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Self Exploration in Portugal

Updated: Dec 18, 2022

It was a great train ride from Lisbon to Porto yesterday. The high speed bullet transported me quickly reaching speeds of nearly 200km/hr, zipping through small towns and the beautiful countryside. Even in second class, the ride was comfortable...many steps above economy class in the plane that brought me to Europe.

I’m staying in the picturesque seaside city of Porto for two nights, providing me a day to wander around and explore before embarking on the pilgrimage to the Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

I met a lovely woman last night when I checked into my hostel dorm. Luce, from a small town in Quebec.

She was at the end of her adventure and happily heading home to her husband and adult children. She spent 50 days on the Camino Frances trekking through the Pyrenees and averaged 25km/day. Her tall, strong and confident stature gave no indication that she had just walked nearly 1000kms with all her gear stacked on her back. She wore a blonde bob, stylish glasses and black fitness gear for trekking and I would place her at least a decade younger that her 59 years. She was kind, full of great insight and advice and was excited for me to embark on my first Camino adventure...this was her third!

I turned out my light at 21:30 in the hopes of resting up for my adventure. I'm recovering from Covid and a fall down a flight of stairs in Lisbon. The stone and marble work in the centuries-old buildings of Lisbon is stunning, but slippery as hell. Oucho!

My paternal grandmother used to remark that she wasn't stubborn, she was determined. Pretty sure she's here with me now on this Camino de Santiago adventure.

Determined as I was, last night saw no sleep - there was a big celebration with the University that had the students celebrating (aka partying) until the wee hours.  I thought sleep would finally come once things quieted around 4am, but another dorm mate wandered in after partaking in the celebrations...who knew that a tiny person of 5'1" could create such an enormous snore? Earplugs be damned, nothing was stopping the sonic boom of her nasal and throat cavities. Thank goodness for quality Portuguese coffee.

Tomorrow I’m taking a transport to Matosinos in the morning and will start my pilgrimage to a town called Vila do Conde…kicking things off with 22km of the Portuguese coastline and a backpack that has somehow gotten heavier, not lighter, since leaving the home-base of my loving Dutch friends two days ago.

The call of the quiet pilgrimage has gotten louder in contrast to the chaotic, busy, vibrant cities of Lisbon and Porto.

Visiting these beautiful, iconic cities has been breathtaking and a wonderful reminder of what I prefer to experience in my daily life.

It's not the shopping and the buying of 'stuff'. It's not needing to have the latest fashion trend, name brand shoes or the $250 haircut or manicured nails.

It's not comparing myself to others or giving value or thought or energy to other peoples judgements of me, my life or my decisions. The judgement of others is simply a reflection of themselves and the limiting beliefs they have within.

What I do value and where I feel most at home is when I am surrounded by nature and in the company of beautiful, soulful friends and family. I love the ease of connecting openly and honestly and laughing with each other in the simple fact of being human.

I love being free to explore Me. The responsibility is mine to discover what I am capable of, only stinted by the limits I place on myself.

I feel so much gratitude to have the support and encouragement of family and friends who know how to love unconditionally. I am blessed to be accepted for who I am, not for what I do, how much money I make or the image I might portray - Not just by me, but by the people I have in my life. Cultivating these relationships are truly what make my life meaningful and rich.

This pilgrimage is a deeper adventure into myself. A reflection of letting the material go and allowing the spiritual to flow.

...and so it is.

Amor fati.


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