When I started this journey through Portugal and Spain I felt as I was being rescued. My life was in a very stressful period, the work so intense, and I was sinking in the lack of time for myself. I always have been a very obsessive and targeted person. It is not easy for me just to stop all my vulcanic thoughts and ideas and enjoy the time. I am essentially in competition with myself. I always have to prove more talented, smarter, wiser, fitter. It can be a neverending story of dissatisfactions, great achievements and nervous breakdowns if you don't know how to stop it.
I found my way to escape this mental rollercoaster: backpack traveling “hobo-style,” yoga, and last but not the least, expressing my feelings with photography.
I discovered the considerable healing potential of walking Camino de Santiago last year. Following my nature, I decided to start from the most challenging route, the Camino Primitivo, 320 km up and down the mountains of Asturias, in the north of Spain. The mix of walking all day long, meeting people from all around the globe, exploring new places, everything with absolutely no hurry, was exactly my archetype of vacation.
During the Camino, I never felt anxious for anything, I never felt forced to any decision. To summarize the program of my Camino was:
enjoy your day, take your time, stay alone or find a company, sleep well, eat to be full and happy, laugh a lot.
Obviously this can only work if you start your journey alone. No friends, no significant others (for God’s sake!), no relatives. You will easily find a company (or better to say, a company will find you) if your real nature wants it. A big part of the journey is to create empty space so that your actual feelings and personality can be expressed freely. No social obligations. No cultural constrains. You are a Pilgrim now, your only duty is to enjoy your wandering.
For many people living in contemporary occidental society, this is a privilege that no sum can ever buy.
The Camino Portugues in its litoral route (“Senda litoral” in Portugal, in Spain “Variante por la costa”) is very flat, exactly the opposite of the Primitivo. The Portugues starts in Portugal, from Lisbon, ends (obviously) in Santiago de Compostela and take more or less one month. I started halfway, in Porto, since I had only two weeks free, and added one day doing the “Spiritual Variant” in the last part of the journey.
One of the first things that strikes you on the way is the endless amount of blue that the combination of Ocean and sky can give you.
The second thing that you notice is the space. The beaches are for the most part completely empty. You find yourself walking alone for miles and miles with just the company of water, sand, and sky. All this time spent in literally pure open space made me regenerate all my love for human beings, including myself.
Then there is beauty. You start seeing it in a few days. After many hours of walk, your mind runs empty and your soul expands. You start to care more about who and what is around you. Beauty is in your eyes, the Camino gives them the ability to catch and feel it.
When I shot the photo above, I was walking on the beach with a friend that I met the day before. It was our first day of walk together, we were utterly exhausted, still, we wanted some nice time. You grow eager of awesomeness when you are free. The wind was so strong to make it difficult to walk. Everything was painted orange. It was June, we only had a sweater and a light jacket with us. We were freezing our asses, so we moved to a little bar and had some Porto wine.
The Camino is always an inspiring journey. And in my opinion, the best way to spend my free time. I strongly recommend it to everyone, especially if you, like me, do feel a bit overwhelmed by your daily life. It will not solve your problems, but it will give you time to think and space to be your real you.