In 2016, I had the adventure of a lifetime.
I walked the epic Camino de Santiago Frances.
The Camino de Santiago Frances is an incredible 700-kilometre trek across Northern Spain. The trail begins in France at Saint Jean Pied du Port and crosses the mighty Pyrenees into Spain.
For over 30 days, I trekked across Northern Spain through mountain ranges, vineyards, and the desert until I reached the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, the final resting place of Saint James.
The life of a pilgrim is a mundane one.
Living out of a small rucksack, I carried nothing more than a change of clothes, sleeping bag, and basic toiletries. My nights were spent in small villages and towns along the way, sharing simple dormitory-style accommodation with up to 20 fellow pilgrims.
So, when a friend asked whether walking the Camino de Santiago changed me as a person. The answer was a definite, “Yes!”
A wise, old pilgrim shared a few simple words in the last couple of days of my Camino. He had walked the French way 10 times. He said, “Samantha, it’s not you and the Camino. You become the Camino. You become the 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, more than 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.
Eat, sleep, walk, repeat—yet in this simple routine, I found the magic in the mundane. The magic that pilgrims call the Camino spirit.
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’re in this together.” Walking our own way, yet walking 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 came naturally, without being taught.
Perhaps, it’s a spirit inside each of us just waiting to be awakened.
I hope so.
If the Camino de Santiago is calling you, go walk it. Not just for the adventure but for the experience of a much better way of living. To find the magical in the mundane.
You’ll become the Camino. You’ll become the way.
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.