Ending the Camino….bringing down the wall….

555The last time I posted a blog, it was May of 2012. It was shortly before I started my journey across Spain walking the Camino de Santiago. One of the committments I made to myself concerning the Camino was that I would not do a “daily log” type of blog about the Camino. I really wanted to spend my time walking and absorbing the journey. Little did I know that when I finished the walk, I would have so little to say for so long! The truth is, even now it will be difficult for me to talk about it. So am I breaking the silence? Because I finally have the strength to do this…..

It’s easy to superficially talk the the Camino. It was a 794 kilometer walk. Yup, that’s a long ways – about 500 miles. I can give you all the logistics about the terrain, etc., but in reality, none of those details are important. I could tell you all about how and what to pack, best places to sleep, and how much money you need. But again, you can pick up any Camino guidebook and the information will be there.

What I want to tell you about, is the effect of the Camino on me and what I learned…so here goes!

1.) I am not alone. While I was not raised with any formal religious teachings, it became very clear to me on my walk that I couldn’t possibly be alone. There were so many moments when taking one more step seemed impossible and yet, one foot followed the other (blisters and all!) and I reached my destination. No matter how lonely I felt at times, I always knew I wasn’t alone. Returning to daily life, I continue to feel that presence…every day. I am not alone.

2.) I am compassionate. I’ve been told many times in my life that I’m not a compassionate person. But compassion isn’t just about caring for the sick. I’ll admit – I don’t like being around sick people. On the Camino, I found myself crying with a woman who had lost her husband to cancer; I found myself helping an older man up a steep hill just by slowing my pace and waiting for him; I found myself loaning my walking sticks to a woman who sustained an injury one day on the path. Nope, I don’t like being around sick people but, I am compassionate.

3.) I am strong. Day after day, I faced physical challenges unlike anything I’d faced in my life before. Walking over the Pyrenees became sort of a joke because in reality, there were so many different and equally massive challenges throughout the journey, that they seemed like just a walk in the park! But being physically strong is minor in comparison to the mental strength that’s needed. Finding a place to sleep every night, ordering food, seeking medical assistance….all were challenges…and all had to be done with the language barrier. Sleeping in dorms with literally dozens of people from all different countries takes emotional strength. I am strong!

4.) The path in life is always marked. It’s hard to explain to others how I found my way each day. It’s a weird feeling to wake each day, step outside into a foreign country and look for something as simple as a yellow arrow. Whether I was walking in a big city or through miles of vast open land, it was up to me to find those arrows. Arrows were on trees, curbs, on the back of road signs, formed out of rocks on the ground, painted on barns…..but the reality is….the arrows were always there even when they weren’t always clearly visible. Never once did I get lost. And life is the same….the path is always marked. All I need to do is look for the arrows!

5.) Life, like The Way, is meant to be shared. I have a tendency to keep a wall up around me. I have friends and family around me, and yet, I consistently feel the need to keep an emotional distance from most people. I know it, my family knows it, and I’m sure my friends can sense it at times too. But on the walk, you have to share….there is no way around it. You have to share your pain, your food, your space, your laughter and your tears. There was no way I could do the journey alone. I may have walked alone, but always there was someone sharing the road. I know that sooner or later, I have to let the wall come down because life, like The Way, is meant to be shared.

It’s taken me a long time to open up about my Camino experience. For each person, it is a different journey. We all walk the same path, but the experience is unique. I will always have good, bad, scary, tender, funny memories of my adventure. But more importantly, I recognize the things in me that are good, bad, scary, tender and funny for having taken on this challenge.

To those who will take on the challenge…Buen Camino! For myself…..it’s time to work on the wall and to absorb and apply the things I learned!

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Ending…my stay in Singapore!

My last two days in Singapore have been fabulous beyond belief! Here are some reasons why:

1.) I got a massage!

2.) I watched the coolest Indian parade today…it went on for hours.

