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Why you should not walk a camino

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hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
As someone who has walked a number of caminos I often get asked about the best route, when to walk, what pack / shoes to use. But lately after a few questioning would be pilgrims I've had to re assess. Usually I avoid telling people what they should do, rather I point them in the best direction and encourage them to assess their fitness, reasons for going etc. It's not my call after all, and personally I think it's better to try then sit at home and wonder what if. But lately I've had to re assess.

The level of expectation, lack of fitness, inabilty to roll with the punches and blind belief in that the camino will provide have left me thinking that, well, the camino ain't for everyone. I would not think twice in telling an ill prepared tramper that they should not be let loose on our local hills and mountains. I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.

So in the spirit of fairness, I humbly offer these reasons not to walk a camino.

1. Lack of spiritual prepareness. Normally this would be lower down (or not at all) in my advice to would be hikers. And as a tree hugging pagan I don't claim to be the font of all knowlege on routes seeped in Catholic overlay. But generally what marks a camino over other long distance trails is its links to history and the walker / pilgrims desire to submit to a greater will and walk in the foot steps of others. This I do understand, as it is one of the prime reasons that has brought me back to the camino. You dont need to be devout, but you do need to be respectful and recognise that it is more about the journey (within and without) that makes a camino special.

2. High expectations. No matter how well prepared you think you are, leave your expectations behind as you step off on your camino. You are not going to find enlightenment, there aren't hordes of camino angles waiting to save you. There may be some entusiastic fellow travellers but no guarantee that they will form a new walking family to assist you along the way. Chances are the only thing you can really expect are blisters, water shortages, and a race for the last bed. You are more likely to be know as Grumpy from Minnasota or Fartsalot then your real name. But if you are lucky, then slowly, step by step, you will feel a sence of accompishment and even a oneness with Mother Earth (make that Rock) and a grudging respect for your feet, legs and back or what ever else helps you get through the day.

3. Lack of fitness. Yes you need a level of physical fitness and mental fitness to get you through. Ideally you should be able to walk at least 20kms per day (30 to 40 some days) over rocky uneven surfaces carrying a 15 kg plus per day. Day after day. Not just a walk around your local park, but up and down hills, along the side of the busy roads, for at least 6 hours a day. Day after day. It's not just your body that needs to be prepared for this, but your mental fitness. You also need to be able to read a map, sort out logistics of your travel and enough brains to call it quits when needed.

4. Inability to roll with the punches. Yes at some point you will most likely roll head over heels off the path and end up with a face full of turf and your pack at a jointy angle over your head. If this happens then by all means use what ever language and threats to prevent you walking buddy from taking a photo of you, they will probably be doubled over laughing which should give you enough time to right yourself before they pull out the camera / phone. Apply the same pluck to when you are too late for dinner or a bed for the night. Remember the camino doesn't owe you anything, so be prepared to eat the dry bread and squashed orange you have carried and sleep on the floor. And maybe take a few extras the next day incase this happens again (which it will).

5. Remember, this is the path you have chosen. So when you feel put apon, or expect more, remember you are the one who chose to take this path and you can also choose to chuck it in and catch a train to France to drink Champagne and eat pastries if you so desire. Continuing on is your choice. Trust me, making it to the Cathedral and watching the botafumeiro swing ain't as exiting as being clean, sleeping in and not having to but your walking botas back on. You'll find your own end to your camino, when and where is up to you, it's more about the journey then the destination.

And finally, the camino is not for everyone, call me a heretic, but just because you watched a movie, read a story, talked to someone who knew someone who had done it, doesn't mean it is for you. There are a lot of things that can and will give your life meaning other then a camino, look around, there are plenty of things you can invest your time and energy into that will help you find meanining and purpose in your life if that is what you are looking for. And if you are just after a cheap holiday, then the camino is not the path you are looking for. Pain, suffering, and paying a price for the wicked life we lead were all part of the Catholic reasons for undertaking a pilgramage. Even the pagans undertook the route as part of an seasonal sacrifice to provide for a more fruitful year.

