Show Notes

Guest Bio: Gioele Segala

Gioele Segala, an Italian-born Mechanical Designer and Project Manager, currently residing in Australia, discusses his adventures on the Camino de Santiago, offering insights into the pilgrimage’s historical and transformative aspects.

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Summary

In a podcast with Gioele Segala, the focus is on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, exploring its historical roots and the transformative journey it offers. Gioele shares personal insights, from physical challenges to the joy of connections, providing a holistic view of the pilgrimage’s spiritual and communal aspects. Practical topics, like cost-effectiveness and encounters with diverse people, add depth to the discussion, highlighting the unique joy and fulfillment that characterise the Camino experience.

The real message I brought home from this trip… In order to have a step forward, you have to lose the balance. Don’t be afraid.”

~ Gioele Segala

 

A Pilgrim’s Path: Exploring the Spiritual Transformations on the Camino de Santiago

Embarking on the historic Camino de Santiago pilgrimage is not just a physical journey but a profound exploration of spirituality and personal growth. In a captivating podcast interview with Gioele Segala, we delve into the rich history of the Camino, tracing back to the Apostle James’ vision of the Madonna in Galicia, Spain. This sacred journey, also known as the Way of St. James, has attracted pilgrims for centuries, offering a unique blend of challenges and spiritual revelations.

Gioele shares his personal experiences, recounting the initial physical struggles, blisters, and searing fatigue that marked the arduous first days. However, beyond the physical toll, the Camino proved to be a transformative experience, a profound odyssey of self-discovery. The pilgrim’s path weaves through picturesque landscapes, challenging hills, and elements that test endurance, but it is also a trail lined with moments of joy, camaraderie, and unexpected connections.

One of the remarkable aspects of Gioele’s journey is the communal spirit that defines the Camino de Santiago. Walking alongside diverse fellow pilgrims, he found solace in shared stories, creating bonds that transcended language and cultural barriers. The podcast sheds light on the significance of these connections, emphasizing the role of people in shaping one’s Camino experience.

Gioele touches on practical aspects, debunking myths about the affordability of the journey. Contrary to popular belief, the Camino offers a cost-effective adventure, with communal rituals like the aperitivo contributing to a vibrant, shared experience. As he navigates through the vibrant tapestry of pilgrims from various corners of the globe, Gioele dispels preconceptions and highlights the universal appeal of the Camino.

The interview captures the essence of joy that permeates the Camino experience. It’s not just a physical or spiritual challenge; it’s a celebration of life, resilience, and the shared humanity that binds all pilgrims. Gioele’s recounting of dancing under the stars after a challenging day exemplifies the magic that unfolds on the Camino, a unique alchemy of effort, camaraderie, and sheer joy.

In conclusion, Gioele Segala’s podcast interview provides a glimpse into the transformative power of the Camino de Santiago. Beyond the historical and spiritual dimensions, it’s a tale of personal triumphs, unexpected friendships, and the enduring joy that accompanies every step of this sacred pilgrimage. Whether you’re a seasoned pilgrim or someone contemplating the journey, this episode offers valuable insights into the heart and soul of the Camino.

 

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Transcription

Please note: While we do our best to edit the following information, some finer details of podcast conversations can be lost in transcriptions.

[00:00:16] AKP: In this Travel and Adventure episode of The FarOut Show, the setting is Spain. From blistered feet to aching knees, beautiful human connections and picturesque landscapes, crippling self doubt to overflowing joy. Gioele from Italy describes the highs and lows of travelling roughly 500 kilometres of the French leg of the Camino de Santiago.

At the end, he shares his preferred walking music, his packing list and photos from the journey, which you can access in the blog post on FarOut Show.

[00:00:49] Gioele Segala: But I would say actually for me as I’ve done, but I will do the same the second time.The best is to go there on your own and you have many more chances to, to meet other people. When you are alone, you are with other people already. So you start walking on your own, maybe the first night you meet someone, second night you meet them again and slowly, slowly you start to build some sort of community.

