Throughout biking the Camino we had lots of time to think and write each day. Giving a summary about everything that I thought was pretty hard to do, so I took the highlights out of my writing and categorized them below. Each thought is separated by a dashed line ( —- ). Here are some of my reflections throughout the trip.
- Simplicity – Biking down to the river never felt so good. The cool water on my face, hair, and body feels amazing after biking all day in the heat. That feeling is the simplicity in life that we all take for grandit. It’s seen to us as every day normal stuff in life. But when we simplify life and take a journey with bare minimum we don’t need to look to alcohol, drugs, or anything else for amazing feelings, just go to a cool river after biking for 20 miles. That feeling will be with me for a while. The same goes for a meal after traveling for two days barely eating, or a shower after being covered in dust sweat and grease. God has given us so much. —- I am happy on the bike. It’s where I belong. I don’t do it for the race, I do it for everything. The tough uphills, the challenging mental ability to keep going when you want to stop, the wind running with you on a downhill, the obstacles on a track. When I are tired, dirty, sweating and can take in a deep breath and sigh and be thankful, that is my gift or passion in life. I did that today after going up two big dusty and rocky hills, and then laughed to myself, after realizing what just happened. I was tired, dust in my mouth, sweaty, out of breathe, and…happy. —- After climbing through a lot of tough rocks we came upon this small run down side of a building. That was all it was, there was no roof, just a small side of a used to be building. A guy walked out and greeted us. There was two mattresses along side the wall with a small draping over the and a little fire/oven. We started talking to him, he offered us fresh figs which were amazing at the time, juice, museili, peanut butter for free. He never asked or said anything about a donation. Said he lived there for 5 years out in the nature, just him and one other. As we were leaving he said Enjoy life! He had done the Camino from Barcelona to Santiago and back. He was pretty awesome, I knew we would have a good ride after talking to him.
- Being Positive – We ate lunch on the side of a huge haystack and talked about the hill we are about to climb with the brazlian biker. It is so important to be positive and look at the small accomplishments than focusing on the big task at hand. It is important to keep the the whole picture in mind every once in a while, but if that’s your focus your mind can not comprehend doing that task. Your mind will get overwhelmed. So look at the small accomplishments and be happy about them. –— It seems like everything can get manatounous, even biking the Camino has gotten like that. We have a routine, we get up at 630, eat a little something, pack our stuff, bike for 2 hours then eat, then bike until about 3. Everyday on the bike. So we could easily get sick of biking. It can become like work, same thing everyday. The good thing is that it doesn’t, because we enjoy biking so much it hasn’t dragged us down. But the other thing is that we have to be positive. We can’t let that stuff drag us down. Anything can drag anyone down and manatounous activities are around us all the time. We just have to choose how to respond to it. How often to change it up and how to accept it. At some point we will have to accept it, because it is everywhere. It is almost impossible to have a different day every day. Even traveling can be a routine.
- Put yourself in situations of need – We came into Burgos and were about to the city center when Katie tried to take a curb to close to her tire and took a tumble. We were at the 38 mile marker and I knew we were definetly not going any further. She was already bruised up and this one was gonna be a good bruising right on her knee and arms. Two ladies ran over to help her as I was further down the road. Flustered, tired, and in pain we said enough and decided to try and find a spot to sleep in the town. The second we got out our book/map of alburgues a guy stopped on bike and asked if we needed help. We said we need a place to stay. He said follow me. With Katie not wanting to talk too much and still trying to regain her composure, I asked him if he has done the Camino. He said yes, three times on bike. It’s funny, everyone that helps you on the way, has been in need or in that helpless situation before. Only when you have been left on the road is truly when you know how it feels like to be on the road…lost or without food or a bed for the night. The people who know how that feels are the people who help. I think it’s important to put ourselves in those situations so we can truly help, so it comes natural to help. He biked right to the door of the alburgue and told us about the town with a smile on his face. Hopefully his little two year old on the back of his bike, will already be learning from his dad’s kindness.
