Paloma García is a Spanish teacher and pilgrim who has walked the Camino de Santiago twice.
She has three passions: languages, cooking, and meaningful travel. She fulfilled her dream of learning French by moving to France and she’s a dedicated cook.
Her love for travel with purpose led her to walk the Camino de Santiago twice.
So, Paloma’s Caminos were not motivated by religion but rather by a desire for a different kind of vacation, a physical challenge. She was also someone who travelled with a lot of luggage, so the idea of travelling light was appealing.
You can listen to our conversation, in Spanish, in the podcast.
Or you can read a summary here in English.
Paloma’s first Camino experience was in 2017. She walked for a week with her partner, into Santiago de Compostela. For her first experience, she decided to combine different Camino routes to avoid the crowded final stages of the Camino Francés.
Five years later, in 2022, Paloma decided to walk the Camino alone. For most Spaniards, Roncesvalles is the starting point of the Camino Francés. However, since Paloma lives in France, starting in Saint Jean Pied Port, was important for her. France. She wasn’t sure she would be able to make it all the way to Santiago (and she didn’t have the time either), but she wanted her second experience to be longer than the first, so she walked for 10 days. She hoped she could walk all the way to Burgos, but once on the Camino, she realised her goals were too ambitious and decided it wasn’t wise to push herself to reach Burgos.
For this 2nd Camino, several people offered to walk with her, but she really wanted the experience of doing it by herself.
Although she is a social person, Paloma also enjoys quiet time by herself, to reflect and get lost in her thoughts. And the Camino provided the perfect opportunity.
We discussed the balance between solitude and social interaction on the Camino and how it encourages self-reflection and the development of emotional independence.
In this context, we also commented on the cultural differences in people’s approaches to travelling alone and the respect for each other’s desire for solitude.
One of the differences she noticed is that Spaniards are more gregarious, and find silence uncomfortable, while people from certain other nationalities don’t seem particularly interested in socialising.
Her second Camino was a wonderful opportunity for personal growth, to learn how to overcome her initial fears and embrace solitude. It was a very empowering experience, and a declaration of her right to travel alone without fear.
Does Paloma recommend a solo Camino?
Not necessarily. While she had a desire to walk by herself and she learned a lot from it, Paloma doesn’t think this might be the right choice for everybody. Every person is different and, depending on your characteristics and personal circumstances, may or may not be a good idea for you.
Overall, our conversation explores the unique experiences and personal growth that come from walking the Camino de Santiago, particularly as a woman travelling alone, and how it offers a balance of solitude and social interaction.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Paloma is a Spanish teacher. You can find her at www.sicomprendo.net
She hosts Sí, comprendo, a podcast for intemediate-advanced students. In one of the episodes, she talks about the Camino. I was a guest in another episode where we talk about my experience walking ‘alternative caminos’ (or avoiding the Francés…).
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