Recap Lessons Learned on Camino

October 20, 2021

Hello everyone.  I am back in the USA and ready to recap my camino experience and the spiritual lessons I learned along the camino (the way).  Hope you get inspired to find your way.  Esther Mae

“A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life” Hopefully, we then learn to incorporate those lessons learned into our daily lives.  

Lessons Learned:  Planning and executing my itinerary for Camino de Santiago 

Planned Itinerary:  

  • August 13, 2021 – 6:00 am – shuttle to Jacksonville Airport (4 hours)
  • August 13, 2021 – 10:15 am flight leaves Jacksonville, FL to Newark, NJ (2.5 hours)
  • Time at airport (6 hours)
  • August 13, 2021 – Flight leaves 7:30 pm Newark NJ to Madrid Spain ( 8.5 hours)
  • August 14, 2021 – 9:00 am Flight arrives in Madrid, Spain
  • Time in airport (3.5 hours) found out Madrid to Pamplona Spain cancelled – find my way
  • Cancellation:  
    • August 14, 2021 – 12:20 pm Flight from Madrid to Pamplona Spain (1 hour flight)
    • August 14, 2021 – Due to Arrive in Pamplona Spain 13:20 pm
    • August 14, 2021 – Booked bus from Pamplona Spain to St Jean France 14:30 
    • August 14, 2021 – Due to arrive in St Jean France – 4:15 pm 
    • August 14, 2021 – Booked Hotel room –St Jean France 

Changes made:  

  • Bus from Madrid airport to Pamplona, Spain – 4:00 pm– 10:30 pm
  • Arrived in Pamplona, Spain at 10:30 pm without a hotel reservation
  • Total hours from St Augustine to Pamplona = 34.5 hours in transient – I was tired
  • No way to get to St. Jean, France that night
  • Had to find place to sleep for the night– walked streets asking for help – found help and hotel
  • August 15, 2021 – Took only bus on Sunday from Pamplona to St Jean France 2:30 -4:30 pm
  • August 15 & 16, 2021 – Hotel for Sunday night and Monday night
  • August 17, 2021 – Tuesday, 6:00 am finally started hiking up the Pyrenees Mountains

As you can see by my itinerary, a monkey wrench was thrown into the midst of my carefully thought-out plans. The red section are the cancelled plans.  I have yet to get my money back for the plane and bus reservations. 

Everything started out going smoothly.  Airport shuttle on time and checkin went smoothly.  My Flight from Jacksonville, FL to Newark, NJ was on time and with no delays.  

My direct Flight from Newark NJ to Madrid Spain was delayed but I still successfully arrived in Madrid Spain in time for my scheduled flight from Madrid to Pamplona, Spain.  

  1. First bump in the road – Flight from Madrid Airport to Pamplona Airport cancelled. No other flight was available to get from Madrid to Pamplona that day.  
    1. Iberian Airlines was of no assistance to help me seek alternate means to get to Pamplona, Spain
    1. Luckily I found one currency exchange shop open to convert American $$ into Euros, so I at least had euros to pay for a way out of the Madrid Airport. 
  2. My second bump in the road – Getting my iphone and internet functional in Spain.  My well thought out plan, was to get a iphone Spanish SIM card with Spanish phone and internet service.  I did not take into consideration that many shops at the airport would be closed on Saturday, a weekend.  I also was not aware that in Spain, they take a siesta from 2:00 pm in the afternoon until 8:30 pm in the evening.   Are you kidding me?  Why didn’t I read anything about that?
    1. How do I find out if there is a train that goes to Pamplona today without internet or phone service?
    1. How do I find out where the bus station is within the Madrid Airport without internet or phone service?  
    1. How do I talk to Spanish speaking people without the Itranslate app?

How do I handle these obstacles and bumps in the road? (finding my way) (meaning of camino)

Oh, my God, my camino (my way) is starting right now, in the middle of the Madrid Airport. 

The problem is there are no yellow arrows showing me the way.  What to do? 

I did not travel with a group.  I was not meeting a group of people.  I knew that doing a solo pilgrimage was not going to be easy but I chose that because I wanted to do a spiritual journey and not a social journey. I made the arrangements and travelled to a foreign country, totally on my own and it was my responsibility to find “my way” to the El Camino de Santiago de Frances Pilgrimage trail.  So now, what was I to do?  

