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.
I am delighted to feature another post by the vivacious red-headed wanderluster from the UK, Sheree Hooker, author of Winging the World blog. She was one of 21 pilgrims interviewed about packing for the Camino by the Packing Goods website. You might remember Sheree from her guest post last month, Camino Reflections by an Awkward British Wanderluster. Read her tips below, one of which I disagree with (can you guess which one?). But this is a lesson about choice of gear—what works for some pilgrims, doesn’t necessarily work for others. When a pilgrim is planning what to pack for their first Camino, the options and advice can be overwhelming. In the end, it’s up to each pilgrim to decide what he or she will pack. Still, it’s good to take a sneak peak into the backpacks of other pilgrims!
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.
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 →
The rain has finally stopped and spring is in full bloom here in Oakland. It’s Camino training season, so let’s get right to it! Below is the roundup of Camino related events, hikes and poles workshops in the SF Bay Area for the month of April 2017.
Monthly Lake Merritt Walk in Oakland
Saturday, April 1, 10:30 am
A walk around Lake Merritt in Oakland is held every first Saturday of the month, at 10:30 am starting at the Pergola. Afterwards, there is an optional brunch in the area. For April Fool’s Day, we are switching things up and walking counter-clockwise around the lake. Crazy, right? Details and RSVP on NorCal Facebook Group. I’ll be at the walk and brunch with a pocket full of Camino patches and free stickers for anyone who asks.
Technology on the Camino @ Oakland Rockridge Library
Saturday, April 15, 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Have you wondered what technology you should take on your next Camino pilgrimage? Or do you feel that using technology on the Camino goes against the Camino spirit? Whether you like or loathe mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, GPS, or any other type of mobile technology, this talk has something for you.
Devices being charged on the Camino Francés in Agés, Spain. Stop the insanity! Photo by Guy Joaquin.
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.