- Though my bed was a blessing — as it was the biggest thing I slept in for over 2 months– I was completely overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I owned.
It has now been 1 month –Almost– since I flew myself home from Spain, however, the Camino feels a lot further away than what has passed — as if ages ago. And though most of my problems are still here with me, some of the most crucial concepts of experience that I honed in on during my journey made the trip back with me — and I am not about to let them slip past my memory!
I feel way more attuned to the universe, and I try to keep this connection as much as I can. On days where I am definitely caught under low points, I find myself feeling love and gratefullness for the memories of my experience.
I am actively practicing FEELING all of my emotions all the time. I am trying to suppress as little as possible, with the goal of suppressing nothing at all! I have cried many times since coming home, I have laughed many times, and you better believe that I screamed my ass off many times as well.
I am purposely trying to let my soul speak through my emotions, because what I have learned and focused on is to experience humanity in the expression of my human-ness.
I am human — we all are — and being human, means that there is room for error. And this, this is what makes me hopeful. Hopeful in thought, that the error of my failures have been towards the progression of something better, something superior. And in that, I will continue to try my heart out– through failure and success.
Buen Camino, wherever that may be.
Trials and Tribulations:
This is a compiled list of my thoughts and observations that were journaled through the journey.
Interpret them as you will — If you want to understand where my mind was in their expression, or if you want me to expand on anything– feel free to comment.
“Take it as you will, for I can only hope that another soul may find solace through these fragmented words.” – George Kourtesiotis, Littermature
Shoulda been there:
People think I’m boring because I typically don’t have much to say. I’m really actually very interesting, I just have a lot of “you shoulda been there” stories…
A note to love in the dark albergue of the night:
I really like how each night brings a really different and interesting experience. Even better that I can experience it with someone like you who is on the same wavelength.
Nod once to disagree.
Nod 4 times to agree.
Don’t nod to be a dick.
Sometimes in life, you have to know when to speed up to let go of what’s slowing you down. Alternatively, you may also need to know how to slow down in order to let go of whats running you out.
We might all be going in the same direction, or even the same destination, but we may get there at different times.
My name is George, and I suffer from hapiness… I also suffer from joy. From exuberance. From extreme confidence. From ensuing hilarity and contagious laughter.
My name is George, and I suffer from sadness… I also suffer from depression. From anxiety. From insecurities. From failures. From expectations…
**An idea for a drawing**
Stick figure crying black tears. Tears pouring out turning into radiant light tears– As if filtering dirt out of dirty laundry until the water runs clear.
Never stop working.
Never stop moving.
Never stop living.
Never stop breathing.
Life ain’t always pretty.
Sometimes you have to try your best to keep it together.
Out here, I feel grateful every God damn day!
I feel so empowereed in my life. I walk, I sit, I EAT– yes EAT — my coffee, and my toritilla and croissant, and I smile. I see the sunrise and it perpetuates the feelings, the experience, and rather– the feelings of experience. People pass by, “Buen camino” or “Ola” or “Buenos dias” or even “Bon appetite”. They compliment my breakfast, and they smile.
Truth is, I want to feel this sense of gratitude every day. Others should feel this way too! I am not special, nor should I be congratulated for feeling this way. Everyone has that capacity to empower themselves.
And though I feel GRACE and gratitude daily, I also feel shame. I feel guilt. Remosre. Insecurity. Sadness. Fear. Regardless of what pops up, my gratitude always shines through the garbage that sits there.
Life is beautiful.
“Stop and smell the roses”
Dont slow down for the roses– Speed up. The ones that you are meant to smell will stop you dead in your tracks to interact with.
“John Doe family”
A Religious Camino Coincidence
Distracting, Ignoring distractions…
A flaw is something that an individual posesses that is intolerable to someone else.
A flaw is simply an objective intolerable characteristic.
Keep listening to yourself so that you don’t get lost.
I don’t believe in affirmations or incantations. I believe in myself.
