PC#32 – Dilemma; Better to walk alone?

I really love my wife.

But I don’t know I could walk with her.

She told me to walk the Camino by myself. She said I needed to walk by myself. And in retrospect, she was absolutely right. I would not have had the experiences I had if she’d been with me. They would have been different experiences, not necessarily better or worse, but different. 

We have different rhythms. I get up early, she gets up late. I operate on 5 hours sleep a night, she gets grumpy if she hasn’t had 9 hours. That’s a differential of 16kms.

(4 hrs x 4kms/hr.)

Extrapolate that over 33 days, and that’s 528kms. In other words, by the time I got to Santiago, she’d be at Belorado. Not even at Burgos.

For us to walk together, I’d have to either sleep in each day, or she’d have to get up earlier.

After 31 years of marriage, I know both of us well enough to know that neither would work.

I saw plenty of couples walking the Camino – married couples, fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, close friends. Walking with someone else didn’t seem to impair their experience. On the contrary, it seemed to enrich it.

But here I am, starting to think about my next Camino. And she’s making noises about possibly coming.

I open this up to the blog: Should I let her???

Camino Shell ref 2

39 thoughts on “PC#32 – Dilemma; Better to walk alone?

  1. Now Bill that is a really tough and personal question to pose to us.
    If you remember back to a response you received from Robert and Margarita Valesco a few posts ago, they walked together and were never happier and more at peace than while on Camino. (By the way, Robert and Margarita are members of the Old Pueblo Chapter of APOC, the Chapter I am coordinator for.)
    I would suggest that you both set a place of meeting at the end of the day and then walk separately, at your own paces. You leave at the time that feels most comfortable to you and she can leave at the time she feels comfortable with. If I remember correctly from this very blog, you stopped and took many pictures along the way; in which case, she probably would catch up with you at some point.
    Having her on the Camino with you could be a wonderful thing. Could this be something the Universe is handing to you?
    Arlene

    Like

    • Hi Arlene –

      since posting that post, it occurred to me that most albergues kick you out by about 8am anyway, so she would have to get up earlier!

      She’s a good walker – and in fact I asked her to come along with me on this past Camino, but she said to me cryptically: I don’t need to walk 800kms to find God.

      Ha!

      Bill

      Like

  2. Ah, Bill, this really struck a chord! I am having the same conversation at my house. This May, I planned to walk the Camino on my own, but broke my leg. I hope to renew my Camino this coming Spring. My partner, Will, wants to accompany me. I, too, have mixed emotions since I feel my experience will be totally different with him. My advice is to have a very candid discussion with your wife. Given the difference in your sleeping cycles, will it be enough to end up at the same albergue or casa rural each evening? Will it seriously impede either of your Caminos to carry a phone in case plans change because of injury or energy? Do either of you care if the other finds a walking partner? If you can work out a joint Camino that allows you both room for growth, and which allows room for one of you to stop, if needed, then you should embrace your walk together. My two cents worth.

    Like

    • Hi Julie – Steve, who frequents this blog – did both: he walked with his wife for a period, then she went off to London and he continued on by himself.

      It would be interesting to get his perspective.

      My wife and I are very close, and no doubt we’d figure out a way of making it work, should she decide she wants to come.

      I like being with her, and she always brings along with her a perspective and a point of view that often enables me to see things with greater insight.

      Bill

      Like

  3. Oh my, I have trouble with the word let, as in giving a woman permission to do something. But that’s a whole other ball of wax.
    Sit down and talk it out. Figure out how it would work if the two of you were to walk together. Agree on some ground rules, write them down if necessary. See if you can work out an agreeable schedule for walking. There would be nothing that says you have to walk side by side the whole way. Get a couple cell phones so you can communicate stopping places, or if one of you needs assistance from the other.
    Who knows she may decide not to go but even if she does it will be the Camino you are meant to walk.
    Buen Camino 😉

    Like

    • Ah Karen – that’s why I put the three question marks. Putting something down in writing doesn’t allow you to express the “tone” of the piece.

      This post is very much tongue in cheek.

      That said, anyone who knows my wife knows there’s no “letting” her do anything. She doesn’t need my permission to do a damn thing. If she wants to do something, she does it. She’s fiercely independent, highly intelligent, and walks her life her particular way.

      Which is why I love her.

