Lessons From Walking The Camino de Santiago

For centuries, thousands of people from different backgrounds come from every corner of the world to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile trek. And now, I’m one of the people who have finished. Finding words to describe the experience is difficult, and I don’t want to reveal the secrets of the Camino.

I started the journey alone, and left with many friends…each person came from a different corner of the world and had their own beautiful story to celebrate. Some, seeking for forgiveness on the path of St. James, some seeking clarity for inner challenges, and some seeking a once-in-a-lifetime nature walk.

It’s said that whatever you search for on the Camino, you will find it. It’s true.

After I arrived at the final destination (Santiago), I traveled to Fisterra, “the end of the world,” where I walked an additional 30km by the ocean to a lighthouse. Funny how 30km seems like a drop in the water when you compare it to how far you’ve come. Seen in this picture, the lighthouse in Fisterra at sunset was truly the end of my journey. It’s one of the most powerful lighthouses in Europe.

For 500 miles, I was swollen, tired, sunburned and sweaty…but most of all, I was revitalized and enlightened. Every mile brought a new lesson that I carried with me every day. Each step brought me time to dream and process feelings. It feels so good to FEEL. Walking the Camino is like living life’s most important lessons… in action. I’d like to share a few…

As I slowed down, I started to become aware of the present…the way the early morning sun cast its light on the rock walls and fields and flowers. As I closed my eyes, I could hear the roosters, the cows, and the villagers cheering, “Buen Camino!” In the real world, the fast-paced life, it’s easy to get into my head and detach from what I’m actually feeling. As I was able to slow down and stay in-tune with what the present presented, I started to find more joy and comfort throughout the day. Life just became very easy.

I learned the concept of being present in a completely different way when three weeks in, I hurt my ankle doing dancer’s pose on a wall… in sandals. Yes, showboating  [😉]  For two days, I soaked my ankle in the cold water, and had a few massages from a woman in Villa Franca. She was one of my greatest teachers along the path. In her broken English, she held me and said, “Kathy.. you are too much in your head.. need to connect head and body.” She said, “Think…then feel.. then act.” Meaning, an authentic life is lived when you let your thoughts and feelings guide your actions. And that was the best lesson of all.

Making a conscious decision to slow down was quite possibly one of the most powerful gifts I could give myself. Each moment of the Camino was precious, and when I allowed my body and mind adjust to “the simple life,” I began trusting that there would be space for whatever I was searching for…. Buen Camino.


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