Due to the date of my return flight, and commitments with my Sausage Dog Hotel at home, my time on the Camino Frances was only going to be 7 – 10 days.
As my walk continued, I knew the day was soon approaching when my walk in Spain would end.
And today was the day.
Whilst walking alone on one of the most beautiful stretches of the Camino, something happened and I just knew today was the day to leave the Camino Francis.
It wasn’t planned, I simply set off earlier than my lovely Camino buddy, Chu and sometime during that 14 km walk to the next town of Los Arcos, I knew my time on this walk had come to an end.
And what an end it was.
Vineyards, olive groves and fields of wheat framed the long stretches of dirt road. In the distance, emerald green hills rolled over the landscape and the endless tweeting of small birds filtered through the air.
I did not listen to music, only the sounds of nature and the gentle crunching of my footsteps on the dirt track as I placed one foot in front of the other.
I felt totally alone in the world. It was peaceful, therapeutic and incredibly calming.
I cannot verbally express the feeling of peace. The feeling of knowing I was on the right road.
It was then I knew it was time to walk part of another Camino: one that takes the pilgrim through the south west of France from Le Puy en Valay to Saint Jean Pied de Port.
Although my feelings to head to France and walk part of Camino Le Puy were strong, it also made sense for two reasons: firstly I’d be closer to Paris and my flight home and secondly, I’d get to walk through some of France’s most beautiful villages and countryside.
I arrived in Los Arcos and found bus that took me to San Sebastián via Pamplona and then onto Toulouse.
The journey from Los Arcos to Pamplona gave me an insight as to just how far I’d walked. I can’t describe how I felt seeing the massive wind turbines that I passed only 3 days before. It was a highly emotional moment. Had I, a 57 year old woman really walked that far?
I had and I was so damn proud of my achievement.
In Pamplona whilst waiting to my bus to San Sebastián, I spoke with an Italian man who is about to commence his Camino. He looked fit and about 30, yet he said he was getting a bus to Roncesvalles, rather than leaving from Saint Jean and traversing the Pyrenees: ‘It’s too hard…’ he told me. ‘I’ve heard it’s very tough on the body, I don’t think I’ll make it…’.
I smiled at him and said, ‘You can do it, yes, it’s tough, but believe in your ability to do it and you will. If I can, then so can you…’
I saw him a little later: he walked over to me and in broken English said, ‘ I go to Saint Jean, I walk over big mountain like you…’
For the second time today an enormous feeling of gratification flooded through my body. My Camino Frances experience had washed over and inspired someone else.
I felt elated.
I’m now sitting in a hostel in San Sebastián, sipping a cold beer and feeling pretty damn happy.
And San Sebastián is stunning btw..
But instead of exploring, tomorrow it’s on to my beloved France and hopefully a nice walk in the countryside…