Day 42: Finisterre and reflection

Technically I completed my camino. But what I really wanted to do was end at the “end of the world” where the pilgrims used to come and burn their belongings. No, I didn’t want to burn my belongings (as it’s not allowed anymore) but I wanted to see where the pilgrims used to think it was the edge of the world.

Some people continue to walk out to this destination (another 3 days I believe) but since Luc and I only had 1 day, we took a tour bus out the coast.

I was covered in bed bug bites (100+) so it was a fairly uncomfortable day but the sites were incredible. It was so soul refreshing to see the ocean again and feel the breeze on my skin. It was cool in the morning but warm by the afternoon. I would highly recommend taking a day to do a tour out to Finisterre and surrounding area. We had a delicious seafood feast accompanied by some yummy beer. I had some antihistamine to stop the itch but it hadn’t really kicked in yet so it was a fairly challenging day as everywhere on my body was itchy.

It really was the perfect way to end this monstrously transformational journey. I know that I’m still processing everything that happened while I was on the way. Being in this place, really had my heart sing while the waves crashed. I took many reflective contemplative deep breaths. I remember telling myself “I did it.” “I’m so proud of you.” “This is now a part of who you are and who you are going to be.”

If you are at all thinking about doing the camino, the camino is for absolutely every single person on this planet. This walk is a walk that will connect you to you. Do it alone. Or do it with someone and meet up at the end of the day. This place is a place of growing, healing, transforming, uplifting, soul filling, breathing, walking, hiking, joy, laughter, music, transcendence, love, and acceptance.

You will have challenging times. That’s for certain. But in those difficult moments, you will learn everything you need to learn. You may ask “why must this happen to me? What is there to learn in this moment?” And the answer might only come later.

You will meet people who will change you and your outlook on life. People who will make an incredible difference to you by caring for you even though you don’t know them. Those people will remind you of your humanity and love.

You will see incredible vistas that connect you to the earth.

What you want to create, will be there for you to create. If you want to live outside your comfort zone, this will be it. If you want to heal, this will help in the healing process. If you want to learn more about yourself, all there is to do is learn about who you are. If you want to be closer to god or spirit, the way will provide this to you. If you’re looking for love, love is all around. If you desire deep connection, friendship and partnership is there for you.

Whenever I hear that someone is going to go on their first camino, I get a little teary eyed just thinking about what an incredible opportunity awaits them for whatever it is that they are going for.

Please reach out to me if you want to discuss more. I love to talk about my experience.

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Day 41: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

20km LAST DAY. As a lot of you probably saw from the Facebook live video, We made it to Santiago!!!! I’m overjoyed that this part of the journey is complete. Although I read something yesterday that said “this is not the end, only the beginning”. I get shivers and a little emotional when I think about that. I’m going to blast us back to 6:30am when I woke up. It was a rough sleep: felt sick, room was hot and I had to pee 14 times (ok not that many). Then I got up and with my head lamp I noticed the tell tale sign of bed bugs… small brown spots on the sheets. Not sure if it’s their poop or my blood. Then I looked a bit more and there was a bug on my bed. “Fuck” I said out loud and told Luc to get out of bed cuz there was bed bugs. The woman beside heard me and she got up too. Up and out of the albergue. Well we said we wanted one more authentic pilgrim experience. We got it. No bites started to present on me until we got to the hotel that night and now it’s become the biggest smorgasbord I’ve had the whole Camino (we think over 100 bites). My whole right side is ravaged and some of them have even turned into blisters. Never had that. I’ve been using tea tree oil which really helps and I have some antihistamine pills left over. But it’s not enough. Luc, of course, is unscathed. Probably because they were like “hey there’s this sweet red head down here no need to go up top”. I’m surprised too since I slept so poorly, how and when did they attack? Anyway, one last gift from the Camino. I walked with my backpack again starting in the dark. Night hiking is really kinda different. It takes on a different kind of appeal being close to the stars and the moon. There were a lot of people today. I might have made some dominating hand gestures to a woman who looked like she was going to try to get in front of me for the bathroom. I spent a lot of time looking inward, I had a lot of pain in my feet today. Searching for how I was feeling knowing that I was literally moving closer and closer to the finale. There was peace. Later on in the night Luc asked me some questions like “who was I the most grateful for?” And “what was the most memorable experience?”

