The true end of my camino

Because I couldn’t end my journey in a city. Because I didn’t feel Santiago was the end point of my journey, I continued. I walked for 3 days toward the ocean, aiming first for Finisterre and then toward Muxia.

Three days to reflect about my experience, to prepare myself to end it and to go back home. Three magic days back on the real camino: finished the pilgrim-motorway of the end of the camino Frances, finished the trash on the side of the camino, finished the graffiti at every corner!

For three days I walked on my own, in beautiful Galicia with few pilgrims here and there. Suddenly I was happy again to be in the nature, to walk from sunrise to sunset, to wear the same clothes everyday,  to discover new places and landscapes! It was the occasion to meet again some people I met at the very beginning of my journey and get some more contacts I didn’t have a chance to ask before. What great encounters!

The day before Finisterre, I was on my own in the girl dormitory of a very comfy albergue. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoyed it fully as I got stomach sickness probably due to something I hate for my lunch. The next day I woke up tired but I was determined to walk and reach Finisterre and maybe continue the next day toward Muxia as I originally planed.

I started early, in the foggy morning. The light was very special and I already knew this day would be as special as this sunrise. I had 28km to walk and the camino was really going up and down. While walking I was thinking of all the good moments I had theses last 2 months, I was smiling and sometimes laughing remembering situations. But at some point I realised my scarf had slipped out of the pocket of my bag and I had lost it . Despite all my will to apply my recent « let it go » lesson I was unhappy at myself and that make me realise how much I was tired. So I started to consider the question of ending my journey in Finisterre and not in Muxia.

Around mid day, I stopped in the last town before Finisterre, and had a tortilla in a nice bar. I also bought a sandwich for later and continued to walk. The sun was high in the sky and the more I was approaching Finisterre, the more I was thinking « Is that true? Is this day so nice that I will be able to swim? » When I arrived on the beach, I looked at the horizon, left my bag on the sand and removed my clothes. I ran on the desert beach, right into the ocean. It has been a very special moment: I felt lot of happiness coming out of me, I felt blessed and immensely grateful for this day and the entire adventure.

Then, I went back to my pilgrim state and walked 3km more, up to the far end of the earth. When I reached it, I looked for a nice spot on the rocks, sat down and had my lunch looking at the horizon.
Then, I stayed there. I sat for 5 hours, simply looking at the ocean and the horizon. I was all at once: very peaceful, happy and confused. I needed this static time to give my legs the signal that I will continue my way but not walking so much anymore and not toward the west any longer. I needed this time to feel that it was the end of my camino.

I watched the beautiful sunset and as I was about to walk back to the town, I met a French girl who gave me this advice: « You should stay here one day or two, the time to make your body understand that it is the end of your camino ». I didn’t fully understood why she said that to me, but I followed her advice and I did well!
For 2 more days, I enjoyed the sun, the sea side and the sea food. I spend time with my camino friends and I wrote many postcards to share with my friends and family some sparks of my joy. Then, I felt ready to go home, I had realised: I was reborn into the ocean.

My arrival in Santiago

The day before I reached Santiago I walked unde the tain from 7am to 5pm. A persistent rain, in a warm atmosphere where from the wind was completely missing. I was on my own for 30km, as 2 of my camino friends were behind and one ahead of me. I was very focused on the present moment, somehow still enjoying it (I stopped many times to take picture). I was also stopping every 6 to 8 km to have a break in a bar and try to dry a bit before walking again in the rain. 
   When I finally arrived to the Albergue, had a shower and reached the kitchen to prepare diner and I suddenly realised: « Tomorrow I will arrive in Santiago! This is it! And it is not as I imagined at all! » Indeed, I was convinced I would walk the last kilometres to Santiago with my camino friends. Moreover, many people on the way who already done it once or more had told me that entering the cathedral was a special moment, therefor I wanted to get there, leave my bag at the back of the cathedral and hug my friends . 

But the camino is the camino, I had started it on my own and why not ending it on my own?…it is a very personal journey after all.

