On the Road Again

When you last heard from me I was beaten down and blistered up. Happily, after that most difficult day of wandering around in rural Spain hoping for some sign of a place to shower and lay down, I popped on a bus and headed to Lugo. I spent a decadent day looking out a bus’ window as the ever-changing Spanish countryside went wizzing by. The next day, instead of exploring the streets of Lugo and beating back lonliness, I accepted an offer from a friend of a trail friend and got a real-live behind-the-scenes view of filming a show on food of the Camino.

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I climbed into a stranger’s car and smiled giddily as I got my five minutes of fame — learning about delicious Spanish food (which I even got to eat!) on camera. I highly enjoyed watching them film (there even was a helicopter camera robot that made me grin each time it whirled far above us) and the erratic driving of the Spanish, as it meant I didn’t need to subject my blisters to more blisters but still saw the Camimo.

The next day I slept in until the luxurious hour of nine, reveling in the bright white linen and the quiet of the room of my own. The plan was to meet up with my new found friend (who took me on-camera the day before) and explore Lugo a little before heading off. However, after getting the chance to take an hour long tour of the roof of the Cathedral (in Spanish, of course), my two-hour diversion led into a full day of fun in the fascinating city, best known for its complete Roman wall.

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After spending a fitful night in the albergue in Lugo (my fellow pilgrims were literally yelling over each other to speak during a spontaneous fiesta that took place just after lights-out in my dorm), I rose and wandered about in the dark until I stumbled upon the Camino. And, just like that, I started meeting wonderful new people.

Since Bike & Build, I’ve longed for an adventure that offers the same sort of camaraderie that it did. I desperately wished to find that same mix of compassion, bonding, and sense of awe that I and the others on the trip experienced each and every day. And, as an introvert, I wished for a place where sharing on a deeper level was possible and normal.

Enter the Camino. In the past three days on the road again I’ve met some amazing people with some amazing stories. There was the German guy studying Spanish and education who loved global politics as much as he did American candy (we spent almost an hour naming candies we loved), the French man who took to the Camino after he retired and his wife left him and who found a sense of peace he never had before, and the Austrian woman who didn’t let her wheelchair stop her from her pilgrimage — from London to Santiago, by way of Rome.

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There is something special about physical activity, do-good mentality, and travel when they are combined. I don’t know what it is, but I continually find that when you move yourself over a long distance through seemingly unsurmountable obsticals for a cause, you are freed up to think, act, and share in ways not possible in ‘normal’ life. And it seems I’m not the only one to have stumbled upon this combination.

Pilgrims have been making this journey for hundreds of years. Despite the decline in religious fervor surrounding this camino, there is still usually some kind of hope for a deeper meaning in pilgrim. Some I’ve asked have talked about the desire to have the time to think, some to enjoy a simpler way of living, and some, in a sort of hushed voice, speak of the spirit they find on this path.

Although I’ve only been walking for eight days, and only the last three in a row, I am about to arrive in Santiago. Many of my camino friends are ending there, but I have dreams of seeing the ocean again. And so, with not too much fuss in Santiago,  I’ll keep on walking to what was once the end of the world. Perhaps I’ll find some answers, but I know without a doubt I’ll meet other like-minded travelers who love to seek more than find.

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