It’s been a long minute since I last posted. Guess what? I’m off on another adventure. Just hopped aboard a flight to Spain. Well, Philadelphia first, then Spain. That’s right. Spain. Arriving in Barcelona at 9AM, Wednesday, March 29. Amber is flying in from Dallas and arriving within 10 minutes of me. Wahoo. The excitement didn’t really hit me until I arrived at the airport. But now it’s full on heeeeere!
I would call this trip a “last minute” decision. Amber has been theoretically planning an El Camino trip for about 2 years. Never had the thought to join her. Firstly, because Spain has never been on my radar of places to travel (so strange, because it’s appears to be a beautiful country) and secondly, because who in his/her right mind chooses to walk 580 miles? Day after day after day after day of walking.
But I heard the call of the mountains. The mountains always pull me towards them. So, when Amber mentioned that she starts the 500+ mile trek with a hike up and over the Pyrenees Mountains, my interest was piqued. Started toying with the idea mid February on our trip to Boise, then committed February 28 by buying a plane ticket (because, as the theme has become with friends, family, and clients alike, “why not?”).
When I booked my flight, literally 1 month ago today, I decided 15 days was an excellent amount of time to visit Spain, giving me 9 days to explore Spain and 4-5 days on the El Camino. Enough time to explore those mountains and get a feel for what Amber will be doing for 30+ more days. However, in the past 4 weeks, I’ve done a bit of soul searching and questioning, and now I’m feeling more like 6-10 weeks in Spain will be sufficient. :)
Although, not 100% committed to doing the entire 500+ miles with Amber. I’ve started imagining writing remotely from a villa in Spain. With breathtaking cliffs, waves crashing against the rocks below. Nature hikes. Fresh, delicious, healthy food. My brain went there… to fantasy land. And the perhaps crazy aspect is that it doesn’t seem like a fantasy. It feels like it’s going to be my reality in a few days.
But before I arrive there, let’s jump back. What exactly IS the El Camino? It’s a pilgrimage that’s been occurring all over Europe for over a thousand years. The route we are taking is the Camino de Santiago Francés or The French Way. Google it. So many fascinating photos and stories. Martin Sheen also starred in “The Way” if you want a visual of what Amber (and maybe me) will be doing.
Here are some Camino facts:
Towns (start-finish): Saint Jean Pied de Port (A) to Santiago de Compostela (or Finisterre if you want to go to the “end of the world”)
Estimated time to complete: 34 days (hah!)
Distance trekked: 936.4 KM (581.852 miles)
Elevation changes: 17,772 ft Gain - 17,772 ft Loss
Elevation Min/Max: 5m Min (16 feet) - 1,525m Max (5,003 feet)
People walking the Camino start as acquaintances, then become friends, and soon after meeting, family. A big theme of the Camino is that everyone walks the Camino their own way. Some do 100 miles. Some come from France or Italy or Portugal. Some have done multiple paths. It’s a journey. A soul awakening. A connection to people and to self. And it varies based on the seeker.
The Daily Trek
Daily Goal: walk 15 miles per day (on average so maybe 20 miles on some days, 10 miles on others, or maybe a full day off every 4-5 days).
Rereading that high number makes me want to plant my feet like a toddler and refuse to move.
So, 15 miles. Let’s put this in perspective of steps, since so many people own fitbits or Apple Watches. The daily recommended step goal is 10K. That’s roughly 5 miles for most people. So, we’ve chosen (yes chosen, because no one is forcing this potential torture on us) to walk 3x that amount. Some days, 4x. Anyone want to pick one day during each week and reach 30,000 steps with us? C’mon, you know it’d be fun.
Most people prep for months, if not years. Practice hikes. Then progressing to hikes with your pack. Testing shoes, gear, how everything fits when it’s raining, when it’s hot. Do your wicking clothes actually wick? Is your rain jacket weatherproof or just water resistant? Me? Ehhh, I’ve done two pack hikes (5.5 miles and 7.25 miles). I haven’t worn or used the new stuff in my pack and the old stuff I’m not sure it’s still “good”. So, there will be a learning curve and perhaps a little abandoning of gear or buying of new.
Being able to walk 15 miles while carrying a 15 pound pack? Well, I’ve done the following since buying my plane ticket:
Houston - Buffalo Bayou & Memorial Park - 5 hikes that were a quick pace, 1.5 hours long, and at BB, did stairs sets maybe…6 sets each time.
Austin - River Place Nature Trail, 5.5 miles RT, 2,736 steps (one way), 1700 elevation change with 15 pound pack
Sam Houston State Park - 7.25 miles, slow pace with 20 pound pack
And that’s it. 👀
The Austin river trail was great. It’s the trail that made me want to stay longer in Spain, because I enjoyed the hike so much. Meeting people on the trail, being out in the sun, challenging my body. So wonderful. We also took the obligatory blue bonnet photo as one is required to do during the two week peak season.
A side note: I’m a professional home organizer and generally work 4-8 hours each day, on my feet, moving up and down stairs, carrying heavy bags of donations or moving boxes around a house. While not in training shape, I have a fairly decent foundation and excellent recovery abilities (or so I think now).
My Vision: My Way on the Camino will be to get into Camino shape as I go. :)’
(Or I take a shuttle to that villa with a view and wait for Amber).
So…two months off…away from work…away from friends and family. Intense. But feels so good. I love my work. I enjoy my clients. But I’ll be honest with you, just allowing myself to imagine not working for two months caused a weight I didn’t know I was carrying to start sliding off my shoulders.
My vision for this trip (whether it lasts two weeks or 10) is that I go inward. I want to experience spiritual awakenings, break my fast with kind souls from all walks of life, watch the sun rise and set, and just breathe as one with Mother Nature.
I don’t want to be on my phone (other than the occasional journal entry or writing inspiration), no checking emails, no constant ding ding ding alerts, no mindless scrolling. Phone remains in my pack in airplane mode.
The past few months have shown me that Life is about the people, the connections, the environment around us. It’s time to break away from the routine and see what Creator has planned.
So take a walk with me…along the El Camino - French Way, as I traverse with little to no training, a pack of supplies that hasn’t been tested, and a mind that is my strongest and greatest attribute.
No idea when I’ll post next. The joy of “checking-in” is that I’m following the dictates of all my selves (emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, and social).
I’ll leave you with the St Francis of Assisi Prayer, which allowed me to surrender to Creator and accept that all will be well and as it should be:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen. Aho. And so it is.
p.s. your thoughts, prayers, and any loving vibes sent our way will be greatly appreciated as we embark on this journey.
Hugs and love!