There is so much life underneath your feet, you don’t even know it.
A hastened step towards Cruz de Ferro. In leaving Rabnal at a later hour to catch the views, I find myself sporting up a few hundred meters in elevation. Feeling my breath and the rhythn of my step, I catch breathtaking views in the sunrise, while the breaking light washes over the purples and greens of the day. I continue to pace up hill past hikers who carry a lazier stride, I smile and mush my way up eventually stopping momentarily for some muesli, a nectarine, a chocolate croissant, some cookies, and a coffee– not much… As I continued towards Cruz de Ferro, my memories played with visual ideas of a farmiliarity in how close to home it felt at this point of the journey. Oddly enough, the farmiliarity of home has been something I have been trying to eacape in recent times. I keep a sporting pace up the hill as I move forward, and rounding a corner, I am struck by the smell of pine trees– A scent that drills right through me and pulls me further home. I find my breath and proceed on pace until my vision falls onto a pile of stones bearing a pole and cross. In short, the historic stones symbolize abandoned burdens and other deep meanings to their initial carrier. I too have a stone– Several in fact as you may see… As I close in on the cross, my stride is stopped dead by a plethora of emotions flooding over me. The most prominent one is the feeling that this journey is almost in its conclusion. I have felt pulled towards this specific landmark for years, and to finally see my footing closing in on this popular landmark, I can’t seem to walk any closer. The reminder of another soon to be closing chapter in my life of endless and infinite endings stagnates me momentarily. Tears shed, I finish my steps, throw in my stones, and leave the Cruz behind me. Onto Santiago.
Camino De Santiago
An entire Journey for one moment. A lifetime of struggle, for a moment of accomplishment.
You don’t know who your angels are until you’ve sat down with your demons.
My father has been with me throughout my journey. My grandmother as well.
“Aint no mountain high, aint no valley low, aint no river wide enough baby… If you need me call me, no matter where you are, no matter how far”…
Symbolism of feeling higher than a mountain. Feeling as low as the valley. Life takes you to where you need to be, to identify with and work through. My emotions exemplify and emenate the terrain.
I’d rather have 40 hours to work with than work for $40 dollars an hour.
Communication and movement are the keys to life. Expression is everything.
Conversations with love:
Will you come home with me?
Sure thing cowboy.
I feel like the luckiest cowboy in the world…. Just jump bro.
What is this dude saying? Also wonder if I shoulda offered him the bottom bunk…
Swearing. Yea, I felt for the guy a bit.
Damnit I feel like an asshole…
You’re not, there is 20 other people in this place.
I’ll offer it next time for sho. Wasn’t thinking. 😦 anyways night boo thang.
I’ll hold you to it… Goodnight kid.
I have felt more in 4 months than I have in 2 years. To put myself in a place where I can express and explore my emotions is pivotal to my experience. I have cried more — be it tears of sadness or joy, than I have in a very long time. And often, the tears that seep from the deep of my eyes have even deeper memories from which they’re drawn from. I feel more alive, more wholesome, more connected, more human, There is no shame in a man to admit that for himself. The challenge is to keep the feeling alive.
I have just begun scratching the surface into who and what I am.
Reality does not exist beyond the peripheral field of vision. The reality of my camera phone is partly blind compared to the vision of my own two eyes. I can only imagine what realities exist beyong my magnificently limited perspective.
God sent me a rose to pick apart its thorns.
A literature idea:
“A letter to dad” literature idea.
Perhaps it must be my own perspective, but what I am finding on the last 100km from Sarria to Santiago is that the pilgrims are less friendly. They are less eager to respond to your good days, and good ways — Buenos dias, and Buen camino. It is a little bit unsettling and off putting considering the great communal development from the 800km groups. At the same time I am reminded of myself of the beginning part of my journey, I too was less outgoing, less eager to reach out to a stranger. And though I still reached out to say it, it was harder to say as genuinely as I do now. Maybe it is my own bias– considering that I read to expect many pilgrims straddling in from the last 100km– but in finding farmiliar pilgrims who are now pushing past 700km, a buen camino response is much more immediate and much more heartfelt. Is it the expression of gratitude between the familiarity of a safe face, or have the lives of those making the stretch from St. Jean been changed towards welcoming betterment, and a genuine optimism towards their neighbour and stranger.
