One week ago, I was enjoying my Saturday and happily brewing beer in my apartment, excited for autumn… and feeling… good. Three days later, a new relationship that I was really excited about unfortunately came to an end (cue the tears and the tequila shots) and I suddenly realized that I was a woman who had no obligations or ties to staying in one place right now. Work has been slow for me and I have been feeling stuck for a long time. To be clear, the getting dumped part did not suddenly trigger a decision to hike the Camino, but it was the push I needed to do something for me.
I woke up on Wednesday morning feeling like crap. By the way, I highly recommend getting your heart broken on Taco Tuesday! It’s so festive! While nursing shredded chicken tacos and $5 tequila, I gushed to my pals, “I’m just gonna go fly to Europe and hike the fucking Camino de Santiago!” which earned some cheery “Fuck Yeah!”s and “This is your ‘Eat, Pray, Love moment!”s. While I’m not trying to pull off a total disappearing act, this really stuck with me. So after rolling over in bed and remembering everything that happened just a few hours earlier, I got dressed, made some coffee, did a few quick searches of flights, and went to work with my head spinning… alternately from the aftermath of fermented agave and the possibility of actually doing this pilgrimage.
To give you a little background, I watched the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen perhaps a year ago, and remembered reading years ago about this pilgrimage across Spain that hundreds of thousands of people have completed since ancient times.
After watching the movie, I felt tremendously inspired to research and started to come up with this crazy plan of my “33 Days.” I ordered three guide books from Amazon, borrowed a friend’s copy of Paulo Coelho’s “The Pilgrimage” and couldn’t stop talking about it to everyone I knew. It felt like kismet that I was also turning 33 just a few months later, and that I could strategically walk this route and find a connection between each day of walking and each year of my life. I fell deeper into the significance of the number ’33’ when I read that on average you could make the journey for €30 per day, which at that time converted to $33. And as I continued my research, I decided that the best time of year for me to go would be October. But as October crept closer and closer, I went on other travels, started dating… I realized it wouldn’t happen for me in October as a 33-year-old. I resolved that my silly symbolic idea was lost to inaction.
So I just couldn’t say no to this idea that kept flowing through my head and heart… all day on Wednesday. After speaking to the people that mattered and getting their support of my idea, I decided to do it. 24 hours later, I had airfare booked for October 1st (so cheap!) and a friend lined up to stay in my apartment while I was gone. Work was even supportive of my leave. By the way, I love the people I work with. Hi, guys.
The way this has all come into a perfect arrangement, despite the circumstances of “shit hitting the fan” is remarkable. I feel so excited, nervous, prepared, unprepared, sad, hopeful, thrilled, overjoyed. I am a 33-year-old woman on the precipice of everything. I have a truly blank canvas right now and I am going to get out all my watercolors, acrylics, oils and paint up that shit real good.
I leave tomorrow night on a red-eye to Paris, stay in a hostel overnight, catch an early morning high-speed train down to Bayonne, then transfer to a mountain train to St. Jean Pied-De-Port. I should be to the pilgrimage office to pick up my pilgrim passport by about 2pm. From there, I’ll find an economical auberge, eat some food, find some people to chat with, do some writing, get a good night’s sleep, and take off on my first leg of a 500 miles journey across the Camino Santiago.
I am going to be writing a lot. This is something I have been needing to do for myself for a while. I am so thankful for this opportunity, even though this week has been insane and not entirely pleasant. Please stay tuned to my blog for updates regularly, and check out the other pages of the site to see details of my pilgrimage, my writing and ways you can get involved!
Thank you for reading and please stay tuned for more!