You may never really know what makes you start a camino, or for that matter to go back and do it again. But you should have a better reason then wanting a photo by the Cruz de Ferro or a video of you walking through the Holy Door. After all it's going to cost you a whole lot more then an airfare and a few toenails to get there.
 
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As someone who has walked a number of caminos I often get asked about the best route, when to walk, what pack / shoes to use. But lately after a few questioning would be pilgrims I've had to re assess. Usually I avoid telling people what they should do, rather I point them in the best direction and encourage them to assess their fitness, reasons for going etc. It's not my call after all, and personally I think it's better to try then sit at home and wonder what if. But lately I've had to re assess.

The level of expectation, lack of fitness, inabilty to roll with the punches and blind belief in that the camino will provide have left me thinking that, well, the camino ain't for everyone. I would not think twice in telling an ill prepared tramper that they should not be let loose on our local hills and mountains. I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.

So in the spirit of fairness, I humbly offer these reasons not to walk a camino.

1. Lack of spiritual prepareness. Normally this would be lower down (or not at all) in my advice to would be hikers. And as a tree hugging pagan I don't claim to be the font of all knowlege on routes seeped in Catholic overlay. But generally what marks a camino over other long distance trails is its links to history and the walker / pilgrims desire to submit to a greater will and walk in the foot steps of others. This I do understand, as it is one of the prime reasons that has brought me back to the camino. You dont need to be devout, but you do need to be respectful and recognise that it is more about the journey (within and without) that makes a camino special.

2. High expectations. No matter how well prepared you thing you are, leave your expectations behind as you step off on your camino. You are not going to find enlightenment, there aren't hordes of camino angles waiting to save you. There may be some entusiastic fellow travellers but no guarantee that they will form a new walking family to assist you along the way. Chances are the only thing you can really expect are blisters, water shortages, and a race for the last bed. You are more likely to be know as Grumpy from Minnasota or Fartsalot then your real name. But if you are lucky, then slowly, step by step, you will feel a sence of accompishment and even a oneness with Mother Earth (make that Rock) and a grudging respect for your feet, legs and back or what ever else helps you get through the day.

3. Lack of fitness. Yes you need a level of physical fitness and mental fitness to get you through. Ideally you should be able to walk at least 20kms per day (30 to 40 some days) over rocky uneven surfaces carrying a 15 kg plus per day. Day after day. Not just a walk around your local park, but up and down hills, along the side of the busy roads, for at least 6 hours a day. Day after day. It's not just your body that needs to be prepared for this, but your mental fitness. You also need to be able to read a map, sort out logistics of your travel and enough brains to call it quits when needed.

4. Inability to roll with the punches. Yes at some point you will most likely roll head over heels off the path and end up with a face full of turf and your pack at a jointy angle over your head. If this happens then by all means use what ever language and threats to prevent you walking buddy from taking a photo of you, they will probably be doubled over laughing which should give you enough time to right yourself before they pull out the camera / phone. Apply the same pluck to when you are too late for dinner or a bed for the night. Remember the camino doesn't owe you anything, so be prepared to eat the dry bread and squashed orange you have carried and sleep on the floor. And maybe take a few extras the next day incase this happens again (which it will).

5. Remember, this is the path you have chosen. So when you feel put apon, or expect more, remember you are the one who chose to take this path and you can also choose to chuck it in and catch a train to France to drink Champagne and eat pastries if you so desire. Continuing on is your choice. Trust me, making it to the Cathedral and watching the botafumeiro swing ain't as exiting as being clean, sleeping in and not having to but your walking botas back on. You'll find your own end to your camino, when and where is up to you, it's more about the journey then the destination.

And finally, the camino is not for everyone, call me a heretic, but just because you watched a movie, read a story, talked to someone who knew someone who had done it, doesn't mean it is for you. There are a lot of things that can and will give your life meaning other then a camino, look around, there are plenty of things you can invest your time and energy into that will help you find meanining and purpose in your life if that is what you are looking for. And if you are just after a cheap holiday, then the camino is not the path you are looking for. Pain, suffering, and paying a price for the wicked life we lead were all part of the Catholic reasons for undertaking a pilgramage. Even the pagans undertook the route as part of an seasonal sacrifice to provide for a more fruitful year.