I feel that sometimes, everyone is really trying to get away from each other.
Totally just casually walked by a person casually taking a shit behind some bushes. She could have been taking a piss, but I like my version of the story better.
100,000km / kids in curriculum.
Camino De Santiago
799 km walked in 32 Days Across the Camino Frances:
The things that got me through my mentally and physically worst moments:
- For vanity purposes, myself. I had more laughs, more tears, along with many empowering moments along the way.
- My Love, for her smile, her hugs, and for being able to put up with me along the way… and for Dumb and Dumber/Forest Gump references.
- Peachtree city family (including fellow Canadian Heather, Helen or Heidi depending on her appointed identity for the day.) I’d probably be missing more than just my toenails if it wasn’t for my adopted moms.
- A stick that I crafted, and cleaned with some stones. It was originally 1/3 longer, and got smaller over the days… Perhaps symbolizing my lifes crutches withering away along the journey.
- Greek worry beads, helped me keep my mind off my blisters, or heat, or the monotony of some hikes through the Meseta.
- Everyone who believes in me. I wouldn’t be me without you.
- Everyone who doesnt. I wouldn’t be me without you.
Tennesse, Florida, Colorado, 40m north of Denver. Puerto Rico, Guy asks “From Denver” because he has a friend from Denver.
Vegan burgers. Dire straits & Sultans Of Swing. Comes on, shuts off. I See you, I pass Colorado ladies saying Our Father and a bunch of Hail Mary’s in unison.
Pray my own Our Father, cricket flies onto my chest.
Imagine going 100km/hr?
The thought RACES by me as a car whizzes by at the break of dawn. Amazing how the miracles of technology are taken for granted when you’re solely relying on the poower of your own two legs to commute. At this rate — after walking nearly 800km by foot in a month– I find distance to be overrated. There is no where far enough, no flight too long, no journey too far– Granted that you have time on your side.
Everything that needs healing in my life has surfaced:
- Pain, crutches, and injury.
- Relationship talk with Mr. Keith.
- 3 Moms
- Tears and feelings
- My Love.
Community is so important for health and happiness. To reach out in vulnerability with trust and security that you will find support is a key ingredient to a wholesome life.
I am reminded of my parents and find resemblance in their words… “You’ll understand when you’re a little bit older”. As I see the swarm of school children taking in a 100km stretch from Sarria to Santiago as part of their curriculum — so I am told– I am reminded of myself at their age and the senseless sleeping wandering that comes out of the typical spongy and herded upbringing. I try to check my ego, but I cant help to feel annoyed at the herd of kids who may not fully understand or appreciate the beauty and meaningfullness of a journey. I would say about 1% do, the rest find solace in their loud speakers, music, and cigarettes. I understood a lot then, but I understand a lot more now, and I also understand that there is nothing wrong in their experience. I have experienced boisterousness on this journey myself, so who am I to pass such judgments. But I do understand more of an awareness and awakened perspective in my present than I can speak of from my past. Perhaps I am judging myself. Do all of us in this sense judge parts of ourselves when we pass judgment on others.
I FUCKING LOVE MY LIFE!
Empower yourself everyday! If I want to live an endearing, a purposeful, and empowering life, you sure as shit better believe that I am going to put myself in a place of strength every God damn day– EVERY God damn day! Because I would rather feel strength and empowerment over fear and weakness. And it’s not that I don’t feel worthlessness, or anxiety, or insecurity, because I feel that too. But, my drive to overcome the harder times in life, is much more meaningful and full of beauty than to let myself feel bogged down by insignifiucant trivialities of a mundane perspective.
