After completing the 750 km I arrived at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago to claim my Compostela which is a certificate awarded to those that walk, bike, or horseback and collect stamps in a pilgrim passport from hostels, cathedrals and all places related to the travel.
A simple form is required to fill in and one of the questions is “what is your occupation?”
I was not sure what to write and glanced over to find that my walking partner wrote “traveler” in the blank. I burst into tears. Sobbing, “I want to be a traveler.” This seemed an impossibility at the time. I was a mother. I had a family. I had a home.
Some background information. When I went on the Camino in 2015 I was looking for adventure and clarity. I had lost inspiration and wanted to figure out a new way to make money. This had never been a problem for me in the past. I was always coming up with new ideas and implementing them. But here I was completely stuck.
When fellow pilgrims asked what I did for a living I told them I was in transition. It was an incredibly uncomfortable place to be. I have heard it described as the point when you you are flying through the air just after letting go of one trapeze and hoping to catch the other one.” When offering the answer “I am in transition,” I felt like they were asking “who are you” and my response felt like “I do not know.”
3 YEARS LATER
I figured out how to be a traveler. A citizen of the world. With no permanent home. And yet, I finally feel home.
It is still new. I am still learning. I am still defining what I want. But I imagine that will be a lifelong process--evolving as I evolve. For me, my life is my palate. The creativity is in the life itself. And this is what I want to share with others.
I have discovered that there are many, many different ways to travel.
I have lived on a boat, in an ashram, I have worked on projects all over the world in exchange for room and board.
I have lived with local families, I have lived apartments in two different cities.
I have also backpacked, walked and cycled hundreds of kilometers sleeping in tents and hotels.
I have camped in the middle of a city as well as in the middle of nowhere. I even stayed at a nudist camp.
I have stayed in huts, open air structures, and in one project actually paid to live in a huge tent with 35 others—mat to mat— at times feeling more like a refugee than a traveler.
I have also stayed in all kinds of hotels, hostels, and alburgues. I love it all.
All the experiences are different and rewarding and memorable in their own way. It is this diversity that I cherish.
Photo credits: https://trailtopeak.com/2015/06/09/24-photos-that-will-make-you-want-to-walk-camino-de-santiago