You may never really know what makes you start a camino, or for that matter to go back and do it again. But you should have a better reason then wanting a photo by the Cruz de Ferro or a video of you walking through the Holy Door. After all it's going to cost you a whole lot more then an airfare and a few toenails to get there.

(Image added by Ivar since this was moved over to the "Tales from the Camino – A good read" section)
I have to say thank you. I do not know you, although I am aware of some of what life has hit you with over the last few years. I admire and respect your bounce back into functioning. I was nodding like an idiot at a lot of your points.
The issue of motivation is a modern one, in my opinion. There is not a lot we can do about that. The soul has no century, so your urge is contemporary. Why you walk, - and please! - not hike, not tramp! - is your privilege. Making a pilgrimage today, which is what the Camino to Santiago is, is different to its origins. I was ignorant before I walked my first camino. Then I learned some more...
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
I think you will get quite a bit of blow back for what you have written. If I had read this before my first stab at the Camino in 2011, I probably would not have started. By 2019 I had walked 11 different Caminos; one never knows how it will turn out unless they try.
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
I think you will get quite a bit of blow back for what you have written. If I had read this before my first stab at the Camino in 2011, I probably would not have started. By 2019 I had walked 11 different Caminos; one never knows how it will turn out unless they try.
I am pretty much your own opinion; as experienced pilgrims, we see it from a different perspective, but for many people, the idea of walking on your own on a foreign (not for me!) country may seem so overwhelming that they might be completely discouraged.
I admit I do "sweeten" up the outcome of the camino, because I know how great it feels, but when people ask me, I usually replay "go on, you are able to do it, give it a try, give yourself a few days to switch off, for me the big difference in a camino is below 3 weeks, or over 3 weeks, that is when I feel the fullest and feel I can do anything!

This said, I only came back from Geira e Arrieiros, and am already thinking about next one in September!
 
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ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Remember that this is just one members opinion. We can disagree with opinions, but please don't get personal.

I feel this is a reminder that walking the Camino is hard... sometimes this is forgotten.

(I have deleted a few replies to posts that has been deleted by the poster)
 

koknesis

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2014
CA&CS 2015
VdlP 2017
CP 2018
CM 2019
Right, but is there anything we should take for granted in advance? There is only one thing being certain, our earth life is limited ... everything else might be found out in the field, with a suffering or without.
 

Mananath

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
July 2022
. I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.

So in the spirit of fairness, I humbly offer these reasons not to walk a camino.

1. Lack of spiritual prepareness. Normally this would be lower down (or not at all) in my advice to would be hikers. And as a tree hugging pagan I don't claim to be the font of all knowlege on routes seeped in Catholic overlay. But generally what marks a camino over other long distance trails is its links to history and the walker / pilgrims desire to submit to a greater will and walk in the foot steps of others. This I do understand, as it is one of the prime reasons that has brought me back to the camino. You dont need to be devout, but you do need to be respectful and recognise that it is more about the journey (within and without) that makes a camino special.

2. High expectations. No matter how well prepared you thing you are, leave your expectations behind as you step off on your camino. You are not going to find enlightenment, there aren't hordes of camino angles waiting to save you. There may be some entusiastic fellow travellers but no guarantee that they will form a new walking family to assist you along the way. Chances are the only thing you can really expect are blisters, water shortages, and a race for the last bed. You are more likely to be know as Grumpy from Minnasota or Fartsalot then your real name. But if you are lucky, then slowly, step by step, you will feel a sence of accompishment and even a oneness with Mother Earth (make that Rock) and a grudging respect for your feet, legs and back or what ever else helps you get through the day.

