• Ryan Newman

In the Camino Fog

Day 9 (Nájera to Santo Domingo)

Distance: 13.16 miles (21.2KM)

Steps: 30,000

Time: 4 hours, 5 minutes

Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone. —Octavio Paz (Mexican Poet)

Today, I walked solo for the whole 13 miles. The others in my Camino Family got a late start. I took the opportunity to start out at 6:30AM. Over the course of four hours, the fog slowly began to blanket the whole valley. Two hours into today’s journey, visibility was no more than 10 feet. It was an eerie feeling being virtually blinded in an unfamiliar place. What started out as a solo walk soon began to feel like I was the last person on earth.

The fog and silence didn’t dampen my spirit. I found the day to be very meditative with the occasional conversation with myself. Yes, I talked to myself. The fog might have hidden my fellow pilgrims from sight. In that case, they likely wondered who was the crazy American taking to—God hope not himself!

Isolation is more difficult to find on the Camino than I expected. Even when I leave early, someone has always left earlier. The social experiment that is the Camino can be overwhelming even for this extrovert. Some days on the Camino, I just want it to be God and me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the people I am meeting on the way, especially my Camino Family. However, I anticipated the Camino would offer more monastic spiritual formation moments. Maybe those days are ahead.

Many pilgrims come seeking to “withdraw” from the world as they traverse to Santiago. Yes, the Camino does allow for some disconnection from the every day world. However, the world is very near to a pilgrim’s daily life—sometimes closer than our very own breath.

Lesson of the Day: A skilled pilgrim learns to embrace both the solitude and the social moments of the Camino.


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