- Stories – The stop half way reminded us of the trail we were on, displaying the death of someone from the Netherlands, with a cross, pictures, and poems from loved ones. –— Initially I thought the Camino would be not as good because so many people are now doing it, but I was definetly wrong. There is great cromradary on the trail, with everyone doing it for different reasons with different stories. It’s definitely a unique trek. —- We went through rolling hills of cut hay that gave off a yellow tint, churned dirt that gave off a light red color, a dirt path that was worn, and the mountains in the distance. I can’t count how many wineries we go through each day. At least fifty? We saw sheep being herded by a tractor up a small dirt road. Ate lunch under a small patch of green grass under a tree. –— We went to eat one night with some other pilgrims we met along the way. We listened to this Venezuelan Irish guy talk about his many Camino stories. The typical guy you would meet on the Camino, talking with everyone, and friendly as ever. Almost exactly like the Dutch guy in the movie. He talked about drinking a bottle of wine mid hike mid day then wanting to climb to a castle off the way, climbing to it, then finding nobody there and realizing he was drunk; a bunk bed collapsing on him in the middle of the night with nobody hearing it leaving him helpless in a room of 30 people; how he jumped off a bridge 20 ft into a river and how his ankle got infected that night; how we had to go to the hospital, then transferred to another hospital. Funny and lovely guy. —- We saw at least a 75 year old man pulling his bags on a wheelbarrow attached around his waist, we saw a man crying his eyes out at the Pilgrims mass in Santiago, we saw a guy in a wheelchair bike on the mountain trail, we saw a group of 70 year old south african women, we saw a couple pushing a 1 year old in a stroller.
- Being thankful – I looked at Katie today after biking to this small town and thought that I’m very lucky to have a girl to share this with me. She’s a biker and she is tough. Not many guys can take their wife or gf on trips like this. I’m lucky to have one that wants to do it all with me. –— We got to Burgos and went through the industrial side of town that was busy and lots of big businesses. It was a reminder of how lucky we were to be out in peace.
- Reflections about ourselves – The whole time everyone was telling each other to try their own food at dinner. I found Katie and I just wanting to eat our own since we were pretty hungry, then I thought to myself they are all just as hungry as us. We as Americans are not good at sharing. —- It’s crazy to think this journey will end in 4-5 days. It seems it has been been part of me forever now. I don’t want it to end. The peacefulness, beauty, new relationships, ever changing places to stay, challenging thoughts, challenging physical, experience of adventure everyday, everyday sunrises, sunsets…the perfect travel. The Camino has given me everything. I have to do more of this travel. Everything has been amazing. This adventure has everything and teaches us about life. I don’t want it to be over, because I know I will miss it. I am an adventurer and this has just started my adventure. Passion is starting to grow in me.
- Take our time – The Camino is not a race. It’s an adventure in every sense of our world. It challenges you, pushes you, has beauty around each corner, lets you meet great people, gives you original places to stay, and lets you hear different stories. It is the definition of journey in life. –— There is no success or failure. Katie originally thought she had to do a certain amount of miles per day, and was afraid of climbing a high mountain because she was afraid she couldn’t do it. But it is a long journey, not making one hill does not define you, we are all on this journey and it doesn’t have a time period. We started to realize that we are not bound by these rules, and we can be happy doing just 10 miles a day. Whether that is walking without a bag, biking, taking a week break, or coming back every year to do three days to finish in 10 years. Its the journey of it all and not about racing to the finish line. —- Traveling for me shouldn’t be stressful, if I’m worrying about finding places to stay I don’t want to go there. Travel should be something else. —- Met this old Spanish waiter that said he wouldn’t put his body in front of the Camino. It is not worth it for your body to hurt on the Camino. Camino is about the beauty, take your time, eat with new friends, drink some wine. He did the whole Camino in bike that took 30 days, meaning he did around 20 kilometers a day, which is about 13 miles a day and took it easy. He said that you loose the experience if your racing through towns…take your time.
- The End – Santiago was the end point for us as well as this big professional bike race going through Spain. It’s the equivalent of the Tour de France in Spain. We did know that going into it and thought it might be cool to see but weren’t dead set on seeing it. We did not know how big it was or that the end was directly in front of the cathedral. It was quite anticlimactic getting into Santiago. There was this huge set up with music and mass amounts of people for this event. It was not peaceful, not meaningful, and not sentimental. I could see all the pilgrims sitting on the back wall writing and observing the scenes, seemed pretty fitting. The reality of ending your journey is that your just another person in a big city. There is no party for you, instead there are people bumping your shoulders to get pictures on their tour. The church in Santiago has a huge amount of people trying to get the Santiago experience, while the church is covered up in murals because it’s being worked on, and there are noises of elevators bringing supplies up to the church top. Anti-climatic…but the reality and the whole point of travel. Travel is not a destination, the destination will most likely let you down, but travel is your experiences while going to your end destination, and the walking or biking in between that gives you peace.