From Santiago to Paris…As Salama Aleykoum! 1/3

     I came back from Santiago on the 13th of November. In the morning, I went through the border between France and Spain, and I read the headlines in the newspapers. It was talking about closing the borders. I didn’t know why, I didn’t understand. In the car between Hendaye and Montpellier the driver of the car-share exposed to me his vision of the French news and international news. He mentioned Syria. I didn’t know why, I hadn’t followed the news. But his talk stunned me and made me dizzy. Am I well and truly going back to France? The France I know? It seemed to me that something had changed.

      The next morning; when I heard during breakfast the words « 3 attacks », « Paris », « Isis », « more than 100 dead », « Syria », I first couldn’t feel anything. As if I couldn’t connect to this reality. Indeed, after being away for 2 months, after walking for more than thousand kilometres, I lightened myself and experienced the essential. I have now the taste for life rhythmed by nature, for happy little moments, taste for simplicity and Paris Peacetaste for taking the time; because time is the guaranty of quality. I want to contribute to a sustainable world, and not to a disposable world. Therefore, in that tragic morning, I became very conscious of the fact that all this violence, all those strategic games related to oil and other energy; we are the direct victims of it. It creates lot of agitation. And this is distracting everyone from keeping doing what each of us can do at best on earth to contribute positively to the world.  I was and I am convinced, we need to continue living life, love and keep the peace in our heart and around us.

      However, during the 3 days of national mourning, I slowly took the measure of the situation. First, I felt powerless: « How my actions of ordinary citizen can influence such events? » Then, I thought about running away: « I don’t want all this agitation, I’d better to go to the mountains and learn how to grow vegetables. » So I decided to read, I read the testimony of Erwan, a former university friend, who was in Bataclan that evening. I have also seen the front pages of all newspapers becoming so red. I could observe the limit between the « good » and the « bad » becoming suddenly very clear…too clear? When the policemen made their intervention to arrest/eliminate the terrorists few streets away from my brother’s apartment I felt fear creeping into myself. Slowly, just a timorous voice whispering « Are you sure I still want to go to Paris next week? What will you bring there? You are taking a risk with your life. »

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 ! 

La leçon du chemin III: Les 4 R  

Marcher sur le chemin, c’est aussi apprendre quelques leçons de vie. Voici les principales leçons rencontrées.
Les 4 R: Routine, rituels, rythme et régularité. La routine est un phénomène qui m’a longtemps questionné durant mon voyage et j’ai réalisé que la routine est un état d’esprit. C’est un mode dans lequel on se met, et où l’on agit tel un robot sans réfléchir mais par habitude. Lors de mon voyage il m’est apparu très clair la différence entre routine et rituel car il y avait pleins d’actions que je répétais chaque jours et qui m’étaient importantes et positives telles que mon yoga, me lever tôt pour admirer le lever du soleil, bien me masser les pieds ou boire une tisane avant de dormir. C’est à ça qu’on reconnaît un rituel, c’est effectué consciemment et ça apporte du bien être. 
  
Sur le chemin chacun a son propre rythme et c’est très important de s’y tenir, de ne pas de laisser entraîner par la dynamique du groupe afin de rester connecter à soi-même et de se respecter dans ses besoins et ses limites. Alors parfois je marche 30km, parfois 20km c’est comme je sens! 

Cependant j’ai réalisé que si je ne gardais pas de régularité, alors je me fatiguais. Ce qui est drôle c’est que si je poussais sur mes limites, alors un ou deux jours plus tard j’avais besoin d’un jour de repos. Et par conséquence, le surlendemain je retrouvais sur le chemin des gens dépassés quelques jours auparavant et qui eux marchais régulièrement

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.