8 Life Classes from the Camino de Santiago

Within the six months since I boarded my flight residence from Spain to the US, my thoughts has swirled with reflections on my expertise strolling the Camino de Santiago. After I first arrived residence, I puzzled if the 500-mile, 33-day pilgrimage would immediate a significant epiphany or spur an enormous life change after I returned to my life in Los Angeles, California. 

Would I lace up my sneakers and go for a protracted stroll each morning? Would I keep in contact with fellow pilgrims I met in France and Spain? Or would I return to my life and act like nothing had ever occurred?

Since returning, I’ve answered these questions and gained additional perception into the teachings the journey has meant for me and for a lot of others who’ve walked the Camino de Santiago. 

What’s The Camino de Santiago?

camino de santiago church

Earlier than we begin, let’s discuss just a little about The Camino de Santiago. Often known as the Manner of St. James, it’s a community of pilgrimage routes resulting in the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Nice within the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

This historic pilgrimage, which dates again to the Center Ages, attracts hundreds of pilgrims from around the globe every year. Historically undertaken for spiritual causes, fashionable pilgrims additionally stroll the Camino for non secular progress, journey, and cultural exploration. The routes range in size and problem, with the preferred being the Camino Francés, which begins in St. Jean Pied de Port in France and spans roughly 500 miles (800 kilometers).

Jen Pellerito shares right here classes discovered by strolling this historic route, and now that we’ve learn it, we’re extra decided to sort out this unbelievable pilgrimage in 2025! If you’re planning your Camino de Santiago hike, learn Jen’s publish about The place to Keep on the Camino de Santiago

Time strikes slower once you’re strolling

camino de santiago walking

If you stroll the Camino, you’ll be able to cowl a distance of 5 to twenty miles per day, which takes anyplace from 5 to eight hours. It’s a stark distinction to routine life at residence, the place we will drive, fly, or prepare our manner round.

If you stroll, you journey at a slower tempo. The results of actually shifting slower contributed to a way of getting extra time on my fingers.

I felt like I may see the passage of time. I observed the the solar fell at totally different instances of day, how the climate patterns modified, and the way the flowers bloomed as the times handed. 

I discovered that nothing ever stays the identical. My day by day routine continued to repeat itself, but all the things on the earth continued to evolve, even by seemingly mundane moments.     

You’ll by no means have a look at your ft the identical manner once more

camino de santiago feet take a beating

On the Camino, my ft took a beating. It wasn’t simply blisters that grew to become a difficulty — it was the affect of strolling on arduous surfaces, particularly when going downhill. Learn extra tricks to Staying Protected and Wholesome on a Mountain climbing Journey

I noticed my ft swell like they’d by no means swollen earlier than. I noticed my toes bleed from blisters that risked an infection. And ultimately, I noticed my ft heal. 

I spent hours worrying, speaking, and, sure—complaining—about my ft. For the primary time, I discovered learn how to look after them. 

I utilized Vaseline on my toes and heels a number of instances a day and discovered about the perfect sort of cloth to maintain them cool and as dry as doable in high-heat situations (it’s wool, by the best way)!

I bandaged my ft, prayed for them, and thanked them once they ultimately grew to become stronger.

Your ft can take you a lot locations, however provided that you handle them alongside the best way. 

Group and connection 

camino de santiago community at hostel

5 days into strolling, I used to be sitting in my Airbnb host’s sweltering kitchen, sweating bullets. My toes had been crammed with blisters, and my host was going to pop them for me. I used to be terrified.  Try How one can Pack a Journey First Support Package

Admittedly, I’ve by no means handled blisters a lot in my lifetime. I knew nothing of learn how to look after them, deal with them, or forestall an infection. Particularly in a state of affairs the place I needed to maintain on strolling – with no time to relaxation.

My host, who had been a nurse in her residence nation, spoke no English and little or no Spanish. She used a translation app on her cellphone to assist us talk in bite-sized phrases, one line at a time. 

My head swam, queasy. Would this go terribly fallacious?   

Lastly, after what felt like an hour going forwards and backwards by her translation app, she popped my first blister. Then the subsequent. It harm lots lower than I imagined. 

I’d simply met her moments earlier than, and he or she was caring for me in my most ugly second. It introduced in an entire new stage of vulnerability and humility. 

Strolling the Camino will present you that we’re all on this, collectively. 

The Camino gives

camino de santiago route

It’s not nearly foot care. Sharing meals, medication, language, and, merely, the corporate of others creates a community of care. On the Camino, assist isn’t simply accessible; it’s given. 

Persons are able to look out for one another, proving that even once you’re strolling alone, you’re by no means really alone.