3.) Last night I went up on the Singapore Flyer and had the most beautiful views of this city EVER!

4.) Chinatown was AWESOME!

5.) Little India was AWESOME!

6.) I started the day yesterday by leaving my moneybelt in my hostel room….and returned to find it still where I left it, untouched!

So, here’s a little info about all the above wonderful things. For the last few days, I’ve had a horrible pain in my right side just below the bra line. I think it’s my obliques? Not sure if that’s right or not, but every time I start walking, within minutes I’m in pain. Today as I was walking through Chinatown sweaty and in a lot of pain, I saw a sign for a $25 massage for 30 minutes. I’ve never had a massage from anyone other than my sister (who gives great massages by the way), so I was a little nervous. IT WAS AWESOME!! I got cooled down, she worked a lot on the area I told her was giving me pain, and I walked out feeling like it should have cost me a million bucks for that deal! I’. m looking forward now to a Thai massage! 🙂

My hostel is actually located in Little India. At first I was kind of concerned because it seemed kind of shady or something in this area. But over the past few days, I’ve come to find it quite interesting and not the least bit scary. Today as I was walking to the MRT station, I was forced to stop and wait near the Indian temple because there was a parade. Little did I know that the parade would go on ALL day and well into this evening. I asked a police officer what was going on and he said it’s a holy day for the Indians. I was finally able to get through the parade line, but everytime I came back to the hostel I had to wait for a clearning to get through! And the women who were in the parade or came to watch, were dressed in the most beauitful saris. It was so exciting to see this culture. The smell of incense was in the air all day. Talk about an experience – this was mind-blowing. The guys are carrying these heavy headress like things and by the way, they are attached to their bodies with something that looks like fish hooks. The guy with the green things on him…those are all attached with those hooks!

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The Singapore Flyer was the best $29.50 I ever spent! It’s a huge wheel that resembles a ferris wheel except that the seats are totally enclosed, hold up to ten passengers at one time, and are completely glass except for the floor! The views of Singapore are outstanding. I decided to go up as it was getting dark and it was awesome. I finally got to see the Singapore skyline like it is in all the pictures I’ve seen. Please check out my Facebook page as I’ll be posting the photos there. This was truly a highlight for me….such a rush!! Not to mention it’s HUGE and you’re up very, very high! But well worth it even if it was a little scary! It’s weird to be up walking around in that “cage” so high in the air – but totally one of the must-do things here!

Years ago I went to Chinatown in San Francisco. Maybe because I was young (like 20 years old???) and hadn’t travelled much, I was kind of frightened by it. It seemed dirty and weird and smelly. Chinatown here is quite magical. T :)he area is fairly clean and is a thriving metropolis all unto itself. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through the area and LOVED getting a massage there. Again, another recommendation if you come to Singapore!

Little India is quite fabulous. It seemed dirty to me at first as I said previously, but really, it just is what it is. The people are quite nice and there is this huge department store here called Mustafa Center. You can buy just about anything at this store. Quite honestly, I have never see so much LUGGAGE in my life in one store – every brand you’ve ever heard of (or not)!! All kinds of cameras from the most modern to some real antiquated models. It’s so fascinating. I quite like this area, but no, I’m not going to India!!!!

Yesterday I was pysched and ready to hit the town. In my haste to get going, I put my moneybelt under my pillow while I was showering (the other two girls who are quite nice had already started their day). When I came out, I guess I just totalled forgot about it until I was across town. I high-tailed it back and there it was….untouched. I was so thankful for that and it taught me to be a little more careful!

I’m having the time of my life here in Singapore and can’t wait to see my next big city – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My journey starts tomorrow!!!

Again, it’s not always easy for me to upload photos here on WordPress but I’m posting them to Facebook whenever I can. I do hope you’ll go enjoy them there. In the meantime, I’ll try and figure out what the problem is on here. Sometimes they load but they seem to take forever!

Good night Singapore!! You’ve treated me well! Thanks!

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