CAMINO FRANCES – Reflections (2017)

So, the Camino Frances is done and dusted – though not the full distance, but 729km is pretty close. For 29 days we were living by a very simple routine.

OUR ROUTINE

  • Woke up early in the morning (without any alarm)
  • Brushed our teeth and washed our face
  • Get dressed – a choice between 2 sets of clothes
  • Rolled up our sleeping bags and packed our backpacks
  • Start walking
  • Stop somewhere to eat
  • Walking
  • Get to our destination and choose an albergue/hostel
  • Make our beds (by rolling out our sleeping bags)
  • Shower
  • Do our laundry
  • Relax & meet new (and old) friends
  • Eat
  • Sleep

One could add another point here: “Attending to my blisters” (for Corna). Call that her “beauty routine”.

There was absolutely nothing complicated about this routine.

And that is the beauty of the Camino … we did not have to plan anything ahead. Yes, we had a look in our (Brierley) guide book to see how far we would be walking the following day and which route we should take … but other than that, we just lived for the moment.

There were days that we were chatting to each other or to other pilgrims, but there were also days that we were walking 50m apart (Berto normally in front) and did not speak a word. For the first kilometer or two, we would think about all different kind of stuff, but then our minds would “shut down” and we would walk in absolute solitude.

WHAT IS IMPORTANT

We realised two very prominent things:

  • It was important for our bodies to get exercise,
  • and our minds to get quiet

THE CAMINO SPIRIT

We came back home in Cape Town and a couple of days later we were back at work. We told people about our journey, re-lived the moments when looking at photo’s and tried to hang on to the Camino spirit for as long as possible …

… But, before we knew it, we were back in the same old routine of getting up at an un-humanly time, only to sit in daily traffic on our way to work. After arriving home, we were so stressed and tired that we barely had enough energy to prepare dinner before going to sleep. Only to repeat everything the next day …

Traffic

Constant traffic … frustrating!

After a month or so, we were discussing the whole experience of the Camino again and then made the following list:

WHAT DO WE REALLY NEED IN LIFE

  1. A small house – no need for 3 bedrooms when you’re only two people living there
  2. A bed to sleep in – and that bed don’t have to be king size – just a normal bed (preferably with a warm blanket for the winter)
  3. Clothes – of course we need clothes, but not 2 cupboards full for each of us!
  4. Two meals a day are sufficient – and each meal don’t have to consists of many ingredients – a simple meal of soup and bread every now and then will be fine
  5. We need water – to shower and to drink
  6. Someone to share our dreams and life with, someone we love and loves us back
  7. Faith in our Heavenly Father

For the two of us, this was a list we could live by …

AND WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER STUFF

Yes, of course it is nice to have two cars, a big TV, plenty of seating in your lounge, a selection of shoes, etc. But, the question we had to ask ourselves was whether all these things were essential in order to make a living?

MINIMALISM IS THE WAY TO GO!

Then we started a new project … the project of minimalism!

  • The best place to start, was in our closets … we gave away bags of clothes to people in need (and we never missed a single piece of clothing afterwards!)
  • And secondly, our kitchen cupboards! So many things were stacked at the back of these cupboards we have not used in years – it was time to give these away to people who could still use it.
  • We kept the second car (for now), but only used one to travel to work. Though we work at different companies, we traveled the same route and with a bit of planning and patience, we could travel together.
  • We kept the TV (also just for now), but stopped watching meaningless programs – in stead, we used the time to have conversations with each other and to enjoy more outdoor activities.
  • We made the decision that if we buy something (clothes, shoes, kitchen equipment, etc.), we first need to get rid of the old piece in our house. This way we were replacing and not accumulating!

AND HOW DID ALL OF THIS MADE US FEEL

I can tell you – a huge sense of liberation! We felt that we were adding more meaning to our lives and we loved this new direction!

We knew that this was not the end of the road, but only the beginning of something much bigger.

We are happy that the Camino spirit is still part of our lives, even after we finished walking the Camino Frances … we just had to find a way of practicing it in our daily lives!

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5 comments

  1. Your first Camino obviously made a huge impression on you both and I agree with much of your mindset. Travel of any sort undoubtedly broadens the mind but this particular journey seems to have been literally life-changing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, this (the Camino) totally changed our way of thinking … and in a way, it also reminded us of what really is important in life … not money, nor lots of stuff and fancy clothing – it was to enjoy the simple things in life and live our lives to the fullest every day.
      We still practice this every day 👍🏻

      Like

      • I appreciated this totally from your prose. Incidentally, you write very well and I know it is not Berto’s thing.

        You seem to have a perfect symbiotic relationship there.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that compliment … as you might know, English is not our first language and sometimes I struggle to put our feelings and emotions into words. Berto is much better in English, although he is helping out, he insists that I’m the story teller.

        And yes, we have a great relationship (worked it out over 25 years and still do ☺️) … we are truly blessed.

        Liked by 1 person

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