I can’t say exactly why I did the Camino de Santiago. I just felt it. Me llamó la atención. It’s something I had been thinking about for over 10 years. And suddenly, the time came. I had a lot of changes in my life, and this felt like the right time to start again, start with the Camino.
My first day on the Camino, leaving Pamplona in the darkness, I felt like I should have a reason, a goal. I felt like I should have something concrete. I didn’t. I just wanted to. Ultimately, I decided to let the Camino tell me.
And now, four days after finishing, I’m still not sure. I know I met some amazing people. I met some goofy ones too. I endured days of ampollas (blisters), not to mention an entirely new vocabulary in Spanish, fitting to the Camino, e.g. blisters (ampollas), thread (hilo), needle (agujas), pace (ritmo), cobblestone (empedrada), steep hills (subidas pendientes), completely dead tired (estar hecho polvo), etc.
I went through three pairs of shoes, I walked three days in a row with soaking feet which felt like three days in a row of walking through swimming pools. I walked 52 kilometers one day by accident. I got sick, I puked and had diarrhea, the Brazilian guy picking me and my blanket off the bathroom floor and convincing me I needed a bed.
Everyday I looked up and said thank you to whatever is out there for allowing me to walk tens of kilometers each day without knee pain. Everyday I woke up, brushed my teeth, and put on the same outfit I wore for 25 days in a row, and walked. And walked. And walked.
I saw sunrises, sunsets and rainbows. I saw a lot of rain. Days and days of rain. Hundreds and hundreds of cats. Not the dirty, scary street kind with crusty eyes. But the sometimes friendly, well-taken care of kind of street cats. There were stray dogs, but not scary ones like I heard about from other people.
I had easy days and hard days, sad days and happy days. I had lonely days and days when I wished I had more solitude. I climbed steep hills, and not so steep hills. Then went down them on the other side. Subidas y bajadas, a lifetime in 25 days.
I don’t think I fully understand yet what the Camino means to me, but I do know that I feel something when I listen to Lucio Battisti’s “La Canzone del sole,” and remember Filippo playing guitar in Grañon’s Iglesia de San Juan Bautista. I know I’ll think of Jake every time I see NEPA brand. And I know that the three days of risa and jokes with Jose will never make sense to anyone else, “per favore, acqua con vino, per favore… Yo no soy una chica asi.” I know there was nothing sweeter than reuniting with my friends for the 12:00 mass in Santiago de Compostela, a moment that always seemed so far away.