Having already walked the Camino westerly to Santiago and Finisterre two years ago, now the return awaits, as it once did for every pilgrim until modern travel came to whisk us away mid-journey. I feel excited about walking “backwards” next spring, retracing my own steps to the beginning where I started, when I was an eager, green peregrina in France.
Having already accounted for what makes me quake in my boots about this journey, now I’m sharing what gifts I imagine await on returning to this pilgrimage.
Blessing #1: Meeting LOTS of people
Despite my plans to walk alone, my path will intersect with thousands of west-bound pilgrims from all over the world. What will this be like? I’m genuinely curious about how this will impact me. I’ve thought about giving those who stop me a small token, like an angel card, or wearing a pin that says “free hugs/abrazos gratis” just to connect with them.
In the evenings, I’ll have a new opportunity to meet people who are at least sticking around for the night. Despite being an introvert, I still long for companionship, and I wonder how that will unfold. Will I ask to join a group for dinner at times? Will I invite someone to share a bottle of wine and snacks? This is a huge opportunity for me to stretch out of my comfort zone.
Blessing #2: Solitude
I’ll be going early in spring when there are fewer pilgrims and starting in Finisterre, where significantly fewer pilgrims go. In my experience, being alone makes space for reflection and conversations with the Divine. In solitude, I’ve found resolutions to some of my most difficult questions — like how to forgive what was previously unforgivable and how to make peace with suffering. Reflecting on these topics is so much harder amid the daily hustle and noise. Combined with being in nature, solitude brings me insight and nourishes me to the core. Bring it on.
Blessing #3: Practice asking for help
They say the Camino gives you what you need, and this particular lesson couldn’t be better timed. Since arrows, maps, and signage all point westward (not east, where I’m going), my fellow pilgrims and local residents will be my source for guidance. Since I know nothing terrible will happen if I get lost — it’s survivable — asking for help is just the practice I need to open myself up to receiving help, unspool my tightly-wrapped self-reliance, and experience daily gratitude for helpers on my path.
Blessing #4: Revisiting my first Camino
My pilgrimage in 2013 included many meaningful insights, awakenings, and synchronistic, life-changing events. My journey brought people who made me laugh, challenged my thinking, and helped me grow as a result. Although it’s not possible to walk the Camino again for the first time, I am looking forward to the opportunity to revisit those places and memories. I’m especially eager to walk from Finisterre to Santiago. Something significant was revealed to me there, and walking that ground again may help me solidify my understanding.
Blessing #5: It’s Spain, for goodness sake!
I mean, seriously! Friendly people, delicious food, amazing wine! And Fanta Naranja! (Man, that’s going to taste soo good!) The scenery is stunning. Fields will be green and blooming. Color me jazzed to be back in Spain and discovering new places, people, and provisions.
Blessing #6: Simplicity
In 2013, I stayed in hotels and private rooms in albergues about half the time. My parents didn’t call me Princess and the Pea for nothing — no one likes a good, luxe hotel more than I do. The sheets! The towels! The shower all to myself with hot water guaranteed! The bliss of complete quiet. Oh, yes! How I love a nice hotel!
However. The more I consider practicalities and listen to my heart, the more I sense this Camino will be different. I’m planning to devote a whole post about the call I feel to walk with the barest simplicity. What kind of insights would I have if I lived the way more than half the world lives?
Want to know why I’m doing the Camino in reverse — and how you can help?Read on!