It’s funny that even after enduring all of those memories that I would check into the same hostel that I had the last time I was in Santiago, the Last Stamp Hostel. I even stayed on the same floor and in the same row of bunks although in a different bed. The idiom, “I’m a sucker for punishment” comes to mind.
It was the hostel where Andrew and I had sat together in the basement kitchen. We had returned shortly after 3:00 a.m. when the bell tower tolled. It was time to say goodbye. He would be flying home to Germany in a few hours. I had tried with a croaky near non-existent voice, to tell him how much he had impacted my journey. It was Murphy’s Law that I had laryngitis and wasn’t able to tell him. It was like a spell had suddenly been cast on my vocal cords although it was realistically more to do with all the yelling and celebrating the night before.
Finally, after standing in a quiet embrace outside the elevator, our sleeping quarters in opposite directions, I turned and let his fingers slip out of my hand.
Sitting here now in my little bedroom on the bay, I ponder the pros and cons of staying there a second time and of walking the French Way again. A part of me says it’s best for me to stay away from places that involve memories of the heart. Another part wonders if going back was necessary in order for me to let go of the Camino and move forward anew.
It took several months to stop shedding tears each day after my first Camino. It was like I was in mourning. The Camino was unlike anything I had ever experienced. It was like another world, another life so far removed from my regular existence. I felt so awake and so alive then. I didn’t know I could feel that way. That first Camino was so powerful and magical. It seems like a dream now. My second Camino felt so regular in comparison, like when you realize where you are after waking up from a dream you wish you could fall back into.
The Camino, the first time, was about letting go of the old. This time I would need to do the same.
For two and a half years I lived with one foot at home and the other ready to take one gigantic leap back into Spain. It was such a struggle of mind versus heart. Maybe it’s part of the reason I purged my townhouse, furniture, things and job, just so I could fly away again maybe back into a dream. I didn’t want to be here in Canada. I knew it would be a mistake to return to the Camino so soon, so I went somewhere else, South America. Even while in Cusco, I pondered buying a plane ticket back to Spain. The pull was that strong.
Sometimes I wonder if what a person yearns for can manifest in strange ways. For instance, I have a thick hard cover book called 501 Must Take Journeys. One evening, a couple of months after returning from my first Camino, I sat on my couch inside my townhouse in Chilliwack with the book on top of my lap. I closed my eyes and fanned the pages while asking the question, “Where should I go next?” I blindly opened the book to Bavarian Germany. No, I couldn’t go there. Andrew lives there. I fanned the pages again and opened it up to Bavarian Austria. Nope, that’s right next door. The third time I opened the book to Machu Picchu in Peru. A few months later I began planning the trip and then embarked in the middle of August of 2014. It’s funny, now that I think of it, that on this 2016 journey I would complete the book’s three suggestions and eventually travel through Bavarian Germany and Bavarian Austria. Then I would come home. I would really come home, this time with both feet.
It’s interesting to write about it now. For a while I had to put it aside. I wanted to fully absorb being home. Now I’m ready to put myself back on the Camino so that I can not only describe the journey to my blog followers, but also so that I can process and document this journey for myself and my family. One day I hope it will be a story I can share with my future grandchildren.
Next to come are the days I spent in Santiago. I want to describe to you how I met David and why I would end up back on the Meseta once again, a place that I feared walking through a second time because of how special it was to me.