I am a different person now. It’s hard to explain the exact difference. In question of months I understood plain things about the life and family and love. I guess I just learned to walk.
Walking is something we just do, most of the time it’s a nuisance we try to avoid by taking a bus or driving a car. But it’s a simple basic action everybody learns. We don’t realise the importance of it, just like breathing, no need to think about it. But when you have over 800 km in front of you, the next albergue (hostel) is 20 something kms far, and you carry all you think you need on your back, you become conscious of every step taken. In the age of technology, video games and virtual reality I choose to make 800 kilometers to prove myself. The day before I started I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t expect to learn to walk, to feel with the senses and to see with my heart.
The first thing I felt was pain. The blisters on my feed and the weight on my shoulders made me calculate every step I took and the effort I was able to do along the day. It made me reconsider what was expendable in my backpack. After a week I got used to the 7- 8kg backpack and the approximately 20km every day distance. And I realised that what was weighting was the emotional baggage. I remember the moment after a day of walking when I was sharing a table with other pilgrims. I laughed and a big grin appeared on my face. I though that I haven’t smiled like that for ages, not the courteus smile to answear a polite question during an empty conversation, but a real expresion of joy. There was something seriously wrong with my almost perfect life, I thought.
Since the first day, in spite of the pain I was aware of the beauty around me. Far from the city, its blinding noises, odours and lights, my senses started to wake up. The smell of the forest and the sea, the sound of the wind, the pure beauty of the landscape touched me deeply and made me be there in the moment. One afternoon, in Comillas, sitting on the beach i played with the sand, I simply existed without running and worrying about the future or moaning about the past. Present moment was all I needed and all I wanted to enjoy.
Some of the pilgrims would wake up even before 6am and hurry up to the next albergue. I would meet them in the afternoon laying in the bed and contemplating the ceiling or the matres over their head. Well, I guess everyone meditates in their own way. I preferred to enjoy a swim in the sea or a nap at midday. Or I just walked at my own pace so I wouldn’t get injured. Somehow getting a bed in the hostel was not so important. Once, I spent one of the most beautiful nights under the protection of sky with Maciek and Justyna, a polish couple I met on the Camino. Knowing that 38km in a day were to many for me I decided to stop in a town. I found them exhausted so we decided to stay near a beach and had an improvised dinner together. When everything got dark, lying in my sleeping bag, I could see the sea of stars. No way you could see something like that in Madrid! In the morning we climbed a hill to see the sunrise, and then before starting again I used one of the beach showers to wash myself, it was freezing. After walking uphill for half an hour I stopped to feel the warming sun on my face.
That’s it. There was plenty of resources to use when needed, and I know for sure that a shower in a hotel, and a comfortable bed would never make me feel so alive. I was feeling with all my senses awake, there was only one more to be used.