And every time I had this feeling of contentment and joy wash over me when I think back to all the amazing experiences I’ve had. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Although I remember back when I was sitting in my hospital room all alone wondering “will I make it to Santiago? Or will I go back to Switzerland or even Canada?” And so the tears washed over me when I finally got infront of the magnificent cathedral that I made it. I did it. I fucking did it. So while it is about the journey, the destination is also important to me especially since I really had no idea if I was going to make it. We stood in line to get our official document for about 45mins. Then headed back to the cathedral. And then over to our hotel room. Showered and headed off to wash and dry our stuff in a laundromat while we drank beer (see photo). Returned to the room and then headed out to check out the shops. I wanted to see the inside of the cathedral so at 10 past 8pm we walked inside and mass was on and what I thought I had missed, came true. They swing the botafugio And not 5 mins after being in the crowded cathedral did they swing it. I can hardly believe my luck. The universe provided exactly what I needed. How special a moment to see this. I’ll provide the video separately. We had a wonderful dinner with a beautiful bottle of red Rioja wine special for completing our Camino. I’ve been thinking about all of you as well who have been following and supporting and cheering me on. I’m so grateful to have so many people in my life who have been there for me along the way. Even if you have been reading but not commenting I can feel your energy and that has helped to move me through this epic journey. When you have the love and support of your friends and family, you really can do anything. So I thank you ?. It almost doesn’t seem enough to say thank you. My mom and aunty for doing this 3 times, being my inspirations and for guiding me in all the different directions. It meant so much to have you both close by every single day.

And I want to say a very special thank you to my husband and best friend. He made it possible for me to go on this journey by helping violette get adjusted to school, Switzerland, new friends, everything. And when I needed him and was crying and moaning from the pain, he listened on the phone and loved and cared for me when I felt so alone. I love you to the moon and back my love. Thank you for coming and being a part of my Camino. ♥️♥️

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Camino: Day 22-25

Day 22 –Bercianos del Real Camino to Leon

I’m actually writing this the next day and I’m feeling a bit down. Found 2 bed bugs crawling on the wall beside my bed this morning and I’m feeling pretty lonely right now. I will continue. Yesterday morning I hopped on Angel and rode her for a really long time on the road. The sun was rising and I had so much joy in my heart. The photo with me on the bike was taken right after I had put out both my arms like I was flying and yelled out “woohoooooo!!!” I was feeling so good. The Meseta was a ton of fun, learning about myself, seeing old friends, singing with nuns. I’m so happy I did it that way. Every morning I passed many many people walking and I made it my job to spread the joy I was feeling by greeting them with a loud “Buen Camino” and a big smile. Almost everyone smiled back and it filled my heart and soul. I dropped off Angel after a big uphill and then downhill into Leon. I’m so grateful for the contribution she made to me over the last 4 days. I found my beautiful hostel and then roamed the streets looking for a beer and food. Leon is HUGE. I found out some other friends are staying in the same hostel and we planned to meet for dinner. So thrilled to see them one last time. What I knew would happen taking the bike is that the group of people I’ve been mingling with, I would leave behind and I would have to find some new friends. Even though I knew it, and just to acknowledge where I am right now, I’m feeling lonely. I’m about to explore this big city on my own today. I think I’m also missing my family a lot as well. I’ve been on this particular part of my journey now for 3 weeks. It’s a long time and I have even more than that to go. Jaedyn I won’t see until Christmas. ? so all of that is catching up with me. It is a beautiful day in Leon. I’m going to request to switch rooms (there’s no way I could sleep in that room again) and if I can’t, then I’m off to find a new place to sleep. Don’t worry everyone: not all days are going to be amazing. Some days will be down. I know this. I’m accepting it, giving myself extra care today and I know this is all part of what I’m meant to experience. 

Day 23 –  Leon (Day 1)

