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I have just come back from estella. First taste of walking anywhere and of a pilgrimage. It was hard but i loved every step of it. Would consider doing it with a smaller group or alone on the next stage. i managed to get away on two seperate days and really enjoyed the experience. a group tends to isolate you from other people and the personal experiences you have along the way. groups have their advantages too, it just depends on what you are looking for. i don't know when i'm going back but i do know that i am. i'm glad that i didn't start at the end either. it'll mean so much more to me now when i do finish it. when all is said and done i did enjoy the group of people that i went with and the security it provided me on my first walk. one thing is for sure, i will stream line my rucksack next time and carry a little less weight. i might as well have had a kitchen sink but i didn't get rid of anything. i thought i needed to learn that lesson the hard way so that i will remember it. hope to go again soon,
take care and buen camino (now i appreciate what that means)
Patsy :)
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Welcome back Patsy! We are evolving peregrinos. As Joyce Rupp wrote (after walking her camino)

"Deep down, of course, I realized the necessity of letting go as the only thing to do. Holding on too tightly ...only deprives oneself of growth. Hanging on for dear life for security's sake prevents one from what the future offers. I did want to go forward. I did want to grow. So I walked out the door with hope in my heart, knowing that letting go involved a price to pay.
It took just one day on the Camino to understand that I had barely begun the process of letting go. Leaving my familiar place at home was the easy part. Many other things required my acceptance.
After experiencing a rowdy refugio I thought: 'Wow, letting go is going to be a daily challenge.' It was. Grubby showers and bathrooms, greasy food, refugios crammed with too many pilgrims in a small space, reconciling my age and inability to walk as fast as younger pilgrims, and maneuvering through piles of cow manure on the paths — these kinds of challenges constantly presented themselves to me.
A lot of my struggles with letting go related to my expectations. Having traveled overseas considerably I never looked upon myself as the "Ugly American" but on the Camino my initial responses to situations like that refugio indicated I was living up to that description.
Some of my letting go issues were not of external things but of internal ones, like expectations and desires regarding myself. I expected to push my body into doing what I wanted but it refused to walk too fast or too far without pain. I expected to always be a model pilgrim of love and good humor but there were days when I was grumpy and irritable. I expected to not get sick if I took good care of myself but I got sick anyhow. . . What did change for me is that I became more aware of how much better the days went when I chucked my wants and expectations and accepted the situation for what it was. This tremendous teaching about letting go became clearer to me on the Camino."

Her book "Walk in a Relaxed Manner" is one of the better 'spirtual' camino books and includes many lessons learned. (Joyce Rupp is a member of the Servites (Servants of Mary) community.)
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