We’re waiting for our train to arrive in Ourense station. We’ve completed 311 kilometers of our Camino from Leon to Santiago De Compostela. Our plans changed last minute, as we were going to walk an additional 100 klms to Finesterre, the famous and beautiful beach just west of Santiago where many pilgrims go to relax.
One lesson I learned from the Camino is to pay attention to what my body is telling me. I had a strong habit of overriding the signals it pleads me to listen to and go ahead with what my mind tells me, when the majority of the times it isn’t good for me. I would continue to walk when I shouldn’t have.
As a result I paid the price during my Camino. I insisted on walking as close to 30 klms (and sometimes more) a day, that way we can get to Santiago as early as possible. My feet screamed with pain and my body was exhausted. I still pushed through regardless, ignoring the pleas.
Then I found myself stuck on a 1350 meter high mountain crying my eyes out with 13 blisters and nowhere to go. It was 10 klms of rocks in all directions to a roadway. I didn’t know what to do – either die out there in the woods or crawl down because my feet just would support me. Walking barefoot was out of the question.
Thankfully two angels disguised as older Sicilian men came to my rescue. They spent over half an hour patching my feet up, giving me proper socks and fixing up my boots in order for me to make it to the next town, that way I could get proper footwear.
I would like to think that I had learned my lesson by that point but I hadn’t. I still insisted on pushing my body far beyond what I should have. It wasn’t until my Hubby got injured that I finally learned many things.
We were on our way to Montan when we started to feel tired and drained. We stopped for a while for him to rest. The muscle along his shoulder blade began hurting more than usual and he wasn’t able to carry his backpack, yet he insisted on doing so. I finally convinced him to change backpacks with me. I was surprised at how heavy it was, but I carried it anyway for the rest of the way to the town.
It was then I realised how we weren’t honouring our bodies. I pushed to make sure we met our goals regardless of how I was feeling, and he refused to part with things in his pack to make it lighter.
We made a promise to each other that we would not continue doing what we had been doing up to that point. We shipped our tent back home, we gave away my hiking boots and I donated other things I had that we could live without. If we needed something, we would find a way to get it.
When we approached Santiago, I could see the city in the distance. Every step I took, I felt more exhaustion, more pain and more frustration. I just wanted to get there but it felt like I wasn’t moving. The walk to the Basilica seemed like it took forever. Once we arrived, it took all the energy reserved to just high five each other.
Then we went to our aubergue.
And I cried. And cried. And cried.
I cried because every ounce of my body hurt. I hurt in places I didn’t know I could hurt. I cried because I was beyond exhaustion. I cried because I know I mistreated my body and yet it still cared for me and carried me regardless.
And I cried because I had successfully completed one of the most difficult and amazing things I had ever done in my life (outside of giving birth).
And so, after a few days in Santiago, we decided to forgo Finesterre and make our way to Ourense, which is a not so well known place that has natural Roman Thermal Baths. We decided to celebrate and honour our bodies, as they allowed us to do the most amazing thing – hike through northern Spain and endure the not so nice treatment from us. It was our way to say thank you and help them heal.
We spent a couple of days floating in these outdoor natural mineral pools. As I would step into the pool I could feel the tingles of the minerals healing the aching and wounded areas of my body. I could feel my body say thank you as I would float around, and how it would just sigh as I’d switch between the different temperatures pools.
The Camino really does have a way to bring to your attention that which requires listening to. I’m grateful that we were willing to listen and able to hear what was being said to us. This newfound appreciation for my body is something that I will carry within my heart for my lifetime.