I’ve always had travel anxiety. I dream about going on trips, and save up for years for these types of things, just to feel horribly anxious before I actually leave. And the moment I decided on a date to return to the Camino de Santiago, I knew that this happy/terrified anticipation would begin even earlier than it did the last time.
Because this time around, I know exactly what I’m getting into. I know how hard it will be on my muscles and joints, I know how long the days can feel, and I know how hard it is to let go of the dependable day-to-day life that you’ve been used to for the past several years. But I also know that this is the whole reason I’m going. My brain is like a dusty closet, filled more and more everyday by the little, persistent needs of my house, my job, my career. With too much dust, I forget what it’s like to sit down and think clearly for more than a few minutes at a time. Even when I take a break in the middle of the day or go on a weekend trip, I see the impending end to that break on the horizon. And this is exactly why I did not choose to go on a traditional vacation with my saved pennies. This is why I need to spend this time moving as slowly as possible across a great distance. I haven’t found anything else that breaks up the cobwebs in my head like a challenge of this sort.
So with my building anxiety–and the countdown dwindling–I want to use this blog as a place to write where I stand, literally and mentally leading up to my second pilgrimage. So I’m writing for three purposes:
- Help people who are considering/leaving soon for the Camino themselves.
- Vent about my feelings and pre-trip anxieties to make myself feel better.
- Prepare for the writing I hope to do on the trip itself.
So here’s where I stand…
Hiking during San Fermin. Yikes.
Logistically, I have learned that hiking the Camino overtop of the running of the bull is a bit of a nightmare. Pamplona, the fourth-or-so town on the Camino Frances (when starting in St. Jean Pied de Port), fills up for a week with revelers for the San Fermin festival. So here comes a vegetarian and a girl that fears large crowds hiking right in the middle of the bull run. Yeesh. The hardest part is finding a hostel in or around Pamplona. I know there are ways around the city, but I am worried these roads will not be well marked, and the last thing I want to do is get lost. Luckily, this morning we booked a room. It was about four times the amount we will normally pay for a hostel, but alas, better than getting lost in the hillsides of Spain. Hit me up in the contact section if you need suggestions of where to stay, we saw a few additional options in our journeys.
I’m losing patience with emails
My work email has a little notification feature that pops up on the top right part of my screen whenever a new message comes in. As someone who needs to get into a zone when they work, I have been less immune to frustration as each one pops up. I’m having real-world senioritis. One of the best things about the Camino is a disconnect from technology, from usual rhythms and patterns of your day, and from a constantly shifting focus. I feel the most resentful when I am pulled in several directions and incapable of finishing one specific task because of it. I realize these are all “first-world” problems, and one of my whole purposes for returning to the hike is to reorganize my brain and not become instantly frustrated when several people need things from me at once.
A Week of Happy Crying
I have a suspicion that I’m going to happy-cry my way through the first few days of this trip. Yes, I know I’m anxious as all hell now, but once I get my butt on the airplane and fall asleep, I will actually be able to say that I can truly rest. It’s strange to think that walking for five weeks is “truly resting,” but this is my sort of freedom. I look forward to days and days of being out in the sun, opposed to looking at it through an office window. And I look forward to a community of people that find little reason to fall into the trap of negativity–a great listen for my own brain. All that matters on the Camino is safely getting from one place to the next while looking out for the people around you.
So much support!
As I mentioned in one of my past posts, I’ve had such a different reaction to my trip announcement this time around. In 2009, the Camino was not as well known and the world was simply in a different mindset. I said that I wanted to drop everything and disappear for a few weeks, and everyone assumed I was doing a drunken jaunt through Europe to be wild and crazy. I was also told that it was too dangerous for a young woman to take on. This time though–nothing but positive thoughts from everyone. I’ve even received a whole bunch of phone calls and emails from people asking about how to plan their own trips. The world may feel like shit right now on the whole, but I applaud everyone’s newly opened mind to the idea of personal and spiritual pilgrimages. You don’t get a big golden award at the end or some giant recognition on the news. You do it for you, and you go home. The fact that something of this sort if gaining popularity is a good sign for society.
We’re at 61 days. And counting.