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  • Finnian Kelly


I’m now a third of the way into my Camino. They say that the first third is there to break you physically, and I definitely saw how this could happen! Today (Day 13) was my first day with minimal pain in my body. On reflection of what I’ve been through thus far on the Camino I see that sometimes you just have to be with raw, unyielding pain. Grief will also teach you this lesson. You can acknowledge the pain, but it’s when you indulge it that it turns to suffering. I’m proud to say that I haven’t suffered from the physical pain on this trip, but definitely have been very connected to it. I have given myself permission to take rest days as much as I need, but so far I'm really feeling the forward call of the Camino and am embracing the momentum.

The second third of the Camino is the meseta, a plateau in the middle of Spain with lots of flat land and fields like we have in the Midwest. They say that this is where the mental breaks come, as you have less distraction and the landscape can create a dizzying mirage that will distort your perception of time and space. I definitely experienced this today as I kept thinking the village would be ‘just beyond the hill’ and that road just kept on going! On day one of the meseta I found it really peaceful. I have now learned how to avoid the crowds of pilgrims by leaving at 9am or later. I had creative ideas flowing to me and found the bland walk nurturing in a way, maybe because it is very similar to the Iowa background I grew up with.

The rain came for a few days in a row earlier this week, and this resulted in a really introspective time for me. Because you are bundled up in your hood and eyes forward because of rain pelting into your face, most people aren’t interacting on the trail like on other days. Also I do not have waterproof headphones, so I couldn’t be distracted by podcasts or music. When I took stock of the situation I found that I was actually enjoying the rain because it was adding a new element to embrace. The rain created a melodic rhythm for me to walk in tune with. I was being more mindful with each step and was rewarded with this vibrant rainbow in a ten minute window of no rain. The rest of the 5 hours the rain was constant and I was very grateful when my Albergue had hot water for my shower when I arrived. It’s nice to be brought back to such simple pleasures of life!

I’m now meeting many different people and have learned just as many different

reasons for walking the Camino. It is historically a religious path, and one couple shared quite passionately that they are here to spread Jesus' love. On the other end of the spectrum are the Scotsmen who claim that the Camino is the greatest bar crawl on earth 😂 One couple is here for their honeymoon, and another celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. I’ve yet to meet anyone celebrating a death-aversary, but I’m sure there are plenty here for this reason too.  

The Camino can bring out a lot of comparisons and the ego will happily latch on. This can make you feel like you should be here for some momentous occasion, or be going through a huge transition, or have a big awakening or be reaching enlightenment, so I’ve been very inspired by the people that are here to simply go for a walk. I'm also very proud of the women of the Camino, there are many of us solo travelers who have consciously left our partners at home and it feels very empowering. My favorite woman is a fireball from Texas who sent her husband home on day five because he couldn’t keep up with her 😂

I mentioned before that trusting the way is a theme of the Camino and this requires a constant state of surrender. You will get into a rhythm with a group of people and start to bond, and then they take a rest day or forge ahead on a different track. This brings you back to that first day of Kindergarten feeling, where you have a whole new classroom of faces to meet. This can be equally exciting and exhausting at times. I’ve also known people that have had to stop the trip at the start because of a COVID outbreak, or take buses or rest days because of injuries, or send their bag ahead of weighing too much on the body. I’ve been teased by fellow travelers for this because I’ve sent my bag ahead quite a few days, but I know this is their own insecurity and projection about how the trip is ‘supposed’ to be. 

The most important thing I’m being reminded of is that it is not THE way, it is YOUR way.

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