This spirit of camaraderie and help is what makes the Camino such a singular and particular expertise. Whether or not you’re a seasoned pilgrim or a first-timer, you’ll discover that there’s all the time somebody keen to help or share a form phrase.

As you make your manner alongside the path, you’ll encounter individuals from all walks of life, every with their very own story to inform. Some are searching for non secular enlightenment, whereas others are merely searching for a brand new journey.

However it doesn’t matter what brings you to the Camino, everybody shares a typical bond of kindness and compassion.

All of us stroll the identical Camino

camino de santiago getting stronger

After I suppose again to my time on the Camino, I keep in mind the times after I walked slower than many different pilgrims, even these many years older than me. However after I lastly neared the final stretch towards Santiago, I discovered my stride, I grew to become stronger, and I walked a lot sooner than I had earlier than. 

Sure, some individuals nonetheless walked sooner than me—or twice so far as I did in a single day—however lastly, after weeks of strolling, the primary eight miles of the day grew to become a breeze, when it had as soon as been brutally unattainable.

This expertise taught me that life just isn’t a race. All of us progress at our personal pace, and there’s no worth in evaluating our paths to these of others. The Camino, very like life, is a private journey for every particular person.

Studying to maneuver in sync with others, moderately than in competitors, has introduced me peace and helped me settle for my present stage in life (my thirties) extra gracefully. It has additionally allowed me to understand my very own milestones with out measuring them up in opposition to others’ successes.

Crucial factor is, we’re all united by one frequent aim — to succeed in Santiago.

Attaining a aim takes time

camino de santiago acheiving goals

I’ll admit it. I’m a perfectionist. After I fail, I fail arduous. I turn out to be so defeated that I by no means wish to strive one thing once more.

Strolling the Camino confirmed me that targets are achieved by one million milestones alongside the best way. 

In the future at a time, I moved additional towards my aim of reaching Santiago de Compostela. I didn’t stop when it obtained arduous. I didn’t quit when it felt like I’d already failed.

Sure, I rested after I wanted to. I took the bus on the times after I fell sick, and my ft couldn’t deal with the ache any longer.

However that’s not quitting. 

The journey hammered residence the concept perfection isn’t the aim. Progress is the aim. 

Every step moved me ahead. Huge targets get achieved by small wins. 

Actual energy isn’t about how far you’ll be able to stroll in at some point. It’s about your persistence and flexibility, irrespective of the variety of miles.

You study to take heed to your physique

camino de santiago gear

I took the bus after I actually needed to. I didn’t stroll each single mile of the Camino Frances, and it disenchanted me on the time. However now, I understand that figuring out your physique’s limits is an indication of energy.

Recognizing when to push and when to pause is a type of knowledge. 

On the Camino, I discovered learn how to tune into what my physique was telling me. The occasional lengthy stretch of silence whereas strolling alone additionally helped me take heed to my ideas extra fastidiously. 

Balancing ambition with self-care continues to be a problem for me. In on a regular basis life, it’s straightforward to miss our limits to fulfill our personal or others’ expectations. On the Camino, I discovered to worth self-awareness and the braveness it takes to honor my wants.

Grief occurs each time anybody leaves us

On the Camino, you may serendipitously find yourself strolling with the identical group of individuals. Pilgrims name this your “Camino household.” Some individuals stroll the complete manner with the identical group, whereas others, for one cause or one other, find yourself separating. 

As I walked, I discovered myself weaving out and in of various teams, shortly clicking with of us I’d simply met. However when the Camino broke into two sections, and my buddies selected a unique path, I needed to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to those newfound buddies was powerful, like a mini heartbreak. 

I puzzled if our paths would ever cross once more. To me, it felt not not like the grief I’ve felt when somebody near me has handed away. These moments on the Camino had been stark reminders of how swiftly connections can type and the way painfully they will half, echoing the bittersweet actuality of the various relationships we’ve all through our lives. 

However extra importantly, the separation served as a reminder to dwell within the current. I grew to understand the corporate of these I used to be with, within the second. Grief is a pure a part of the human expertise. 

I discovered to cherish moments of connection, even when they had been fleeting, and make peace with the inevitability of change and loss.

Embracing the Journey Forward

Pondering again on my month strolling the Camino de Santiago, the explanations for my journey have turn out to be a lot clearer.

It’s like wanting over your shoulder once you’re mountaineering. If you’re strolling, you’re immersed within the mountains, and also you solely see rocks and grime. Miles later, the total view of these mountains turns into clear.

On the time, I couldn’t grasp the total affect it might have on me. Now, wanting again, I can admire the importance of the teachings discovered. 

Distance helps you perceive the immensity of what you’ve gone by.

And so, the stroll continues, one step at a time.

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