September 18th, 2013. I guess, its time to regroup. I was so busy walking everyday it was easy to not realize how quickly our walking turned into racing. It’s time for a bit of an explanation. After 12 days of solid 5-6 hours of walking each day, and walking around 150 miles, and getting into what I thought was the groove of the Camino, our Camino de Santiago came to a screeching halt.
Somewhere after Agés, after losing my temper at the sheer tourism that the Camino de Santiago was bringing into this small town (and the Monopoly the businesses had there), and the rudeness of Agés, the trip went downhill. These little towns weren’t in this for the journey anymore, the Camino turned into a money-making tourist endeavor. We had seen only a few albergues who were really there to assist Peregrinos in their journey, and not out to make a profit. It had become as I termed it, The Disney Camino, a glorified race of Peregrino’s rushing from one town to the next to assure a bed. The journey had indeed become easier, and the sheer number of people setting out almost made the whole ordeal comical.
It was a common theme over dinner amongst walkers, it just wasn’t what it used to be. It wasn’t the mind clearing walk that had been promised. Even as one priest at the Parish church, and best Albergue we stayed in mentioned, “Some people are in it for all the wrong reasons.” The large numbers are only expected to increase over the next few years, and indeed Spain could use the influx of tourism, but that shouldn’t be what the reason for the Camino. There are tourist attractions for that. It seems, Emilio Estevez hadn’t considered what a potential detrimental effect his movie The Way might have on this sacred and ancient journey. The Camino that Kent and I saw was a far cry from a spiritual journey about enjoying the world in good company, it became a race to the finish, and we didn’t want that. There was also no solitude, there were lines everywhere. We didn’t have the money to book all the private albergues in advance to allow for casual walking, in fact we barely had enough money to spend on the once 3-6€ Municipal Albergues who have spiked to being 5-10€ to support the large amounts of people coming to stay. And even since last year, each private albergue had gone up at least 2€.
We were running out of money quick. Specifically, after the disaster that was our trip to Ireland the week before the hike that cost us at least a week’s worth of Camino funds. The relaxed attitude of “oh we’ll arrive when we get there” was no longer an option, I don’t think the original spirit of the Camino is an option anymore. The cheap, spiritual journey we had thought we were preparing for has disappeared. I came to terms with the fact that our choices were either to use the last of my money to keep walking into a deeper hole of more unexpected costs, touristy attractions on the Camino, and more racing than meandering, or go home while we still had some money. I made the executive decision to use the city of Burgos, a wonderful big city, for a cheap connection to Madrid where we would fly out of Spain on Tuesday, September 17th.
The Camino was tough. Physically we could have finished. I still would have finished, had I not run out of money. It was also important to accept that okay-ness of not finishing it. It seems that the Camino wasn’t either one of our journeys, yet. It was time for us to go home, to find the right path… the one we’re supposed to be on. I did lose 6 lbs in the process, I gained some great new muscles, and my brother (5 years my senior) and I learned a lot about each other. We learned a lot about getting along. Family is a give and take situation. You learn that you can encourage each other to do and be better. Kent and I learned that although in many ways we are quite similar, there are some things that you just have to accept about your family members and move on.
“Be nice to your siblings; they are the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future”~ Baz Luhrman.
We embraced our similarities, we fought, we had some days apart, but we had a great trip home together side by side on the 10 hr flight back to Texas.
We spent 2 days enjoying Madrid and left at 1:00 PM on Tuesday, arriving in Dallas Texas at 5:00PM (losing 7 hours of time zone) and arriving finally at home at around 11:30 at night. I’m not as exhausted as I’d thought I might be, but the culmination of large events that has happened to me since August 20th is finally bearing down on me since I’ve stopped moving. The thesis defense that day alone knocked me off my feet, and I never stopped to find my balance again. I think its time for me to go find myself in my desert paradise.
Wähntest du etwa,
Ich sollte das Leben hassen,
In Wüsten fliehen,
Weil nicht alle
Blütenträume reiften? – Goethe