3. Lack of fitness. Yes you need a level of physical fitness and mental fitness to get you through. Ideally you should be able to walk at least 20kms per day (30 to 40 some days) over rocky uneven surfaces carrying a 15 kg plus per day. Day after day. Not just a walk around your local park, but up and down hills, along the side of the busy roads, for at least 6 hours a day. Day after day. It's not just your body that needs to be prepared for this, but your mental fitness. You also need to be able to read a map, sort out logistics of your travel and enough brains to call it quits when needed.

4. Inability to roll with the punches. Yes at some point you will most likely roll head over heels off the path and end up with a face full of turf and your pack at a jointy angle over your head. If this happens then by all means use what ever language and threats to prevent you walking buddy from taking a photo of you, they will probably be doubled over laughing which should give you enough time to right yourself before they pull out the camera / phone. Apply the same pluck to when you are too late for dinner or a bed for the night. Remember the camino doesn't owe you anything, so be prepared to eat the dry bread and squashed orange you have carried and sleep on the floor. And maybe take a few extras the next day incase this happens again (which it will).

5. Remember, this is the path you have chosen. So when you feel put apon, or expect more, remember you are the one who chose to take this path and you can also choose to chuck it in and catch a train to France to drink Champagne and eat pastries if you so desire. Continuing on is your choice. Trust me, making it to the Cathedral and watching the botafumeiro swing ain't as exiting as being clean, sleeping in and not having to but your walking botas back on. You'll find your own end to your camino, when and where is up to you, it's more about the journey then the destination.

And finally, the camino is not for everyone, call me a heretic, but just because you watched a movie, read a story, talked to someone who knew someone who had done it, doesn't mean it is for you. There are a lot of things that can and will give your life meaning other then a camino, look around, there are plenty of things you can invest your time and energy into that will help you find meanining and purpose in your life if that is what you are looking for. And if you are just after a cheap holiday, then the camino is not the path you are looking for. Pain, suffering, and paying a price for the wicked life we lead were all part of the Catholic reasons for undertaking a pilgramage. Even the pagans undertook the route as part of an seasonal sacrifice to provide for a more fruitful year.

You may never really know what makes you start a camino, or for that matter to go back and do it again. But you should have a better reason then wanting a photo by the Cruz de Ferro or a video of you walking through the Holy Door. After all it's going to cost you a whole lot more then an airfare and a few toenails to get there.

(Image added by Ivar since this was moved over to the "Tales from the Camino – A good read" section)
I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.
As I approach the start of my first Camino I've been wondering how it compares to the great walks of NZ (I did 3 earlier this year and one a few years back). Obviously the length is different but how would you compare them? Is the Camino harder?
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
I think you will get quite a bit of blow back for what you have written. If I had read this before my first stab at the Camino in 2011, I probably would not have started. By 2019 I had walked 11 different Caminos; one never knows how it will turn out unless they try.
Good point. I could have easily rephrased my post to provide key reasons to walk the Camino. You clearly took a leap of faith on your first attempt in 2011 and found it rewarding enough to keep returning.

I am not a complete Grinch, and admire the many people like you who are prepared to try. I'm just a little ground down by those who treat the Camino as another thing on their tick list like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, or getting plastered on the beach at Benidorm.
 
F

Former member 95219

Guest
Good point. I could have easily rephrased my post to provide key reasons to walk the Camino. You clearly took a leap of faith on your first attempt in 2011 and found it rewarding enough to keep returning.

I am not a complete Grinch, and admire the many people like you who are prepared to try. I'm just a little ground down by those who treat the Camino as another thing on their tick list like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, or getting plastered on the beach at Benidorm.
Good and interesting post. I think it can anything you want it to be. My first Camino was Porto to SDC. And I only decided day before as I happened to be in Porto with time to spare and remembered about the existence of the Camino and I had my walking boots with me so off I went and walked until Portugal Spain border re opened and crossed it and carried on to Santiago. I then had some time and went to beach, got bored, woke up and decided to start to start Frances next day!
 
