The Camino isn’t a “holiday” like most. I actually wouldn’t even call it a holiday. It’s an adventure. It’s a healing process. It’s something most people do when they get to a certain point in life and they just need a break. You’ll find that most people on the Camino have just experienced one of the following, a death, a break up, a break down, or they are just plain lost in life. It takes a certain kind of mind-set to be able to walk endless km’s and have hours worth of thinking time. It can either be exactly what you need or the exact opposite. For me the Camino was everything I needed it to be, and it came with all the help I needed. My help came in the form of “Three wise men and The Kid.”
Wise Man One – Doctor/Editor
Wise Man One was one of the first hikers I met. He was also my first friend for the trip. The first member of my Camino Family. He was an Englishman, a fully qualified doctor who after finishing all his studies decided the doctor life wasn’t for him. He quit, moved to Portugal and became an editor. He comes under the category of “lost in life.” He was ready again for a change in life but he wasn’t really sure what he wanted that change to be.
It has always amazed me how easy it can be to spill your whole life to a complete stranger. Day 2 of my walk I did just that, WM1 heard it all. My brother’s death, dating the no good boyfriend, marrying the self involved husband, the separating, the stalking, the harassing, it all. In return I listened to all of his. (As you’d expect his life wasn’t anywhere near as drama packed as mine)
WM1 was 6 foot 5 (and looked like Jesus), I am 5 foot 2 on a good day (and I don’t look like Jesus) , you can imagine that our step width weren’t on the same scale. WM1 slowed to my pace, he easily could have been miles/hours/days ahead of me, but he stayed at my pace for the conversation. Sometimes the conversation was light-hearted at other times it was emotionally challenging (let the healing process begin) My favourite part of WM1 was the fact he let me talk without interruption or advice. He let me release it all, and eventually I came full circle and started to answer some of my own life questions. I just need to talk it through and I needed someone to listen. (My Jesus look alike had started my healing process for me, he was working his Jesus like magic)
We spent close to 2 weeks walking together, talking, laughing, walking in silence. I honestly started to feel the weight of life starting to lift from my shoulders (or maybe it was just the unnecessary things I had thrown out of my backpack … same same). Once our group had grown from just 2 too 5 regular hikers, WM1 was ready to pick up his pace and get walking. I came across him mid morning one day sitting on a park bench waiting. He was waiting for me. He was waiting to say goodbye. We sat and spoke for an hour, enjoyed each others company for just a little longer. Then I hugged him goodbye and watched him walk away. I never saw WM1 again, we emailed a few times but he was gone for good. (My Jesus look a like stayed only as long as I needed him too, or maybe he was more like my version of Mary Poppins .. he thought the job was done so off he flew … )
WM1 taught me that I didn’t have to be just one thing, one person. I could be as many things as I wanted too. I had all the answers I needed, I didn’t need to find them from someone else, I didn’t have to go home and be the same person I could change if I wanted.
Wise Man 2 – The Fireman
I first spotted WM2 in a hostel bar …… he was the first beautiful human I had come across on my trip. He was stunning but ruggedly stunning. (Maybe not ruggedly stunning maybe just 2 weeks worth of hostel living and 4 seasons of weather stunning .. aka dirty .. but stunningly dirty). It was a few days after this first sighting that we actually met. (Yes I kinda stalked him in hostel bars until he finally introduced himself)
WM2 was the exception to the rule, he was walking the Camino because he had the time. No broken heart, No death in the family, no pending breakdowns. He was in the off-season from work and had all the time in the world to travel.
We bonded over our love of a Canadian band I didn’t think anyone else in the world knew about. (Walk Off The Earth – find them, listen to them, enjoy them … you will thank me for it) Music became the soundtrack of our friendship. We swapped playlist and offered suggestions of bands. From there our conversations just flowed easily. We started to compare our terrible tattoos and how and why we got them. We laughed at each other accents and the random words that each of us didn’t understand. Our friendship was light and easy. It was nice to have common interests with someone. We never actually spent anytime hiking together, our friendship was made around dining table, on hostel couches, coffee shops, sitting on the end of each others bunk bed. I started to get a solid school girl crush on the fireman from Chicago.
He was the very last person I said goodbye too on my trip. I still talk to WM2 too this very day, he still makes me laugh, still gives me travel advice. He is still my friend, (and I still dream of carrying his babies one day).
WM2 taught me that just because I had been burnt by “love” not all men were the same. He taught me that the world was still full of caring, thoughtful and kind men and that I was still able to see this. I hadn’t shut down, my heart was big enough to try find love, if I wanted it. He also taught me to use music to heal. Music became my drug of choice for pain.
Wiseman 3 – The Writer/The Student
WM3 falls into 2 categories, He was mourning the death of his dad and was feeling lost in life. WM3 was one of the smartest and funniest people I have ever met. We instantly clicked, the first words he ever spoke to me was “Blimey you have a quality resting bitch face don’t ya’. I laughed at almost everything he said from there on in.
WM3 was a writer and he was suffering from writers block, a lot I think of which had to do with losing his Dad. We bonded over our losses, I knew his level of pain and knew that like me he was good at hiding it from the world. We talked, eat and drank our way across Spain, the whole time our friendship grew. We had the “in jokes” of old friendships, I truly started to care for WM3 as one of my dearest friends. As our time together went on, his writers block started to disappear. I think he just needed a real friend someone to care and share with. I was helping him heal.
I cried having to say goodbye to WM3, but I knew it was more of a see ya later. Our paths were bound to cross again. I was sure of it.
WM3 taught me the value of friendship. I have always considered myself loyal and a good friend. WM3 taught me that being just a good friend was not always enough, some friends deserved to be more, some friends needed to be family. That I could find healing in giving more to others. Love didn’t always come with a broken heart.
My final “life guide” was the kid. A 20 something, fresh from college, weed smoking, loud mouth, Lincoln Massachusetts original.
Within 15 minutes of meeting this kid he was offering me a joint in a paddock. (If my mum is reading this I turned him down …. wink wink) This kid had an old soul in a young body. He loved all the old school rock gods, his play list was a tribute to all the American classics. The kid could also sing, really sing. I normal cringe when people sing at me but I could have sat and listened to his voice for hours.
The Kid allowed me to be young again. He didn’t act like there was an 8 year age gap, he didn’t look at me like I had to be responsible that I had to be “proper”. One of my greatest memories in life I share with him. It was at the very end of our hike, we went for dinner and drinks to celebrate. It was absolutely pouring with rain, but yet a band was still out in the main square playing all the Spanish hits (I’m guessing they were hits, I don’t know what they were saying) We drank a lot, then had the amazing idea to started our own private dance party in the rain in the middle of this town square. The feeling was freeing.
The Kid taught me to have fun, to be fun. It was ok to let go. Age was just a number. The kid made me and taught me to laugh again, that real kind of laughter. The type that starts deep down in your belly and leaves you breathless. The Kid was just as wise as the others, if not wiser.
The camino had given me the healing I needed, my healing came in the form of My Three wise men and My kid. I will forever be grateful for these 4 souls. I will forever be grateful for the life lessons they gave me