In late May, Paul, Finn, and I flew to Spain to spend about two and a half weeks walking the Camino de Santiago.
“Why are you walking?” is the ubiquitous question of the Camino de Santiago. We also got a lot of “What made you want to do this with a child?” but most people won’t get asked that question since its rare to see someone walking with a baby in their backpack. A few pilgrims from Europe also asked if we decided to walk after seeing the movie “The Way,” because the Camino has apparently become much more popular among Americans since its release.
However, Paul and I started talking about walking the Camino long before we had seen the movie. In August of 2011, Paul and I were driving across the country and dreaming big. We decided to get married, we started discussing wedding and honeymoon plans, and then we decided we wanted to walk the Camino.
Paul studied abroad in Spain in college and first heard of the Camino while he was there. A few of his friends spent some time walking various routes during their study abroad. So while we were driving that say, sharing dreams and plans, Paul told me about the Camino and we immediately decided to plan a trip.
We were both enthralled with history of the Camino, the simplicity of the trip, and the idea of seeing all of these small villages in Spain. As Catholics, we also loved the idea of a real pilgrimage. Pilgrimages were so common and even expected for ancient Catholics/Christians and now we rarely give each ourselves time to contemplate and pray for such a long period of time.
With Paul in medical school, we knew that there was a possibility that he would match for residency in some place that would require us to move and for me to quit my job in Indiana. If so, we’d have a few weeks break between graduation and residency where we would both be unemployed. We also knew that it would be highly unlikely that we’d have off for a few consecutive weeks again until we are retired.
When we found out that I was pregnant with Finn in early 2013, we immediately began searching to see if it would even be possible to walk the Camino with a toddler or if we were going to have to wait until retirement. Unfortunately there was just not much information available. A few people mentioned it on a forum somewhere and sometimes someone would have a couple of blog posts about walking with a kid. Regardless, if people were even mentioning that they’d seen someone walk with a child, we knew we could do it.
So, no, we did not always plan on walking the Camino with a baby. We just happened to have a baby when we were able to walk the Camino. And, frankly, for us, that is the way being parents has always been. When we were dating, we talked about having kids and about having kids wouldn’t be the end of our adventures, but a new and different adventure in itself. We also dreamed of having adventures with our children. We didn’t predict that we would share such a grand adventure with our child, but thats the way it worked out, and we are so grateful that it did.