Walking a Camino is a rare and wonderful opportunity to not only meet people but also an opportunity to learn how others think and feel. A chance to speak to people that you would usually walk past in the street and not make any contact with. A chance to sit and share a meal or drink with and get to know people from all walks of life and all corners of the world.
To give you an idea of what this looks like on the Camino I walked before writing this blog I have noted a few of the conversations I shared along the way.
15-year-old boy who was on a college cultural trip.
He walked up to me and initiated the conversation. His challenge was to have the courage to talk to as many people as possible. He wanted to learn about their country and how thoughts differed from his. We walked, talked, and laughed together sharing stories about our families and family ideals until his teacher called him away, it was wonderful.
26-year-old Italian girl struggling with the cultural expectations
Carrying a load around as a young Italian woman. Loving her family yet she does not want to disappoint them. They wanted her to get married and stop “wasting her life”.She, on the other hand, wanted to feel free and find deep, true and respectful love. Not what she had witnessed from the village she lived in. I loved her insight, thought processes, and desire to put self-love first and the fact that she felt serious enough to walk a Camino to gain clarity. For days after we kept crossing paths, she asked if we could have a photo because she never wanted to forget our conversations.
24-year-old German girl who was trying to make meaning of her life
Feeling disconnected from her peers and hating to see young women in her life objectifying themselves online, she wondered where it was all going. Tired of communicating by messages and posts, she wanted to connect and have deep and meaningful conversations. She felt such great gratitude for the Camino because it was giving her just what she needed. How mature and interesting our conversation was. Young people like this give me hope … we had a great big hug when we parted.
A gorgeous 60-year-old woman from the UK
After losing her husband to cancer 5 years prior she gave herself a birthday gift of walking Camino. A trip she and her late husband planned to do together someday. Fear had gripped her as having been a home mum she had no idea how to move forward. Yet she knew in her heart she had to learn to live independently. To look at what was in front of her and cherish what had been. I cried a river of tears, her story touched me so deeply. The memory of my old fears bubbled to the surface. A meeting that allowed me to reflect and see how far I had come in my own quest for Independence. A few days later she said hearing my story helped her to know she would certainly be ok! Through a common desire as women, we inspired one another and shared a beautiful connection.
An inspiring man from Barcelona
After spending 5 years in and out of the hospital, with the last 2 years in a wheelchair. A simple operation had left his body with a germ that was destroying him physically. Being told living with limited movement and never walking again was his fate he decided to fight for his life. Between rehabilitation and determination here he was walking the entire French Way! With a drag and limp, he was flying up the inclines and leaving me behind breathless every time. WOW is all I could think the strength of the human spirit, I tried not to complain about my tired feet after that!!
I am blown away by the fullness in my heart every day when I am on Camino. I meet so many people and have conversations that alter my perception and leave me in awe of the human spirit.