It can be a challenge to stay connected to the outside world from the road of Saint James. While various albergues that I have visited offer the opportunity to connected to the internet, they charge high prices for few minutes of use. Overall, I believe this is done to discourage our typical worrisome and rushed habits. Cellphones, with the exception of emergencies, are also unwelcome because the Camino de Santiago is about meditating and disconnecting from society. Furthermore, phone calls from the road can cost you an eye if you are from another country. My Portuguese friend has spent 150€ on his cell phone in the past two weeks, almost costing him as much as the trip itself.
While the pilgrimage is one of the cheaper “touristic” trips that a person can take, it must be said you should bring enough money to spend at least 10€ a day. The albergues that we have stayed in range from donatives to 7€ per night, (the average is 4€) but it is worth it to pay more if they have a kitchen; this way you can cook and avoid spending money on going out. Before arriving to their destination for the day, most pilgrims will pull out their guide book and read a brief review of the town and albergue they intend to sleep in. Some albergues I have stayed in have smaller rooms, new bathrooms, a kitchen, and intimate sleeping quarters, while in others, you may find yourself in a room of 30 people. I witnessed some of the greatest snoring contests to date the past few weeks. Hot tip: bring earplugs!
A fellow pilgrim told me that the journey to Santiago is divided into various stages. As I make my way into my 300th kilometer, I realize that I have already experienced three different phases of my journey. In the first leg, I was determined to make my way to Santiago; it seemed like there was no other option. If I didn’t make it there, the Camino would seem pointless. Although, I did my best to enjoy the route, my partner and I made sure to hit daily distances; even if this meant walking through the heat and taking few stops. As we did this and I saw other pilgrims sitting down and enjoying coffees together, something felt missing in my walk.
After my partner and I went off on separate paths (due to different rhythms), my walk became slower, a bit lazier, yet this gave me a chance to be more sociable. I began to break bread and dinner with the other pilgrims, and I realized the road is not about making it to Santiago, it is about the experience you have on the way. I have a few more weeks to reach Compostella, but in this new phase of the walk, I feel like it is not as important anymore.
If you let it, the walk teaches you everything you need to know about life. One of these lessons is that that although you can achieve a difficult goal, often it will only be meaningful if you enjoyed the journey in getting to it. If at the end you achieve something important, but you had to sacrifice too much to attain it, it may feel pointless.
So for now, these are my words of wisdom and I am off to pack my bag and begin a new day. As they say here on the road “Buen Camino!”