Friday, July 14, 2023

I walked the walk

I did the Camino Portuguese last month, 180 miles. 

I met pilgrims from many countries. One Italian man, in his 60s, has walked several Caminos in the two years after retiring. Next he will do the Via Francigena trail (2000 kilometers) from Canterbury, England to Rome. 

In one coastal section in Spain, the trail was 80% Germans.

Me: [to one young German] "Why are there so many Germans in this section?"

Him: "Because Germans are everywhere. Everyone thinks we are working so hard, but instead we are just making vacation all over the place."

One American woman was on her fifth Camino. She's planning to move to Spain and open a Camino guesthouse. She's currently a doctor and is disillusioned at the profit-driven nature of US hospitals. 

At a break, two college-aged guys were laughing over viral meme videos. Later, I encountered them on the trail and met their group leader, who is the grandmother of one of them. She told us about thru-hiking the Appalachian trail for 3 months, camping with snorers. 

I hoped to feel "walker's high" from endorphins. That lasted 15 minutes per day. Instead, most of the time I felt anxious, sometimes over practicalities like avoiding rain and heat, and other times ruminating pointlessly over frustrations. Despite this, I felt very satisfied by the Camino. I had many novel experiences. It was memorable. 

I also developed an appreciation for exercise. Working out is not just an obligation performed due to societal pressure. It actually helps you propel your body up hills and along trails.