You have walked (or cycled) near 900 kilometers or more. You walked the Frances, the Norte, the Ruta de la Plata….. You have met some amazing people, seen some stunning countryside. You have been gifted many times over by the people you have met, many of whom you never saw again. Every day a “Camino Angel” seemed to guide you. You have laughed, and if you are typical, sat by the roadside and cried too. You have felt layers of your “old life” slipping off like spring snow off a pine branch. You feel re-born. You are re-born.
You enter Santiago. At first you are disoriented. Where are the yellow arrows? Some hidden sense takes you to the cathedral. You attend the pilgrim’s mass and maybe you are fortunate enough to see the botefumeiro fly! You hug the Saint, visit the crypt, and proudly go to the Pilgrim’s Office to get your Compostela.
Then in the afternoon, you board a bus to go out to the airport and……
What’s that I hear you say? “No-one would do that?”
You´d be surprised!
What I have just described is a recipe for severe mental stress when you get back to your normal life. You are not the same person you were when you left and you may either have made some life changing decisions along the way, or at least are ready for some. Your husband, wife, partner, mother, father, children haven´t had your experiences. They are happy for you, yes, but they don´t quite understand and no number of times of showing them the film The Way will bring them any closer! After a while you begin to notice that your friends’ eyes glaze over when you talk about the Camino and they just have to be somewhere else…
You see, the problem is that many people don´t factor in “down time”: that blister that just won´t heal, that tendonitis that slows you down or insists on a day or two´s rest, or that new pilgrim friend who needs to slow down just a bit and you hate to lose their companionship. As a result, that four weeks you thought would be enough to “do the Camino” just isn´t do-able. And to be honest, it never really was….
So... What to do?
First: Consider where you will start. There is nothing written in stone about beginning in Saint Jean Pied de Port! In fact, while some walk out of their door to start their Camino, in fact traditionally it was Ronces-valles which was the departure point on the Camino Frances. Or of course, you could start from Paris...
Second: Include at least three days before you need to go home. If you can walk on to the Coast, perfect, but even there you need to stop, rest, reflect, write in your diary and get ready for “re-entry”.
The Little Fox House is here to help you do just that.