One year ago today I cashed in some frequent flyer miles and bought a ticket to Madrid. Two days later, I moved back to Indiana, and I then had 8 days to plan and pack for my Camino. For me, it was perfect. Enough time to order a backpack and other supplies from Amazon (using Amazon gift cards, but not so much time that I got too bogged down in the details.
I first heard of the Camino in college and back then only knew of the Camino Frances. In 2012, I learned of other routes and walked with a church group along the Camino Ingles in 2013. I figured that would be my Camino, and I was terribly grateful for that experience, but I couldn’t quite put aside the idea that maybe one day I would get to walk “the whole thing” (more on that in another post).
Winter 2013-2014 was long and cold. It was horrible. I dreamt of Spain and the warmth of the Camino. And started to research. By then I had found there was a coastal route (yay, ocean!) and that there was a saying in Spanish that suggested a true Camino went through Oviedo. So, well before I knew it would happen, I decided upon the Norte/Primitivo route.
I read stories in the forums, poured over the maps, checked out packing lists and bedbug tips, filing everything away for another day. I counted the stages, planned for some rest days, and figured my minimum length would be 35 days. I searched for guidebooks (there’s really only one in English and it worked, but could be better) and found documents the forum users had compiled, then edited them to serve my needs.
Not gonna lie. My job was not all I had hoped it would be, so during those long winter months, when the dishes were done and the child was napping, I logged on to see when the frequent flyer miles were valid. And nothing, not for spring, summer, or even early fall. And still I planned, not knowing when I could put those plans to use.
But then, my chance came. No job, someone else living in and taking care of the house, and a free plane ticket. And it scared me, how it all seemed to fit together. Almost like it was too good to be true. So I asked people to tell me why I shouldn’t go. And almost no one did. Even the practical one. She was actually one of the most enthusiastic supporters. In fact, only one person suggested I do something else with the frequent flyer miles.
I couldn’t really justify just using my frequent flyer miles for a vacation, especially since this was a dream of mine for over a decade and it isn’t often that one is blessed with such a long period of time to make a long Camino.
Though the time from decision to plane ticket purchase to touchdown in Spain seemed short at face-value, there was a longer period of general planning. Planning that would have turned into obsessing had I purchased the ticket any sooner and known I was making a Camino that fall. Ten days from purchase to take-off meant I had to work hard to get everything together and didn’t have time to overthink or micromanage. It was a well-thought-out whim, that happened one year ago today 🙂
It’s funny that this has been a dream of yours for a decade. I can’t imagine how that release must feel like when the experience actually happens. I have the JMT on my bucket list and tentatively scheduled my trip for June…2030 (not joking). I want my kids to go with me. 15 years to go and this trip has been on my mind for a decade so far. I look forward to following along with you here! Please keep things updated on facebook!
Yup, I think I first heard of it in 2003 and never thought it would be possible to have both enough time and money to do it. A little less planning than your 15 year plan, though. But what an awesome family adventure for you all!
I think it didn’t actually hit me that it was really happening until I landed in Madrid and had no idea where I was going to sleep that night or even where to buy my train ticket to the start of the Camino.
The end was also surreal, too. Walking into Santiago was almost anticlimactic. Almost. It was a short day, so didn’t seem Camino-esque enough. And I think I’ve put off really digesting the experience because I don’t want it to be over, even a year later.
There will be more reflections as I do process things, but for the raw stories, written – if not published – each evening after some very long days, you can check out the archives, starting in October 2014.
Yes, somehow when the “Camino Bug” hits, you must answer the call – no matter how long it takes!
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Dearest Andrea, happy anniversary. Alessandro, Marco and with me, Tim, drinking beer and reminiscing on last year, enjoying your blog and planning the next experience from Tim’s home in London. We all hope that you are happy with life and that you found what you were looking for on the camino. Happy all souls day… any news from Vittorio? Tim xxx
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!! I have been thinking and praying for you guys (and the rest of our ‘camino family) today!! Such a blessing to arrive in Santiago on the Feast of All Souls (and for you, on the Feast of All Saints!). How are all of you? I think your next adventure should include visiting America and seeing me!! I have not heard anything from Vittorio, but it is on my list to write to him today, as you did, on the anniversary. I have heard from Tash and Petra, though. Tash took another adventure in Spain walking the GR11, and Petra seems to always be up to something. Such a joy to hear from you! Thank you! Thank you!
The Lord has still not yet revealed His overall plan for my life, but there were amazing graces received on the Camino. I carried lots of intentions with me and slowly it is being revealed just how the Lord used my prayers for others in my life.
Maybe we can all meet up in Italy one of these days and walk part of the Via Francigena or the Way of St Francis. Alessandro did say I need to try real pesto some day. I would love to hear form you all and how you are doing – and the graces of your camino. My e-mail is email@example.com
Hugs to all of you!!