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domigee

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022 CF
I have to say thank you. I do not know you, although I am aware of some of what life has hit you with over the last few years. I admire and respect your bounce back into functioning. I was nodding like an idiot at a lot of your points.
The issue of motivation is a modern one, in my opinion. There is not a lot we can do about that. The soul has no century, so your urge is contemporary. Why you walk, - and please! - not hike, not tramp! - is your privilege. Making a pilgrimage today, which is what the Camino to Santiago is, is different to its origins. I was ignorant before I walked my first camino. Then I learned some more...
Great post!
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
As I approach the start of my first Camino I've been wondering how it compares to the great walks of NZ (I did 3 earlier this year and one a few years back). Obviously the length is different but how would you compare them? Is the Camino harder?
If you are heading off to Spain to walk in July then it's going to be a lot hotter then any NZ hike. Most of the routes are easier then Kiwi trails, we first started walking in Europe as they had better services and we didn't need to carry so much gear. The length and greater time commitment is only part of it, you need to do some research into the history of where you are going to get the most out of it, the Camino is more then walking after all.
 

koknesis

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2014
CA&CS 2015
VdlP 2017
CP 2018
CM 2019
… I'm just a little ground down by those who treat the Camino as another thing on their tick list like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, or getting plastered on the beach at Benidorm.
Obviously the Camino is for everyone, no need to list any criteria to qualify. And yes, San Fermin is still on my bucket list, I hope it will be fun after all 🐂 🤩
 

hel&scott

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2004 St Jean - Santiago, 2008 &18 Seville - Finesterre, 2010 Ferrol - Lisbon, 2012 from Cartehenga.
Good and interesting post. I think it can anything you want it to be. My first Camino was Porto to SDC. And I only decided day before as I happened to be in Porto with time to spare and remembered about the existence of the Camino and I had my walking boots with me so off I went and walked until Portugal Spain border re opened and crossed it and carried on to Santiago. I then had some time and went to beach, got bored, woke up and decided to start to start Frances next day!
This is the very definition of walking sickness that many of us suffer from. See a yellow arrow and we are off again. The daily pattern of walking can be very addictive, glad you have the time and resources to indulge.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
06,CF;13,CP;17,SSal;19,Ingles
Obviously the Camino is for everyone, no need to list any criteria to qualify. And yes, San Fermin is still on my bucket list, I hope it will be fun after all 🐂 🤩
I have seen at close quarters what happens during San Fermin. The herd loses all respect for the individual. Go if you will, participate if you will, but think about this: the people who clean up are the "dregs" of society. They belong to a non-profit company who have the contract to clean the city. Most of them are in treatment for addictions. They do their best to do a great job of sweeping up.
I am not fully sure it is a non-profit, but it is staffed by recovering addicts. Could be my brother, my sister. Or yours.
edit: or you. or me.
 
Last edited:
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F

Former member 95219

Guest
This is the very definition of walking sickness that many of us suffer from. See a yellow arrow and we are off again. The daily pattern of walking can be very addictive, glad you have the time and resources to indulge.
Thank you! Yes it was the opposite of my normal life up to that point that had financial, work, time, family pressures but had been furloughed due Covid (two camino were in June/July 2020 so opportunity knocked!
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
As someone who has walked a number of caminos I often get asked about the best route, when to walk, what pack / shoes to use. But lately after a few questioning would be pilgrims I've had to re assess. Usually I avoid telling people what they should do, rather I point them in the best direction and encourage them to assess their fitness, reasons for going etc. It's not my call after all, and personally I think it's better to try then sit at home and wonder what if. But lately I've had to re assess.

The level of expectation, lack of fitness, inabilty to roll with the punches and blind belief in that the camino will provide have left me thinking that, well, the camino ain't for everyone. I would not think twice in telling an ill prepared tramper that they should not be let loose on our local hills and mountains. I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.

So in the spirit of fairness, I humbly offer these reasons not to walk a camino.

1. Lack of spiritual prepareness. Normally this would be lower down (or not at all) in my advice to would be hikers. And as a tree hugging pagan I don't claim to be the font of all knowlege on routes seeped in Catholic overlay. But generally what marks a camino over other long distance trails is its links to history and the walker / pilgrims desire to submit to a greater will and walk in the foot steps of others. This I do understand, as it is one of the prime reasons that has brought me back to the camino. You dont need to be devout, but you do need to be respectful and recognise that it is more about the journey (within and without) that makes a camino special.

