Lessons learned by pilgrims during the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a geographical journey that crosses wonderful landscapes and endearing towns, rich in culture, gastronomy and sympathy. Now, we know that it is not only that and therefore today we want to talk to you about the teachings of the Camino de Santiago.
The Camino de Santiago is a personal journey, a fascinating excursion within ourselves. A way to reinvent ourselves by seeing each other in a new, natural and unpretentious context. For that reason, we have already published in our blog on the Camino de Santiago, an article on life lessons that you will learn on the pilgrimage to Santiago.
However, beyond the great vital lessons of the Camino de Santiago, each of the elements and symbols you will find on this pilgrimage path has a parallel with life, which teaches us lessons. Therefore, in Santiago Ways, with the opinions and experiences of those pilgrims that we have accompanied to Santiago de Compostela, we have developed this little dictionary of teachings of the Camino.
Dictionary of lessons learned from the Camino de Santiago
The Camino de Santiago is a huge experience that surrounds you, catches you and makes you live in a bubble throughout the pilgrimage. From it, pilgrims take some essential vital lessons, that we are not very clear about in our daily routine.
Each pilgrim will live the journey in their own way, each one feeling something different when stepping on the same path or admiring the same landscape. But if there is an unavoidable allegory, that is the Camino as a metaphor for life.
Because our life is a way in which we learn, we move forward and we know other walkers, right? This idea brings a special meaning to our journey from day one when we load our backpack with the typical illusion of a child.
Lessons learned on the stages of the Camino de Santiago
The distribution by stages of the Camino de Santiago gives us many lessons. Next, we explain the parallels on the Camino de Santiago and life.
The alternative stages represent decisions
On the Camino de Santiago, as in life, there are many possible routes. The pilgrim route has many stages in which we can choose between the official section or follow the alternative route. At first it is difficult to decide and it is easy to ask the same question a thousand times: “Will the official stage or the alternative be prettier?”
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: Life compels us to make decisions and it is best to learn to trust our choices. You learn everything!
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “We learned, after several dilemmas of this kind, that, in the end, there were wonderful landscapes and admirable monuments in all options.”
The kilometres walked are tests
The kilometres covered are without a doubt the great physical test on the Camino de Santiago. At the beginning of the pilgrimage to Santiago, it is common to think that the kilometres ahead are too many to complete the feat. The pilgrims do not take long to divide them into stages and concentrate only on the test of the day, which is usually about 20 or 25 km.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: Life is faced with many tests, some seem insurmountable, but little by little, they can be overcome.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “Our self-esteem was reinforced because we realized that we can do much more than we think.”
The duration of each stage teaches us patience
The duration of each stage varies depending on the number of kilometres that pilgrims do a day. Usually, the pilgrims spend about 5 or 6 hours a day walking.
We talk about days because pilgrims must do at least 100 kilometres if they want to get the Compostela. Therefore, patience is one of the main teachings that pilgrims take from the Camino de Santiago.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, the things that are worthwhile are not achieved in a single day.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “On the Camino, we learned that with patience, even the most difficult challenges are possible.”
The end of the stage is just another step
The end of each stage is just one more step on to our goal. However, every time you complete a day on the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrims feel great satisfaction and are surprised by the challenges they have overcome on that day.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, every effort has a reward. The reward gives you the extra energy to continue.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “It was wonderful to learn that our sacrifices had a reward. We learned to know each other and see what we are capable of. “
Lessons from a pilgrim’s body
Not all the teachings of the Camino de Santiago come from outside, some of the lessons that the pilgrims learn from their own bodies or from their own things. Next, we tell you what lessons some pilgrims have taken from themselves.
The pilgrim’s stick: a support to always help you walk
When you start the Camino de Santiago, you start with great enthusiasm. At first, the pilgrims feel strong, but throughout the different stages, they begin to feel more and more tired. The pilgrim’s stick is an invaluable aid, especially for those people who make medium-long routes.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: There are times in life when things get complicated, in them we need a stick that helps us to alleviate fatigue.
Pilgrims ‘ opinions and experiences: “The stick is like a good friend, super important.”
The weight of the backpack: a burden to carry
During the Camino de Santiago, all pilgrims understand before completing the first stage that the weight of the backpack is a burden that exhausts us and prevents progress. Soon after they realize that the weight of the backpack is not only physical, but also spiritual.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: The lighter the backpack the easier and pleasant it will be to walk in life.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “I was too loaded, so I decided to leave some things in the next town. I had enough weight on me.”
I got to know my “Self-pilgrim”
Another of the fascinating teachings of the Camino de Santiago is the discovery of the self-pilgrim. In everyday life people wear masks every day, that’s inevitable.
Work, friends or family oblige people to hide or to makeup, they force them to hide or cover up traits of their personality. To pretend, to have a certain role or to behave according to certain social norms seems essential to be able to coexist in peace.
However, on the Camino de Santiago, many people find the opportunity to open up to the world as they are. Many pilgrims find themselves with facets of themselves that they no longer remember. They recover and reinvent themselves during their pilgrimage.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, it is important to have moments to reencounter oneself. We mustn’t forget who our real self is.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “The other pilgrims on the way told me I was very funny. I remember before I laughed a lot, I had forgotten how to do it.”
