Just returned from the Camino. Advice to others 60+ years

Are there any pilgrims "80 Years old and over"?

 

Not really a question, but some good advice from a pilgrim that has just returned from the Camino (May 2013):

Well that was an experience of a lifetime and something nobody who seriously wants to do the Camino should turn from.

Was it difficult? Not overly so.

Sure there were days when I was tired, hot, wet, had sore feet and on onew occassion had a honking great blister that put me off the road for a day, but if you are even moderately in shape, and remember you are not in a race, and do only what you are capable of doing per day, you will have the time of your life!
I did not start as a pilgrim, but I ended up as a person who firmly believes that Christianity is alive and well in people who walk the Camino and that God is great, and I do not mean that in a great religious type of way, with visions, or Halleluja choruses echoing through the land, He just is great and exists. ( I still swear like a trooper when things go wrong btw)

I left St Jean Pied de Port on 6 April and arrived in Santiago on 12 May. I left on my own and met dozens of the best people I have ever met in my life. I laughed more heartily than I have done in many years, I learned that charity between friends is invaluable, I have dozens of Facebook friends thanks to the Camino, all of whom I would welcome to my home, I saw the beauty of Spain, the wonders of large cities, the delights of tiny villages, heard cuckoos calling, cows mooing and sheep bleating, and smelt for days, dung and slurry that was being spread on fields. I never heard a cross word, or felt that I was ripped off in any way,in fact I had people track me down if I had over paid. Not once did I see see a police car with its siren sounding, nor fear anything untoward was possible.

I had a Rastafarian Russian surf board instructor fellow Caminoist (that is a story in its self!) tend, with care and tenderness to a bad blister I developed, and he used up his own precious first aid kit helping me and gave me a great pair of socks, a man, a month before I would never have dreamt of even speaking with. Now I know I could trust him completely.

The food was first class, the albergues were better than I imagined they would be, the whole exercise was cheaper than I thought, and I did not want to come back home at the end of it.

Yes you will experience challenges such as loosing your underwear inexplicably, finding you have adopted someone elses socks and sweating like a pig, but it is only underwear and I feel the benefit of losing 28 lbs to the point I now take two steps before my pants start to move, but I also lived amongst men and women from their 20s to their 80s who were a joy to be with and shared happiness and stories. I had no trouble sleeping and no trouble getting up in the morning. I soon got used to having a shower with a woman in the stall next to me. Inserting earplugs at night was just as natural as brushing my teeth, and I missed nothing of the creature comforts of home, what ever that may have meant.

If you want the time of your life, if you want to learn something incredible, if you want to see something fresh and with a different outlook on life, travel the Camino, and dont worry about the little things. You dont need peanut butter or to phone home every night. Go on, do something different. All the information about what you should do or bring is extremely well documented on this forum ten times over. Just do it. Buen Camino.

Read all the responses to advice for pilgrims over 60 in our Camino de Santiago forum.

  • MarcoAntonio

    Lo pondré en Español, que el traductor se gane su salario. Ya estoy en los 70 y he recorrido el camino 6 veces, se que no es ningún record pues conozco muchas personas que lo han caminado mas veces que yo. De entre los mejores recuerdos, en orden aleatorio, WILL, senior citizen, quien caminaba llevando en su cuello una espita para descargar los gases derivados de su, para el momento, muy reciente operación de cáncer en el estomago, su llegada a Nájera en difícil condición, la atención que le brindaron las morochas, enfermeras de Urgencias, la noche irrepetible en Grañón. El encuentro con SALADINO quien se convirtió en amigo entrañable, cheff para multitudes, compañero 4×4 todo terreno, la llegada a Santiago y el encuentro de WILL con su anhelante familia que le esperaba con la fe que mueve montañas y que le da fuerzas a quienes mas las necesitan. La vitalidad de VIRGINIA, dama entre las damas, casi 90 años y caminando, la firmeza de su arribo a Santiago, su andar de rodillas para atravesar la Plaza dos Obradeiros, su coraje y sus lagrimas de felicidad al completar su aventura. Wolf, en Mancilla de las Mulas, otro muchachito de larga trayectoria dedicado a brindar ayuda a los peregrinos; TOMAS en el Manjarín, EVARISTO, con todo y su carácter, en Ponferrada. El SR. José y la Sra. URSULA, Suizos, mecenas de Ponferrada, El Acebo y otros albergues mas.(Hay que tener un corazón del tamaño del mundo para hacer las bondades que esta pareja ha hecho en El Camino).