2. High expectations. No matter how well prepared you think you are, leave your expectations behind as you step off on your camino. You are not going to find enlightenment, there aren't hordes of camino angles waiting to save you. There may be some entusiastic fellow travellers but no guarantee that they will form a new walking family to assist you along the way. Chances are the only thing you can really expect are blisters, water shortages, and a race for the last bed. You are more likely to be know as Grumpy from Minnasota or Fartsalot then your real name. But if you are lucky, then slowly, step by step, you will feel a sence of accompishment and even a oneness with Mother Earth (make that Rock) and a grudging respect for your feet, legs and back or what ever else helps you get through the day.

3. Lack of fitness. Yes you need a level of physical fitness and mental fitness to get you through. Ideally you should be able to walk at least 20kms per day (30 to 40 some days) over rocky uneven surfaces carrying a 15 kg plus per day. Day after day. Not just a walk around your local park, but up and down hills, along the side of the busy roads, for at least 6 hours a day. Day after day. It's not just your body that needs to be prepared for this, but your mental fitness. You also need to be able to read a map, sort out logistics of your travel and enough brains to call it quits when needed.

4. Inability to roll with the punches. Yes at some point you will most likely roll head over heels off the path and end up with a face full of turf and your pack at a jointy angle over your head. If this happens then by all means use what ever language and threats to prevent you walking buddy from taking a photo of you, they will probably be doubled over laughing which should give you enough time to right yourself before they pull out the camera / phone. Apply the same pluck to when you are too late for dinner or a bed for the night. Remember the camino doesn't owe you anything, so be prepared to eat the dry bread and squashed orange you have carried and sleep on the floor. And maybe take a few extras the next day incase this happens again (which it will).

5. Remember, this is the path you have chosen. So when you feel put apon, or expect more, remember you are the one who chose to take this path and you can also choose to chuck it in and catch a train to France to drink Champagne and eat pastries if you so desire. Continuing on is your choice. Trust me, making it to the Cathedral and watching the botafumeiro swing ain't as exiting as being clean, sleeping in and not having to but your walking botas back on. You'll find your own end to your camino, when and where is up to you, it's more about the journey then the destination.

And finally, the camino is not for everyone, call me a heretic, but just because you watched a movie, read a story, talked to someone who knew someone who had done it, doesn't mean it is for you. There are a lot of things that can and will give your life meaning other then a camino, look around, there are plenty of things you can invest your time and energy into that will help you find meanining and purpose in your life if that is what you are looking for. And if you are just after a cheap holiday, then the camino is not the path you are looking for. Pain, suffering, and paying a price for the wicked life we lead were all part of the Catholic reasons for undertaking a pilgramage. Even the pagans undertook the route as part of an seasonal sacrifice to provide for a more fruitful year.

You may never really know what makes you start a camino, or for that matter to go back and do it again. But you should have a better reason then wanting a photo by the Cruz de Ferro or a video of you walking through the Holy Door. After all it's going to cost you a whole lot more then an airfare and a few toenails to get there.

(Image added by Ivar since this was moved over to the "Tales from the Camino – A good read" section)
I absolutely love this fantastic post…made my day and I will share it with a few folks who are asking me why I walk Camino paths.

Guy
 
Time of past OR future Camino
CF Sep/Oct 2015
C Primitivo Sep / Oct 2016
Portugese Sep/Oct 2017
VdlP, Muxia 2018
As someone who has walked a number of caminos I often get asked about the best route, when to walk, what pack / shoes to use. But lately after a few questioning would be pilgrims I've had to re assess. Usually I avoid telling people what they should do, rather I point them in the best direction and encourage them to assess their fitness, reasons for going etc. It's not my call after all, and personally I think it's better to try then sit at home and wonder what if. But lately I've had to re assess.