      Bill

      Like

      • Bill,
        I didn’t think you meant it that way, but I have heard that type of comment before from other men and it just gets me. I got the tone.
        I do understand what you are talking about though. I’ve invited several family members to walk with me and some of those are thinking about it. But I secretly hope they decide not to go. I want to be free to walk, stop, eat, sleep or not on my schedule and not have to consider a traveling companion. How very selfish of me I know! If they decide to go then that is the Camino I am meant to have as opposed to the one I think I should have. Who knows they may need this experience more than I and I am but the conduit that helps facilitate their Camino.

        Like

        • Hi Karen –

          I know what you mean. But as you say, you never know where the Camino will lead you. Having them come along might well be the thing you need. You don’t know, no-one knows, and you can only trust that you’re being led in the right direction.

          Bill

          Like

  4. Hello Jennifer, and Bill. Possibly. I am assuming you are not talking about the CF. Maybe a shorter one. My friend Mark Tullett, just finished the C Inglese and then he walked the Santiago, Fisterra – Muxia Camino and had a wonderful time. One of the group of ladies on the Camino Gift of Friendship group just went back and walked Santiago/Fisterra/Muxia. They had such fun. Portuguese from Porto onwards, maybe some of the Norte…. I would keep it to 200-300 kms. My husband has absolutely no desire to do any of that, and so I walk by myself. I can relate to the 5hours of sleeping schedule, I am like you Bill. Hardest thing for me on the Camino was lights out at 10 p.m. No matter how tired, I was awake by 3 or 4 am. One of the reasons I started walking so early.

    To get back to your question; I am very much at ease with myself and don’t have to have someone around me all the time. As is my husband, happy to hole out in his man cave. We are both only children, so used to our own company. What I liked about walking “solo” was the opportunity to walk with a variety of pilgrims and never felt beholden. However, as long as you two come to some kind of agreement, to walk your own pace and meet at the end of the day… why not give it a go.

    Ingrid

    Like

    • Hi Ingrid – thanks for this. Each person, each relationship is different of course – and no matter how long two people are together, it’s always in a constant state of flux.

      Checks and balances always have to be employed to keep the relationship on track.

      My wife is very strong minded. One day several years ago now she turned to me and said she wasn’t going to drink wine anymore. Just like that.

      And she hasn’t.

      We used to enjoy having a glass of wine sometimes at dinner, or when we went out to a restaurant. Not any more.

      One day she said she was going to do yoga every day for the rest of her life. Except her birthday, and Christmas. That was about 4 years ago. And she’s stuck to that. Hasn’t missed a day, except the days she said she would miss.

      So there’s no “letting” her do anything. She’ll make up her mind, and then she won’t waver from any decision she makes.

      Bill

      Like

  5. After 31 years of marriage I was sooooooooo relieved when last weekend my husband suggested I do two weeks of the Camino myself in 2014 because he’s getting interested in doing parts of the Le Puy route next year. First, he has longer legs than I do and I always seem to have to half trot to keep up with him. Our photography styles are different. He’s a point and shoot, I’m a stop, set up the shot, change some settings, same view different settings. etc etc. Yes I value his experience and we’d already kind of talked about starting out together in the morning and see ya when I get there walking. (meaning I’d have to at least walk fast enough to end up in the same albergue before all the beds filled up!!!) But…we’re both of the if we need to get up and out by 5:30 am, we do it school (and we like sleeping in 😉

    So maybe a suggestion, have her do her own Camino at the same time and meet up once a week? (someone’s blog I was reading it sounded like 3 different parts of the same family were doing 3 different routes Frances, Norte and another one, and eventually were going to meet up for the final push into SdC. I thought that was pretty darn cool!!)

    Like

  6. I am not certain that saying “let her” come along is wise … 🙂 Surely what you mean is “invite the love of your life to share the highs and lows that such a walk would bring” …

    Like

    • EXACTLY the sentiment I was about to share!
      Bill, even if you did another solitary camino, it would be different to the last one, so why not try this difference too? You’ve learnt to walk together through 30 years – I’m sure you could manage 800km;-)

      Like

    • Hi Alex – see the reply above to Karen.

      There’s no “letting” my wife do anything. The three question marks following were meant to indicate tongue well and truly in the cheek.

