I get a lot of questions about walking the Camino alone. Is it safe? Will I be lonely? What if something happens? Is it practical?
Before I walked my first Camino I was very apprehensive. I had been living in Spain a few years and I knew that the country was safe and people were friendly, but my Spanish wasn’t that great and many times I had difficulty communicating or I felt a little lost with the culture. But when I went up north for my first Camino, I was completely taken aback at the friendliness and hospitality shown by everyone. I felt like I made friends with my fellow travelers, each hotel I stayed in, and all the family cooked meals I experienced. I was able to communicate adequately and everyone was so accustomed to foreigners and their poor Spanish and the use of pointing and signing, that no one got frustrated and were happy to help.
I started out each day walking with my husband, but he’s more in shape than me and likes to go at a quicker pace, so after an hour he went ahead and I had the walk to myself. I loved the solitude, the quietness and the physical walking. I was passed many times by solo travelers, by couples and even a group of monks from Tennessee. Every time someone passed we said hi, or asked each other how it was going and then kept on walking. The signs are easy to spot so you can’t get lost, people walk by occasionally and I never once felt in trouble or in danger.
That being said, the Camino is an individual journey, but it’s also a journey of connection and tradition. Just by walking the same path and participating in this historical pilgrimage, you establish camaraderie with everyone else who has ever attempted to walk the road.
With Hike the Way, our goal is to allow for both the individual journey and the friendships that arise. We can add individuals to groups, our “groups” can be all different individuals, and we all walk and experience the Camino at our own pace and our own way. Each dinner is eaten together, where we share journeys, compare blisters and give advice. And each day each of us decide how fast or slow we will walk the Camino, and if we’ll walk it alone or in a group. Our van meets all of us at the designated check points and we learn that the Camino is not a race to the finish line, but the journey is the purpose.