On Monday, November 5th - after walking for 29 days across 700km through Northern Spain - we finally entered the final stretch into Santiago de Compostela. I can't even relay the mixed emotions I felt as we entered the plaza where the church is located: pride, joy, excitement, physical and mental exhaustion, pain, closure, sadness, etc. It was overwhelming and took about 1 1/2 seconds before I started crying.
Even now as I'm typing, I can't believe it's over. There is something to be said for having a mission each day (walking X kms a day) with an end goal (reaching Santiago) where progression could be tangibly traced (through maps and road markers). Then, at the end, we had something to celebrate and we actually did! Even when I worked at Chanel, my previous company, we never had time to just enjoy the completion of a project or campaign because we were so focused on the next project.
I don't recommend the Camino for everyone, but at the same time wish everyone to experience it. It's not easy - there's physical pain, you will be challenged mentally and emotionally, and it's completely out of most people's comfort zones.
BUT, no pain no gain, right? I've never in my life walked next to complete strangers and immediately known/felt exactly what they were going through in that moment. While our reasons for walking the Camino may differ, the experience of pain and joy are the same, and this instant connection is unlike any other. In a couple weeks, we've met people of all ages from New Zealand, Australia, Poland, Lithuania, Korea, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, Germany, France, Belgium, UK, South Africa, Italy, Sweden - and of course the US and Canada. To connect with these peregrinos, whether through a quick chat while walking or over dinner, is the absolute best part of the Camino.
Here are some pictures along the way. One of the craziest things for me is that, in 29 days we experienced the four seasons starting in summer, then fall, winter, and spring.
Finally, just a little shoutout to my husband, who got me through some pretty tough times - both physically and mentally. I definitely could not have completed the Camino without his guidance and encouragement. I'm so proud and happy that we were able to do this together.