      Bill

      Like

  7. I think you need to decide this on your own, for sure. Jim and I have talked a lot about this, and my husband would go if I really “wanted” him to go. If you asked him if he wanted to do it, he would say no, he has better things to do….trips higher on his bucket list. For me, the Camino is number one on the bucket list. To be honest, I want to go by myself. I think I need to have this span of time to make all of my decisions myself. Our relationship is such that I would constantly be doing things based on what I think he wants me to do. I want the private thinking time. I don’t mean for this to be selfish, but I think it will enhance my trip. Maybe the second time around? 😉

    Like

  8. Hi Julie – I understand what you mean.

    The thing is, when I was walking the Camino this past spring, I spoke to my wife each day three times a day. In the morning shortly after leaving the albergue, around about lunchtime, and then at the end of her day in Australia, which was about 3pm my time.

    I did this every day of the walk, without fail.

    I’d run through with her what was happening, how I was feeling, and often I’d discuss with her what my blog was going to be about at the end of the day, and I got her advice and input.

    And then she flew out and met me in Santiago at the end of it all.

    So whilst I was ostensibly walking alone, without her, I felt she was very much with me the entire time.

    Bill

    Like

  9. Wow, how can anyone go wrong with all that advice. All unique, all honest, and all useful, but at the same time, it only matters what you Bill, and Jen want to do. I have no advice whatsoever, but I will offer a few comments. I loved walking the Camino with Jill. We seldom walked side by side and one was always somewhat in front of the other. Before her heel problems, I was the lagger. I think I mentioned humility in my first nights blog after chasing her to Roncesvalles. We had no need to walk together, but it was great to sit and talk at the bar stops along the way and then to unwind together in the evenings. I missed being with her when she had to depart because of her injured feet. Now, on the other hand, during our time together, I found myself being overly concerned about how she was feeling, how her feet were doing in particular, did she want to stop or go further, etc., etc. Obviously, none of these issues come up when you walk alone because there is no one else to relate to. Many of you thought that I really came out and into my own after I went back and walked the last part on my own. Personally, I did not sense that, but I had a great time alone, not because she was not with me but in spite of the fact she was not with me. I met some wonderful people, stayed in some wonderful places and simply enjoyed the entire experience, notwithstanding my feet hurt. I occasionally would find myself walking with someone else, but not very much. I did most of my walking alone and completely enjoyed that, but I did most of my walking alone even when Jill was there. There is something magical to me, about sharing an extraordinary experience with the one I love. Otherwise, I find myself wishing they could be there and experiencing what I am experiencing. So, for me, having walked the Camino both ways, I would come out on walking with her being the more enjoyable way, but both were great, again, notwithstanding the sore feet 🙂 Steve

    Like

      • Why Bill, what a nice compliment. 🙂

        I also talked with Jill a shortly after I wrote that, and she says she would like to try it alone next time, which is perfectly legit as she has only walked it with me. That decision has nothing to do with me. I can do it either way. Bottom line, there is no right or wrong. Reading Bhasma’s comment above, I also saw a group of 7 Irish women who loved walking it for a week together every year; two French ladies who always walk together for 14 days a year; 5 women from Ohio that were walking together for the first time, but only from Sarria, and on and on. Lots of kids walking together from Sarria. Steve

        Like

    • Hi Everyone,
      Although I don’t normally comment on your amazing blog Bill, I do read almost every entry. I wanted to throw in my 2 cents since I only experienced the Camino walking with Steve and not alone. As he mentioned, we did walk alone and together on our trip and I think did really well. It was only after I left and was alone and away from the Camino did I like the rest of you hear in his words how much freer Steve appeared to be, at least in his expression of them. I have always had a problem with what have come to call co-dependency and I think Steve would agree that he has too. I believe that his concern for my well being may have over shadowed us both as I grew up believing and seeing from my mother that the “Man” is in charge, especially if he is older and for the majority of my life have responded that way. So, sadly it was easy for me to follow Steve’s lead when it came to wanting to stop walking, or where to stay, or when it was time for us to stop and leave the Camino. And, trust me when I tell you that I know how unfair that is for us both. It is the one thing that I am working on more than anything. The funny part about it is that most people see me as a leader and not a follower, so it really is strange when I allow Steve in this case to have that much power over me. So, I would say that the decision totally depends on the two people involved. As Steve mentioned, I would like to go back to experience the second half of the Camino alone just to see how it would go. However, I could also see going back and walking it with Steve again but this time with some very different ground rules, if you catch my drift.

