Camino de Santiago memories and lessons

Why Walk El Camino de Santiago?

This post will not contain a straight answer of why to walk El Camino de Santiago. Unfortunately, I can’t answer this question, nor can anyone answer it. It is impossible to give someone any straight answers as of why to walk el Camino. It is a very personalized experience for anyone to point out even the general reasons for walking it.

Walking El Camino
photo credits: Bernardo Ruiz

The phrase I heard the most while walking across Northern Spain (after “Buen Camino” of course) was “so why are you walking the Camino?”

Why was I walking El Camino? I found it hard at first to answer this question, I thought I had reasons, I thought I had a good reason, but when trying to explain this reason to others it always sounded naive, or more of stupid. I tried asking this question to other people as well, and I heard lots of stories; many people shared their drama, other shared reasons that sounded even more naive than I thought my reasons were. But we were all there, and walking, with all the different backgrounds and reasons.

And the truth is, no matter what reasons anyone came for, we were all rewarded in a very similar yet personalized way by the Camino.

Pyrenees on the first day of walking

Let me just tell you at the beginning, when embracing this new experience, no matter what your reasons are, the first week or 10 days, you will ask yourself, every single morning, why the heck am I walking? Why the heck am I doing this to myself while I can be enjoying a beach or any other getaway destination with the same exact amount of money? Just do your best at getting…

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Thanks again for your support

 – Mina Mahrous

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That Small Particle called Sand

Inspired by last Friday’s twitter #FriFotos topic, and later on by AdventurousKate’s post about sand photos, I went through some of my albums and figured out I have loads of photos of sand, well some of them are pure sand, The great Sand Sea in Egypt. Some of them are your normal sand beach photos. Some are kind of rocky/sandy beaches. So I thought I could also share some of them. Well my favourite of them atleast.

Siwa, Egypt. Well most of my sand pictures are in that place. It is one of my favourite places on planet earth. Continue reading

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Sucking on Pebbles

In your Camino, sometimes you will have to do things you wouldn’t normally do, just to give you the feeling that you are going to survive.

On my Camino de Santiago, it was this day when I had planned to walk 30 Km, I was getting out of Burgos, a big city with a beautiful cathedral but what I hated about it (and all other big cities) is getting in and out of it when you have to walk through the ugly industrial areas. Also this day was at the beginning of my tendonitis and I didn’t really get what was wrong with my foot/leg but I couldn’t walk properly.

So I set off with two friends, Gastone and Jenny for the first 10 Km with no breaks and then we have Continue reading

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One further addition to the slow group

Previously I’ve mentioned how our slow walking group was gathered, and started increasing in number. I’ve written one post about how the initial group started, and then another one about how Chris joined in.

A few days later,one of the amazing people we met and that has been walking with us in an on/off pattern called us to meet up in Foncebadon, a city that was almost 25-28 Km from where we would start our walk.The day didn’t start off very good, it was really cloudy, and then started raining really bad.

Bad Weather

Bad Weather on the Camino

By noon, however, or as usual, it got really sunny and really hot. But not for too long, because by 3 in the evening it was Continue reading

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And then More People became as Slow as us

In the first part of the story I mentioned how the group/gang was originally created. Where a group of four slow bar walker/bar crawlers joined together, Kerstin and Leo from Germany, Brady from USA and I.

Sometime later, on a sunny morning, 4 Km after Leon (a Beautiful city I’ll talk about later). We were having coffee in a bar in a small village. As usual we stayed there for SO long, some of us even drinking two cups of coffee (cafe con leche). Finally we got up, started walking, and we had to cross a street so we were waiting for the green light, when we saw Chris (The Johnnie Walker guy from the first and third day). We crossed the street together the he said (in a heavy Norwegian accent) “Mina, I saw you leaving the albergue two hours ago!! How did it take you so long to just reach here?”

Chris - Special made socks - Complemented by an old lady

Chris - Special made socks - Complemented by an old lady

Embarrassed, I replied “Well we stayed almost 50 minutes in that previous bar”
“You take breaks that early?”
“It’s our second Continue reading

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How I met my friends on the Camino de Santiago

This is actually a funny story, or maybe it is only funny for us, the group that formed and bonded out of the blue. I’ll just share it with you anyway.

