I took today as a rest day to gather my thoughts. I find myself avoiding people and have spent most of the day just wandering around the foreshore and resting in my room. This town is so beautiful and I feel as if I am in Cornwall with its stone walls and fishing boats bobbing happily on the water. It has rained very heavily this afternoon. Im looking forward to a decent dinner tonight. After being virtually without vegetables for the past 7 weeks, there is veggie soup on the vegan/vegetarian menu. So excited! I had an avocado for lunch!!!!
Gerry and Colleen dropped me off here this morning and it took me ages to contain myself. I feel like I’ve lost a limb! I miss Colleen so much already.
The one thing I will never get used to is the ‘Camino goodbye’, leaving people who have shared this extraordinary experience, who probably know your inner most soul more than some people you’ve known all your life, and who just accept you for who you are without question.
Everything here is stripped bare; there is no fashion or no make up to hide behind; farting, snoring and teeth grinding are part of a nightly chorus; there is very little privacy; men and women share bathrooms and dormitories; there is no room for modesty. Yet, these things are what makes the experience so rich and memorable. You have to learn to accept things as they come, you have to share, be considerate of others. You learn about other cultures, their politics, their way of life, and you just humbly accept that everyone is different because of this. However, we are all the same underneath. We all want the same things out of life. We basically just want to be good people, accepted by others no matter what our foibles are, and we just want to be liked.
Sharing this experience with complete strangers from all over the world, struggling to understand each other’s languages, and also doing a crash course in Spanish along the way, makes this a tough gig. Again, I ask, why the hell do we do this? What makes a person remove themselves from the comforts of life as they know it and plunge themselves into pain, exhaustion and challenge? Perhaps that is it…. Challenge.
I still feel a little in shock. It all started with a random decision. I read a book about the Via de la Plata, Colleen was wanting to do it, so I agreed to go with her. I wanted to see my friend again. It was as simple as that. I booked a ticket and found myself in Spain about to embark on a 1000 walk in extreme conditions. I seem to have this pattern in my life where I wildly jump into things and then have to cope somehow!
I wrote to the author of that book and asked her if she would mind us ‘borrowing’ her idea of taking people’s written or verbal hopes and prayers with us. We gave it a twist and decided it would be a good idea to raise money while we were doing it, and thus ‘Walking With Purpose’ was born. Between us we raised about three or four thousand dollars for some very worthy people. And here, I want to thank you all for not questioning this and generously donating. You will help to change people’s lives by doing so. It could be any of us in this desperate situation and you have been so kind. I am sure that the MND Association and Will Murray are most grateful, as are Colleen’s causes.
This trip was never about me. I did it because I wanted to help someone. I had time up my sleeve and I was going to make use of it. I am so much fitter now -an added bonus. The thing that kept me going was the fact that I was carrying people’s worries and fears with me. I was surprised by the depth of grief and sadness people carry around and it made me a little sad that we hide it so much. I have determined to be more considerate and ‘care-full’ and ‘self-less’ from now on. The strongest thread of concern was health and it made me realise just how lucky I am. I am not a Christian or a Catholic, but I have prayed so hard on behalf of these precious people in my life who need some sort of hope. If that hope and comfort reaches them, or if their prayers are answered, then I am complete and have done my job.
I’m left now consumed by emotion as you can probably tell. I consider myself very lucky to have such supportive friends and family. Thank you all for your timely messages which kept me going. This Camino was very different and I doubt if it has had anywhere near the same effect as the last one, but it does feel very meaningful, and so worthwhile.
I’m so looking forward to coming home to my beautiful and caring friends and family. I am indeed a very lucky girl💜