  • Take a minute to feel sorry for myself, i.e. sit down and cry, which I did for several minutes.   I now realize the purpose of this was to let out all of the extreme emotions and paralyzing fears so I could get to my brain and focus on rational thinking.  I needed to figure out my next move in order to take the action that was necessary to keep me from spending the night in the Madrid airport.  
    • Motivational self-talk was the next action I chose:  I kept repeating these statements until I could stop crying enough to stand up & take that first step necessary for follow through 
      • Get a Grip” 
      • Snap out of it” 
      • You can do this”
      •  “Just get up and keep asking for help until you get someone who will help you.”  
    • I stopped crying and got up and drug my suitcase around behind me and keep asking if anyone could speak English and if they would help me find “my way” out of the airport.  
    • Finally, someone understood and gave me directions within the airport to the bus ticket office where I could find out the times the bus to Pamplona leaves and buy a ticket to Pamplona and at least get out of the Madrid airport and closer to the Camino trail. 
    • Problem solved?  Correct?  Not that easy… When I arrived at the bus station office, the woman was on a Spanish siesta.   I had to wait an hour until she finally returned.  I finally purchased one of the few still available tickets, on the last bus out of the Madrid Airport to Pamplona Spain.  Thank God! I will, at least, be out of the Madrid airport tonight.  

I arrived late in Pamplona, Spain, 10:30 pm at night with no place to stay for the night. I walked the streets of Pamplona, dragging my suitcase behind me, asking for help, until finally a young couple directed me to a hotel near the bus station.  The last room in the inn.  Not funny but that was the truth… 

  • Lessons Learned:
    • When a change in plans started to paralyze me and thoughts of giving up surfaced
    • I took time to get rid of the feelings, cried for a few minutes 
    • I made a decision to
    • Take action and regroup 
    • Asked for help (Said, God help me) and keep asking people for help until someone came along that could and will help me
    • Find my way (camino)…Camino means finding my way
    • My camino had already started
    • I had to find my way out of the airport…
    • I had to find my way to the bus station
    • I had to find my way to get a motel for the night in Pamplona
    • It all took action:  Show up, start walking and start asking for help and eventually the answer will surface.

 I honestly will share how I dealt with these bumps and the lessons I learned to find my way.   

  • Lesson Learned:  Do not travel on a weekend in a foreign country.   Why?  Because there are not as many planes, trains and busses running overing the weekend.  So, if your plane is cancelled, like mine was, your options of getting out of the airport are limited.  
  • Lesson Learned:  Do not travel on weekend in foreign country.  Why?  Because some of the shops are closed on the weekends in the airports.  I could not find a shop that sold a Spanish SIM Card in the Madrid airport.  Luckily there was one shop that converted US dollars into Euros.  
  • Lesson Learned: In Spain, it is important to know that between 2:00 pm (afternoon) and 8:30 pm the whole country of Spain takes a Siesta.  That means that most shops, restaurants, and stores are closed during those hours.  You may be lucky to find a bar open.   
  • Lessons Learned:  It is ok to get out of balance momentarily, however, feel it and then snap out of it and take action to move forward.
  • Lessons Learned:  Asking for help, God and others, to find my way is important
  • Lessons Learned:  Just get up and start doing and pursue a solution.  The solution will present itself.  
  • Lessons learned:  Do not let those who refuse to help me, paralyze me, just keep persevering until the right person or right answer surfaces.  Do not give up…

Sending Love,  Esther Mae

Published by Esther Mae

Happy, Joyous and Free. Enjoying life and retirement. Oct 5, 202, I completed the FEl Camino de Santiago de Frances, over 550 miles, beginning August 15, 2021 in St-Jean-Pied-De-Port, France and ending in Santiago and walked through the Holy Door. I am 70 year young. Read about some of my adventures. I have a close relationship with my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Spiritual growth and enlightenment are my priorities in life. Please jump on the spiritual soul train with me as I walk and try to practice a spiritual way of life. Esther Mae

One thought on “Recap Lessons Learned on Camino

  1. Esther I am so happy you are safely home. God bless you. Wow after reading your blog of your trip

    God was definitely with you everyday ..each step
    For health and safety.
    Look forward to catch up you personally. Call or text
    717 492 0581. Love in christ.🤗🙏💕💕


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: