Things I Really Need to Stop Doing

Whelp, we made it to the end! 825 km and 34 days later, Cale and I arrived to Santiago with a spring in our step!

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We made it!

… and then, reunited with Camino buddies, we decided to walk another 100km through Muxia and to Finisterre:

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We made it again! At the ‘end of the earth’ in Finisterre.

Credit where credit is due… Clive D’Souza’s Facebook post really inspired the rest of this blog post.  Clive is our Camino friend that we met just in the last few days of walking- he carried a momentous 18 kilos in his backpack compared to Cale and my 8 and 10 kilos of weight!

Things I should really stop doing post-Camino:

  • NAPS IN THE STREET: It’s only on the Camino del Norte, when you haven’t seen a soul in a couple hours, and there aren’t even any other pilgrims in sight, where it’s possible to take a break… and sometimes fall asleep… in the middle of the road.

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Roland on the path admiring the flowers

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Libby surveys the crowd to decide which hat to buy

  • WALKING WITH A STICK: Cale and I carried our walking sticks the entire way to Finisterre, even after the hilly sections of the Camino which is what we really needed them for.  It’s amazing how attached you can become to a stick.  (Mine’s name was Alvin).  It took a couple days of being out and about and thinking “oh no, I forgot my stick!” before we got used to not having them around as attachments of ourselves.
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With our sticks outside of Noja

  • EATING ENTIRE JUMBO BARS OF CHOCOLATE IN ONE SITTING: You guys. They have the Milka brand of chocolate in Spain. And it’s cheap, and it’s the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted.  One day after a lunch break with our friends we walked for another hour or so… and it wasn’t until then that I realized that I was so ravenous that I had eaten an entire gigantor chocolate bar, without even offering a single piece to anyone else.  Really good manners, Sarah. I’ll be coming home with cavities, guaranteed.
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Libby, Katie, and Cale after our first break of the day, only about 2km into the walk…

  • NOT BACKTRACKING TO SHOPS: Generally speaking, you don’t walk backwards on the Camino. Any kilometer out of your way is pure pain.  The other day I walked about 20 feet past a pharmacy before realizing I needed something inside. I thought to myself “that’s ok, I’ll just get something at the next one.” On the Camino, ‘the next one’ is in a town or two, usually at least a couple hours, 8km away. Note to self: there isn’t a ‘next one’ anymore.
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Crashing a hotel continental breakfast. They had cereal! With milk!

  • LOOKING FOR AN OLD SPANIARD WHEN I’M LOST: This one is tough. And old Spaniard won’t magically appear out of nowhere to point me in the right direction if I’m lost in real life.  This happened without fail on the trail. Not another soul in sight, and we would be puzzling over which way to go, and an old Spanish lady would appear out of nowhere (because we really were in the middle of nowhere) and point us to the correct path.  Once from the upstairs window of a farmhouse.  Once in the middle of the woods.  Once on our very first day when there were no posted signs to the Albergue.  Losing my way off the Camino will be much more difficult.

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There’s so much more to say about the Camino! It was such an amazing experience.  I’ll probably post again before letting it go and moving on, though we’ve already physically been to Portugal for a week and are now in Morocco. I’ll try to post again soon!

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What Was I Thinking?

First off, I should apologize. In a previous post I carelessly recommended the Camino to everyone, having barely begun to walk myself. There are a few things you should know, to prepare, in case you decide to do something like this.

#1. No amount of hiking or walking in advance can condition your feet for what they will endure. So if you want to be as close as possible to prepared, here is what I prescribe. Start by putting your feet in an oven, preheated to 350 degrees. Leave them there at for about half an hour. Then take them out and hammer them with a sledgehammer. Then go for a 24 hour walk on some gravel. If your feet aren’t swollen to a whole new shoe size, and if you don’t have blisters on and in between every toe, repeat the process. Once you get to the point where your toes are numb and you are ready to amputate, you’re good to start walking.

#2. Choose a song or two, preferably some that you really love, such as ‘Copa Cabana’ or ‘If You Wannabe My Lover.’ Now play them on repeat in your head all day every day.

#3. Make up a joke and tell it in Spanish. If nobody laughs, you’ve done it right.

#4. Try hand-washing your clothes for a month. You will have a new definition of ‘clean.’ While you’re at it, go to a restaurant and take off your shoes and socks on the patio. Ignore the funny looks.

#5. Walk in a thunderstorm on the freeway for an hour, and try not to get hit by a car.

#6. Throw a slumber party every night with 20 of your loudest snoring friends. Try to still remain friends when you wake up.

I kid, I kid. Kind of. Despite the pain, the rewards of this journey are endless. The actual act of walking outside every day is extremely rewarding. But the beauty of the walk isn’t everything. Before, when people asked my why I chose to walk the camino I had a lot of reasons, but something about this walk goes further than my vague descriptions of how pretty it would be, or how I would never have a month off again to do something like this. I’ve found that many people that are walking are offering up their Camino for some religious purpose or prayer or thanks. For me it has forced me to assess my life and my values, to begin to let go of some regrets, and to really be thankful for friends, family, and community. The Camino allows the space and time to think, whether you’d like to or not. And you inevitably come away with a few lifelong friends, while you’re at it.

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One of our last days along the coast