The Portuguese Camino
The Portuguese Camino de Santiago is becoming more and more popular. I recently had the luxury of walking this ancient pilgrim path for five weeks through Portugal from Lisbon to Santiago, Spain. It was a challenging experience but so worthwhile.
The road walking was unpleasant and often dangerous. But we also walked through fields and villages where people tended their plots and tractors passed us in the street. The people were friendly and welcoming.
Our accommodation ranged from a simple cabin in a campground, to private rooms in hostels. We hand -washed our small collection of clothes daily or occasionally had laundry done for us.
We paced ourselves, walking an average of twenty kilometres each day. As it was autumn, there was no pressure on accommodation. Each night we just turned up and asked for a room. Sometimes we walked further than planned and at other times not as far. It depended on how we felt at the time.
The kind, generous and helpful people that we met welcomed us into their lives and enriched our experience. I watched a tomato harvest – from the harvester. I shared lunch with a family picking grapes to make homemade wine. A man generously gave me a bottle of home made bubbly to have with our evening meal.
There were challenges too. Some days were long and my feet hurt most of the time. But the benefits outweighed the difficulties. Life slows down when walking the Camino. Unfortunately the time comes to return to reality. I hope that I learnt a few things along the way. To be more patient, to relax and take life’s challenges more in my stride. If you’re thinking about doing a Camino, you should be careful as it certainly is addictive!