This was a day. Let me tell you. As you know, I spent the day feeling lonely but it was ok. I embraced the feeling of lonely as I don’t get to feel that very often. I went to mass in the big cathedral and sat and meditated. Then I walked over to the MUSAC museum (contemporary art). It was provocative. Then I hopped on a petit train that went around Leon. And on the way back had a glass of wine with two fellows I met on the meseta. Everything seems so normal right? Well I had an amazing conversation in there with my coach… I realize how much I’ve learned about myself in this journey and what I’m up to creating in the next three weeks. I spent a lot of time crying today both for sadness and utter joy. Deeply moved. So, fast forward: I go to bed. I’m lying there and my left side starts to hurt. And it gets worse-and worse. I sit up. I need to get out of bed. I call Luc. The thing that was the scare a week ago reminds me… there was blood in my urine. It hurts like when I had a kidney stone when I was 8 months preggo. I start to panick. How do I get to a hospital all alone? Luc looks up the hospital. I call on the two guys I had the wine with, pls call me a taxi. A French woman helps to find the number. Taxi called. I head downstairs and pop an ibuprofen. As I’m getting into the elevator Nadine from Germany is getting out. I ask her if she will wait with me (i met her 2 hours ago). Yes of course she says. We decide to walk to the hospital (3mins away). She speaks fluent Spanish so she helps me to translate everything. When I finally see the doc the pain has subsided and she waits for me in the waiting room. Then we get into a taxi to go to the pharmacy (it’s 11pm when all of this is going down). She translates everything in the taxi and when we get to the pharmacy. And then back in the cab to the hostel. I can’t believe it. This angel landed right in my hands when I needed her. Tears continue to run every time i think of this generous soul. I now have painkillers and need to wait for the kidney stone to pass 1-2 days. So I stay in Leon. As expected, plans change yet again. And that’s ok. I was ready to walk tomorrow but the universe has an other idea 4 me.

UPDATE: in the hospital in Leon. Going to be here over night I think. Going to see the urologist this afternoon. Woke up this morning in pain. It only got worse and worse. X-ray showed the stone high in my right kidney. They hooked me up to drugs and eventually the excruciating pain went away. And i slept a bit. Please send me love and strength. Your messages keep me company and help me to feel a little less alone. I’ve been talking to Luc a lot on WhatsApp. I have had a lot of feelings about wanting to go home and be with him and violette. We’ll see what happens today after the urologist.

Day 24/25: Leon (Day 2 and 3)

Day 24 passed without much incident. No pain. I even got a hair cut! I had to move albergues but I think the new one was meant to happen because the man who runs it was exactly who I needed for today. Another angel sent to me to help me along this journey. He’s done the Camino 17 times. He has so much incredible love in his heart and wants to help everyone. And he speaks great English. Yesterday he checked on me while I was resting, brought me ice cream and was always so caring. So today (Day 24) when I woke up in pain, i knew who to turn to. I was in agony and about to puke and he hugged me and sat with me while I cried and moaned. Eventually I puked (this would not be the only time). When I finally decided to go back to the hospital he wasn’t around so I left my number and walked the 5 mins. When I got there, wow, there’s a story there. Essentially let go of all expectations of how a hospital operates. At my lowest point I was sitting in emergency in a wheel chair with a garbage pail in my lap, sobbing and in agony about to puke. And Australian woman was telling me it would be ok and rubbing my back. I got an X-ray and then a lot of drugs through IV. Here at the hospital is another angel named Samantha. She works here and speaks almost perfect English. She’s helped me understand everything all along the way. She’s so kind and patient and is trying to work with our insurance to pay for tomorrow’s procedure. So what they want to do is blast the stone with sound waves. The procedure is estimated at 10,000 euros. Hence why we need our travel insurance to kick in. They moved me upstairs and now I’m in my own room with my own bathroom!! Woot woot! And no bed bugs I’m sure! I’m overcome with all the beautiful messages of love and strength. It means so much to me. Thank you. The stone is about 7.3mm. I had an ultrasound tonight and my kidney looks good. Juan came and visited 2xs and he even came back and brought me my tooth brush. He said tomorrow night I can stay for free at the albergue. I’m overwhelmed by all the kindness that people are showing me. I even got a chance to talk to my work peeps today. ♥️

