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  • Finnian Kelly


I’ve now been on the Camino for a week, and while the early-on excitement of being a pilgrim has worn off some, each day has new things to show me and new people to meet. However, yesterday was the first day I didn’t take any photos, I was uninspired and was definitely focused on the destination not the journey. Some of the day I was walking through vineyards and green grassy hills, and other parts of the day I was on pavement alongside noisy highways. It gave me an appreciation for the forested beauty that was abundant in the first few days.

I’ve now encountered my first ‘Camino Angels,’ people that set up donation based stations in the middle of nowhere with snacks, cold drinks and Camino trinkets. Sometimes there is even a random food truck along the trail, and whenever I see one I always treat myself because I’m so grateful for their service to the pilgrims.

Anyone that has done the Camino and learns that you are embarking on the adventure immediately lights up and you are forever bonded in pilgrimage. I think it is so special that some of my close friends have done this and I love reliving their own Camino moments when I cross something they have told me about, like this free-flowing wine fountain! And on this day, even though it was 9:00 in the morning, I knew I needed that blood of Christ to keep me on my path. 😜

I was especially excited when I found the very same tree that Finn so lovingly hugged, 5 years ago, looking more vibrant and wiser than ever!

While fellow pilgrims will want to give you advice and recount their memories, they also know that your journey is going to be uniquely yours. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned thus far:

😴 The average age of someone walking the Camino is 58, and boy can they SNORE! I have never heard some of the sounds I’ve heard in the past week and am shocked they can come out of a human. I want to give each of them a copy of the book ‘Breath’ (I highly recommend it) so they can harness the power of breathing through their nose and spare us all the prehistoric sound journey. I allow myself to book my own room every few days so I can get a break from the cacophony of worldly travelers at nighttime.

☯️There are two types of people on the Camino - those that are seeking companionship and cling to it, and those that are happy to go with the organic flow of who comes into your path. I’m of the latter, and have met some interesting people, but have yet to exchange numbers with anyone or plan a meet up. A lot of people really want you to know their story, and share mundane information that they think is just fascinating. I pick up my pace for these conversations. What’s nice about the Camino etiquette is that it’s never considered rude to ‘move on’ and I think this is a great attitude to adopt in all of life. 

There are also some deep and vulnerable conversations that I’m having within 5 minutes of meeting someone. My two favorite people thus far have been a young and sweet couple from Germany named Dani and Natalie. First of all they don’t snore, so they were immediately in my good books. Second of all they are fun to talk to, interested in learning about me and the American ways, and are very loving to one another, which is a really nice energy to be around. There is a Camino tradition that says you should walk the way before getting married, and they got engaged last year, so now they are walking towards a future together, which I just love!

🥩🧀🥖 There are three food groups in Spain: ham, cheese and bread. I am plant-centric, but allow myself to eat intuitively and enjoy local culture and cuisine. The search for vegetarian options has added an extra dynamic to my pilgrimage because I am seeking out vegetarian/vegan options at any opportunity. If there is a vegetarian/vegan restaurant I will actually adjust my walking schedule to make sure I am stopping in that town for a night. I was rewarded with the MOST ADORABLE cafe of all time in a town called Estella. I was shocked when I stopped here at 7:00 AM and there was Indie music playing, an English speaking worker, and a menu of non-coffee latte options! I know my excitement may seem over the top, but this simple pleasure has been a highlight of my trip so far. They even had cacao power balls - one of my favorite treats to make at home, and this got me through a challenging time later that day.

🫶Trust the way - this is a lesson I feel will be a recurring theme. I have been granted really wonderful weather this first week and realized how much of a difference this can make when the rain came. I am still battling blisters and aching feet, so yesterday I decided to send my big bag ahead to my next hostel and just carry a small backpack. I looked at the weather, it said there was a 12% chance of rain, and because of the perfect weather I’d had thus far, I didn’t think I’d need my rain gear (a no-no for any seasoned hiker, trekker, or pilgrim). I knew this was risky, but was feeling like a manifesting queen after my vegan cream cheese homemade bagel and ginger honey latte with oat milk that morning. About two hours into my day the drizzle started, and then turned into pellets of rain. I had no choice but to forge forward because there were no villages or structures to escape to in sight. This made for a very mindful and fast paced trek. After a stretch I saw an old stone hut ahead and speed walked my way up that hill to seek cover. I sat down and took out my sacred power ball, and was enjoying it thoroughly, when I looked up and saw my German friend Dani! Natalie had an achilles heel injury slowing her down, so Dani was on a mission to get ahead and secure their Albergue beds for the night. I knew at this moment that the rain was there to slow me down, and allow me to run into Dani and we ended up walking the next 3 hours together. In this time I didn’t check my watch or mileage once, and I also didn’t feel the pains that have stolen much of my attention on my solo walks. Since then I have run into Natalie and Dani a few more times, and it's like a Christmas surprise each time since you never know when your paths will take you in different directions.

So far I am staying on my path, embracing the peace along the way and following the wisdom of this message by getting more and more out of my head and into my body.


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