 So the next day, I woke up early and walked quickly the last 20km. I was in hurry to leave the suburb of Santiago for the old town. I was in hurry to have my special moment in the cathedral. I was in hurry to celebrate with my camino friends. And I also was in some kind of hurry to go home, see my family and my friends, to use my hands rather than my feet, to get a bit more time on my own when I relax in the evening, to change clothes, put on some make up and earrings …oh yes, I felt so ready to end my journey ! 

However things never happen as expected in life, and my arrival in Santiago cathedral was a true disappointment: after turning around to find the right open door to access it, I found myself in front of a big sign saying  » No bag pack inside, go to the consign 2E ». What ??? After all theses kilometres, all the churches and chapels and cathedrals I visited. After doing the very simple gesture hundreds times, of leaving for few minutes my « house » inside the house of God, it was forbidden for pigrims to do it in Santiago cathedral! 

I was desapointed and decided that I couldn’t enter feeling that way. So I choose to first find a place to stay and then go back for the 7 o’clock mass with the incense ritual.  


This is why my real moment of emotion happened to be in the Albergue while I was checking in. The place was nice and clean, I could finally put my bag pack down, the hospiteliero was welcoming and when he put the last stamp on my credential saying « Santiago! Oh! You started from far away, what a long journey! ». The tears came out of my eyes and I couldn’t answer anything but « Yeees I knoooowww and I am here now ».  And of course, then, I enjoyed, celebrated and hugged my camino friends !

The joys of the camino

I loved each day I spent on the way and I here are the things which have been source of lot of joy during theses 2 past months.  
The first thing and without question the most important has been meeting people. Each person I met, each moment, days or weeks we shared together brought me something. Thanks to all the discussions, the fun, the songs we shared I can tell I had a beautiful way! 

My little rituals. To practised yoga alone or in group, to wake up very early to watch the sunrise, to drink a beer with other pilgrims after a great long walking day or drinking a tisane before bed, here are the little rituals source of joy for me. 

Eating! I always loved eating, bit I discovered on the way a great thing: I have a fast metabolism, therefore I need to eat often and a lot…oh joy!
Moreover, one of my biggest joy has been to prepare and share diners with my companions. Each of us would buy some ingredients and be responsible for one course and each time it was a feast! Especially compared to the terrible Menu del pelegrino in Spain which is the same from Roncevalles to Santiago. It is so heavy to digest that pilgrims are fearing it!!! 

The reunion feeling. After few weeks, when by chance my way crossed again the way of someone I met before that was source of lot of joy! We exchange our experiences, in which places we stopped, who we met and already I can see some changes in the other person. And of course we talk about our common camino friends, are they ahead or behind?  
The Inspiration. When I walk, often my ideas get very clear and more creatives. It is good to feel the ideas blossoming in my head about my next article or projects I would like to realise later this year and next year. 


Walking in the nature. Autumn is by far my favourite season. The nature absorbed lot of sun and energy all summer long and in autumn. Even when it is bad weather I see the sun everywhere: in the leafs of the tree or in the fruits. Therefore it was a great pleasure to be everyday outdoor from the end of the summer, to the beginning of the winter!  
Your comments, as readers. Writing this blog is a way for me to practise something I love doing: writing. And it was also a way to open myself more and be even more who I am. Therefore, what a joy to read that one article inspired someone and that another article has been really enjoyed. Thank you so much for your little messages, please continue to react!!! 

The lesson of the camino III: The 4 R

Walking on the camino, I learned many things about life and I would like to share with you the key lessons I came across . 

The 4 R: Routine, Rituals, Rhythm and Regularity.  

 Routine is a phenomena which often question me while I was travelling and I realised that routine is a mindset. It is a special mode in which we leave ourself behaving like robots without really thinking of what we are doing because we are so used to doing it. During my travel, it became clear the difference between routine and ritual as there were many actions I would repeat every day and which were important and positives to me; such as yoga, waking up early to admire the sunrise, massaging my feet or drink a tisane before bed. This how I recognise a ritual, it is done consciously and bring some well being.

  On the way each of us has its own rhythm and it is important to respect it and not to fall into the group dynamic. We need to stay connected to ourself and our own body needs and possibilities. Sometimes I am walking 30km, sometimes 20km and this as I feel! 

