Lyndon recently returned from walking the 1000-kilometre Camino de Santiago through Spain. He explains what inspired him to take on such a big physical and mental challenge.
Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage.
I did the Francés which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port which is on the French side of the Pyrenees and you walk all the way across the top of Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, and I then did another Camino from Santiago to a place called Morchia which I walked backwards. To prepare, I did lots of reading and trawling the internet to read stories from people who have talked about it and done it before. I watched Youtube videos on how to pack, there’s heaps of information and forums online. I talked to people who have done it, especially for the emotional and spiritual side of the journey.
Five years ago, was (my wife Kerrie and my) 20th wedding anniversary and we were staying at a friend’s place and watched a DVD called ‘The Way’. It was my first encounter with the Comino, which means “the way”, and I thought “that would be cool to do one day”, but I didn’t do anything about it.
A couple of months later I thought “no I really need to go” to clear my head, find myself and work out who I really am. So, five years later I was in Spain in a really small town in an albergo that wasn’t even listed on the recommended albergos to stay at and there was no Wi-fi and nobody with English-speaking background. I couldn’t even call my wife. But it was good fun!
The walk is officially 731km,
but I did all the side trails and I walked all the way through the coast, so with all the extra bits I would have done over 1000km – which took 44 days.
The challenges included what to keep and what things to leave behind! I went with my son’s sleeping bag, but that was 1.35kg I did not want to keep carrying.
I didn’t really feel like there were any great challenges, but I suppose there were days it was hard going because you couldn’t get accommodation anywhere and you had to keep walking.
Getting over the first two days of the pyrenes was hard. I practised walking
but nothing in the Warrumbungles or anywhere else in Australia could prepare me for the pyrenes. It was amazingly beautiful (with) incredible views! It was like walking through a fairy tale!
I was born in Australia and English is my native tongue. (During the walk) I’d
often sit down and have seven or eight people at a table for dinner, and most of them could speak English as their second language, but if they didn’t there was often someone who could translate. There were two nights where English was the minority language and it was a really good experience for me to have, and not have the privilege of having my native language being the one everyone thinks they should speak. It was an unusual experience being in that uncomfortable situation where they had to take themselves out of the conversation to translate for me.
Being married to Kerrie, life is an adventure, but I just did an adventure on
my own and she encouraged me to do that. She’s always out there and she’s a bit of an inspiration. It was time for me to get out and do something.
The Camino de Santiago is an experience of a lifetime. If you want to meet
the world but you don’t want to travel it, walk the Camino because there’s people from everywhere. So many different nationalities and religions, people from all walks of life. Some Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu, agnostic, atheist – and it was just great! Everyone was a pilgrim so we’re all brothers and sisters, it didn’t matter what you believed or thought, you were family even if I couldn’t understand what they were saying!
- Interview and main photo by Sophia Rouse
Lyndon Phipps back home. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS/SOPHIA ROUSE Inset: Lyndon on his adventure through Spain. PHOTO: SUPPLIED