    Quiera Dios darme vida y permitirme seguir caminando otros años mas. En el 2012 tuve la fortuna de coincidir con una Dama de extraordinaria calidez humana, MAIME… trataba de llegar a Muxía para completar el camino que, en vida, su difunto esposo planificó. Ella lo completó y de que forma… Gracias a la bondad del Hospitalero de Muxía, la Compostelana llevó los nombres de marido y mujer. Me encontré con una cuarteta de valencianos que me enseñaron lo que es el caminar en familia, todos éramos adultos contemporáneos de cabello blanco, curtidos por los años y los avatares, en nosotros renacía la vida y disfrutamos de todo lo bueno del Camino, cada paso daba gracias.
    Para mi, estos momentos con estas personas bien valen los miles y miles de kilómetros que he viajado para ir a España y los miles de kilómetros que he caminado por el Francés(corto y largo), Aragonés, del Norte, Primitivo.
    Es una caja de sorpresas, cada una mejor que la otra. Gracias a quien escribió la nota que da origen a este comentario… habrá que colocarlo en esta pequeña gran lista de personas para recordar…

    • Pruden

      Precioso y enriquecedor! ! Todos tus comentarios son suficientes para que la humedad llegue a mis ojos y se empeñen.
      Gracias por inspirarnos mas de lo que ya estamos, realmente leer estos comentarios te pone muy difícil demorar las ganas de comenzar el camino de Santiago.
      Gracias.
      Buen Camino a todos.

  • Sherry

    Thank you for your reassurance that all will be well! Sometimes the in my preparation, I lose site of the real purpose. Welcome home!

  • Runa Gunnarsdottir

    Reading your blog was if I had done it, you just had the same experience I had 2010. It was the time I will never forget and I could do it all over again. Thank you so much for your blog.

  • Kristin

    This is the first post of yours that I have read and I have to say it makes me so excited to experience the Camino. My hubby and I hope to do this to celebrate our 50th birthdays in about 5 1/2 to 6years. I plan on reading your other posts, thanks for taking the time to write about your experience.

  • Dave

    Good advice! I completely agree that it is something anyone whose retired can do and will get a huge amount out of. I walked from St Jean to Santiago last year in April and May. I had just turned 70 and although it was tiring at times, I managed ok. Around 25kms a day. i didn’t plan to reach particular places each day, just took pot luck and never had trouble finding somewhere to sleep.

    I also found great hope in the Christian experience and agree completely with your comments on that subject.
    Some great friends made too, from all over the world. I thought I would be one of the oldest on the road, but not so. I met another Australian of 73 who had walked from Le Puy when I met him near Puerte la Reine. I met an English anthropologist of 82 and an Italian lady with a pack bigger than half her size, of 76! So anyone thinking about it, don’t be afraid that you will be too old. A truly fabulous trip, and I’m back again next April.

  • bradforde

    Thank you!

  • Fausto Guerin

    I am far over 60 and I shared the same feelings in the french , english and portugues caminos . At the present , the one from St . Jean Pied the Port to Santiago , the french one brought me the best sensations .

  • Aramis de la Nuez

    This was such beautiful writing. I had tears in my eyes. I have a 1,000 times walked the CAMINO in my mind. But I have never been a CAMINANTE. I want to do with my wife in the summer of 2015 and not a day later. I’ve postponed too long. So now I am doing massive research. Am I scared? Yes! I am 57 and although moderately fit, this is not a feat for the lame, the lazy or the uninitiated. I will take my brain power, my five languages, my love, a knacksack and some euro with me. I hope 2,000 euro is enough for 25 days. If it isn’t, I will have to cope somehow. I fear so many things yet I will do it as everyone else before me. This post by this man has inspired me and every day I am one inch closer to becoming a great CAMINANTE. royal_musketeer@yahoo.it

  • Tina Demers

    Thank you so much for your posting. I am leaving in a little over a month. Just celebrated by 67 birthday and am going alone. Have been struggling with training because we have had the longest coldest snowiest New England winter in recent memory so my plans for daily walking were impacted often. I still have 5 weeks to go and the weather seems to have broken in the past few days. Have read good books and blogs and realized as the time came nearer that my only major concern has been going over the Pyrenees and have after some reading decided to start in Pamplona. From a curvature of the spine to ankles that have been turned and broken over the years, I realize my only fear has been the daunting process of starting in SJPP with the higher potential for an injury that could keep me from completing my Camino. Newly retired I have allotted more than enough time, am blessed with sufficient funds, and so will begin with a happy heart in Pamplona and end in Finnesterre. I look forward to many kind people also on a great life adventure. My long overdue spiritual and physical journey shall be all it is supposed to be. Thank all of you for your generous postings. Buen Camino.

    • Tom Leonard

      Boston guy 67 yrs old and New England winter convinced me to do Camino in Sept. 2015 . Time only allows the Sarria -Santiago leg of Camino . This forum has been my everyday reading . Thanks for your posting .

  • Wil

    I walked the Camino from Aug. 24 till the end of Oct. 2016. I wanted to do it for my 70 birthday, which I did with my wife and daughter. When I finished and was asked if I would do it again, I quickly say “NO”, I have experienced it an there are other walks to do! Now at the end of Dec. 2016 —I Would Do It Again—- So many experience were so memorable I would like to experience “like them” again. The only change I will make is-no time limit ! But after reaching 70, that should be less of a problem for me. Been Camino