Life after the Camino

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The beautiful village of St. Jean Pied de Port in France. It was our starting point for the Camino de Santiago.

We’re back in Japan! It was a whirlwind trip full of sightseeing, delicious food, and the Camino. I’m thankful for walking the Camino because it gave me the carte blanche to eat whatever I felt like (well, at least in my rationale!).

I’m still processing this trip. It was an amazing and overwhelming experience. There were moments on the trail where I was thinking, “What the hell was I thinking when planning this trip?” But in the end, this was quite possibly the best trip ever. I got to know myself better. I got to know my husband better. And more importantly I got to grow and share this experience with several other pilgrims that I met along the way.

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The French countryside of St. Jean Pied de Port

I haven’t had this type of close and intense bond with people of so many varying backgrounds since my college years. And maybe it’s based on the situation; I can see the parallels between the two experiences.

We were all pushing ourselves to something greater. We were open to change and others. We shared in the highs and the lows. We shared communal living areas in the albergues (pilgrim hostels). We helped pick each other up during those challenging moments. We cheered on each other. We shared meals along the trail where we recounted the day’s activities, people we’d met, and our lives. We were detached from our extended support system. And most importantly, we were all working towards a common goal, Santiago de Compostela.

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Walking through the vineyards as we neared Villafranca del Bierzo.

The views along the path were breathtaking from the Pyrenees to the misty, early morning walk through O’Cebreiro in Galicia.  There were also the unspectacular views of walking along major roads with cars passing you and the sidewalk pounding as you entered and exited many large cities. However, what I still remember the most are the people. They were my friends, my family, and my travel companions on that brief adventure.

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The beautiful village of Portomarin perched above a lake

It’s ironic that at the end of the trip, I was ready to leave Santiago de Compostela after only three nights. In that time, our pilgrim friends had begun to make their journeys back to their part of the world. I could no longer walk the inner city and run into Dr. Spaghetti and his Italian crew. We would no longer be enjoying beers with fellow American pilgrims at a local tapas bar. We no longer knew the pilgrims entering the plaza after having completed their Camino. The time had come. It was time to return to reality but take this experience and its lessons with us.

I will be posting more about the Camino and our European adventure that included stops to Paris, San Sebastian and Madrid. Of course, there will be some cooking classes and food tours in that mix!

More to come…

Courtney

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