The first time I went on a long distance backpack hike with my husband Mark, I had to sit down and have a long cry. It was hard, hot, and a little scary. I missed my kids, and my comforts. All we did all day was walk – up hills, up mountains, across sketchy, loose, scree-covered narrow trails. Mark just kept walking, and I just kept trailing along. But by the end of the week, I had decided it was not so bad. The stars were beautiful at night, I was met by a dazzling sunrise each morning, and we had long hours of just being together without interruptions, which was priceless.
The idea of walking the Camino as a couple could be enchanting to some people, but daunting to others. Whatever the case, this topic is something to contemplate for all couples who are thinking about walking a Camino. The following post was adapted from a chapter in Andy Cohn’s e-book, The Camino de Santiago – An Introduction to the Ways of the Way, where, in his words, “I try to answer the questions I had myself—or should have had—had it ever occurred to me to think about what we were getting into.”
Surviving the Camino With Your Spouse
by Andy Cohn
I do love my wife, but 24/7 for a month? Could be a stretch (especially for her) . . .
So, if you’re setting off with your spouse, and hope to return together—in one piece, no less—you might want to avail yourself of these crucial coping strategies:
1. Walk at different speeds. This, of course, is the best way to not be together 24/7. But there’s a technique to it. One spouse can’t be faster all the time. Otherwise, you start playing psychological one-up games, and we know where that leads . . .
Nor can you just pretend to be slower or faster. Then you’re patronizing your spouse. So you have to find the organic way of separating yourselves. In our case, this was easy, since Kate is descended from mythological Greek creatures who were half mountain goat. Thus, she dominated on the hills with ease, but with her short mountain goat legs, she ceded control to me on the flats.
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!
James is a guest contributor to The Camino Provides, and also the author of the new book Camino de Santiago: Microcosm of Life. I walked the Camino Primitivo in 2018 with James and his wife Rituccia after visiting them in Malta. Their love for walking predates their encounter with the Camino de Santiago. But embarking on their first Camino signaled a new phase in the journey together, and resulted in the birth of XirCammini, a voluntary organization focusing on ancient Caminos in Europe. It is an honor to add their unique love story—which spans continents and decades—to the collection of Camino love stories featured on this blog.
Love: Chemistry and Commitment in Equal Measure By James Portelli
Love is essentially woven into the route of the journey called life.
It is life’s greatest adventure. It is often at the root of our uphill struggles and is one’s walking sticks on a steep downhill or slippery slope. It is our support when we falter. Love guides one through the quagmire. It casts certainty at a crossroad, and yet, imbues hesitation and introspection where fools rush in.
Love is a waymark by the side of one’s road guiding us on the journey.
Love is in the youthful exhilaration when peaks are conquered and rewarded with panoramas of what lay behind and what lies ahead.
Some pilgrims on this journey are truly blessed and I count myself among them. Love is embodied in our companion on this journey called life; a companion that walks sometimes with us and beside us, sometimes ahead, and at other times behind. Whether walking physically together or journeying apart, we are never absent in mind and heart.
Statue of Mother Mary atop the foothills of the Pyrenees, just outside of Orisson
Most, if not all, of our friends know how our Camino Love Story came about. With that said, we absolutely love retelling it and reliving each and every mesmerizing step along the Way of St. James as it led us to this very beautiful moment of our becoming one on May 12, 2018.
When my now-husband and I got engaged and sat down to talk about the kind of wedding we wanted to have I think I surprised him. I told him I wanted to have a religious ceremony with lots of flowers, no reception, and a one-month honeymoon. I told him everything I knew about the Camino. My husband who hates everything about weddings and loves doing outdoor stuff was thrilled with the idea. We could not afford to do both the reception and the honeymoon of our dreams, so we decided that it was more important to have a transformative honeymoon than a big beautiful party. We were going on the Camino with the hopes that it would allow us to get to know each other better and fall deeper in love. So the planning began. Continue reading →
I am pleased to share a guest post by Francis Kim, the voice behind Our First Date All Over Again. I got to know Anna and Francis Kim at our SF Bay Area pilgrim events and training hikes over the last two years. We trained for our 2016 Caminos around the same time and recently attended Hospitalero training together in Los Gatos, California. They will make an excellent team at an albergue some day! Below is Francis’s take on serving as hospitaleros.
Francis and Anna Kim are ready to serve! They prepared these delicious tapas for our pilgrim blessing and potluck on March 18, 2017.
I recall a quote from singer/songwriter Jason Derulo: “the biggest challenge is to continue on the same path. It’s easy to become complacent from the success you’ve had.” It captures the spirit of our Camino, as well our relationship with each other. But more on that later.
I’m from California and walked the Camino Francés in 2013. On my way into Burgos, I met Kjartan from Denmark. We started talking and spent the next day together. We ended up walking to Santiago and he proposed when we arrived. 🙂 We were married six months later, and we now live in Denmark with our daughter and a baby due next month. The Camino continues to provide our little family with surprises, love and happiness.