I was asked by a friend whether walking the Camino de Santiago changed me as a person and I said “Yes!” Here´s why…
A wise old man shared a few simple words in the last couple of days of my 2016 Camino. He had walked the French Way ten times. He said “Samantha, it´s not you and the Camino. You become the Camino. You become the way. Your way”.
You see, the Camino takes from you in the first week. It takes your strength, your willpower, the skin from your feet and quite a few gritted tears. It takes your sleep, your privacy and your usual routine. It takes the emotional crap you have been holding in. Your worries and your fears. Yet you get through it into a strange kind of emptiness.
Then you hit the desert. La Meseta. Your emptiness is mirrored in the barren land with a never-ending deep blue sky.
As you´re walking under the burning heat, the Camino starts to give back. The spirit of the Camino comes rushing in – replenishing your energy, your vitality, your belief in yourself and the world.
It reminds you of your forgotten dreams, your wishes and your desires. Like a blank canvas, in that space, you see possibility everywhere.
A reminder that the world is a beautiful place if you choose to believe.
It’s pure joy, my friends, a banana-fuelled state of euphoria as I like to call it (I love bananas). It’s like walking on air. Absolute pure gold.
And the spirit of the Camino is mirrored in every Pilgrim around you. We came from around the globe from different cultures and we all behaved like decent human beings; capable of tolerance, kindness, generosity and acceptance. A sense of we are in this together. Walking our own way and each other home.
My 2016 French Camino de Santiago was my greatest adventure yet. It’s not just the walking; it’s a way of living that comes naturally, without being taught.
Perhaps it’s a spirit inside each of us just waiting to be woken. I hope so.
If you would like to experience the Camino spirit and life of a Pilgrim, check out our Camino de Santiago trips at Wild Camino Journeys.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2016. All Rights Reserved.