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Finding Healing Through Pain

The mystifying healing which is found through pain has been a point of curiosity for many over years. Some consider it challenging and some consider it as insanity, but there is definitely a personality changing experience in putting your head down and just simply walking for days and days. Based on the world-famous Camino de Santiago, South Africans can take part in their own very famous Tankwa Camino, a pilgrimage in a world of absence.

Tankwa Camino

The Tankwa Camino stretches through the desolate terrain of the Tankwa Karoo. Hikers start their journey at the large red post box in Calvinia. Probably the only landmark in this quaint little town of which the surroundings are already giving away some indication of the desolate and deserted road ahead. From there their pilgrimage stretches over 10 days or 259 kilometres until they reach the magnificent and lusciously green Ceres valley.

Every day is much the same routine of packing up your tent and setting off on your journey. Daily distances are usually about 25 – 29 kilometres. On arrival back in camp, it is once again pitching your tent, nursing your blisters or any other aches and pains which the day’s challenge brought about, socializing and then enjoying truly Karoo dining prepared by the lovely staff on open fires, locals of the Karoo and bearers of a hidden knowledge which brings them inner peace and serenity.

Some Pain Changes You

It is impossible to finish the Tankwa Camino with the same lackadaisical attitude towards life, which you might have started the journey with. The secret of a Camino is that it is more than just kilometres covered for health purposes, it is more than a physical challenge to test yourself, it is a time of re-entering yourself within the world, your world. Finding new perspectives and confronting yourself when there is no escape.

Coming from a world driven by materialistic goals and achievements, the camaraderie which develops within the group of hikers when each and all are placed on a level playing field of tented accommodation and portable toilets, brings back truth and beauty about humanity. A deep-centred need to belong, to be noticed and to be appreciated. The landscape might be barren and desolate, yet the experiences which it offers, and the emotional growth is in abundance. The climate might be harsh and unforgiving, but it offers the opportunity for forgiving oneself and others, setting yourself free to be alive and to prosper.

It is impossible to leave the Tankwa without leaving a bit of yourself behind. It is not the struggle through dust and dirt, through sweat and agony, the pain and discomfort which you will remember. Much rather it is the appreciation for life, finding beauty in the harsh conditions and the permission to set yourself free from your bondage to emotional pain and discomfort during this journey, set in a surreal world of absence, which will stick to your heart in fondness.