My Camino de Santiago Continues!
So I’m the first to admit, I’ve been bad. I left my loyal readers of my Camino de Santiago journey hanging and never wrote about arriving in Santiago de Compostela.
Somewhat of an explanation
There was so much going on in my head at the time. It has taken me all this time to understand those feelings. They were all so conflicting. While I was definitely jubilant about arriving in Santiago, it was more joy that it was ‘finally’ over.
In the final days of the walk, I allowed myself to begin to think about home and I experienced something very foreign for me. I literally felt homesick. I love my children (adults now) and my hubby, but I love to travel and I know they are safe and self-sufficient. When I travel, I do not worry for or about them. I’m secure they know I love them and know they love me. I feel no need to micro-manage their lives from afar nor do I require reassurance of their love for me in way of phone calls, texts or Facetime (although totally not opposed)!!! It was a very weird feeling for me. I suspect many of you can relate.
Recapping the Camino de Santiago
I was gone for 46 days, a record for me. I left on August 17th, 2016 from Miami International Airport. We flew to Madrid, Spain and then to Biarritz, France. We arrived on August 18th in Biarritz, France and took a taxi to St. Jean Pied de Port (SJPP). After exploring SJPP a few days and allowing our bodies to get over jet lag, we set out towards Santiago on August 21st, Day 5.
We took our first rest day on Day 9, August 25th, in Pamplona, Spain. We took our second rest day on Day 20, September 5th, in Burgos, Spain. Our third rest day was in Leon, Spain on our 29th day, September 14th. We arrived at Cruz de Ferro on the 32nd day, September 17th. It was an amazing day of highs and lows! Eleven days later on day 43 (September 28th) we arrived in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We explored Santiago, attended the Pilgrim’s mass twice (had to see the Botafumeiro in action), and took a day tour out to Finisterre and Muxia.
Finishing the Camino de Santiago
As we took our final steps to the Cathedral, I felt every shoulder muscle. For some reason, my backpack wasn’t positioned right that day and it made me sorer than it ever had. As we walked past what we now know was the ‘Door of Paradise’ on the Praza da Inmaculada (Azabacheria), we began to be harassed by people with pensiones asking if we had a place to stay. We went down the steps of the ‘Puerta del Camino’ accompanied by the music of bagpipes. It was beautiful!
We finally turned the corner onto the Praza do Obradoiro and the flood of emotions took over. I tell you it took less than a minute for a woman to walk up to me to ask if I had a place to stay. I can’t explain why I gave her the time of day, but I did. Doing this prevented me from feeling all the emotions at that moment. It wasn’t until after our two-hour line to receive our Compostela and Distance certificate that I broke down with the volunteer at the office. I must have been a sight as she came around the desk to give me a very much-needed hug.
Life after the Camino de Santiago
Arriving in Santiago de Compostela meant the physical walk was over. As many told me along the way, and none more eloquently than my new friend Roger, my Camino was only beginning. I flew home unsure what I would do next.
To be fair, after one full day at home, I was off for a four-day Disney Cruise to celebrate my nephew Aiden’s and cousin Logan’s 5th birthdays. Due to Hurricane Matthew, it became a six-day cruise and it all just made my homesickness worse. I was moody and edgy and just wanted some peace and quiet with hubby and boys. For the record, it was a nice cruise and I did enjoy it, but…timing was bad.
Once I finally got home, I didn’t want to talk with anyone. I found talking about the Camino de Santiago with non-Camino people was exasperating! They oversimplified the experience and seemed to diminish any talk of strife experienced. Most conversations synthesized like this…’but you got to be away for almost two months’. Yes, but it was also no vacation. It wasn’t easy. It’s funny (not really) because I have also printed two Shutterfly books of over 100 pages each and to date I have only had two people really read it. Family just flips through while talking about other things. Frustrating…
It took me over two months to decide which real estate office to move my business to (I moved prior to my Camino). A friend reached out to me about joining her on a new spinoff business of her established travel company. I jumped in and ignored everything else. Months went by without earning a penny (by choice).
In mid-January, my mom had a shoulder replacement surgery with me as ‘caregiver’. I think my time with her made me realize I needed to snap out of it. I can’t hide behind fruitless endeavors. To be clear, it isn’t just about making money. I realized I need to do things that make me happy and need to do things I feel I can control. I’m not worrying about other people’s businesses. I have to do things that help me grow and have to be surrounded by people who want to grow and do things to advance growth.
At the end of January, I began a painting class. In mid-February my hubby and I took a quick trip to Dublin, Ireland with my sister and her hubby. I returned energized with new inspirations. While in Dublin, we saw a banner stating, ‘The Camino begins here‘ outside of what we later learned was the St. James Parish on the other side of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Seeing this banner seemed to confirm my new itch to complete another Camino de Santiago. It helped me decide to complete the Camino Portugues in the Spring of 2018.
I also returned from Ireland with the hunger to improve my painting skills. Since I’ve returned, I’ve completed several painting projects and two Camino de Santiago inspired paintings. Will I ever be a great painter. Who knows. I have noticed it is a little like wine, the best wine is the one you like. I took thousands of pictures on my journey and won’t run out of material for some time. The first ones were the pictures my mind’s eye recalls most often as the prettiest.
My Camino de Santiago continues. Everyday I reflect. I embrace those important to me whenever I can and make time for those making time for me. I’ve let go of those who don’t and I’m no longer chasing anyone. Still working on that elusive ‘patience’. I haven’t figured it all out yet and I suspect I never will, but I know the Camino will continue to teach me.