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8 Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago

8 Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago

In the six months since I boarded my flight house from Spain to the United States, my thoughts has swirled with reflections on my expertise strolling the Camino de Santiago. When I first arrived house, I questioned if the 500-mile, 33-day pilgrimage would immediate a significant epiphany or spur an enormous life change after I returned to my life in Los Angeles, California. 

Would I lace up my footwear and go for an extended stroll each morning? Would I keep in contact with fellow pilgrims I met in France and Spain? Or would I return to my life and act like nothing had ever occurred?

Since returning, I’ve answered these questions and gained additional perception into the classes the journey has meant for me and for a lot of others who’ve walked the Camino de Santiago. 

What is The Camino de Santiago?

8 Life Lessons from the Camino de Santiago
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Before we begin, let’s speak slightly about The Camino de Santiago. Also referred to as the Way of St. James, it’s a community of pilgrimage routes resulting in the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.

This historic pilgrimage, which dates again to the Middle Ages, attracts hundreds of pilgrims from round the world annually. Traditionally undertaken for spiritual causes, trendy pilgrims additionally stroll the Camino for religious progress, journey, and cultural exploration. The routes range in size and problem, with the hottest being the Camino Francés, which begins in St. Jean Pied de Port in France and spans roughly 500 miles (800 kilometers).

Jen Pellerito shares right here classes realized by strolling this historic route, and now that now we have learn it, we’re extra decided to deal with this unbelievable pilgrimage in 2025! If you’re planning your Camino de Santiago hike, learn Jen’s submit about Where to Stay on the Camino de Santiago

Time strikes slower while you’re strolling

camino de santiago walking
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camino de santiago walking
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When you stroll the Camino, you possibly can cowl a distance of 5 to twenty miles per day, which takes wherever from 5 to eight hours. It’s a stark distinction to routine life at house, the place we will drive, fly, or practice our approach round.

When you stroll, you journey at a slower tempo. The results of actually transferring slower contributed to a way of getting extra time on my arms.

I felt like I might see the passage of time. I seen the the solar fell at completely different occasions of day, how the climate patterns modified, and the way the flowers bloomed as the days handed. 

I realized that nothing ever stays the similar. My every day routine continued to repeat itself, but all the pieces in the world continued to evolve, even via seemingly mundane moments.     

You’ll by no means have a look at your ft the similar approach once more

camino de santiago feet take a beating
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camino de santiago feet take a beating
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On the Camino, my ft took a beating. It wasn’t simply blisters that turned a difficulty — it was the influence of strolling on exhausting surfaces, particularly when going downhill. Read extra tricks to Staying Safe and Healthy on a Hiking Adventure

I noticed my ft swell like they’d by no means swollen earlier than. I noticed my toes bleed from blisters that risked an infection. And ultimately, I noticed my ft heal. 

I spent hours worrying, speaking, and, sure—complaining—about my ft. For the first time, I realized look after them. 

I utilized Vaseline on my toes and heels a number of occasions a day and realized about the finest kind of cloth to maintain them cool and as dry as attainable in high-heat circumstances (it’s wool, by the approach)!

I bandaged my ft, prayed for them, and thanked them after they ultimately turned stronger.

Your ft can take you a lot locations, however provided that you handle them alongside the approach. 

Community and connection 

camino de santiago community at hostel
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camino de santiago community at hostel
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Five days into strolling, I used to be sitting in my Airbnb host’s sweltering kitchen, sweating bullets. My toes had been stuffed with blisters, and my host was going to pop them for me. I used to be terrified.  Check out How to Pack a Travel First Aid Kit

Admittedly, I’ve by no means handled blisters a lot in my lifetime. I knew nothing of look after them, deal with them, or stop an infection. Especially in a state of affairs the place I wished to maintain on strolling – with no time to relaxation.

My host, who had been a nurse in her house nation, spoke no English and little or no Spanish. She used a translation app on her cellphone to assist us talk in bite-sized phrases, one line at a time. 

My head swam, queasy. Would this go terribly fallacious?   

Finally, after what felt like an hour going backwards and forwards via her translation app, she popped my first blister. Then the subsequent. It damage rather a lot lower than I imagined. 

I’d simply met her moments earlier than, and he or she was caring for me in my most ugly second. It introduced in an entire new stage of vulnerability and humility. 

Walking the Camino will present you that we’re all on this, collectively. 

The Camino offers

(*8*)
camino de santiago route
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It’s not nearly foot care. Sharing meals, drugs, language, and, merely, the firm of others creates a community of care. On the Camino, assist isn’t simply accessible; it’s given. 

People are able to look out for one another, proving that even while you’re strolling alone, you’re by no means actually alone.