Go forth my son, explore the far reaches of this earth. Travel, run, play, love, fear, hate, laugh, cry. Go on and touch every aspect of this human experience until your very last breath. And yet, to let it all go into your death and destruction– only to explore the far reaches of the afterworld with the same approach.
Partly what worries me is to go home and to lose all of the progress that I made. I would imagine that in that, it shouldn’t matter where you are to feel complete. What I am hoping is the key to living wholefully that I honed in on and practiced during the camino is this:
Stuff can happen everyday– good, bad, scary, happy, and sad — taking in what you are experiencing and observing and FEELING your feelings as they come to you, as they are– feeling them constructively, yet unfiltered and raw.
Το γατακι θα ειναι εδω τις 2020
Life is experience. Perspective is relative.
Crowds are not for me. Individuals in the crowds are.
I walked almost 400km with ripped pants.
As I feel burdended by the hoard of people and crowds — really making the camino path like just another tourist trap — I am reminded of downtown Toronto’s Dundas Square, New York’s Time Square, the Vegas strip. Though stripped down and bare bones, the silent flashes of a hundered camera phones for every step taken, a hand stretching out a flyer for me to grab in advertising a destination that is still 30km away on foot brings tears and a hollow sadness to my experience. The obvious reasons to escape from in taking this journey have now found me again under different shades. The commercialization that objectifies every single one of us into just another dollar, just another number, just another irrelevant ‘thing’ is repulsive and sickening. Take me back to my community, as we step together as individuals toward the common progression of our footsteps as the goal, as we rejoice and reconnect the distances that were far and few in between, and free from such savage consumerism.
The closer I get to the end makes me observe the majority are composed of groups and cliques– unwilling of stretching themselves out to strangers.
You can’t love everything, you can’t love everyone. People who claim you can are missing out on a complete human experience. It is in our nature to feel every way, including envy, lust, anger, hate, and greed… and yes, even love. The balancing act to optimisim is pessimism. Deal with it.
I love rain (bad weather), because there are only a few people in this world who are actually willing to play in it.
Don’t stop short.
Ticats 40 time 4.9 vs 5.0.
Camino last 45km, self defeating thoughts… What if, what if, what if. How many times have I missed out on the fullest potential because of fear, doubt, and complacency.
Tacked on another 110km, taking me past the 900 km mark walked for my Camino. It only felt fitting to walk myself right to the airport in Vigo, Spain. Heck, after a month of walking as the only means of transport– why not.
Also, the pilgrims stamp officially concludes the camino in Santiago, but I got one last stamp at the Santa Maria cathedral in Vigo. This was a definite conclusion to my journey. I then checked my broken body into a hotel, threw out my ripped cargo pants, ditched my worn hiking shoes, and left what was left of my walking stick at the edge of the cathedral. I then turned into a tourist in Vigo, until the next morning where I straddled a part of the camino one last time to walk myself to the airport for a final 10km– instantly regretting not having hikers. Buen Camino, wherever that may be.
Upon completing the Camino Frances, I litteraly walked myself an extra 110km to the airport in Vigo. I took the Camino Portuguese in reverse towards Fatima until Redondela, where I cut across the coast towards Vigo. I treated myself to a great evening in Vigo, I saw the castro on top of the hill in the morning, and I walked 10km to the airport– in Vans. I am Happy that I did it in hindsight, though I was regretting it during the walk because of my right shin, and the tricking rain– I didnt want to lug a soaked bag through the airport and on a plane for 9hours. I got there in good time relieved. My first official alternate use of transportation that wasn’t my own feet was by bus from the terminal to the airplane, which was literally 30 meters — if that. It was such a funny experience considering using solely my legs over the past month. I wonder how much energy and resources we could generally save, or how much healthier people would be if we just walked a littler bit more. A 10 meter walk translates into a million miles down the road if multiplied over the size of a global population.
