two days to go

Day 365 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

I came across an article in the Sunday paper this morning about an Australian woman who walked the Camino de Santiago last year and has written a book about it. (Find out more on: guidetothecamino.com)

The Camino route

The Camino route

Have you ever heard of the Camino de Santiago? It is a 850k walk in Spain starting from The Pyrenees in southern France and ending in the town of  Santiago de Compostela in Spain’s far northwest.

I thought it would make a great subject for my second-last blog as I count down until the end of my Blog Challenge tomorrow. After writing my way through 366 days of this challenge, it is time to write about a greater one! All will be revealed soon as to why this challenge is close to my heart folks.

You know, I can almost SEE myself doing the Camino de Santiago: one of the world’s great long distance walks. How I am going to do it, I have no idea but the faith to believe that it IS possible is there … so perhaps the rest will follow one day; when the time is right.

Geoff and I first found out that this walk existed while waiting in Paris airport for our midnight flight home in 2008. We had two hours to spare before our flight and came upon a Western Australian couple waiting for the same flight who had just completed the Camino in Spain and were on their way home also.

It was a wonderful way to pass the time and share sandwiches from a slot machine as there was nothing else available. We listened to amazing stories of staying in cheap Camino Hostels, of blisters on feet, of chatting to locals and of reaching Santiago de Compostela where St. James remains are interned and where they celebrated the completion of their journey.

One of the views along the Camino

One of the views along the Camino

Personally, I thought they were crazy subjecting themselves to this walk! Who would choose to take an overseas holiday by tramping for three weeks through Spain in the heat and staying in cheap hostels? What were they thinking? Their last few days in Paris were a reprieve for them before they flew home.

And yet, the excitement they experienced doing this challenge was obvious and spoke to something deep within me. Theirs had not been a spiritual Camino as it is for a lot of people. No. They had wanted to challenge themselves by doing only half of what is known as The Camino Frances (the full trek takes six weeks) but they had got a lot more than they bargained on. They had had the adventure of a life-time.

I thought no more of it until 2011 when a frustrating illness (not life-threatening) slowed me up for some months. It was at this time that books from the Library became my lifeline and I ‘happened’ upon the book that Shirley MacLaine wrote about walking the Camino. Apart from her flashbacks to being in past lives (which she is after all, well-known for) it was a book of true humility and search for meaning as she stayed in cheap Hostels and walked along with every day people.

More views along the say

More views along the say

But … I had to have more. So I read a second book by an Australian ex-Diplomat who had completed the Camino and he told a totally different story but one equally fascinating. I then took out a third book from the Library about an older  English couple, who divide their time between Europe and Australia, who had a totally different experience again.

But when I began the fourth book, the girls in the Book Club questioned me and one said: “Enough already! How many more are you going to read?” But I was hooked. I had to know everything about walking the Camino. I even photocopied some pages about footwear and how to stop yourself getting blisters as you walk your way along the top of Spain.

I can just SEE myself stopping to have cafe con leche (coffee) in little towns and sleeping rough or even catching a bus to the next small village (as people do) when the going gets tough. I can picture it all. Of course, Geoff will be with me there; my trusty travel companion.

The end of the walk: Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Mine would be a spiritual Camino. I would like to thank God for getting me through these last few difficult years with my health. As the year closes I can see that this year – 2012 – has been a better year for me as my health continues to improve. Blogging has played a large part in this also.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me and so writing and sharing it publicly has proved to be exactly the same! I do hope to work at compiling my blog posts into a book in the next twelve months, as I want to tell the story of the year and what I was thinking underneath as I worked my way through all of that writing. And I will continue to write on my blog … but less frequently!

What an experience it has been! Tomorrow, on my last day, I will  share a recap of the blogs I loved best: the funny ones, the serious ones and the not so great ones when I didn’t want to be here. I have worked out that there were only about six days when I seriously wanted to pass on writing. Now that amazes me …

new year challengeBut for today, let us honour all those who take on any challenge in life and not just the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Even those who take on the Challenge of living life to the full without going into the doldrums when things go wrong are taking on a challenge. And what about those people raising children? What a challenge that is for all of them

And so folks, let us arise and go on our way today looking out for what Challenge we would like to take on in 2013. No matter how large or how small, try to find one that suits you. Perhaps YOUR Comino will be nowhere near Spain but here in Australia where you challenge yourself every day in some way?

However, it must stretch you and not be too easy. It should test your metal and by the end of 2013 you will be able to say: “WOW! I DID IT!”

I will leave you with this wisdom from a website where you can learn even more about walking the Camino www.walkingwithawareness.com

Some Thoughts for your Camino

The walk is the destination, not Santiago.
Life is the destination.
Now is the destination.
Live now.

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