There and Back Again

I’m going home. We’re safe and sound and without any incidents. (Well one or two but more on that later). We walked 500km (ish) from Burgos to Santiago and whilst I had a great time I suspect it will be a while before I walk the Frances again.

I never blogged. Truth be told I just didn’t feel inspired to blog. Or maybe truth be told my new smaller phone frustrated me with fat fingers missing the keys… spending my time with endless edits.

So here I am on the slow train to France, we’ve just left Burgos and finally I feel like putting pen to paper.

So what was wrong? Well… nothing was wrong… except that it was all just a little too familiar. Do you remember those Camino days when you set off, staring at the next horizon and wondering what lies ahead? Well I didn’t. I sort of knew that there would be a steep down, a village with a bar, a pretty stream… I knew the towns and churches and cathedrals. And whilst there is comfort in familiarity there isn’t excitement… I missed the not-knowing. I missed the joy of discovery.

We left Burgos and joined a small caravan of pilgrims. Maybe the earlier bad weather had grouped folks together but it was a shock to find overflowing albergues and mattresses on floors to accommodate late comers. I had expected a quieter path; if nothing else I learned that I do prefer the paths less travelled.

I should stress here that I’m not adverse to paths bursting with pilgrims. I don’t think we should try to stop progress or hold back time. I think the world should come and walk here and I believe that the Camino Frances will continue to evolve and change and grow… as it has done for a thousand years. I embrace that change, this is a beautiful place and for sure one day I’ll come back!

We were blessed with great weather… a few spots of rain and one amazing snow day over O Cebreiro which will go down as one of my most favourite Camino days. We also met some fabulous people. Pilgrims walking for a host of reasons… to grieve, to discover, to relax, to think, to live, to love… or simply to walk. We met people from across the globe and if the familiar path offered a tinge of disappointment then the pilgrims we walked with were my saviour. I love walking with pilgrims… there is a joy that never disappoints. I’ve laughed so hard I cried… even cried enough to laugh. There is a magic to this place that, even if just for a very short time, brings fairies and pixies and elves and magic to life.

Jaqui fell.. it was fast and unexpected and hard. Silence followed by a trickle of blood and that terrifying moment when you don’t know how serious it is. Thankfully it wasn’t bad.. well bad but not too bad. El Acebo… that dreadful path down the mountain. Jaqui was one of many who fall here. It’s awful but we still loved it and laugh now.

I kind of fell. I hurt my pride more than anything else. A broken chair at Samos. Why did I choose that one? Why didn’t I look first? . My bum hurts still. But I’m grateful in reality that nothing bad happened… quite refreshing really.

We walked into Santiago on the stroke of 12. The goosebumps on my arms backed up what I already knew… I would be back. There are still a dozen paths that lead to this point and a few of them are calling. I love Spain, I love her hills and valleys and quiet streets and crazy plazas on a Saturday night. I love those pilgrims who share their experiences and forever mark their spot in my memory. I secretly love the Camino Frances… I did have a wonderful walk… I still think everyone should try it… go on… you know you want to!

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “There and Back Again

  1. Glad to have you back home. You’re the entertainment committee for everyone you meet but I do like to have you to myself sometimes ! x

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  2. Ah I love your blogs Colleen, and your fellow pilgrims, their comments and continued support along the way. You make sound so wonderful it really comes alive when I read it. And when you described the feeling of reaching your destination, all the hairs on my arms and neck also stood up…
    I’m glad your on your way home safe as always, and back with your family.
    Your amazing and I proud to say that’s my SISTER!💝XXX

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    • Ah thanks Mandy ❤ I was a little slow on the blogs this trip… I need to investigate a better system for October 😀

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  3. Well done and congratulations. Great pictures with wonderful memories. The hidden reasons why people do the camino still haunt me and of course these raisons d’etre are so immediate and personal that you can’t reveal them to a non-camino believer and everyone has their own strong feeling of what is right for them.

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  4. Love you and your craziness Colleen. You gather people with your gifts of happiness, shaky sense of humour and your attitude in all situations. You always see the funny side even when it’s not. I remember with such fondness how you jollied me along the way even though you were probably suffering too. You are my CAMINO angel and I treasure our friendship so much 💜

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    • Maggie I suspect the simple truth is we needed each other… But nonetheless I am grateful for your kind words… And I’m thinking of you on your own new adventures 😀

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