However I realised that if I wasn’t regular in my daily distances, then I was getting tired and I needed to take a resting day.  The funny thing in that case, is that the day following my resting day I would meet again some people that I had overtaken few days before. And theses people were walking regularly, the same distances day after day ! 

The lessons of the camino II – Let it go & let it be

Walking on the camino, I learned many things about life and I would like to share with you the key lessons I came across . 

   Let it go & let it be: I don’t like to say good bye to my friends and family when I don’t know when I will meet them next. On the way, I learned to accept leaving my new friends going ahead or staying behind without knowing if we would meet again or not. At first, it was difficult to do but with time it became easier because I realised it was leaving the space for new encounters, discussions or moment of reflexion. And theses moments were as enriching and satisfying than staying with my camino friends.
Let it go, it also valid for belongings! Indeed, when there is in my bag the minimum only, I don’t feel happy about loosing or forgetting things. However it does happen and this is not the end of the world…even for my little notebook in which I was writing every evenings. And the same for my Opinel knife which was a souvenir of a great day with a good friend…it-is-ok! 

Let it be, it is accepting ideas or people who annoy me. Yes, they also have good reasons to be here and the more I moan about it, the more energy I give for…nothing ! For example it happened to me to choose to go in am Albergue more than in another one in order to avoid a group of Koreans. I was finding them rather noisy and they never talked to other pilgrims. And of course, who arrived in the Albergue for the check-in just after me that evening? The Koreans! After that, I always did my choices according to myself only and I felt much happier and somehow more free. 

The lessons of the camino I – Healing and avoiding tendinitis 

Walking on the camino, I learned many things about life and I would like to share with you the key lessons I came across.   

Healing and avoiding tendinitis
. I never had any before walking on the camino. And I discovered that simply with stretching and drinking lot of water I could avoid it. I bought on the way a camel bag and took good care to drink at least 3L of water per day (below this threshold the pain was coming back). 

A Feel Good moment 

It is my second day in Galicia. This morning I started early and I am now running out of water. As I arrive in a small village, in the courtyard of a farm there is a colourful table full of fruits, biscuits and juices. It is a donativo for the pilgrims. 

I enter, take my water bag out of my bag and go to the tap. At this moment, one of the owner appears and comes to help me. He is warm and welcoming, his name is Simon and after introducing each other we have a nice conversation about the French part of the camino, his cats and his donativo project. He offers me some banana bread, which I happily taste. 
I start to feel cold, and tell him that it is time for me to walk again. He opens his arms to hug me and tells me: « Have a good life, give lot of love on the camino and after ». I smile in his arms and answer « Thank you, I will, I will ». And then, to my surprise he continues to hug me. My inner voice goes  » Hey you! We are not friends, what are you doing ?! » and 2 seconds later « Hum that feels very good, actually I could stay there! ». Finally this hug ends. I leave with a big smile on my face, I pass the door and laugh. I laugh at myself, and I laugh at this funny episode. For the next hour, I keep smiling and smilling. Inside, I fell invaded by the urge of hugging all the ones I love. 
Live, Love and Laugh! 


My biggest challenge on the camino

 My biggest challenge on the way has been my fragile back. I have a scoliosis (my back is as sinuous as the tree above), I even wore a corset days and nights during my teenager years, and of course I knew before going that it would represent a challenge. I made sure I would carry only the strict necessary in my bag. I built my back muscles before starting and every day on the camino I practised yoga.  
BUT what had been a real challenge was to acknowledge my pain and its negative impact on my life. I had to be really kind and patient with myself in order to take in account this pain and do all I could do to stop it: ask another pilgrim to mass me, to go for one hour of professional massage or osteopathy session, change my bag half-way, look for albergues with yoga classes, not carrying my bag for a day and sending it by taxi, do as much breaks and stretching as needed (even if it is every 20 minutes!). And also forgive myself for sometimes not anticipating the pain. As for example after the osteopathy season, when I didn’t even think of sending my bag to the next Albergue by taxi so I could leave my back settling and relaxing after being manipulated.
Yes, all of that can appear pretty simple and obvious. However, after so many years spent ignoring my back tensions and contractions, I can tell you it is a real effort to get out this bad habit! 
What helped me the most? First of all the patience and the words of my travel companions in order to make me recognise my need for a rest. Thank you Lolita and Jimmy! My different reads also encouraged me to listen always more to my body and of course my daily yoga sessions.
I have certainly not finished to learn about this facet of me but I progressed a lot and I fell very happy and very, very proud of it.