After a month of grinding it out on the Camino– grateful for every minute of it. Even during the most trying times, I have never felt more connected with my environment, more alive! I sit here now in the airport in Lisbon waiting to board, surrounded by more and more Canadians boarding for Toronto. I find no language barrier here, so I can easily hear the complaints… “Oh it’s too hot”… “What no AC? “… “We’re all scratching our heads wondering what the hell is going on”…”What’s with this line, why can’t I go through”. A list of complaints that spell agitation and annoyance, and a lack of patience. How patient it was in covering a months worth of walking that can be done in a few hours by other means. I wonder to myself, “Was I like this myself before? … How have I been overly demanding of time in the past? … How is my relationship with time now, after my experience? … Am I bound to become re-agitated after reintroducing myself back into the Torontonian atmosphere… Most likely … How can I avoid it… I choose to seek out adventure again. To work with time, not against it.
More Signs and Coincidences.
Passenger same zip pants that I threw out, vegan travellers next to me.
Reflections of the sunset behind us from a window passengers tv screen.
After all of this it feels confirmed, in that home is simply a great place to visit.
At the end of the day, the Camino wasn’t about finding myself, but rather finely etching out and further rooting me into who I already am. My path is right, and has been validated as my own.
Buen Camino–Wherever that may be,
Day 1. (12/09/18) Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to Roncesvalles 27.1km Day 2. (13/09/18) Roncevalles to Zubiri 21.9km Day 3. (14/09/18) Zubiri to Pamplona 25km Day 4. (15/09/18) Pamplona to Puenta La Reina 24.2km Day 5. (16/09/18) Puenta La Reina to Estella 21.7km Day 6. (17/09/18) Estella to Los Arcos 22.5km Day 7. (18/09/18)Los Arcos to Logrono 28km Day 8. (19/09/18) Logrono to Najera 28km Day 9. (20/09/18) Najera to Santo Domingo 20.5km Day 10. (21/09/18) Santo Domingo to Bolerado 24km Day 11. (22/09/18) Bolerado to Ages 27.6km Day 12. (23/09/18) Ages to Burgos 27km Day 13. (24/09/18) Burgos to Hontanas 30km Day 14. (25/09/18) Hontanas to Boadilla Del Camino 30km Day 15. (26/09/18) Boadilla Del Camino to Carrion De Los Condes 26km Day 16. (27/09/18) Carrion De Los Condes to Moratinos 30.3km Day 17. (28/09/18) Moratinos to Bercianos Del Real Camino 18km Day 18. (29/09/18) Bercianos Del Real Camino to Mansilla De Las Mulas 26km Day 19. (30/09/18) Mansilla De Las Mulas to Leon 18.6km Day 20. (01/10/18) Leon to Villadangos De Paramo 21km Day 21. (02/10/18) Villadangos De Paramo to Astorga 26km Day 22. (03/10/18) Astorga to Rabnal Del Camino 20km Day 23. (04/10/18) Rabnal Del Camino to Molinaseca 25km Day 24. (05/10/18) Molinaseca to Cacabelos 28km Day 25. (06/10/18) Cacabelos to Vega De Valcarce 26.5km Day 26. (07/10/18) Vega De Valcarce to Padornello 19.1km Day 27. (08/10/18) Padornello to Sarria 32.2km Day 28. (09/10/18) Sarria to Portomarin 22.1km Day 29. (10/10/18) Portomarin to Palas Del Rei 24.8km Day 30. (11/10/18) Palas Del Rei to Ribadiso 25.6km Day 31. (12/10/18) Ribadiso to Perdouzo 22.8km Day 32. (13/10/18) Perdouzo to Santiago De Compostella 19.8km Day 33. (14/10/18) Santiago de Compostella to Calas De Reis 43km Day 34. (15/10/18) Calas De Reis to Redondella 41km Day 35. (16/10/18) Redondella to Vigo 16km Day 36. (17/10/18) Vigo Airport 10km (+5000km by plane)