Words don’t suffice to describe what one experiences walking the thousand-year-old pilgrimage route across Spain. The Camino de Santiago is different for everyone and still the same. These are some glimpses of my time on the way.
– ¡Hola, buenos días!
– ¡Buen camino!
There’s hardly anyone awake in this sleepy Spanish village except for an old man peeking out the front door of a stone house. It’s shortly after 6 am. The sun is rising. I’ve started my walk about half an hour before. I have another 18 km (11 miles) to go.
– I come from Santander, in Cantabria. It was 2014 when I walked the Camino de Santiago for the first time. A year later I came back and I bought an old house. I turned it into an auberge for the pilgrims. I wanted to give back.
My whole life changed after that.
– What you do is so inspiring to me! (my eyes are starting to get wet)
The gray-haired yet seemingly young hospitalera* stands up and gives me a hug like I never had before. Now the tears are running all over my face. Wanting to give back is a common thread I notice on the Camino de Santiago.
*Hospitaleros (or hospitaleras if female) are the glue that holds albergues together. Without them, the albergues along the Camino would be dirty, unfriendly, inhospitable buildings with beds in them. Hospitaleros have a great influence on the experience pilgrims have while on the Camino.
I didn’t want to have a spotless, conventional mommy-daddy-kid kind of family. I didn’t want to stay in 5 star hotels. It’s our 6th time on the Camino de Santiago.
Once they start a family, many people give up on their adventures. They think it’s impossible to travel with young children. It’s true, it’s exhausting, but it’s doable. And it’s pretty awesome.
We are chatting about life and how the Camino turned it upside-down, as she pushes an off-road stroller with a sleeping baby inside. Her husband walks right next to her pushing another stroller with the two sweet girls and a dog on a leash attached to it.
It’s drizzling. We are approaching a rocky hill. The stones are too big and slippery. This doesn’t stop the two little girls from climbing up cheerfully with their little feet. They jump around happily as we reach the top.
If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them
The Camino de Santiago leads its way through the north of Spain all the way to Cape Finisterre, Spain’s westernmost point. Finisterrae was believed to be the end of the world and a magical place where the living could get closest to the land of the death, to the ‘other world’.
For more facts about the exact route and how I prepared for the Camino, check out My Camino de Santiago Light Packing List