The level of expectation, lack of fitness, inabilty to roll with the punches and blind belief in that the camino will provide have left me thinking that, well, the camino ain't for everyone. I would not think twice in telling an ill prepared tramper that they should not be let loose on our local hills and mountains. I'd warn them of the umpredictable weather, lack of support and frankly their lack of prepareness to take on what we refer to as Great Walks, which in typical Kiwi understatement are usually hikes suitable only for experienced outdoors types.

So in the spirit of fairness, I humbly offer these reasons not to walk a camino.

1. Lack of spiritual prepareness. Normally this would be lower down (or not at all) in my advice to would be hikers. And as a tree hugging pagan I don't claim to be the font of all knowlege on routes seeped in Catholic overlay. But generally what marks a camino over other long distance trails is its links to history and the walker / pilgrims desire to submit to a greater will and walk in the foot steps of others. This I do understand, as it is one of the prime reasons that has brought me back to the camino. You dont need to be devout, but you do need to be respectful and recognise that it is more about the journey (within and without) that makes a camino special.

2. High expectations. No matter how well prepared you think you are, leave your expectations behind as you step off on your camino. You are not going to find enlightenment, there aren't hordes of camino angles waiting to save you. There may be some entusiastic fellow travellers but no guarantee that they will form a new walking family to assist you along the way. Chances are the only thing you can really expect are blisters, water shortages, and a race for the last bed. You are more likely to be know as Grumpy from Minnasota or Fartsalot then your real name. But if you are lucky, then slowly, step by step, you will feel a sence of accompishment and even a oneness with Mother Earth (make that Rock) and a grudging respect for your feet, legs and back or what ever else helps you get through the day.

3. Lack of fitness. Yes you need a level of physical fitness and mental fitness to get you through. Ideally you should be able to walk at least 20kms per day (30 to 40 some days) over rocky uneven surfaces carrying a 15 kg plus per day. Day after day. Not just a walk around your local park, but up and down hills, along the side of the busy roads, for at least 6 hours a day. Day after day. It's not just your body that needs to be prepared for this, but your mental fitness. You also need to be able to read a map, sort out logistics of your travel and enough brains to call it quits when needed.

4. Inability to roll with the punches. Yes at some point you will most likely roll head over heels off the path and end up with a face full of turf and your pack at a jointy angle over your head. If this happens then by all means use what ever language and threats to prevent you walking buddy from taking a photo of you, they will probably be doubled over laughing which should give you enough time to right yourself before they pull out the camera / phone. Apply the same pluck to when you are too late for dinner or a bed for the night. Remember the camino doesn't owe you anything, so be prepared to eat the dry bread and squashed orange you have carried and sleep on the floor. And maybe take a few extras the next day incase this happens again (which it will).

5. Remember, this is the path you have chosen. So when you feel put apon, or expect more, remember you are the one who chose to take this path and you can also choose to chuck it in and catch a train to France to drink Champagne and eat pastries if you so desire. Continuing on is your choice. Trust me, making it to the Cathedral and watching the botafumeiro swing ain't as exiting as being clean, sleeping in and not having to but your walking botas back on. You'll find your own end to your camino, when and where is up to you, it's more about the journey then the destination.

And finally, the camino is not for everyone, call me a heretic, but just because you watched a movie, read a story, talked to someone who knew someone who had done it, doesn't mean it is for you. There are a lot of things that can and will give your life meaning other then a camino, look around, there are plenty of things you can invest your time and energy into that will help you find meanining and purpose in your life if that is what you are looking for. And if you are just after a cheap holiday, then the camino is not the path you are looking for. Pain, suffering, and paying a price for the wicked life we lead were all part of the Catholic reasons for undertaking a pilgramage. Even the pagans undertook the route as part of an seasonal sacrifice to provide for a more fruitful year.

You may never really know what makes you start a camino, or for that matter to go back and do it again. But you should have a better reason then wanting a photo by the Cruz de Ferro or a video of you walking through the Holy Door. After all it's going to cost you a whole lot more then an airfare and a few toenails to get there.
Best Post today and for many a day. Hel&Scott you nailed it!
Buen Camino 😉
 
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