This spirit of camaraderie and help is what makes the Camino such a novel and particular expertise. Whether you’re a seasoned pilgrim or a first-timer, you’ll discover that there’s all the time somebody prepared to assist or share a form phrase.

As you make your approach alongside the path, you’ll encounter folks from all walks of life, every with their very own story to inform. Some are looking for religious enlightenment, whereas others are merely searching for a brand new journey.

But it doesn’t matter what brings you to the Camino, everybody shares a typical bond of kindness and compassion.

We all stroll the similar Camino

camino de santiago getting stronger
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camino de santiago getting stronger
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When I believe again to my time on the Camino, I keep in mind the days after I walked slower than many different pilgrims, even these a long time older than me. But after I lastly neared the final stretch towards Santiago, I discovered my stride, I turned stronger, and I walked a lot quicker than I had earlier than. 

Yes, some folks nonetheless walked quicker than me—or twice so far as I did in a single day—however lastly, after weeks of strolling, the first eight miles of the day turned a breeze, when it had as soon as been brutally unattainable.

This expertise taught me that life is just not a race. We all progress at our personal pace, and there’s no worth in evaluating our paths to these of others. The Camino, very similar to life, is a private journey for every particular person.

Learning to maneuver in sync with others, somewhat than in competitors, has introduced me peace and helped me settle for my present stage in life (my thirties) extra gracefully. It has additionally allowed me to understand my very own milestones with out measuring them up towards others’ successes.

The most essential factor is, we’re all united by one widespread aim — to succeed in Santiago.

Achieving a aim takes time

camino de santiago acheiving goals
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camino de santiago acheiving goals
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I’ll admit it. I’m a perfectionist. When I fail, I fail exhausting. I turn out to be so defeated that I by no means wish to attempt one thing once more.

Walking the Camino confirmed me that objectives are completed via one million milestones alongside the approach. 

One day at a time, I moved additional towards my aim of reaching Santiago de Compostela. I didn’t give up when it received exhausting. I didn’t quit when it felt like I’d already failed.

Yes, I rested after I wanted to. I took the bus on the days after I fell in poor health, and my ft couldn’t deal with the ache any longer.

But that’s not quitting. 

The journey hammered house the concept that perfection isn’t the aim. Progress is the aim. 

Each step moved me ahead. Big objectives get completed via small wins. 

Real power isn’t about how far you possibly can stroll in at some point. It’s about your persistence and flexibility, regardless of the variety of miles.

You be taught to hearken to your physique

camino de santiago gear
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camino de santiago gear
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I took the bus after I actually needed to. I didn’t stroll each single mile of the Camino Frances, and it upset me at the time. But now, I understand that figuring out your physique’s limits is an indication of power.

Recognizing when to push and when to pause is a type of knowledge. 

On the Camino, I realized tune into what my physique was telling me. The occasional lengthy stretch of silence whereas strolling alone additionally helped me hearken to my ideas extra fastidiously. 

Balancing ambition with self-care continues to be a problem for me. In on a regular basis life, it’s simple to miss our limits to satisfy our personal or others’ expectations. On the Camino, I realized to worth self-awareness and the braveness it takes to honor my wants.

Grief occurs each time anybody leaves us

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On the Camino, you would possibly serendipitously find yourself strolling with the similar group of individuals. Pilgrims name this your “Camino family.” Some folks stroll the total approach with the similar group, whereas others, for one purpose or one other, find yourself separating. 

As I walked, I discovered myself weaving out and in of various teams, rapidly clicking with people I’d simply met. But when the Camino broke into two sections, and my buddies selected a distinct path, I needed to say goodbye. Saying goodbye to those newfound buddies was robust, like a mini heartbreak. 

I questioned if our paths would ever cross once more. To me, it felt not in contrast to the grief I’ve felt when somebody near me has handed away. These moments on the Camino had been stark reminders of how swiftly connections can type and the way painfully they’ll half, echoing the bittersweet actuality of the many relationships now we have all through our lives. 

But extra importantly, the separation served as a reminder to dwell in the current. I grew to understand the firm of these I used to be with, in the second. Grief is a pure a part of the human expertise. 

I realized to cherish moments of connection, even when they had been fleeting, and make peace with the inevitability of change and loss.

Embracing the Journey Ahead

Thinking again on my month strolling the Camino de Santiago, the causes for my journey have turn out to be a lot clearer.

It’s like trying over your shoulder while you’re climbing. When you’re strolling, you’re immersed in the mountains, and also you solely see rocks and filth. Miles later, the full view of these mountains turns into clear.

At the time, I couldn’t grasp the full influence it might have on me. Now, trying again, I can respect the significance of the classes realized. 

Distance helps you perceive the immensity of what you’ve gone via.

And so, the stroll continues, one step at a time.

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