T minus 18 (days).

Counting down to my Camino and I cannot believe that I have 18 days left before I leave. I am not sure how I feel. I feel somewhat nervous – if I’m honest.  A few have asked if I feel very excited.  I don’t feel very excited. I didn’t in the early days and I don’t now. I’m not sure if it is because I don’t allow to feel very excited, or I’m still not sure what I’m expecting so I’m afraid to feel excited. Or …. I’m just always in control of my emotions and I don’t allow myself to feel excited.  Probably the last one is the truth.

So, I’ve done very little in terms of walking preparation. I walked with a 10 kg pack last week.  I got about 5 km, and then I really felt it on the thighs and the back of the knees. Wow, extra weight on my back really does make a difference. Thank goodness, I was carrying my son’s pack and not my own.  My own will be 3kg lighter.  I’m so glad.  Of course, I have to thank hubs for this. He’s been nagging me about weighing all the clothes I’m bringing, to only buy ultra light stuff, and to question every single item I want to bring.  (I still haven’t told him I’m bringing my paper based journal.)  Every time I want to add something to the pile, I have to weigh it, and then I’m told “Ten decisions like that adds up to an extra kilo.” If it was up to me, I’d bring my fluffy bunny shoes, cotton PJs and jeans.  But hey, like I said, … so glad not to be carrying a 10 kg pack.

I had visions of grandeur of blogging more frequently to date than I had – just to get into the practice. Truth is, I find typing up a post on an iPhone to be slow going. Some days, I found it tedious to try to write something exciting about so ordinary a day that I’ve not known what to write about. I want to say something amazing, insightful, mind blowing. Today, I’ve given all that up and just thought I’d get cracking and write something. Something is better than nothing.  (For those of you following my blog, you’ll appreciate this effort of me getting into the zone early, so that I can properly get up to speed once I hit Day one on the Camino.)

A few people have asked how it is that I decided to do the Camino. Was it something I’d always wanted to do?  I’ve said on this blog some months ago that it was a thought that came to me – rather out of the blue. In hindsight, these 3 innocuous moments led me to the camino.

1.  A documentary

I had watched a Simon Reeve BBC documentary on Pilgrimages. Of course, I’d heard of the bog standard destinations – Rome and Jerusalem.  A pilgrimage through Northern Spain to a place called Santiago de Compostela?  I had not realised it.  “Interesting idea”, I thought to myself at the time. The only previous time I had heard of Santiago de Compostela was in 2012, when that tragic train accident happened and 88 pilgrims died. The thing that I remembered about that documentary was the botufumeiro. I wanted to see the botufumeiro for myself – one day.  And then I thought nothing more of it.

2. A friend’s holiday

A Facebook had gone on holiday to Spain and they walked like a teeny section of the camino, as part of their gastronomique tour of Spain. Insufficient to qualify for a compostela, it nevertheless reminded me that such a method of travel existed.

3.  Crossing the Pyrenees

Our trip to France last year took us to within 4 hours drive of the Pyrenees and it reminded me again of how I wanted to cross the Pyrenees.  We were too far of course, and our trip too short to make the detour.  “I really must do this before I leave the UK”, was the thought in my head. At the time, I was think it was in a convertible with the wind blowing through my hair.  Why Pyrenees?  If Hannibal and his elephants can cross the Pyrenees, so can I!  I’m not sure why I wanted to cross the Pyrenees.  Maybe I’d heard of it many times before in stories told of airmen escaping to France.  Nah!  It’s really about the elephants.  If big lumbering creatures like elephants can do this, so can I.  Or, maybe, it just about mountains. I think mountains are beautiful and I love to see the panoramic vista of what nature has created over millions of years. It always makes me feel like a gnat in the space of time.

And then one night, I felt a sudden inexplicable desire to walk – a long, long way. (At this point, I hadn’t watched The Way, read Wild, or any other material of particular depth or insight into the Camino.)  I just felt a very strong need to go on a walkabout, like the Aborigines)  to replenish my soul with the hopes and dreams of the thousands that walked before me, and to create a clearing for creation and to meet like minded spirits.

The idea to walk to Santiago came like a thought. At first, I was looking at Sarria to Santiago, but the desire to do the journey to cross the Pyrenees was the one that captured my mind.  Initially, the desire of the trip was to rid the yucky, slimey, negative energy left behind by emotional vampires and for me to reach Finisterre so that I could wash the experience away.

But now it is to start the journey as part of creation – coming from nothing as an access to everything. Like a vision quest. I cannot seem to explain this, but I am meant to meet someone on this trip.  I don’t know if I have already meant this person, only hindsight will tell. But already, I’ve met people who’ve collectively helped me on my journey with information, insight, support. It has been amazing the almost random people coming out of the woodwork. People whom you’d think would understand don’t, people who you thought never would do. Hubs has helped me with my pack, Son has helped me with loads of enthusiasm and an expressed desire to walk the Camino Frances with me as part of a giant DoE (Duke of Edinburgh) trek, new found friends providing advice, and even my massage therapist is on board and working hard to clear out the meridians and all the knots in my body in ready for the trip.  And a friend whom I’ve not seen in years is now joining me on the last leg of the trip.

I get to travel the world in a very different way from how I’m used to, and in a way that I’ve never travelled – carrying my worldly possessions on my back, staying with strangers in hostels and taking Bus 11 to every destination along the route. What a giant personal development journey – pushing the comfort zone.  I’ve done heaps of personal development courses in my life. In fact, one might say I am slightly addicted to them because I never know what I’m going to get out of it – at the beginning. I was not excited, I was always hesitant, and often afraid to feel too much for fear that I would have expected too much. Old habits, it seems, never goes away.

So these random, disparate, disconnected events have come together to create a harmonious result. (Really, if you’d told me this in the early days, I’d have said you had rocks in your head!)

Well, I am glad that I have carried on with my rambling musings. Because I am now excited for my trip. (Sorry that you had to see the workings of my mind.) I don’t know what I’ll get out of it, I won’t know for months after, but I do know I will be changed by the experience – a change that I desired and not one that was forced down my throat. I will meet good hearted people on the journey in search of their personal truth of living authentically and with integrity.  And even though the camino numbers are growing every year and hundreds of thousands of people walk it, you see, it is a different type of person that takes this kind of … “holiday”.  And (I think) they are people just like me.