This post will not contain a straight answer of why walk El Camino de Santiago. Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question, nor can anyone answer it. It is impossible to give someone any straight answers as of why walk el Camino de Santiago. It is a very personalized experience for anyone to point out even the general reasons for walking it.
The phrase I heard the most while walking across Northern Spain (after “Buen Camino” of course) was “so why are you walking the Camino de Santiago?”
Why was I walking El Camino? I found it hard at first to answer this question, I thought I had reasons, I thought I had a good reason, but when trying to explain this reason to others it always sounded naive, or more of stupid. I tried asking this question to other people as well, and I heard lots of stories; many people shared their drama, other shared reasons that sounded even more naive than I thought my reasons were. But we were all there, and walking, with all the different backgrounds and reasons.
And the truth is, no matter what reasons anyone came for, we were all rewarded in a very similar yet personalized way by the Camino.
Let me just tell you at the beginning, when embracing this new experience, no matter what your reasons are, the first week or 10 days, you will ask yourself, every single morning, why the heck am I walking? Why the heck am I doing this to myself while I can be enjoying a beach or any other getaway destination with the same exact amount of money? Just do your best at getting over the physical pain of the first 10 days, and you’ll know why the heck you were doing this to yourself. You will then understand that the physical pain was one of the rewards of the Camino to you, a part of the experience, and you’ll eventually even learn to enjoy it, and to use it as a motivation to keep going forward!
After you get over the physical pain, you then struggle with yourself, with your sanity, it is the “Meseta”, the desert, the plateau, the flat lands and the barely changing landscape and views that challenges you. Many people prefer skipping these couple of hundred kilometers by bus, but if you walk them, you always learn something new, meet someone different and find out something more about yourself.
After that, and by walking in Galicia, or shortly before it, you start encountering mountains again, changes in colors and landscapes; and changes within you. By that time you have learned some life lessons, and you are used to walking and hearing the nature, listening to the winds and understanding the signs offered by the mountains and trees. It is in Galicia, or the last phase of the Camino de Santiago, that you always find yourself content and happy with what you’re doing, willing to live happily and give expecting no return.
So after around 30 days of walking, did we, Camino walkers, get answers to the questions we began with? Did our reasons for walking change? Now I have an answer to this, and it is YES.
I walked El Camino de Santiago expecting long times of contemplation and meditation, thinking alone until I found the perfect solution to my riddle. But it doesn’t happen this way, instead, I met lots of people, and as I mentioned, each one had different stories to tell and different reasons for walking. And talking with those people is what gave me the answer to my dilemma.
Go walk el Camino and expect a good answer to whatever your question is, but be open to receiving this answer from anyone, or anything. Be open to receive this answer from a drunk thought you had after a tiring day, or from a sleepless night’s thought. From some strong winds that blew the sand in your face, or from a hazy thought while sucking on pebbles because of thirst and lack of water. Be open to receive it from some old wise man that you met by chance, or from a like aged person who’s always acting funny yet they have the greatest of reasons to walk.
For that reason I recommend walking el Camino de Santiago, for your own specific reasons, which I assure you will be met, no matter what they are. As everyone else that has walked El Camino, yet specifically tailored for you, you will be satisfied.
Plus the fact that you can brag about it later and say you have walked across a whole country, from its Eastern borders to the Atlantic Ocean 😀