Hello everyone – it’s me again.
It’s been a while, but I’m somewhere else again, so here are some words.
I’ve arrived in Porto this evening to begin my second Camino, having walked an extraordinarily memorable Francés last autumn from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.
Almost as soon as I returned home then, I was thinking about how I might be able to do it again, to return to this fabulous social and spiritual environment, this irreplaceable mindset, this enhanced sense of self.
The intervening six months have seen much emotional and spiritual challenge, as I have found myself wrestling with questions about identity, location and purpose, as well as processing the impact of a short, intense and draining relationship.
Eventually, after flirting with all sorts of different Camino options, I’ve chosen to walk the Portugués into Santiago.
Already, settling in on my first night in an albergue, I’m feeling that sense of camaraderie and shared experience again, meeting several other pilgrims who have also walked another Camino too.
I’m not alone, it seems.
The urge to return is undeniable.
When I walked the Francés route last autumn, I didn’t know how to answer the question when I was asked why I was doing it – not until about halfway along, when I fully realised just how valuable the experience was proving to be.
Ever since then, I’ve had to find reasons not to do it again – the usual set of standard social strictures that frown on such escapism, such irresponsibility, such free-spiritedness.
But I’m fortunate to be surrounded by supportive friends and family who have encouraged me to take a bold step out along the Camino once again – a shorter, simpler, possibly easier journey on this occasion, apart from one key difference.
Walking the first Camino changed me, undoubtedly.
What came next, when I came home and tried to reintegrate into normal society again – that changed me too.
This time, I do know why I’m walking the Camino.
It’s to figure out which version of myself that I want to maintain in the future.
Ten days – let’s see if it’s long enough to get there.