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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Camino Countdown


On the 2nd of April finally I’ll be hopping on a plane and heading to the south of Spain. I’ll be walking the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route. The most popular route is the Camino Frances, starting north of the Pyrenees, heading 780kms west, towards Santiago. There are countless routes throughout Europe leading to Santiago – which is the destination of every individual Camino, located close to the western coast of Spain, North of the Portuguese boarder. And after a lot of research I found that the Camino Frances would be too crowded with tourists. As well there’s more chance of rain (and a damp climate is something I’ve definitely outgrown). So, I’ve chosen to walk the Via de la Plata. This particular Camino starts in Seville and the stretch follows a route of 1000kms, until it eventually reaches Santiago. It takes up to 7 weeks to walk. But I’ve decided to go as far Salamanca, for now. Meaning I’ll have 500kms to walk and 4 weeks to do it. Easy done… ;)

I’ve never attempted such a hike before, but when I heard about it 3 years ago, it took up a place on the (never ending) wish list of ‘must dos’. Back then I couldn’t wait to get my hiking gear sorted and get on my way… Well, good things come to those who wait, and here I am, only a week to go!

This past month, as it came to making the actual decision, setting things in motion getting on with the arrangements, I was temporarily held back by fear. This led me to analyse till being blue and purple in the face, as to why I’m doing this. I was seriously worried about not being fit enough to take on something so ‘extreme’ (depending on what perspective it’s judged from). 

I was feeling daunted, insecure and doubting my physical stamina and strength. But, looking deeper, I found how amazing the physical body is, and that it truly CAN and WILL adapt to any situation or circumstance it comes to experience. With awareness we can feel what it needs, and, without question, attend to those needs. As we do, the body will keep responding to us and adapting to the situation it’s exposed to.
So I soon got past my fears and briefly analysed purely out of caution, due to what I’ve always associated ‘extreme walking’ with (up until a few years ago). In the past, I’d have done this JUST to finish it, and not to actually LIVE the experience and BE IN the walk. I’d have done it to compete against myself, to over-exert my physical body and experience self-harm as I go. I know now, with all my heart, these aren’t my reasons anymore.  

When a feeling overrides everything, there’s really little point in analysing. When the heart speaks louder than the mind, rationalizing certain choices becomes irrelevant. And for now, the Camino is the only way to go. By following that course and taking that route I know for sure more directions will guide me onwards showing me where I next want to go. The open road and (finally) the change of surroundings will bring me to find answers to certain questions that are a mystery to me right now.

What I hope to experience THROUGHOUT the journey is to put into practise how the journey itself actually IS the destination. And not the city that will only be reached when my legs have brought me 500kms from my starting point. So, I’m delighted to feel that I’m not too fixated on the ‘goal’ of reaching Salamanca. If I reach it, fantastic. If I don’t, that too is fine. We never know what circumstances can arise nor can we know how easy or how challenging something actually is – not until we go ahead and do it.

So, as I let-go of whatever it was that tried to hold me back, I can welcome what’s approaching and savour the days of preparing myself. Only a week and I’ll be hearing, seeing, tasting and touching base with Spain! What a treasure and wow… how lucky I am!   

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