  *special thank you to Finja, Sarah, Dalila and Roberto for making this picture possible. 

Almost there!

   I am now few days away from Santiago, and as I am walking on this nice mountain trail I find myself reviewing my camino.
First of all, I feel ready to arrive. It seems to me that after 2 months of walking I really found what I was looking for and even more! 

Therefore, it is important to write it down do I can come back to it later, in the infinite race of life. As there is a lot to write, I will publish few articles. Articles to follow very soon! 

The house of silence 

 » On the way there is all I need, when I need it ».  

This morning, I wake up feeling tired. Despite the short walking day yesterday, the evening has been tiring: the Albergue was full, the kitchen very small and the people rather noisy. I even decline the invitation of my companions for breakfast: the TV background noise irritates me. Instead I prefer to have my breakfast in the peaceful dinning room, sitting by myself. Today, it is decided I walk alone! 

Once on the way, my mood improves considerably. Today the wind is blowing strongly, it is chasing the rain from the day before and above all drying the muddy soil. In my head the ideas of articles are flourishing and I can’t wait to reach the next village, stop in a coffee and write.

At the entrance of Castrojeriz, I meet Finja with who I walked yesterday. We enter the village together, while sharing our impressions of the last evening and our plans for the day. After few meters, a house catches my attention. On the door it is written « House of silence, for pilgrims. Open ». I show it to Finja and share my intention to enter. We say good bye to each other and I open the door.
I enter, close the door behind me and a sentence I am saying and sharing often since I started to walk comes to my mind:  » On the way there is all I need, when I need it ». Today again this sentence proves to be true.  
The place I entered is magical: inside the first room there is a picture exhibition with an inspirational quotes or a philosophical sentences under each of them. I carry on my visit and discover a kitchen, facing a living room and a conservatory with a wood burner. The house is decorated with taste, everything is in monastic simplicity and evokes a sense of journeys to fare away lands. The background music is relaxing and invites to contemplate and meditate. There are little places to sit, in every corners. It feels good to be there and I can see by the window  a nice garden with the floor covered by autumn leaves.    
I go through the rest of the house more quickly. A nice staircase covered with floor-tile leads to the first floor. A well of light brings some natural light inside. It is painted in yellow and I can see some bird shadows soaring up to the sky. Upstairs, there is a little chapel, very simple: a cross on the wall, a carpet and a cushion to sit on it. Opposite to it, a meditation room with Spanish texts written by hand in colourful sheets of paper left to the eyes of the visitor on the little carpet. In between theses 2 rooms, the bathroom in which big bouquets of rosmary and lavender are drying. I give a glance to the last room: a multilingual library with great books, chosen with taste.   


I go back downstairs, it is decided I am spending the rest of the morning here! I remove my shoes, my rain trousers and jacket. And I adventure again in this quiet and comfortable space. This time, I take my time to decide where to sit.  
On the table of the first living room there is a table with tea, biscuits and dark chocolate on it. On a little piece of paper it says « Help yourself ». The cups are in Chinese porcelain and I even find a Genmaïcha tea bag, one of my favourite with green tea and roasted rice. I help myself, take out my phone and sit comfortably in the conservatory to write. 

Half an hour later an Asian girl entre from the garden and joins to sit right in opposite to me. We sight to greet each other. She observes me during few minutes, and to my surprise breaks the silence to tell me that the phones are strictly forbidden in that house. And that the creator of this place is positive: he doesn’t want to see it. Stopped in my momentum, I leave my writing project to later.

I stand up to clean my cup, I climb upstairs and try to read a bit in the library. Then, I make an attempt of meditation in the chapel. I hear the wind blowing outside, I feel my energy bubbling inside me and my mind getting agitated. It is the call of the camino! It is time to leave the silence to return in the autumn wind. I can’t wait to share my discovery with my travel companions !