This was posted originally a year ago on beingthebestyoucanbeblog.wordpress.com.
My 2nd rest day finally found me and I’m so grateful! It feels a long time since my last one in Pamplona and I have certainly walked quite a few kilometres since then and seen many villages, towns and am now in my 3rd city so far. There are 2 titles to this post as they have kept coming up in conversation and in my thoughts during this past stretch so both warrant a mention.
Are you walking alone? Is a question I was asked prior to leaving the UK and also as I am walking along the Camino or chatting to fellow pilgrims and others during breaks. I’ve also found myself asking others too as we exchange a few pleasantries passing each other along the way.
Yes, I’m here on my own in the sense that I didn’t come with anyone, however I can’t say I’m walking alone. Along the Camino, sometimes you see empty roads in front of or behind you with no-one else for miles but no-one walks alone.
There have been many pilgrims who have walked this route and its easy to think of those as you walk. You can sense those who walked the previous days, maybe your friends who skipped ahead, people you met for a quick conversation as they passed you and especially those who have walked this same path years and centuries ago. You know you’re not the first.
There are always pilgrims on the route so you are never alone. Some walk and some cycle along and you may keep passing the same ones during one day or over a few days.
Even those who come with friends or family find that they have a different walking pace and therefore even though they set out together, they may not walk the route all the way together. It is during breaks and stops when you get a chance to catch up with people and chat through what you have just walked or are about to. A shared discussion of blisters, how hard a section was or reassurance about the next stage can help everyone go that little bit further. You certainly know you are not alone when you see a pilgrim take the wrong turn as remaining pilgrims find the energy from somewhere to shout for you to turn back.
There are days when you’re walking that you think it is just you and your shadow but those days can also be times you find yourself accompanied by others.
I have never felt as though I walk alone even if there is no-one physically at my side. My mum and my nan may no longer walk physically by my side but they are definitely there with me. I draw on the strength of these women who have gone before me and taught me how to walk with others. I see them in every kindness I offer and receive and they are there in the beauty of the land I always take time to acknowledge and I certainly hear their laughter as an echo of mine when I walk through muddy puddles and nearly lose my boots.
So no I don’t walk alone!
We all walk our own Camino is a phrase we all seem to use to explain the differences in pilgrims. Some carry the lightest packs but walk as if they carry the heaviest weight possible while others have heavy rucksacks but walk lightly. Some pilgrims get injured and struggle on whilst others give in and take a taxi or bus. Some started from St Jean pied de port and are going to Santiago whilst others will only complete stages and return to complete the remaining parts. Some stay in albergues or camp whilst others prefer their own room and bathroom. Some walk fast with their heads down desperate to get to their destination for the day whilst others stroll along noticing the scenery and the people along the way. Some are here for a religious or spiritual pilgrimage whilst others are here for a walk and a physical challenge without wanting an emotional one. Some pilgrims know themselves whilst others are here to search for themselves. This is why the Camino is a place without judgement as we all walk our own Camino.
From tomorrow I start the Meseta part of the pilgrimage and my next rest day is in Leon in another 9 or 10 days I believe. Until then Buen Camino!