I arrived to Santiago two days ago on Saturday, May 17th. I walked into town with my friend Anton (from Barcelona) who I walked with for much of the last portion of the Camino. We walked to the Cathedral and when we got there, we just stood there for a while and took it all in. We had arrived after one month and almost 800 km (500 miles) and countless pains and aches and glasses of wine and cafes con leche with chocolate croissantes for breakfast. You can eat anything you want on the Camino and you´ll still lose weight. You´re walking that much.
It´s a strange feeling to be done. I find myself still looking for yellow arrows to show me the way. And more than once I´ve reached for my walking stick as I was leaving a restaurant only to remember that it´s resting in my hotel room. It´s a bittersweet ending I guess. Walking the Camino was the best thing I ever did and it was exactly what I needed to do right now, but I didn´t want it to end. I want to keep walking and talking to people about life and what we´ve thought about and learned on the Camino. I became very accustomed to the simple lifestyle of walking 10 hours a day and being thrilled when I could take a hot shower.
The first day after I was done I found it really strange to be in a city with everyday life happening. I found myself rejecting all of it. I found it hard to relate to other non-pilgrims when I´d be talking to them. People wearing clean clothes, traveling as part of an organized tour group, shops selling all sorts of goods you just don´t see or need during the Camino. Excess. That´s the best way to describe how all of it seemed to me. Most everything around was not needed. I had become used to the simple villages with one restaurant, one bar and open land for raising farm animals. I found it far more interesting to watch a sheep chew grass endlessly than talking to these tourbus ´pilgrims´ staying in their fancy hotels wearing scarves with the word ´peregrino´printed on it. Ugh. Sounds a bit harsh I know but it´s the truth. And sometimes the truth hurts. Not as much as jumping on a bicycle with no seat, but it hurts.
One thing I learned early in the Camino is that material things weigh me down and I was much lighter both physically and mentally when I shed all that weight in Burgos and sent it along. Then today I picked up the THREE packages I had sent to the post office during the Camino and I can´t believe how much crap I had! And now I´m going to take that crap and send it back to the U.S. So effectively I brought 15kg (30+ pounds) of stuff to Spain just to mail it from one city to the next and then to the U.S. That is amazing.
It´s been over a month since I´ve been in a car, bus, train or been moved in anyway besides my own two feet. Kind of strange. It´s also been a month since I´ve put any hair product in my hair. Just some random factoids I thought I´d share.
There´s a lot more I want to write about but I´m still digesting everything. To put it in technology terms, since everyone loves a good technology metaphor, I´ve collected a lot of data and now I need to process all of it.
And now that it´s over, I need to find my own yellow arrows to follow. I had originally planned to go to Barcelona after the Camino but one day as I was walking I got the idea to go to Morocco and go down to the Sahara desert which I´ve always wanted to do. So now, those are my next steps. I booked a ticket to Malaga in the south of Spain for tomorrow afternoon, and then I´ll find a way to get to Tangiers, inshallah, where I look forward to partaking in a fine hookah and continuing on my own Camino.
I’ve just read what you wrote about arriving in Santiago a few days ago, and it is so much similar to the feelings and impressions i myself had when i arrived there on 16 May. I just wanted to tell you how good it was to read all summarized that i had in my mind in a scattered way.
Hope you remember me from the Camino 🙂 – we met around the beginning, in Larrasoana and then in Los Arcos and Logorono (if i remember well). I wish you all the best on your continuing journey in Morocco and hope you’ll find your own flechas amarillas!
Hey Viola! Great to hear from you and congratulations on finishing it. You were one day ahead of me. Looks like we just missed each other in Santiago. All the best with everything and buen camino!
It was definitely the best experiance I ever made! Thanks for being part of my Camino 🙂