      Last but not least, I think, Bill that you are the Pied Piper, and if we found out when you were planning to go, would all want to be traipsing along after our leader, so look out, Oh Wise One!! We may be coming up behind you if your not careful…………..xoxox…….Jill

      Like

      • Now you have heard all perspectives on Jill and me walking together versus my walking alone. I will only say that I was not aware of any ground rules or of making all the decisions for us, and if I did, Jill, I apologize. That was never my desire or intention. In this regard I would much rather be a follower than a leader. Yes, there was the one hotel incidence where I blew it by not taking the last room before someone else did, but I thought we were of one accord so I chalk that up to poor communication at the time. This also is meaningful for those of you thinking of together or alone, as sometimes just our personalities may create unknown difficulties and you may not see the situation the same as your walking companion. Jill obviously felt some pressure from me that I had no idea existed. I thought we were in full accord all the time. But then I look at the clouds and see horseies and duckys where Jill sees faces and cathedrals and other esoteric images. I think like Charlie Brown and she thinks like Lucy. Steve

        Like

        • Hi Honey, I think I either mis-wrote or you mis-understood my intent. It is me that needs to give up my way of letting you have your way by default based on the co-dependent way I was raised. I really was fine with letting the universe assist us on finding lodging but knew that it made you uncomfortable to not know where we were going to stay, so I went along with your choices, which in turn made a difference in who we we ate and slept with ( well you know what I mean). I imagine if I went alone that I would more than likely spend my nights in the Alburgues with the other Pilgrims rather than go to a hotel or pension, but who knows. I think what I was trying to convey to you is that you don’t need to look out for me like you do, granted, its very sweet and thoughtful but as you know I’ve spent most of my life alone, making my own way and having someone look out for me is a very different. Its an area that I still need to do a lot of work in, so you do not need to apologize for me. You like order and answers and I like to go with the flow and believe that everything will work out the way it is supposed to. So, maybe you are really more like Lucy?? Teehee!!! xoxox

          Like

      • As all can see, at times Jill and I view the same set of facts differently. That is what makes a marriage interesting. I don’t know if any of you have that malady or not. Perhaps it is just us. But one thing we agree on is being completely open in a public forum. And all in good loving exchange. Steve

        Like

      • Jill, your post describes exactly what I “think” would happen to me and my husband. I do appreciate the experiences we have together in life…and I have to admit that I enjoy his hand holding. I am afraid I will depend on him too much, however, and not learn as much from the journey that I can, or that I will worry about his less than enthusiastic attitude about it….so I will reign in my feelings about the experiences I am having. On the other hand, I don’t want to go through this and not have him understand what it means. I like Bill and Jennifer’s commitment to talking three times a day and running over everything that happened. Still formulating thoughts on this. 😉

        Like

  10. Hmm, Mr. Bennett, who thought up the PGS – you or Jen? Does it matter? Perhaps you should allow the Camino to make the decision. Just start out and see what happens ~ ~

    Like

    • ha Terry – I thought up PGS – and perhaps I might post tomorrow where it came from – but she’s certainly an integral part of it.

      Bill

      Like

      • Perhaps you should walk together, apart — and I’m REALLY looking forward to reading both blogs! 😉

        Like

  11. Well, Bill, you certainly set the cat amongst the pigeons there, eh?! Loved all the comments on ‘let her or not’!! and the advice and comments. I guess, it’s a perennial problem between couples, give and take, tolerance and differences in ideas and ideals and as with so many other life experiences, you really – either of you – won’t know until you’re there (if you do decide to walk together) and how you together and separately react to ‘that’ Camino journey. From the first time I heard about the Camino, I fiercely wanted to walk on my own, but life intervened in several major ways and I had to concede the point and walk with a group. I loved every minute of it and have made close and life-long friends, but I still have a hankering for being there all alone, in my own little Camino bubble!! Will be interested to see how this debate evolves and particularly, of course, what your joint decision is going to be!

    Like

    • Hey Britta –

      yes,isn’t it a nuisance when life intervenes?

      🙂

      Invariably though it does so because it’s got better designs on you.

      Bill

      Like

  12. Bill, you have opened the floodgates on this one.
    If you remember, in a very early posting, I asked how Jen was managing your Camino, whilst back at home. At that point, I didn’t realise you spoke three times each day. I am still interested to hear her point of view, however. What was it really like for her back home in Mudgee whilst you were away?
    I have been blessed to have been married for 41 years. During this time my husband and I have always been comfortable in being together or apart. He works away 4 -5 days a week even now. On two separate occasions, we lived in different countries: he was away for 8 months then I was away for 9 months. Our children have lived in different countries for many years also, so we are an odd lot. In fact, haven’t lived together as a family under one roof since 1988.
    So.. for me, the decision to walk alone was not a difficult one. We discussed it and his response: ” What’s the point in me saying anything. You will do it anyway!” He is right!!
    Let’s see how we both manage on this one.

