The Freedom to Change Our Minds
When we initially set out on this trip, we had a general idea of where we wanted to visit, but no definite plans. The idea was to not think too far ahead, and instead let the trip take us where we were meant to go. When we arrived in Sao Paulo — a place I thought I would love, but didn’t — we wound up staying only three days, opting instead to head to the rainforest to live in a wooden hut with the geckos and butterflies and drink caipirinhas for a week. Our plan to travel 5 weeks through Morocco ended after only three weeks when we suddenly booked a next-day flight to Barcelona — a city I had desperately wanted to see, but hadn’t planned to get to this time around. And our one month in the Emerald Isle has stretched into two.
We’ve been making travel arrangements as we go, rarely looking more than 4 or 5 days in the future. Sometimes the lack of planning has put us in less-than-perfect situations — like the time we spent 14 hours at the Uruguay/Brazil border waiting for a bus that didn’t come until 2 in the morning — but we’ve never had any serious problems. The benefit, the ability to change our minds, however, has been immense.
Little over a month ago, I was planning to buy a one-way ticket to Thailand to fulfill my dreams of riding elephants through the jungle and learning how to cook Thai food. And then I heard about the Camino, and I realized that Asia was meant to be a different chapter of my adventure book.
Over the past couple of weeks our plan has unfolded. In a few days we board a plane to Spain to begin the Camino de Santiago de Compostela — a 500-mile route that runs across Northern Spain.
For more than a thousand years, pilgrims from all over the world have walked the road to Santiago. And this year, we will join them. Many people walk The Way for religious reasons — to find God. Others walk to find resolution, to grieve, to make a change in their lives. Some terminally ill pilgrims walk the road to die. I don’t know yet what I hope to find. This year has already presented me with more lasting learnings than I could’ve imagined, all of which arose organically, naturally. But the one resounding piece of advice from everyone I’ve talked to and read about who has done the Camino is “It will change you.”
So, we’re packing our bags, mailing some things home, and flying to Spain. We will walk for 30 days, from Pamplona to Santiago. And once the trail is done, so is our trip. For now. I still intend to ride elephants through the jungle and learn how to cook Thai. But maybe next year, when the time is right. For now, we are walking, and then returning to the US for the holidays, to spend them with family and friends we haven’t seen since February. But not until after one last adventure. After finishing the Camino, we’re heading to Barcelona — that city I loved only through photographs until I unexpectedly landed on it’s streets a few months ago, and began loving it in the flesh — to catch a cruise ship back to Miami.
It’s funny how when you don’t plan too much, you get exactly what you wanted.