Life and Business Lessons Learned From A Hike Across Spain, Step by Step
Life is not always a bed of roses, and the Camino is no exception. When we think of Spain and the Camino, we often picture the sun beating down and smiling pilgrims enjoying the walk with good friends and perhaps a glass of Sangria in their hands. But let me share with you a little secret…. it rains in Spain. It rains a lot!
Someone once told me, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing and I am beginning to believe that this is true. On the Camino, the sun can be just as bad as the rain (waterproof socks and an umbrella is part of my gear which makes life so much easier).
As I type, I have just returned from my 6th Camino trip and I spotted one guy walking the Pyrenees with thick jeans, black leather jacket and an extremely heavy backpack. He was literally crying as he stumbled through the door of the Orisson that night, to find that the hostel was fully booked. He was obviously not a boy scout in his younger days as he was certainly not prepared!
Some pilgrims are known as “spreadsheet pilgrims”. This means that they plan every step. They constantly check the weather, they know the mileage that they will be walking, they have booked and paid for their accommodation beforehand, they have spent the last few months on the Camino forums and they could not be more prepared. But this is the Camino, and as they say “The Camino gives you what you need, not what you want”. You need to also be prepared for the unexpected!
Embrace the unexpected
Whilst walking the Galicia region of the Camino in July 2018, a group of pilgrims came across an obstacle in the path. Due to a large volume of rainfall over the previous weeks, the path was totally flooded. Not only was it flooded, but the water was dirty and full of mud and god knows what else. Bits were floating by and we had a choice. Should be wade through it and risk infection, or should we take a detour, not really knowing where we were going? Rachel and Julie's sense of adventure made the decision quite easy, let's wade through it! We removed shoes and socks and gritted our teeth as the cold muddy water seeped over our blistered feet. Whose idea was this? I heard myself moaning constantly throughout the whole ordeal. I have no idea what that lump of brown stuff is… Oh, my feet hurt… I'm going to get an infection… What the F**k was that thing? Why didn't I bring flip flops… It was only another few miles, why couldn't we just turn back…. When did I become the sort of person that spread any type of negativity? Where was my sense of adventure? Why was I not giggling and laughing like all the other pilgrims who were enjoying this bump in the road?
As I reached the other end I turned to Rachel and she just smiled at me. “Well, that was fun!”. Her smile was infectious and it made me think about what had just happened? I don't think it was the flooded path that put a block in my way that day, I just think I had the grumps. Another corny phrase popped into my mind “fake it until you make it”. I plastered a smile on my face and soldiered on – the gumps soon lifted.
You know what? Sometimes, it is ok to not be ok. It is ok to be grumpy. Just grin and bear it and for most of us, it will pass.
Not only is it ok to be grumpy every now and then, but it is also ok to let other people make decisions for you. I like to be in control, but that few minutes of uncomfortableness saved us quite a bit of time and less walking on our blistered feet. I am thankful that I have now had the ability to “grin and bear it” when I need to.
Thank you for reading this blog.