I knew I wanted to do something big. Something I will never forget. A once in a lifetime adventure. Everything in my life was preventing me from moving forward. I had to do this to begin the next chapter in my life. I was prepared to let go of anything that stood in my way and to do it alone. Whatever it is, it had to have purpose. I didn’t want to wonder, I wanted to walk. I decided to walk 790 kilometers from Saint Jean Pied de Porte, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain in six weeks.
Having made the decision to walk the full Camino Frances, the first question I had was: how in the hell do I get there? There is no airport flying into Saint Jean. A series of flights, buses and taxies is necessary. Many people from the U.S. fly into Pamplona and taxi to Saint Jean, which is about 90km away. That is one expensive taxi ride! There were no buses at the time. I was worried and confused on what to do. Luckily I found a helpful Camino forum that I scoured for answers. I found a thread on traveling to Saint Jean Pied de Porte, which is where I found Corazon Puro. A private albergue (pilgrim hostel) owned by a very helpful and happy couple, Barbara and István. They offer transportation from the Pamplona bus station to their private albergue which is about half way from Pamplona to Saint Jean. Upon arrival dinner is waiting. In the morning they provide breakfast and transportation to the start of the Camino Frances in Saint Jean. All for less than a taxi!
This would be my first visit over seas and I was alone. I had imagined Europe to feel timeless; their traditions, architecture, and culture frozen in time. Dating back to a time when land was abundant, elders were respected and faith assembled communities. The moment we drove out of the city and into the country side is when I knew it was going to be all of that and more. One of the greatest benefits of walking the Camino Frances route is the many insanely small villages it passes through. Bizkarreta, Navarra, home of Corazon Puro, being one.
I was blown away. I had been taken to a place that I thought only existed in history. A place so remote that the only sounds are from the cowbells clanging on the horses across the pasture. Fields sway in the wind like rivers flowing as far as I can see. Natural stone still supports this village’s strong foundation. I was giddy at this point. So grateful, happy and excited to begin walking the next morning. I was completely at peace. No fears or worries entered my mind at any point. I felt good and ready to begin my journey.
I knew I was about to experience something good, something amazing but also something so difficult. Nothing could have prepared me for how difficult.