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Camino: Day 19-21

Day 19 – Burgos to Castrojeriz

As you can see I got my bike! Ok let’s back up… I woke up this morning and had to say goodbye for the last time to Feena. I think I’ve only known Feena for 6 short days but her and I got along fabulously. She makes me laugh all the time and her Irish accent is beyond cute (sorry Feena!) definitely NEVER say “top o the morning to ya” to an Irish person. It’s incredible the friendships you make along the way. Nothing I ever could have imagined. Now I absolutely must get to Ireland to visit this beautiful soul again. After parting ways, i got my bike! Fat tires and a heavy back end. I was nervous to ride it and you should have seen me ripping up the trail later in the day. The morning I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face. I was having so much fun! The wind in my hair, it was cool out, I was using different muscles, everything was a little different. My butt and wrists are sore but she’s my Angel. That’s her name. Today was HOT. 30+ degrees slogging away on the trail. I walked up some hills (it actually felt better) and I walked down some hills (they were incredibly steep). I stopped in at a place 10km before my end stop for my daily tinto de verano to give me one more push to the end. I found my albergue, showered and rested. I was exhausted!! We had a beautiful pilgrims meal with all the pilgrims: green salad, homemade bread, houmous, chicken legs and a paella with noodles instead of rice and a chocolate mousse. Now I’m freaking out about bed bugs as I just looked down and noticed the base boards are falling apart. Usually where they hide until 2am. Please no! I’m going to put on some essential oils to keep them away and climb into my silk bed liner (my mom says they don’t like silk. Hope she’s right).

Day 20 – Castrojeriz to Carrión de los Condes

Nothing like getting woken up at 5am when you don’t have to leave until 8am. I had ear plugs and something for my eyes too. Didn’t help. Anyway, after a great albergue breakfast I grabbed Angel and we took off for the alternate route around the massive up and over. There I was, in the middle of no where, no cars, no towns, no houses, no people. All alone on the road. It was peaceful for about 5 mins with the wind in my hair until I started getting weirded out by it. Then I wondered if I was going the wrong way. So I checked my google maps and called Luc to keep me company. After some confusion I was back on track and cruising along on the Camino again. Not gonna lie: my crotch hurts. And as you can see by the photo, my hand is bruised (too many bumps I think). I had some snacks in the shade. Then for the last 19km the Camino was tight beside the road so i picked the smooth road of course. Arrived at my destination at 1pm. I met some old friends on the trail and they suggested to stay at Albergue Santa Maria. And there I found more old friends!! So cool. This albergue is so cool. More on that in a minute. The bonus to riding is that your feet aren’t exhausted so I spent a good portion of the afternoon exploring the beautiful town. Then I came back for the nun’s singing. We went around the circle and said our name, where were from and why were doing to Camino. So beautiful. I had my daily tinto de verano with Maria and then headed to mass. Afterwards there was a very special pilgrims blessing where they gave us all stars to represent light. It was so beautiful. The nun that is glowing in the photo had such a beautiful loving energy about her.

Day 21 – Carrión de los Condes to Bercianos del Real Camino

Another beautiful day in Spain ??. For up, talked to Luc and Vivi and took off on my bike. This morning the first stop was 17kms away. The longest stretch without a town on the Camino so far (dare I say the entire walk?). On a bike it’s not too bad at all. I forgot to mention yesterday that it was my first day without bandaids on my feet in 2.5 weeks! That’s big!! After the 17k the trail was again right beside the road so to save my saddle I rode the smooth road. I flew down the hills. I had my music on and I sang at the top of my lungs while I stood on my pedals. The meseta has been so much joy and fun for me on Angel. I have to part with her tomorrow. By 11am I was at my destination. So I opted for going another 10kms so I could reduce my ride tomorrow. I need to be in Leon by 1:30pm to return my bike. I found this tiny albergue (see the hole in the wall) that went to a wonderful garden area, nice big bathroom, and only two bunks to a room. Heaven. Albergue Santa Clara. So the annoying thing is this: I signed up for something called Step Bet where you pay $40 and if you make the 6 week goals then you have a crack at the pot. I thought “no problem, waking the Camino will be a breeze and I’ll get rich at the same time”. Well after the bike ride yesterday and today I was only at 2000 steps of 13,653. So yesterday it wasn’t so bad as my feet aren’t tired after biking (bonus) and the town was super cute to explore (double bonus). Today though the town is so strange. On my walking tour I took a lot of photos of doors. And I walked around and around while I talked to Brianna on WhatsApp. Seems strange to ride almost 50km and then walk almost 8km. Anyway the pot is $40k and week 3 of 6 so we’ll see what happens… Today I think I’m at 413km accomplished. Over half way. That feels good. I’m so looking forward to Luc joining me in less than 2 weeks. Can’t wait.

