El Camino de Santiago – A year later

While I have several blog post unfinished, I’m here rushing to get this ‘El Camino de Santiago – One year later’ out to you.

Today marks 1 year since I set out on what was to be an Adventure of a Lifetime.  I set out on my Camino de Santiago out of Miami on August 17, 2016.  While I had done what I thought was exhaustive research on what to expect, I left very unprepared for what was to come.

Unprepared

Me in Santiago de Compostela upon completion of the Camino de Santiago
Santiago de Compostela

While my research began years earlier, my physical training was almost non-existent.  I comforted my gnawing jitters with fellow Facebookers that said they ‘did it and it wasn’t difficult‘.  ‘Walk at your own pace.‘  ‘The Camino will provide‘.  Yeah…no.  All those words that comforted me before I left turned to words I used in sarcasm as my body yelled back at me that I was crazy for thinking I could roll out of bed one day and do this!  

A couple of weeks of walking 5- to 6-miles using a highway overpass to simulate the Pyrenees was not training.  In fact, I venture to say there truly is no way to train for what was to come while living in Florida.

Missing it

After I returned, I quickly realized the people I could discuss my adventure lived only online in Facebook groups.  The very few I knew offline who also had experienced el Camino de Santiago didn’t live nearby.  Those nearby that had never experienced it, didn’t want to hear about it.  Not really.  

Maybe I was depressed?

At first, I have to admit, my focus was mostly on the negatives.  My memories seemed to be around everything that was difficult or went wrong.  Looking back, I think I maybe I was depressed when I returned.  Since then I have read depression is common upon returning from experiences such as this.  Maybe my focus on the negatives of it was a coping skill?

I’ve read the simplicity of the activity coupled with the endorphins released day after day from that much physical activity (13 miles per day, day after day) and magnified by the lack of outside noise, can make for very difficult acclimation to real life.  I returned from Spain on October 1, 2016.  There was just over 1 month for the election.  Noise from the US Presidential election was at its highest decibel.  I went from hearing almost nothing to full blast.  While I never take election losses well, it seemed like the weeks leading up to this one didn’t help.

Now don’t feel too bad for me yet.  I returned on October 1 and left on a 4-day turned into 6-day Disney Cruise with most of my family on Monday, October 3rd.  However, all I could think about was how much I missed my husband and children (adults of 21 and 20) who weren’t on the ship.  To top it off, the hurricane out in the Atlantic turned that cruise from 4-days to 6-days.  Again, many would be thrilled by the bonus days, but I just really wanted to get back home at this point.  (Read more about it here) I think this sped up the dive into what I now think was depression.

Regular life and responsibilities seemed overwhelming for weeks, but I also think eventually, that is what also got me out.

When did it happen

I’m not quite sure when it happened.  When did I make the turn from negative and depressed to nostalgic and ready for more.  I know I began to post encouraging messages to fellow peregrinas on the Camigas Facebook group around December.  

In February, I traveled to Dublin and encountered ‘a’ beginning of the Camino de Santiago while there.  I couldn’t get enough pictures of the church and found myself in tears when I literally went out of my way to visit the church only to find it closed and not to reopen before I left for home.

In March, I finally found the time to write my blog post wrapping up my Camino experience.  By then I had decided I wanted to experience the Portuguese Way of St. James. 

A year later

Since March, so much has happened.  My husband and I purchased a new-to-us villa literally minutes before heading out to travel to Hawaii on a pre-planned (at least 4 years ago) Anniversary trip with our friends Jenn and Jeff.

We returned in late May to our villa which we purchased as a total gut job.  It has consumed all of our time, energy and money.  Still to date, it is unfinished.

It is unfinished because since late June my mother-in-law has been in Gainesville where she went for an Endovascular repair of Aorta Aneurysm.  ….and she is still there.

Which Camino de Santiago

Sometime in June in conversation with my travel partner from my last Camino, we decided we wouldn’t do the Camino Portuguese, but instead we would make new memories on the trail we already tread.  We would return in May 2018 to the Camino Frances.  

You may be thinking, ‘but you did that one already‘.  There is a quote by Heraclitus that says, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” (I use this quote often).  The first time I set out on August 17th and walked into Santiago on September 28th.  This time I intend to go in the Spring heading out in early May and walking a much slower pace to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on July 1st.  I have experienced the fall on the Camino Frances and I now I want to experience the Spring!  With the slower pace, I plan to stop at places I had to zoom past last time.  I believe the slower pace will keep the knee issues that plagued me at the end of the last one at bay.

Planning the new Camino de Santiago

I still live in Florida.  Training for this next Camino won’t be easy.  This time, I know better than to take comfort from the words of others.  I am not them and I did need to better prepare this time.

Over the next eight months, I plan to begin by losing some weight.  I lost several pounds on my last Camino, but they came back with friends upon my return.  Hopefully, soon I will have my treadmill back (it’s been taking care of by family for over a year since I haven’t had a place for it until recently).  I intend to use it for elevation/climbing training.  I know NOTHING replaces the pavement.  I also want to get my hiking shoes/boots (haven’t decided which yet) soon.  I broke mine in on the trail last time.  BIG mistake.

A year later, I am looking forward to experiencing a Spring Camino in 2018!

Tell me what you think!