It’s been a few days since I arrived back in Sweden after having finished my Camino del Norte hike to Santiago. With some relaxation and reflection, I wanted to take some time to put my thoughts about my experience into words. There’s a lot to say, more than can fit into a single blog post, so to start off I wanted to adress the people I met on the camino and say thank you in a slightly more verbose way than just the two words.
Like a stray cat in a strange land, my first steps of assimilating to the camino life were careful. Not knowing the rules and norms and barely knowing the language was exciting and a little bit scary at first, and I closely observed my fellow pilgrims during the first couple of days while trying not to make too much noise myself. Fortunately, I quickly got to see the kindness in other pilgrims and the warm and friendly atmosphere would stay with me throughout my journey.
On the camino, we’ve shared walks, meals, wine, laundry machines and tight spaces in rooms with many beds. Those times came with a lot of jokes and laughter too, even amidst the pain and exhaustion we all endured yet it never seemed to dampen our spirits or optimism.
We also did a lot of talking, and I’m forever grateful for the stories you shared with me, and for the time you took to listen to me as well. The reasons for doing the camino are at least as many as there are pilgrims. Some of you came to the camino carrying sorrow or grief, and I felt honored to have you share your stories of the past with me. I hope the camino has been as healing and uplifting for you as it has been to me.
While I myself didn’t carry any grief in my emotional backpack coming on to the camino, I’ve been fortunate in life in that way, I do believe I carried some shackles (often self-imposed) that has prevented me to enjoy life to its fullest. Hanging out with you on the camino has been a humbling reminder that the moments I spend with other people are brief and precious. My desire is to spread the wonderful social atmosphere I experienced on the camino forward to the people I meet and interact with in my daily life.
So, in order of appearance, my sincerest thanks to you all:
Kevin (Kazakhstan), Oded (Israel), Vitez (Lithuania), Claudia (Austria), Elena (Germany), Will (England), Peter (Netherlands), Andrew (South Africa), Tatiana (Sweden), Daniel (Switzerland), Maja (Germany), Sebastien (Mexico), Jorge and Ivan (Spain), Julie (French Guiana), Gisela (Germany), Annie (US), Wel and Patti (Netherlands), Biga (Taiwan), Jürgen (Germany), 75 year old Spanish marathon veteran (Barcelona), Justes (Belgium), Lara (Germany), Elena (Spain), Elio and Kristina (Spain), Lourdes (Spain), Austrian super kind teaching woman (sorry I forget your name), Henry and Liza (US), John (Ireland), Alberto (Spain), Mirella (France), Justyna (Poland), Mike (US), Asia (Poland), Margareta (Sweden), Nuria (Spain), Bernadette (Switzerland) as well as lovely Spanish (now Swiss) lady, happy French man and funny Basque man whose names I seem to have lost with that final bottle of wine…
Apologies for the names I most certainly misspelled, and for the names I forgot. I hope you don’t mind having your name on the list, but if you do just let me know. Chances are that most of you will never read this, but even if this would only be read by myself it has brought me happiness as it has helped me to keep the memories of you and the camino strong.
I don’t have a picture of most of you, and this is not to place to share them anyway. Instead I’ll end with a few pictures of the more iconic views that we walked along this September.
Until we meet the next time, buen camino!