“Basically what we have here is a dreamer. Somebody out of touch with reality. When she jumped, she probably thought she’d fly” – Jeffrey Eugenides
When this post is published, I will be en route to Sarria, Galicia to start the Camino de Santiago. I’ve told a lot of people that I am going to do the Camino and the first question I get asked is ‘with who?’ And the answer is, I’m doing it sola, me, myself and I, all on my owny-o! And that response is mostly met with bewildered faces. I love to travel alone. I shipped myself off to Brittany to become an Au Pair alone and I travelled to Geneva alone to do an internship and now I’m here in Santiago de Compostela, where I moved alone. It’s absolutely liberating to just take off. And as the blog says on the tin – I do love to be free! So, I’ve decided to do the Camino de Santiago alone. I am going to tell you all the reasons I’ve decided to do the Camino in this post – but first, I want to tell you a little bit about the Camino itself.
Camino de Santiago means The Way of Saint James and it is a pilgrimage route from anywhere in Europe to Santiago de Compostela (most popularly from France, Portugal and Spain) . Compostela is said to be derived from the Latin Composita Tella which means burial ground and Santiago de Compostela is just that, the burial ground of Saint James. And any good Catholic reading this knows that Saint James was an apostle of Jesus himself! The Way has apparently been a pilgrimage route for over 1,000 years and there was a route there pre-Christian times as well, or so I’m told. There’s a sign at the end of the Camino that says “Europe was built on the pilgrim route to Compostela”. There for you! The idea behind it was that if you did the Camino, you would be doing penance and it would relieve you of your sins. However, people do it for many different reasons today. Some people still do it for religious reasons, others do it because they love hiking etc. As an agnostic, I am not doing my second pilgrimage (read about the first pilgrimage I did here) to rid myself of any sins. So, why am I doing it?
I’m doing it for various reasons:
- To travel – as I’m sure we have all established, I love travelling and once I’m doing any old travelling, I’m happy out. I’ll have the opportunity to see places in Galicia, I would never have seen and seeing new things is always exciting to me
- As the perfect culmination to a fantastic year spent in Santiago de Compostela. If you had asked me this time last year if I’d ever do the Camino, I would have definitely said no (never say never!) but now that I have spent the year living here in Galicia and fallen in love with it, I can’t think of a better way to finish it off.
- To be mindful, present and at one with nature! Ok, I’m joking about the ‘at one with nature’ part. But, I do feel extremely calm, mindful and appreciative when I am walking in nature – hence why I’ve walked so much outdoors this year in all of the beautiful parks that this city has to offer. I feel like I started training for the Camino without even realising it when I got here. I started walking at least 10,000 steps every day if not 35,000 (that’s my record so far!).
- A fear of regret. I’m a terrible person for not knowing what I will like or do or want to do in the future. One reason why I’ll (almost definitely) never get a tattoo is because of my fear that I’ll regret it ten minutes later. But I also don’t trust myself to not leave Galicia and in two weeks time think to myself… I would LOVE to walk the Camino and at that stage, even though I would still be able to, it will never be as easy for me to walk the Camino as it will be for me to walk it while I live here. First and foremost, I have access to all the gear I need because every shop here sells anything and everything you may need to do the Camino. I’ve also been in contact with so many pilgrims over the last few weeks just by walking around the city, I feel like I have the low-down on everything you need before you go. Also, when I arrive at the cathedral in a weeks time, all I’ll have to do is walk for 5 more minutes and I’ll be able to shower in MY shower and climb into MY bed. I imagine it’s going to be absolute bliss after a week of staying in albergues.
- To have the sense of achievement. I have never run a marathon, but I can only imagine that the sense of achievement afterwards must be surreal. I know after I did my Masters degree (almost the same as running a marathon), the sense of achievement was overwhelming. Or when I used to do ballet (for those of you who don’t know, I practised ballet until I was 21) after a show or an exam, you would feel so accomplished. Well, after walking 115km in 5 days – I hope to have a similar sense of achievement and I’m looking forward to it.
- To meet inspiring, strong-minded and different people. I spoke in my last post about meeting bad-ass, like-minded people and how very satisfying it is. I have a theory that the more we hang around with the same people, the more people we hang around with are the same (if that makes sense!). Going on Erasmus to study abroad brought us all away from the usual people we were used to hanging out with and into a new group of amazing people. I think doing the Camino will bring me out of my comfort zone of people and force me to meet different people that are unlike me and unlike anyone I’ve ever met before, and I love that. It broadens our minds and our spirits.
- Last but not least, to grow. I think by doing all of the aforementioned things; meeting new people, being mindful, achieving something momentous, travelling and culminating my year in Santiago, I’ll grow as a person and it may even shape my personality even more (I told you in the last post, there’d be more cringiness to come from me)!
I decided to add in some inspirational quotes along the way – they’re more for me than anyone else! I thought, if I’m feeling desperate at any stage this week, I could come back here and try to motivate myself and remember why I’m doing it… We’ll see!
If any of you have done the Camino and have any advice for me (a first-timer), I’d love to hear what you have to say. I’m doing the Camino Francés from Sarria, so please let me know on snapchat (imperfectlyfree), twitter, instagram or facebook. Hopefully there’ll be wifi… I’ve read that there is but you never know considering I’m basically walking from Galway over half way to Dublin! God knows the wifi along that route would be dodgy! I will be updating you all next week with a post all about the trip so be sure to keep an eye out for that, and in the meantime you can keep up to date mostly on instagram and snapchat.