home to the USA, we won’t be going back to our house until May 20. We’ve been traveling for 99 days which includes our nearly two months in Florida. That’s the longest Walker and I have ever been together for one stretch. Ninety nine days of going to bed and getting up (mostly) together; two hundred and ninety seven meals. During this time we celebrated our twenty ninth anniversary. We confirmed our ability to tolerate each other during months of constant companionship. With all of our differences, we’re happy to say we get along really well. As some things don’t come naturally to us, we still compromise. Most mornings, he gets me up earlier than I would like to, but he is learning to sleep in a bit. He’s getting more comfortable with stopping to smell the roses going at a slower pace and I’m getting better at keeping my mouth closed at certain times. It must be working as we’re already talking about our next adventure!
What did we learn?
We learned that of all the modes of transportation we used (plane, train, taxi, subway, ferry, bus, Mercedes convertible, and walking) that walking is our favorite. When you are walking, you feel a real connection to the place you’re in. You’re able to see people face to face, it’s easy to stop and take photographs of interesting sights, you can moo at the cows and bark back at dogs. (Yes, I do that.) There’s nothing like experiencing your surroundings at three miles per hour. Walking on the Camino, you feel the energy of the millions who have walked before you. It leaves an imprint.
We learned how simple life is when you’re living out of a backpack. I noticed that when we added the box/bag of clothes that we shipped ahead to our ‘inventory’, it started getting harder to keep up with things. I often had to unpack both my backpack and the bag to find what I was looking for.
In our regular lives we often let our possessions get in the way of living our lives in the best way we can. Although I’d like to think this is going to change on my part, it isn’t…not anytime soon. It’s too easy to fall into old habits. And though I don’t mind the idea of wearing the same thing everyday and washing it out at night, I don’t think that’s very realistic for me.
I learned that even though I packed minimally, I could have eliminated a few things, namely a shirt and pair of socks. I didn’t realize Walker had a hairbrush, and we could have done without that as well. Walker says this reminds him of his AT hike where everything he carried with him had an important function…or else he got rid of it.
We learned that after a 12 year absence we will still able to connect with friends. Although we all live very different lives, we still have much in common and lots to talk about. The friendships we made in Bulgaria and the friendships we formed on the Camino were fast and strong, based on shared experiences, challenges, and being like minded people. Similar to our experience with military families, expats and pilgrims in general are pretty adventurous people who are fun-loving and not afraid to try new things. Bonds are formed naturally, and thanks to Facebook, it’s really easy to stay in contact.
We learned that we appreciate natural history, especially geology, and human history much more. We were also reminded how many nice people there are in the world – people of all races and nationalities, and of all religions – or not religious at all.
So, what’s next? We don’t know yet. But, I’m awfully inspired by a reader named Linda. Walker met her on the AT one day and it turns out we go to the same aesthetician. She lives about an hour from us. She’s currently walking the Camino Frances solo having started in LePuy which will make it a 1,000 mile journey. Isn’t that something? She’s blogging at scandore.wordpress.com if you’re interested in following her.