    Like

  13. We have different rhythms. I get up early, she gets up late. I operate on 5 hours sleep a night, she gets grumpy if she hasn’t had 9 hours. That’s a differential of 16kms.

    (4 hrs x 4kms/hr.)

    Extrapolate that over 33 days, and that’s 528kms. In other words, by the time I got to Santiago, she’d be at Belorado. Not even at Burgos.

    For us to walk together, I’d have to either sleep in each day, or she’d have to get up earlier.

    hmmmmmm, if you’ve only ever walked alone on the Camino, Bill, or with others with the exact same identical rhythm as yourself, you’ve no way of realising that the above is pure and simple untrue.

    For starters, you NEVER measure how many km/h on the Camino for anything other than one day’s walking, you typically measure the Camino in terms of km/day.

    Pilgrims are at the same speed on the Camino depending on how many K they do every day.

    Second — you’re assuming that your wife will necessarily be waking up several hours after yourself ; it’s far more likely she’ll be going to sleep several hours before, and that’s not even mentioning extra rest periods for her while you’re handling photos and blogging and et cetera.

    Third — you walked about 25 KM/day, right — this is the perfectly normal daily speed for around 90% of the pilgrims ; your idea that your wife would be doing 25-16 = 9 KM/day just because she sleeps a little longer than you do simply doesn’t hold any water. 10 KM/day is what you’d expect of a pilgrim walking with crutches.

    Fourth — your apparent assumption that your wife’s sleeping patterns won’t change on or adapt to the Camino seems odd, doesn’t it, especially given who it’s coming from ? LOL

    Fifth — walking together is NOT always identical to walking side-by-side every single step of the way, although very many will do exactly that, and maybe you will too.

    Bottom line ? Your own comment :

    She’s a good walker

    What could anyone possibly add to that simple fact ?

    Like

  14. As for “let her”/”don’t let her” — hmmmm, I think ANY pilgrim knows what this means :p

    Do I “let her” into the personal intimacy of the Way of Saint James … ?

    NOT even on the Camino ITSELF, do you always “let” any old pilgrim you might meet into this particular intimacy !!!

    And of course, this means that she will need to “let” you into the intimacy of her own personal Camino, too …

    These are NOT light decisions, and underneath all the worrying about km/h and other such frivolities, the fact is what you already know, Bill — that the Camino is capable of irrevocably altering the nature of your current intimacy with your wife, to replace it with a completely different intimacy that neither of you could possibly predict the nature of ; but then again, it might not, and your present intimacy might turn out to be exactly suited to pilgrimage.

    That’s the scary stuff — not how much your wife’s t-shirts will weigh !!!

    Like

    • Hi Julian,

      as I’ve mentioned before, there’s no “letting” my wife do anything. If I try, she soon “lets” me know who’s in charge.

      🙂

      But the points you raise about intimacy are things that we’ve actually discussed and faced while making films.

      Jennifer has produced alongside me 6 movies.And she’s produced one by herself – a skateboard movie with Tony Hawke, for Universal. There are extraordinary intimacies develop during the making of a movie, particularly a difficult film – whether those difficulties arise because of the cast, or the locations, or studio/distributor interference.

      We’ve shot movies – big budget movies – in Nova Scotia in the middle of winter, on the Trobriand Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea, in the swamps of New Orleans, etc Each film had its own pressures, its own particular difficulties. And we’ve survived that. I say survived because at times, it was a battle. But we’ve come through it.

      When I decided to do the Camino, and I expressed to my wife my anxiety, she said to me: Bill, making a film is harder than walking the Camino.

      And she was right. The Camino was hard, but making a period drama on the Trobriand Islands was much harder. Making a romantic comedy in Nova Scotia with Warner Bros on my hammer the entire time was harder. Making a film with Denis Leary was harder. Climbing up the Pyrenees was a piece of cake compared to making a film with Denis Leary, believe me.

      So my wife and I walking together, if ever that were to happen? Not a problem

      Bill

      Like

Comments are closed.