Everybody keeps asking me why I haven’t written anything so far. It just wasn’t the right time for it. Camino has prolonged effect. Now I’m thinking about it in a different way than I did upon my return. I think I needed time to understand it. I didn’t get it even while I was travelling, I just wasn’t aware of it.
Why is it so hard for me to write about Camino, although I know that everybody expects me to do exactly that. Because Camino is a journey which is actually a very personal and intimate experience. Something you can’t and you shouldn’t share. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s really hard to explain that journey to anyone. If you are interested in Camino, you should go on Camino. Just set out and there you’ll understand everything. Maybe not right at the beginning, maybe not even when you finish the journey, but the time will come when you will get it.
As far as I’m concerned, it took me a lot of time … too much.
Camino is not walking; it isn’t practice nor hiking. To finish Camino is not a success or proof of physical fitness. Everybody has asked me the same thing – how did you endure it, was it tiring, and your feet, did you get any blisters?
Everyone can walk the Camino path if they wish. It’s not a question of fitness, being well-trained or having good equipment. After a week of walking, your legs and feet are walking on their own, your body is ready for the journey and you won’t have any problems. If you take care of your feet and nourish them with any of preparations for treating blisters, and if you walk in broken-in shoes you find comfortable, you won’t have any blisters. And that’s all there is to physical fitness. But Camino is not about the physical fitness. Camino is food for the soul. Camino is fighting with yourself and your inner unrest. Fighting your ego. Camino is a journey which is mentally challenging. You have to be prepared for such challenges, but it’s something you actually can’t prepare yourself for. This journey will take you to smallest pieces. It will literally take you apart. Break down in atoms.
And it doesn’t matter if you walk in peace, alone or in company of others, if you are surrounded by noise or you are all alone. You can’t run from it because you can’t run from yourself. The biggest problem on Camino is actually you. Again, on the journey you can’t run from yourself. You can’t run from your fears, your inner turmoil, your wishes, your dreams, your hopes, your mistakes, your successes, your faults, your virtues. There you have to talk to yourself and to God whose existence you can’t ignore on the journey and there’s no doubt that he is with you all the way. You’ll argue with yourself and you’ll argue with God. And reconcile at the same time. You’ll laugh, but cry as well. And all of that happens while you are walking, getting lost, looking for accommodation, meeting other people, counting kilometres, admiring the nature and the scenery which sometimes takes your breath away, but now and then you appreciate plain smelly streets of a town or unattractive villages as well. Camino is not tourism, nor a typical pilgrimage; it’s a journey like no other. It’s unique, extraordinary, amazing like nothing else and I can’t compare it to anything else. Camino is Camino, a journey for itself and into yourself. And that’s why I haven’t written about my Camino. I’m not ready for it. I’m not sure I’ll every be.
And today, two months after our return, things are slowly falling into place. Today I’m starting to appreciate each and every drop of sweat, distress and every kilometre. But they were not easy. I struggled the first 20 days and resisted everything. I counted kilometres, pushed forward and walked, walked, walked … I was worried about my son who was with me and other two who were at home. Even reproached myself for going on this trip. I counted days and kilometres… I counted steps and trails, paths and roads. Altitudes, slopes, accommodation, restaurants. Last two weeks I began to grasp that the journey was coming to its end and I stopped counting kilometres. Then I started counting the people I had met and experiences that taught me something. I soaked up scenes I wanted to keep forever in memory.
When I came back home, I was sure that one Camino is enough and there was no need to ever return.
Today I wish more than anything to go there again.
That is Camino... and only the ones who have walked that path will understand this text. And to some extent those who want to go on that journey.
I often go through photos of our Camino. Lately even more often. And now I get my Valery when she talked about how her father, in his old age, would only talk about Camino. Camino was the only thing he recalled in details remembering its every pebble.
That is Camino.
And the Camino family, the people you have met on the way and got to know them, they somehow take an important place in your heart. Even though they've been in your life only a few days, a week or in best case a month.
Thank you Mirela Jendričko for the translation of my post.