[00:01:23] AKP: I borrowed some books from the local library to check out the history and other information on the Camino de Santiago. And the historical legend goes a little bit like this. After his death and resurrection, one of Jesus’s apostles, James, travelled to Galicia, located in the Iberian Peninsula, which is what we now know as Spain.

He had a vision of the Madonna, the mother of Jesus, on a marble pillar. In the vision, she gave him comforting words and told him to erect a church in that place. He returned to Jerusalem, where he was persecuted and beheaded by King Herod for continuing to preach Christianity. Of Jesus’ apostles, James became the first martyr.

James’s disciples, Theodore and Athanasius stole the body. Brought it by boat and guided by an angel to an important Roman port called Iria Flavia, Flavia, Magadi.

The disciples buried James in a nearby wood called Liberum Donum, the free gift, and there erected an altar over a marble arch. Centuries passed, and it was prohibited to visit the site. Those who did were persecuted and the tomb became a forgotten relic. In the year 813, a hermit called Pelayo apparently saw a light rain of sparkling stars on a certain hillside.

For days and days this went on. The place was investigated and the remains of three bodies were dug up and identified as James and his apostles. The news travelled to Pope Leon III, who confirmed to the Emperor Charlemagne and other Catholic sovereigns of that epoch, that the grave belonged to St.

James and his disciples. Herein began the cult of Santiago, a contraction of the words Santo, Saint, and Giacomo, James, Santiago. A small church was built at the burial site which came to be known as the Santiago de Compostela, the campus or the grounds of the stars. So fast forward about 1400 years to September 2022, covering about 30 kilometres a day for 10 days through wind, rain, heat, hills.

This man walked blisters underfoot, searing inflammation, tiredness, and weather spelt the most arduous and glorious experience of his life. Gioele, welcome to the FarOut Show.

[00:03:52] AKP:  The introduction was a bit of a long historical one. Yeah. Gioele, I mean, you know, we’re family. So, so you were communicating with us on a fairly regular basis during the walk.

How can something that looked so hard and so painful in terms of the physicality of your experience, turn out to be something so wonderful? 

[00:04:14] Gioele Segala: Well, it’s a hard question, but it’s all around this question. I choose to do the Camino like in February. So a few months before leaving for Spain. And, I don’t know. I kind of felt like something calling me from there. A little spoiler, I’m not really a religious person, like in this formal way. So I didn’t do the Camino for like, anything like a Christian or something like that. But I did it because something was calling me. It has been challenging on many, many, planes, I mean, physically first, especially in the first seven days, where my body, uh, has to get used to walking a lot every day.

Walk nonstop. But, after a while I understood that also my mind needed to get in, uh, in comfort, while being alone on my own while struggling physically. And yeah, that’s a big point of it. Luckily, as I understood later, the Camino is made by people. All the people you meet, all the people that are part of your Camino, even just for five minutes chatting on the street or in a bar or wherever.

But I’ve been lucky enough to meet so many beautiful souls on the Camino. People that, uh, I’m still in touch with, luckily, and yeah, that, that’s, what makes everybody’s come in, I think, uh, connections, people, which then is reflected into, into yourself. It’s kind of strange, but, at least, uh, what I went through was, first being comfortable to be alone in this experience, but at the same time, being alone, something like calling other people. Uh, which I think felt the same and we made a group, which, every day, uh, walk together or if not together, every night in the same place, uh, we stayed up until much as we can because at like 10 in the evening, everything was shutting down because what something, you know, out of the pilgrimage.

So you need to go to bed early and wake up super early again and start walking in the dark until the sun comes up and another day, some may say another day, another struggle, but it’s not, it’s another emotion. It’s another beautiful thing, something that’s happening.

[00:06:52] AKP: So I was going to ask you, I think you’ve already answered the question, but what drives someone to want to complete the Camino and you referred to a calling. Are you, could you go a little deeper into what that felt like? It was at a, a small feeling was a, a small voice. Did it get louder? Did you have challenges answering the voice?