The blisters remind you that you’re still alive
There are few pilgrims who can presume to have completed the Camino de Santiago without suffering a graze, a blister or some other type of annoyance on their feet. As much as they are uncomfortable, according to the popular knowledge on the Camino de Santiago, they are also part of the teachings.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: To be alive is to feel. Experience happiness and satisfaction, but also pain. Suffering is also a part of life.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “On the first days I got many blisters and it was hard to walk, I said, I did not come here to suffer and I was about to leave. Good thing I did not, a few days later, I was much better and I could finish the route without problems.”
The pilgrim’s routine is pure improvisation
Many people need to have a routine in their lives to feel tidy. Others, on the other hand, flee from them as if it were the plague. The people who do the Camino de Santiago develop what is known as “The Pilgrim’s Routine”.
Getting up early, eating breakfast, walking, washing clothes, resting, dining and sleeping is the daily routine of pilgrims. However, amid all these words that may seem so dull, moments of laughter and many unexpected situations are interspersed.
Many pilgrims start the Camino de Santiago with a routine and finish it with another. During the tour and once you become familiar with the dynamics of the pilgrim, simply flow with the pilgrim route and let yourself be carried by the sensations and emotions that transmit the places you sleep and the people you know during the day.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, routines are beneficial to achieve certain goals, but they should not be immovable. They should be broken often.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “I knew that every day I would walk for hours, but I never knew in which village I would end up sleeping that day.”
Lessons learned from other pilgrims
Pilgrimage to Santiago is a very social journey. Both the same process of pilgrimage and the popularity of the Camino de Santiago make people know many other people during the experience. They also have a role in the teachings of the Camino de Santiago.
A thousand years of travelling companions
It is indescribable the feeling that surrounds the pilgrims when realizing that the roads of the Camino de Santiago have already been transited by millions of pilgrims before them. For more than a millennium, people have been walking along those roads!
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: Although in life we feel that we are the first person in the world who is living the experience, whether good or bad, there are many people who have already been through the same.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “I was surprised to see how many people were on the Camino de Santiago in my own situation.”
The famous Camino de Santiago greeting
If there is a famous phrase on the Camino de Santiago it’s the “Buen Camino!”. Hundreds of pilgrims cross each day and exchange this greeting. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been seen before or if it’s the first time they coincide. Even if you are tired or just beginning the day, cordiality is always present on the pilgrim’s route.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: Feeling exhausted does not justify not being cordial with those around us. A greeting and a smile make the way of life easier.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “After the Camino de Santiago it was difficult not to say “Buen Camino”, it makes more sense than just saying good morning.”
The Pilgrim’s walking pace
Not all pilgrims have the same rhythm as they walk. Some advance very quickly, regardless of age or fitness. Others go slowly, letting themselves be wrapped up by the surroundings and the landscape. But everyone, sooner or later, arrives in Santiago.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, we don’t all advance at the same pace. There are people who arrive before at their destination, but that does not say who has enjoyed the tour more.
Pilgrim’s opinions and experiences: “When I saw the grandparents pass me by, I didn’t know whether to be happy for them or to grieve for me.”
Who are you going with, pilgrim?
There are many ways to do the Camino de Santiago. You can go alone, as a couple, with friends or even with your dog. All of them besides the company you bring from home, you make new friends along the Camino.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: No matter who is by your side, the journey of life you will do by yourself. Along the way you will find many people to share some sections of your life.
Pilgrim’s opinions and teachings: “I was afraid to go alone, I don’t know, I was worried about getting bored. I was envious of people who went with friends. But when I finished the road I was so glad I did it alone, I met a lot of people who had problems with their fellow travellers.”
Conversations between pilgrims
One of the wonders of the Camino de Santiago is that the slowness of the journey encourages conversations. Since the most common question that all pilgrims make to start a profound chat of a certain depth is: Why are you doing the Camino?, Exchanging secrets on the Camino de Santiago is very common.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: On the way of life, you will always find people to learn from.
Pilgrim’s opinions and teachings: “I met a lot of interesting people. I learned a great deal from some.”
The lessons learned from the surroundings
In the surroundings of the Camino de Santiago, we will also find many elements of teachings. Here, we talk about some of them.
Signalling on the Camino de Santiago
Getting lost on the Camino de Santiago is not easy. The road routes are signposted with the classic yellow arrows or the famous scallops. These elements symbolize the signs that we find in our day to day.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, we always find signs that indicate the right route. Stay tuned!
Pilgrim’s opinions and teachings: “Following the arrows was very easy, you always knew where you had to go.”
The stones on the Camino
Although not all routes of the Camino de Santiago are equally complicated, on many stages we will find stones and obstacles in the route. These also have symbolism in the teachings of the Camino de Santiago.
Teaching from the Camino de Santiago: In life, you find obstacles that are not dependent on you. You just have to overcome them.
Pilgrims ‘ opinions and teachings: “To me, the stone sections were difficult, some I could avoid but others not.”
We could certainly continue to enumerate listings of teachings that are hidden in many of the pilgrim elements. But for today, that’s enough. If you liked this dictionary of teachings of the Camino de Santiago, it would be fantastic if you could share them with your friends on Facebook, So maybe they will also be encouraged to live the experience.
We do not want to say goodbye, without recommending this documentary about several people of different nationalities who tell their own lessons learned on the Camino de Santiago and how the journey changed them and their way of understanding the world. Don’t miss it, it’s very interesting.
The teachings of the Camino de Santiago are personal, but always transferable! Surely if you have already made the Camino de Santiago, you also have a lot of lessons to share with other pilgrims. We invite you to do so and leave us a comment with your experience.