Walking the World for Change
In 2001, my Spanish partner Alberto Agraso and I—a Canadian woman with a corporate background—embarked on a 5, 000-kilometre, 13-country, 13-month walk for peace, carrying a simple message: to change the world, we must have the courage to change ourselves. Although our quest physically ended in Jerusalem, we continue to live its life lessons to this day. We have both also walked the 800-kilometre Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, and I have climbed to Machu Picchu.
Rome to Jerusalem, here are my top 10 tips.
1. Travel light. You will feel, with every step, the weight of what you carry on your back. And that weight isn’t always physical. Be prepared to shed what you don’t need along the way, and only pick up the items that will sustain you.
2. Experiment with shoes and clothing that work best for you. Do carry wet wipes for those days when water for showering can’t be found. And toilet paper—always.
3. Walk without expectations. The best of plans can’t ever prepare you for the upheaval that this kind of journey brings on. The more flexible you are, the more options that will appear before you.
4. If you can’t find a hostel, don’t be afraid to call on churches, monasteries, mosques, ashrams or spiritual centres for help, especially if you’re walking for spiritual reasons. If they can’t help, try the local bar. Even the smallest village has one, and the bartender is usually a great source of information. Abandoned buildings or those under construction are great places to sleep.
5. Master a few phrases in the local language. Knowing how to greet people and say “please” and “thank you” goes farther than any currency you carry in your pockets.
6. Speaking of currency, outside of the major cities, credit cards and debit cards may not be accepted. Always have cash on hand, but no more than one hundred local dollars.
7. A walking stick, found in any field, will give you stability in mountainous or rocky terrain. It will also give you rhythm as you walk longer distances. Of course, you can always buy a stick beforehand.
8. Try not to rush to your destination. Part of the journey is meeting people and discovering our shared humanity. You will most surely be an oddity to them, especially if you’re a woman walking alone along the side of the road with your backpack, while they drive past you in their cars. Don’t be surprised if they stop you, ask you what you’re doing and then invite you to a cup of coffee or a hot meal.
9. Kindness is everywhere. If you walk in fear of the world around, you will experience things to be afraid of. If you walk trusting that all is well, holding on to the belief that people are inherently good, you will have kindnesses multiplied upon you. It is not about how the world is, but what you bring to the world.
10. And finally, have fun! This is a grand adventure filled with wondrous possibilities. It will be uniquely yours, and will fire your imagination for a lifetime.
Visit the website to learn more about Walking for Peace.