This heading is the first thing Gonzalo taught me. Without really knowing what I was saying, he made me say it to his mother, (!) my teachers and everyone I met when I first got to Santiago. Spanish humour is just like Australian! Sneaky bugger!
So much has happened since I first arrived. It has been one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I now understand a lot more Spanish than I did when I got off that plane back in April!
One thing that I have really enjoyed whilst living in Santiago is the constant Camino pilgrim connection.
Even if I’m not out there walking, I’m able to talk ‘camino’ every day. There is an intangible understanding between us all.
I pretty much live in the moment these days, just accepting what goes on around me as part of the flow of life. However, I have noticed that people seem to come and go at the right time, and this fascinated me.
Today I had a phone conversation with a pilgrim I met last year. Caught unaware in a moment of distraction as I wandered down the street, I stopped under the arch to shelter from the rain and take a few minutes to chat. We talked for quite some time, made arrangements to meet when I get back to Australia and finished the phone call. It was pouring with rain, I’d just had a lovely lunch with some friends, and I was feeling good, but I suddenly realized that the sound of his accent, the Aussie words and even the occasional swear word gave me comfort and feeling of belonging. It tugged at my heart and I realized I can never live anywhere but Australia. Europe is a great place to visit but my home is always going to be Australia. My family is there. Steve used to tell me ‘you make your own luck in life and the harder you work, the luckier you get’. So true. I am really lucky. I have worked hard to get this lucky. This experience has been fantastic. I have absolutely loved living in Santiago and I will be back again for sure. I’m so torn right now.
My time here is ending. I have mixed emotions and I’m really worried about how I can adjust back to Australian life. I am now part of a small community, a different sort of family. I’ve become slightly Spanish…sleeping in, drinking wine with lunch and dinner, staying out really late, , eating late, sauntering instead of walking fast, and I now know the delight of the siesta. Everyone here says hello in the street, they are so friendly. Many of the locals know me now and they greet me with a hug. They wave to me as I pass the restaurants. People here are happy.
I know that when I go home, I will miss all this. I’ve been living in Camino Mecca, where the heartbeat is so strong. I know that when I go home, I won’t be able to talk about Camino stuff because people just don’t/can’t comprehend what the Camino does to your soul. Their eyes glaze over.
But…I’m looking forward to seeing my family and friends. I’m going ‘home’ to all things familiar and comforting. Many of you have watched from afar and seen my blogs and photos of my adventures, but what you don’t know is how exhausting it is to live in a foreign country where they speak a different language. The smallest things can be a struggle and the mental concentration is constant. It has not been easy but I met the challenge and I’ve been taking notes to write another book.
(A few days later…)
I’m now in Madrid and will catch my flight home in the morning. Saying goodbye was hard. In the last few days as I said farewell to everyone, I have been given thoughtful gifts, restaurant owners have hugged me and given me free meals, friends have taken time out to spend with me and I feel so humbly blessed. I have no idea how to thank my beautiful, kind Gonzalo for looking out for me, taking me to new places, sharing everything he has, including his family, his crazy friends and even his dog. He cooked me pancakes, made sure I got home safely at night, made me go to school when I didn’t feel like it, and included me in everything he did. We partied a lot and went through some awfully challenging things, especially the sudden death of his little dog Kaia. It was heartbreaking…still is.
Everyone has been so kind and the time has flown. I now have lifelong friends from this adventure and I can’t wait to get home and write my book. One of my teachers told me that she wished she had known about that so she could moderate things! Haha.
Anyway, you are all too many to thank personally. I’m going home with such a full heart, a very heavy suitcase and purple hair!