To start this post, we would like to apologize for our absence on livewithit.net! We decided together to truly live in the moment wherever we go, which ended up with us leaving our blog on the back burner for a little while. We have lots of things to tell you guys about so to start, we would like to share our experience of walking the Camino to Santiago, which was not planned, but a complete blessing that we will never forget.
As you may know from our first post, we had planned to do a program called Work Away, in which we exchange volunteer work for free accommodation and meals. We had one arranged ahead of time but when we arrived, we quickly realized that this particular exchange was not at all what was described to us online.
They basically expected us to run the entire Albergue, without a single ounce of Spanish knowledge, and no time to learn the language. Plus they were completely open about the fact that they had bed bugs, which we were so not okay with! Eww!
We didn’t want to waste their time (or our own), so we packed up our 40lb+ backpacks and hit the road walking in Las Herrerias, Spain with no clue where we were going or where we would end up…
We were frustrated and a little nervous to say the least, but I remember saying to Tristain, “It’s going to be okay! If we stay positive, the law of attraction will bring us something good around the corner.”
Then BAMMMM! It was almost instant! Let me tell you guys, what happened after that is something we will never forget…
A man by the name of Carlos yelled out the window of his Albergue (which is basically a hostel for pilgrims), “Where you go? Heavy bags, come inside! Stay here!”
He then came outside to meet us, and welcomed us to his Albergue with open arms. We had no cash and no clue where to find a bank, so he drove us to the nearest bank with a smile on his face!
At most Albergues on the Camino de Santiago, they do what is called a community dinner where all the Pilgrims sit around a table to eat together, while sharing stories and advice. (Click here for information about the Camino de Santiago).
Carlos had a meat sauce spaghetti planned, along with carrot soup and a mixed salad. When we told him we are vegetarian, he was very understanding and made us our own bowl of pesto spaghetti, which was absolutely amazing!
At the dinner table, we met this wonderful 70-something year old woman, from New Zealand, named Shona. She was doing the Camino for her 3rd time because she loves it that much! She told us that it would be really beneficial to us, and we would never regret it.
She also gave us a book about the Camino, which had all the information that we needed to get by. It included maps, a list of Albegues in each area, Hospitals, and other useful tips that we were so happy to have along the way. She stayed in contact with us by email and made sure that we were doing well. We will never ever forget this wonderful woman, who we like to call our Camino Angel.
Now that we have completed almost the last 200km of the Camino, we will be recommending this to anyone and everyone! When we say that the Camino has changed our lives, we aren’t kidding.
We started on one of the steepest hills, which really tested our strength and patience together. It was really tough! But when we made it to the top, we felt like we were completely on top of the world, as you can see the views were so breath taking!
About a week later, I ended up with 2 blisters between my toes which were so painful I could hardly walk. I had to stop and sit on one of the distance markers to fix myself up. About 5-6 people stopped that day to offer assistance, when we ran into those people later in the walk they remembered me and asked how I was doing.
We met two of the most amazing people named Aoife and Patrick, that we know will be friends for life. We ended up finishing the rest of the Camino with them, and then took a trip to “the end of the world”, Finisterre. We spent 3 days there exploring the beaches and drinking wine together as we shared stories and laughed all night long.
Everyone walking the Camino was there doing the exact same thing, for their own individual reasons. Which is such a beautiful blessing to be part of.
The lessons we have learned and the experiences we have shared together will change us forever. There were people of all age groups, from 16-80 years old doing this and the entire 820km at that (some were doing more)! People with extreme physical challenges were even doing this, but with such strong mind sets we’ve been inspired deeply.
We can officially say that we are now Pellegrino’s for life! Walking out with our Compostela’s in hand was an incredibly proud moment for us. Our outlook on life has been changed completely and if we could go back to do it again, we would not hesitate. If you get the chance to do this, please do! You will not regret it.
Thank you for reading and for all of your ongoing support in us chasing our dreams together. We hope to eventually inspire many others. Much love!
Melanie & Tristian