Two years later
Exactly 2 years ago I left from Maastricht towards Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to start my first Camino de Santiago, the Camino Francés. Here are some answers to questions I received :
How many days did you walk?
After exactly 25 days when I started walking from L’Esprit du Chemin in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port I arrived in Santiago de Compostella.
How many kilometers did you walk?
I cannot be precise on this one. I didn’t use GPS. Several guides and maps write it’s around 780-805 kilometers. Historical books mention it’s 784 kilometers. Keep in mind that the route is changed due to the fact the roads nowadays are different. Despite what most people believe the route is now longer than the ancient path because in modern time we have to walk around highways.
What is important during walking?
If you walk a lot you would think you need food. Food is not really important. Water is important. When drinking regularly I was able to walk dozens of kilometers. You can handle walking without food. I walked stages of 20 kilometers without eating and when I arrived in a village… I had no hunger feeling at all. Listen to your body is important, other things do not matter.
How much was your most walked kilometers in one day?
I did walk in one day approx. 50 kilometers. It was from Ponferrada to La Faba. Great experience.
Were you not often feeling alone?
I didn’t feel that way. Sometimes I walked dozens of kilometers alone and I was able to relax and think thru life. While on other moments you got quick in contact with fellow pilgrims.
Walk people only for religious reason the Camino?
I talk and write a lot about pilgrimage and pilgrims but not everyone does it for religious reasons. Most people walk the Camino because they like to walk a lot, to hike, meet people, reflect. Of course there are many people who walk it for spiritual and/or religious reasons. Everyone does it for his or her own motives.
Are you now believing more because of the Camino?
No, that’s not the case. I feel and believe that my opinion and feelings towards religion is the same the before I walked the Camino. What is actually changed is for me personally that I’m now more open to spiritual feelings. I’m a tech guys in ICT but I’m now also more open to things I cannot explain, but also doesn’t feel the urge to explain all.
Did you think about quiting?
Yes, several times. Especially during the hike over the Pyrenean mountains when I was thinking what the heck am I doing here. While on other moments I missed the people I love and thought about going them soon an so quitting. Good thing is I didn’t quit. Physically I never thought about quitting. I listened well to the signals of my body. I’m proud that with perseverance I was able to complete the journey of 800 kilometers.
Is the Camino comparable to your marathon in New York?
No, absolutely not. The marathon is a one distance match. I experienced more pain during the New York marathon than I ever felt again. The difference is that during the Camino you are aware you have to walk the next day to complete it all well. You can push it but not that much. I saw young people get injured, they had to stop the Camino. I had only one goal and this was arriving healthy in Santiago in 40 days.
Do you nowadays hike a lot?
I still hike on a regular basis. Nothing is comparable with hiking on the Camino but walking is still giving me a nice feeling. Somewhat ago I was in Eiffel (Germany) and we were in a village. Women shopping and the men looking around. Suddenly someone joked to me, shall we walk to our hotel. It’s maximum 10 kilometers thru the woods. I said of course yes. We asked which way we had to walk and a woman told us left going upwards. We went walking and walking. Wonderful. Not knowing how you have to walk, how much it is but just arriving because you walk. I felt that my experience of the Camino showed me how to walk without knowing where I was. A nice feeling.
What shocked you?
I was in shock that a human being needs that little to be happy. I’m now back and I can still enjoy luxurious and nice things. During walking you feel that all materials in your back-pack are crap you don’t need to survive. I learned to put everything in another perspective, even on a level I didn’t know that level existed. I’m also changed in those two years. Daily I think about the Camino which helps me making decisions.
Did you meet your inner self?
If you walk so much without distraction you are certain to find your inner self sooner or later. The good things of yourself about also the less nicer parts. The good thing is you have so much time for yourself without any noise you can give this very quick a place. I found it beautiful to see everyone was doing this, consciously or unconsciously.
What still puzzles me is that you meet strangers during walking in a foreign country and from the first moment one you have a deep connection and talks with them. No matter the age, sex, political preference, language, etc… Quite quick you’ve got a new friend which feeling cannot be written down. You understand each other faster than your friends at home. I think that is because nobody judge or condemn during the Camino while friends and family this always tend to do this. I found this nice to experience. I felt here that people are nice and beautiful.
Are you changed?
I think so. I also asked my friends and family. I because more quiet, as in relax, but I still have that passion going strong. I take more time for myself since I walked the Camino because I experienced there why it’s so important to have me-time and it feels great to have.
What are you currently doing?
I learned to use my qualities every day and put them in good use. I have to plan my days well and put energy in projects I want to do. The expression is don’t take the wrong path. Every day I’m aware if I’m on the path I want to be on. I started writing my fourth book. ICT is my passion. I only accept ICT projects where customer but also myself are having benefits and feel excited about to give satisfaction. I love that feeling.
Will this be your first and last camino?
I cannot answer this yet. I’m thinking of walking the Camino Primitivo.
Which are new ways for making contact?
The Dutch book “Europese ICT Professional z’n Camino de Santiago” has it’s own facebookpage : http://www.facebook.com/EuropeseICTProfessional. The English edition also : European ICT Professional his Camino de Santiago.