I’m happy to feature a guest post by fellow travel blogger Sheree, who recently walked the Camino Francés with her partner Tim. The self-proclaimed “awkward British wanderluster” writes, “I don’t really know where I’m going, but that’s never stopped me before.” I can definitely relate to being awkward and having a serious case of wanderlust! It’s an interesting take on the pilgrimage, and even more evidence that the Camino provides.
When my boyfriend Tim first told me that he wanted to walk the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, I wasn’t really all that surprised. Eight years before this declaration, he had suffered a spinal cord injury during a motorcycle accident and had been told he would never walk again. Luckily, after several months he took his first steps (for the second time) and began a new chapter in his life.
When Tim asked me to partner him on his Camino journey, I instantly agreed. At the time, I knew only the bare bones of what the Camino was about but as I thought that the decision would probably never come to fruition, I thought very little about accepting the invite. After a few months, it became evident that Tim was serious about undertaking the journey.
Prior to beginning our Camino in St. Jean, it would be fair to say that we were badly prepared. We had taken on a few longish walks and I was feeling wrongly confident that we were ready for the five hundred miles in front of us. After a few single day-long walks at home, Tim and I decided to take on something bigger and aimed to complete a sixty-mile trip over five days. Unfortunately, during this time, Tim became injured to the point where he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg and we had to pull out. There were only two weeks till our flight.
The Camino tested both Tim and I both physically and mentally. Walking the Camino as part of a couple is intense for anyone but doing it alongside someone who has a something to prove is even harder. I tried my best to support Tim as his pain grew and he became more insistent that he didn’t want my help. Likewise, when my feet were crippled he tried to do the best by me, even though I didn’t want to hear him or his advice. We both suffered from severe blisters and our relationship hit new lows as we drained the liquid from the pustules on each other’s feet. Despite the discomfort and the strain, Tim was determined to keep going, step by step.
During parts of the walk, I genuinely thought that we may have to pull out. We had days where we were only managing to cover seven kilometers and part of me had braced myself for spending the next year of my life on The Way. Despite the challenges and the pain, there were brighter days ahead and we met the friends who would become our safety net.
As someone who isn’t religious, I’ll admit I was skeptical about the many people who claimed to have spiritual awakenings on their Camino journeys. In hindsight and with my first Camino under my belt, whilst I am no longer cynical about other people’s experiences, I will say I felt no epiphany upon completing the way. As I entered Praza do Obradoiro to gaze up at the almighty Santiago Cathedral in front of me, I experienced no finality of feeling. I stared up for a minute before I turned to Tim and said, ‘beer?’
I am not one of those courageous people who take on the Camino to walk off some traumatic event in their past or to prove something to themselves. I said yes to the Camino because it was an adventure and I was lucky enough to be able to do it. The experience didn’t change me, and I have returned from the trip pretty much the same as I was when I went (except I now eat tomatoes and know Tim’s feet inside out). However, this is not to say that I didn’t learn anything from walking The Way. The journey taught me how important it is to challenge yourself and to allow yourself to ask for help when you need it. On our Camino journey, the friends Tim and I met became the support network we needed to continue the pilgrimage. The Camino showed me that though we are divided through borders and seas, we really are united and it’s possible to find a connection with people in any situation. Never underestimate the power of friendship that the Camino will provide.
About the author:
Sheree is a travel blogger at the site. Here she documents all of her travel mishaps and offers tips and advice to other hapless adventurers. The Camino Francés was her first Camino but probably won’t be her last!
Read more about her Camino at Winging the World : Spain and see more great blogs on my Favorite Camino Blogs page. If you have a pilgrim reflection to share or a Camino love story to tell, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.