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Camino: Day 16-18

Atapuerca and Burgos

Day 16 – Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca:

Coming out of Villafranca in the morning was up up up. And have I mentioned lately how much I love the up? Downs kill my feet/toes. Then there was this downhill like I’ve never seen. I thought I might start to fall to the bottom. I could hear some 20 nothing behind me sliding down the hill. “Buen Camino!” as he rolled past me. Then only to be met with another straight up. Spain loves their hills. It was 12.4 km until the first town. That was a lot. Luckily Feena shared her yogourt with me and I had a granola bar and apple. We stopped at the Oasis. Too bad it was Sunday as the breakfast board looked amazing. The oasis is this weird and delightful place on the side of the trail in the middle of nowhere. I finally got a cafe con lèche at about 10:30-11. I had a bit of a scare which sent me into another spiral wondering what I need to learn from the Camino again. The scare seems to be nothing so I soldiered on. But I definitely shed some tears and Feena helped me to do some self reflection. I adore Feena. Another angel on my journey. I have to say goodbye to her tomorrow. ? we walked together for most of yesterday. Then we got to this wonderful albergue and we got to share a room with Otto and Linda! I spent the afternoon drinking wine with Otto and chin wagging with Linda with my feet up of course. My feet: blisters are healing/no more to report for a while. Unfortunately I have more bed bug bites so I’m treating and drying my stuff in a dryer. Sigh… it’s not as bad as I thought (I HATE bugs) but they got my thighs and butt cheeks (tmi? Fml!). We had a nice pilgrims meal with the four of us and Frances and David. It was so wonderful to have everyone together. I felt so fortunate. I cried again (of course). Tomorrow BURGOS!! This is a big deal!

Day 17 – Atapuerca to Burgos:

Early morning (7am start) in the dark. I walked with Otto and Linda for a good portion of the day. They said I’m walking faster!! Must mean my feet problems are improving in more ways than one. Up up up as we like to do straight out of the gate to the top. There was the cross and a spiral path constructed with rocks at the top. The terrain up seemed like it must have been lava at one point. Very technical to walk. It was cool and windy which was a nice relief. We walked until coffee (about 6km) and had a wonderful breakfast (tortilla de patata). Onward we trudged and met Sylvan along the way: an emphatic biker who wanted us so desperately to make it to the river. He drew a picture in the gravel and when he left us he kissed me on the cheeks and Linda on the mouth! There’s two routes into Burgos: the industrial way when you walk for 6km through industry or the river way which is longer (some people said a half km others said 3km). We chose the river way. Soooo beautiful. Burgos really does feel like the end of an act-a transition so to speak. I understand there are still 2 acts left. It’s like the whole camino shifts now as we prepare for the meseta. The meseta (from what I understand) is 10-12 days of walking on flat, barren, no shade trail. It’s where people can’t be distracted by the beautiful sights and it’s a time to turn inward and where the deep inner learning takes place. I have chosen to bike this section. It will take me 4 days. Then I’ll have more time hopefully in Leon and Astorga to sight see a little and to heal my feet further. It also means that my bubble of friends will shift as I’ll fast forward in front of them. It’s an interesting feeling to be on your own again doing your own thing. I’m staying one more day in Burgos.

Day 18 – Burgos – REST DAY

I still woke up at 5:30am as the pilgrims still get up then to start their day and it’s hard to sleep past 6 when the lights come on in the municipal albergues. For the 17th time I left my walking sticks behind in the albergue and had to go back and get them. I had a breakfast with bacon, eggs and potatoes!!! I haven’t had a breakfast like this since I left Canada ??. Feena and I did a walking tour of the cathedral. This cathedral is immense. And the ceilings are just incredible. The detail each chapel’s relief had is really astounding. You need to see it to appreciate it I think. After that we walked to our next place to sleep. We rented a hotel room for 39€. A pretty good deal. I bought some black garbage bags so I could treat my backpack in case there are any more bed bugs inside. And we sent all the laundry through the washer and dryer (most important part). Then we walked to the bike rental place to secure me a bike for the next 4 days. The bike is 100€ and comes with helmet, paniers, and a lock. Also bungees to secure my backpack to the top of the paniers. Picking it up at 9am today. I’m pretty excited and nervous! Then to have a bite to eat. After that we returned to the hotel… a seista, organized my washing and packed my backpack, chatted with some friends back home and then out for dinner with Otto, Linda and Feena. The food is really starting to be just the same over and over again. My travel bottle I bought from MEC has broken so my shampoo became unusable. So i had to buy travel size shampoo and i couldn’t resist it’s match – travel size conditioner so last night my hair actually felt nourished for the first time in 2.5 weeks. It’s the small things.

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