Part Three of Four: Five More Things I Learned on the Camino
I recently returned from three weeks in Spain where I walked about 140 miles of the Camino de Santiago. That isn’t much compared to what a lot of people do. The whole route is 500 miles long, which takes most people five or six weeks to complete. Even though we got off easy, it was still a challenge, and I learned many lessons. I wrote about five of those lessons while I was still on the Camino, and here are five more.
- What you put in your body makes a huge difference in how you feel, especially when your body is under stress. Of course I knew this intellectually, but I was able to get a very clear illustration of this principle while walking the Camino. If I didn’t eat enough, or if I ate the wrong things, I felt completely exhausted. If I didn’t drink enough water, I felt nauseated. I learned to pay close attention to what I craved (eggs, potatoes, café con leche, and bean soup) and to avoid processed food as much as possible. However, I admit I had more than one cookie and more than a few potato chips on this trip.
- Being outside most of the day is a huge luxury. We walked about five or six hours a day, plus whatever walking around town that we did after we stopped hiking. We even ate most meals outside, no matter the weather. Listening to the wind, smelling the earth and the plants, feeling the sun all day every day was absolutely wonderful. It’s been hard for me to be inside since returning.
- I actually do like seeing the sun come up. I have NEVER been a morning person, but I was traveling with a morning person, and we wanted to get an early start most days, so we got up before dawn and often started walking in the dark. I enjoyed watching towns come to life and seeing the sun come up over the fields. Since returning I’ve woken up almost every day before dawn.
- I have some trouble with my vision, and was concerned it would be a problem, especially going down steep and rocky paths. I’ve turned my ankles so many times in regular life that I’ve lost count and I’ve often attributed that to my poor vision. However, on the Camino I kept my eyes on the ground and concentrated on each step. I didn’t turn my ankle once, or do anything else that caused pain or injury. Maybe my problem isn’t seeing, but rather looking.
- Comparing yourself to other people is a dead end street. Literally everyone on the Camino passed me, and yet I walked the same distance as they did. A lot of people were younger, thinner, and fitter. Many were not. It didn’t matter one bit, because we all walked the same road, saw the same beauty, and breathed the same air.