On Valentine’s Day, we add another Camino Love story to the collection. Rob and his wife walked the Camino Francés in 2015. I knew him first as “Canadian Wander” on the Camino de Santiago UK forum, and like every Canadian I’ve met, his interactions are positive and friendly. He recalls his reluctance to the idea of walking, but, with the help of his adventure-seeking wife, Rob eventually became a Camino convert. Enjoy!
Canadian Wanderers on the Camino
by Robert Falkingham
Some time in 2013, my wife came home from her ladies book club with an idea. They had just read about about a solo walker (with a major movie later done) hiking across a trail in the USA. That got my wife thinking, as we are active outdoors people, what would be better than a good walk? So she hit the Internet.
I am/was a military man (now retired), and while I love the outdoors, sleeping on the ground, and long slogs with a pack no longer thrill me. When she came to me with this ‘Camino’ idea she found on the Internet, I looked at her like she was crazy. Hike across a country with a backpack? Been there, done that, and it was zero fun! My wife, always the practical one, pointed out two very important factors: 1) no one was going to shoot at me, and 2) there was probably crusty bread and red wine.
So then I thought about it- and the thought that I may need a new backpack was just icing on the cake. The planning and the plotting and the research began. My wife found the movie The Way with Martin Sheen, which was interesting, and Six Ways to Santiago, a documentary which gave a clear idea of the day-to-day process. It turns out, the Camino is almost exactly like life in the military: get up early, put on pack, walk long and far, sleep in a bunk-bed. Sound familiar?
Internet searches brought me to Camino forums, which answered every question I didn’t even know I had, and gave me insight into the fellow Camino people, who came back to share their stories and advice. A new backpack, gear packing, unpacking, weighing, changing, reviewing, replacing, weighing, sealing, exchanging and overthinking went on until our actual departure in September 2015 for the Camino Francés.
No better gift could I have asked for than to walk this path with my wife at my side.
I met her doing a marathon in Belgium in 2003, married in 2005 (the same year I retired from the Army), and a new exciting life, with a few twists and turns that we both had health wise (now resolved). She has been 100% the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I thank God every day for the time we have together.
I woke every morning of Camino looking forward to getting on the trail, and seeing what new things we would see, together. Some times we chatted, some times we had deep conversations, some times we just walked hand in hand, enjoying the time together. But every step was a blessing (and not a blister or loss of toenail between us!)
I would never have heard of this path, or ever thought to immerse myself into it, meet the people that made such an impact, the sense on wonder and joy at arriving at the cathedral in Santiago, and the lessons learned if it wasn’t for my beautiful wife.
I have to say, for someone who needed to be told they wanted to do this adventure…I am now a convert. In September 2018, we went back to walk the Camino Portugués, and the future will hold more ways to Santiago. The Camino provided us with a chance to share joy and love, together, and memories that will last a lifetime.
Bravo you two! A heartfelt thanks for sharing your Camino Love story on Valentine’s Day 2019. It is now on the Camino love stories page. I really do love Canadians. I’ll be touring parts of Eastern Canada this summer and meeting some pilgrims in Toronto. Perhaps our paths will cross some day north of the border, or somewhere along the Way.
I am featuring Camino love stories on this blog. Why? Because love is in the air! I certainly respect the premise of what happens on the Camino stays on the Camino. However, love is a splendid thing that should be celebrated. Has the Camino provided you with more than just a long walk? If you have a Camino love story to share, email me or use the form below. Photos and video links welcome.
Share the Camino love! ♥