“What the hell am I doing.”
These words played over and over in my head this morning as I drifted in and out of sleep on a seven hour train ride from Barcelona to Burgos, a city in the north of Spain.
You see, I have decided to do the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where the bones of St. James are, allegedly, buried.
In the next 21 days, I will walk over 300 miles. I have only my backpack, thrown together last night, with an extra change of clothes, some documents and a few other essentials.
I’ve known for months that I was going to undertake the Camino, but this morning it started to really hit me. I had gotten home at 6 am and had to be up at 7:30 am to catch my train. I laid in my bed this morning thinking about who the hell I thought I was, to just hop on a train I booked only yesterday, without any idea where I would even sleep tonight or how exactly to go about starting the Camino. Also, I couldn’t figure out why I thought it was a good idea to go dancing in five inch heels for eight hours the night before such a hike. Although I do look as adorable as Reese Witherspoon with her backpack in The Wild, real life isn’t a movie and 300 miles is quite the stroll.
Then, a beautiful thing happened when I arrived in Burgos. Any anxieties I had, immediately dissipated.
I hopped on the first bus I saw outside of the train station, strolled into town, got a hotel room and had some frozen yogurt. I entered the Gothic cathedral in Burgos, and immediately felt at peace inside its intricate walls.
The town was bursting with life and everyone was dressed in their weekend best. There was a book festival in the main square, a wedding being held at the church and little Spanish girls pranced around in white dresses after having their first communion today.
After I visited the cathedral I went to the city’s pilgrims office to pick up my pilgrim passport, where I was helped by two little old men, who encouraged me and told me that I was going to be okay. I felt as though I could explode from joy, because I knew a great adventure was about to begin.
Their last words to me, were also the very first and most important of my journey,