Our group, the people that reached Finisterre, some of us have left a couple of days before.

Our group, the people that reached Finisterre, some of us have left a couple of days before.

I started walking the first day out of Saint Jean Pied de port with the couple that I met and hitch hiked with/without from Pam Continue reading

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The More You Climb, the More Painful it is to Descend

The best thing about starting the camino in Saint Jean Pied de Port was seeing how hard it is from Day 1 – well I have been seeing how bad it is before even walking the first day out of SJPP – but even when you smoothly reach SJPP, first day out is not an easy one, some even call it the hardest day of the whole camino! The town itself is on a mountain cliff so taking an afternoon walk through SJPP means you are climbing up and down all the time! But walking west towards Spain meant you are climbing the Pyrenees, and then descending them towards Roncesvalles.

Heading West Towards Spain (Looking Backwards)

Heading West Towards Spain (Looking Bacjwards) Continue reading

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The Day We Stole a Dog

There are times when you get a choice between the easy path and the hard one, yet you still choose the hard path. For different reasons, maybe to prove it to yourself, maybe to prove it someone else, and maybe even just to brag about it later; but the basic fact is, me and my Camino friends decided to walk “el Camino Duro” (Translation from Spanish: The Hard Way) when we had this option on day 26 of walking between Cacabelos and Vega de la Valcarce.

Climbing "el Camino Duro"

Climbing "el Camino Duro"

We started climbing, and climbing, and climbing, it was an endless climb, and in no time we were high above Continue reading

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A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With a Single Step

As cheesy as this may sound, it has proved to be more than 100% true. I know everyone has heard this sentence more than a 1000 times; in movies, from parents, grandparents, friends, or anyone. You just have heard it before. But I wanted to share my experience with it, and how it literally is true.

Approximately 800 km/500 miles, that is how long El Camino de Santiago is. I decided to walk this Camino for various reasons which I have discussed in a previous post. But getting actually to Saint Jean Pied de Port in France (Part one of getting there, Part two, and three) and waking up the next morning, and starting to walk? That is a totally Continue reading

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How I Finally Got to SJPP (#3)

You can read Part one and Part two of this story here.

So Tom, Camilla and I decided not to wait for 7 more hours for the bus to Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPP), and that we will hitchhike to there instead starting now. Two nights no sleep, two days no proper meals, I just decide to follow them and see how it goes. We follow our designated route which turns out to be longer than I have expected…WAY longer than I have expected.

We end up walking 2 hours 30 minutes, with only 1 stop in the middle at a supermarket where I got an apple and water. Something general about me personally, Continue reading

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Homeless in Pamplona (#2)

You can read part one of this story here.
Still on the bus to Soria, I don’t want to fall asleep because I am afraid that the bus has any stops after Soria and I’ll miss leaving the bus in Soria, and honestly I did not feel like getting lost at the moment. I reach Soria, get out of the bus and grab my backpack and wait for 15 minutes to the next bus. There seemed to be many backpackers also waiting for the Pamplona bus, which made me feel a little better for some unknown reason.

On the 1 and a half hours bus to Pamplona I just couldn’t resist passing out (was it only a 1 and half hour bus?). It was dark already, and I had 2 seats beside each other for myself, so I just made myself comfortable and tiredness did the rest. I woke up while we were getting into Pamplona however, and noticed Continue reading

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When You Go Against The Omens

This was the first journal entry I wrote, it was on the bus from Madrid.

Let me just copy the first paragraph right out of my journal, unedited:
“August 23rd: I’m writing this on a bus to Soria, a city I don’t even know where it is on the map, but it is where I’ll change busses to take my second bus to Pamplona; a city I know almost nothing about, again, except that they have a bull running festival there that hopefully I’ll go to someday. Anyway I’ll arrive at Pamplona past midnight, with no hotel or hostel booking. So hopefully I’ll find somewhere for tonight until I take tomorrow’s bus to SJPP, I really need a goodnight’s sleep today, been a while since I slept!”

Map of my bus journey

A: Madrid; B: Soria; C:Pamplona; D:Saint Jean Pied de Port, France.

August 23rd, my first day in Spain! Well, let’s go back to August 22nd; it’s when all the bad omens actually started…

Bad Omen #1: Continue reading

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