Walking the Portuguese Coastal Camino over the last 12 days has been magical. Beautiful inspiring sunrises over sandy beaches, sunsets on ocean rocks, forest baths and ancient towns with October temperatures of high teens to mid twenties. This fragrant, textured paradise inspires painting, poetry, music, books and lives. Getting to walk 20km a day of pure paradise filled me with gratitude and almost guilt. Guilt for the profound luxury of this time. I wanted to bottle the experience and take it to share with all those in need.
That being said, the Camino isn’t about finding paradise, not by a long shot. It’s about being fully present with whatever presents itself. It’s about training the mind and the body. It’s about letting go of enough for the allowance of recognizing what is real, important and the centre of one’s heart.
About five days from Santiago de Compostela, our walk would have us rest in Vigo, the largest city on the Camino. What a contrast. It was an ugly industrial port city with impoverished buildings in disrepair. The energy of the people we crossed along the walk felt grey, heavy and untouched by our smiles. I felt sick and helpless. People wore their burdens like an unshakable second skin and any glimpses of joy or ease unknown. Being sensitive to people’s energy, I felt sick with the volume of suffering all around.
We landed, showered, ate and slept. I was counting the hours until we could start walking again. It took us a better part of the day to get to the other side of Vigo and into the next village. We were able to walk through forest for quite a bit. Some of these parts overlooked the rivers with hundreds of fish farms and various displays of the dark industrial machine.
It made me reflect on the true cost of our choices. All the cheap things we can buy, what do they really cost? What are they really worth? What do we know about the Corporations that create desirable, romantic images of what we need yet are sucking life of every imaginable resource, including humanity. Commercial farming practices.. farmed fish with almost no value and the same antibiotic dilemma as commercial cattle. Our soil has been stripped of its minerals from the practices that have raped the soil without honouring nature’s replenishment laws that take time. The pursuit of higher yields and higher profit have debilitating costs across the board.
Everything we do, buy, eat, drink or think supports something bigger, always. Walking through this ugliness was a good reminder that I too am responsible for practices I’d like to endorse or discourage. For this reminder, I’m grateful.
I will be back in Toronto at the end of October for a couple of months and would love to have a gathering somewhere and do a trunk show/pop-up holiday shop
play/talk about retreats... I am missing seeing this beautiful community. If you are interested in hosting or attending, let me know.
I’ll be finalizing details for the Ireland 2019 retreats in the next couple of months also. There is still space. This will be the last year with the same rates, you may want to take advantage.
From the Camino with love, a lotus and smile,
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