Life Coach and haven’s Life Skills contributor Debbie Hogg is off on an adventure – trekking the Camino de Santiago for two months. She shares her journey with us along the way …
Today is my second day of taking sometime out for me to stop, reflect and allow myself to be. It’s a time for me to write, and what amazing inspiration to have for writing in being in the same bar that Ernest Hemingway used to hang out in. I am not drinking as he did, just feeling the vibe. Pamplona is the city where they have the running of the bulls. On the 7th of the 7th at 7am the gun will ring through the city and the boys and men will run for their lives, hoping that a bull will not trample them from behind. Some say it’s crazy. Some say it is exhilarating. Some have been killed. For some, it is their pathway to ‘manhood’.
Life is a funny old thing, in 1995 I was a coach manager and left London with 52 Australian, New Zealand and South African backpackers all wanting to experience the ‘Running of the Bulls’ event. As I walked into the city on my day 3 of walking the Camino, I thought to myself, whoever would have thought that 20 years from first being in Pamplona I would be entering again, ‘on foot’! For me that is wild, funky and so rocks my sox of how adventurous and awesome my life is.
It takes me to a place of feeling so blessed! Blessed firstly to have an amazingly supportive husband in Clive. For him to say “go, it’s non negotiable you must go, the time is right”. Blessed for my two awesome chicks to say, “we will be fine mum, go” (although the reality at the airport was very different for all of us.) However, 9 days into it, we are all doing great and the journey is amazing. It’s awesome for them to have daddy and daughter time and something that will impact on them forever. This is all part of the journey. It’s not just about me, there is such a ripple effect.
Walking from Saint Jean-Pied-de-Port was tough work, it was super hot even though I left early. I decided to continue on and not stop in Orisson, it seemed like I had only just started when it was time to stop. The climb was constant however stunningly beautiful. My pack weighed a ton and I was cross with myself for carrying so much. I had set an intention to be lightweight because I’ve experienced too heavy a backpack before. I would have thought I would have learnt my lesson. Well, I was talking to myself about it most of the way, what did I need to get rid of not just from my backpack, FROM MY LIFE? What was it telling me? As I walked and reflected I pictured things in my life that could go. I visualised them flying out of my house and it felt great! I pictured saying no more often! Because when I say yes, what am I actually saying no to…yep, I’m saying no to myself. I am saying no to quality time with myself, with my amazing family, time for me to be arty, farty and crafty which is what I love, love, love to do. I no longer want to be the recycle queen where I have piles of things for other people. The weight of my backpack was telling me so much!
Feeling great and ready to stop I arrived into Roncevaux, the monastery was beautiful. The checkin progress was organised and precision! I shared a cubical with 2 sets of bunks with a young guy, we were blessed as there was only the two of us in there, unlike the other cubicles that were full. The cathedral was beautiful, as was the mass we attended and we were once again blessed for our journey on the Camino.
The walk early the next day was quiet and peaceful, I had the path mostly to myself. The continual archway that the trees created was stunning and almost protecting. I felt great, I had offloaded a few things that I knew I didn’t need. I added it to the table of things that other pilgrims had left behind, obviously I wasn’t the only one with too much shit in their life. Very good metaphor. Some say they are our fears, some could even call them limiting beliefs, I say, whatever it is ‘it just is’.
On my last night in Saint Jean, I met a French man, this meant we said hello to each other, we sat at the same table and bunked in the same room (total 10 of us altogether). He didn’t speak English and I don’t speak French, hence the lack of conversation. I had seen him on the climb on the first day, say hi, thumbs up and smiled, the same came back. This happened a number of times. Day two, I rocked up beside him and said ‘hola’ and we walked together, not saying much, he would say something in French and I would respond in English, we enjoyed coffee and Spanish omelette together, he was telling me to slow down, I said I feel great! He said I had more energy than him and we communicated our ages, he was 64. It was a classic case of charades and broken language, it was funny, fun and it worked. We walked separately, and then together on and off to Zuberi. Along with Zane this beautiful lady from Latvia I had befriended on the outskirts of St Jean we bunked in at the municipal auberge. This was my first experience of interesting showers, there were no walls, just doors on the front, and then 4 shower heads with no walls, funny and it was like, okay, this ‘is as it is’! Dinner was great and we were joined by Umberto, a young guy from Venezuelay who lives in German, who could also speak French. Who just so happened to be the young guy I shared the cubical with at the monastery. Finally, my French man and I introduced each other, John-Marc was his name. So funny!
0600 we left, John-Marc, Zane and I. It was predicted to be 35degrees. It was a super walk from Zuberi to Pampolna. We arrived at 1130 minus John-Marc. He stopped to get some food and we lost him. Casa Paderborn is beautiful, Wolfgang and Ilka from Germany (volunteers for 3 weeks) were brilliant! The city is great and walking into different areas gave me waves of memories, which was lovely. I really had a good fun time here 20years ago, obviously a very different time!
As luck would have it (oh really, or is it just meant to be ) a friend who,I don’t know so well, is here at the same time. We shared beer, dinner and stories in the evening and I had to run home because of the 10pm curfew. I cannot remember the last time I ran home so I wasn’t locked out! Interesting feeling.
Today I decided to hang once more in Pamplona because I can, this is all part of my unplugging plan, I have the time, so I just can! Meet up with my friend Simon again, had coffee, chats and I then found a new auberge just down from the cathedral, it’s very big and is in an old church built on top of the Roman baths. The church has been converted into the auberge and is spectacular! Had lunch and once great conversation over lunch, which was washed down with beer. What’s really great is just to be able to chill out and be on holiday. Connect with people, have awesome conversation about life and talk about where to from here. Nice to be able to share stories, desires and what changes one can bring into their life to create something different. Love life. Loving Pamplona! Meet up again for tapa’s, wine and more stories, super nice time!
It’s interesting how I think about the people that I have said goodbye to, Annetta and Dorothy from Germany, who I said goodbye to on my first morning, Dorothy had taken me under her wing and given me the run down on how things worked in Saint Jean, I was very grateful and was sad to say goodbye. Meeting up with them on my day 1 of walking was great and then said goodbye yesterday morning – it’s interesting too reconnect along the way of which I’m sure will continue.
As I finish this up. I know that my meeting with Simon was no accident. I wonder if I will see Zane from Latvia again and I wonder about John-Marc, they are all two days ahead of me now, will I see them again?