[00:07:15] Gioele Segala: It was something like in my belly. Something that when I was thinking about the Camino, something in my belly tricks, triggles or, ringing or I don’t know, I don’t know how to explain, um, some sort of tingling. By the time past, uh, uh, approaching the, the, um, the day I took the flight to Madrid and then the bus from where I started my Camino, so in Burgos, I did just the last 500 kilometres.

Uh, but I think it’s enough, even though when I came back… I’m pretty sure I want to do it all. So I want to go back and start from the real beginning and have it, uh, at least the first 300 kilometres, but I think I will do it the whole thing again. Returning to your question, I feel like cold, but I don’t know from what.

It’s something that, uh, seized, when I enrolled into the Camino physically. And that’s something that happened to me again, like three days, uh, before arriving in Santiago, which was not more in my belly, but more in my chest. Yeah, that’s something that was still alive when I got into Santiago, but something not that clear in the moment where I arrived, but, it became really, really, really clear the night after.

It was just a form of joy and that’s it at the end.

[00:08:46] AKP: was going to say something coming from your heart.

[00:08:49] Gioele Segala: Yeah, that’s what I feel.

[00:09:09] AKP: What were the best parts for you of the trip and what were the worst parts?

[00:09:14] Gioele Segala: Ah, so, uh, the worst part, uh, was I think, I’d say there’s two worst parts. One of those is the first, maybe from the second day to the fifth. Where I really wanted to, let me say quit, but maybe not quit. I’ve never thought, okay, I’m jumping on a plane. I’m going home. I’ve never thought it. But, the first day I was so fresh, I was so excited that I had like 32 kilometres, like no time, I was almost running.

Uh, my body was feeling super good, so I was really, really good, a really good feeling. First day, sunny in the morning, very cool, even though it was September. So it might not be that cool in that period. I got, heavy shower in the afternoon, but I had all my gears with me. I started really prepared in that sense, so nothing could stop me.

But, yeah, I went to bed and the morning after the first sign of tiredness, especially in my feet, started to happen. So from the second day to the fifth day is where I really challenged my body. To get in the mood of, a repeat, repetitive, stress because every day I had to work this and I have to work this and I have to work this.

I wasn’t feeling obliged. even though I wanted to do it, uh, so I was really flying. I mean, okay, I can do it, but if I feel too much, I can stop wherever I want. Uh, I’ve done the French Camino, which is the most popular, uh, which goes from Saint Jean du Port, on the Pyrenees to Santiago. which is about 850 kilometres long and it’s the most, popular because most of the people do that Camino, that, path of the Camino, that’s the most popular and also the most alive.

So every few kilometres, there is a village. That even though there are like 100 people living there, there’s an albergue, so in a hostel and somewhere you can have lunch or you can drink or you can sleep there at night. So it’s really, everything is really well prepared. So, even though I said to myself, I have to walk 28 kilometres, but I was pretty sure that maybe not 28, but 25, or if not 32, it’s 30, there’s another village where I can stop if I don’t feel like going ahead.

So, from the second to the fifth, I was really, really, really thinking sometimes, okay, I might stop at the next village. And take a bus, take a taxi, take something that keeps me, uh, I don’t know, 60 kilometres ahead so tomorrow I can stop. I don’t want to walk tomorrow. That’s one of the hardest feelings I have to face.

The second one, I would say it’s far ahead after the Mesetas, uh, where, uh, roads after Lyon, where the roads start to really go up, on the hills, on the mountains, but when it goes up, then you have to come down again. So, steep roads down the hills. And I had a few issues with my. my knees, unfortunately.

That’s also a fun part of the story because, uh, I had to put, uh, on both of my, uh, knees, a band, like, you know, the same semi rigid ones, which helps to, you know, don’t push too much on your ligaments. And I didn’t know everyone on the Camino, but many people, maybe, I don’t know, if I do three days straight, 30 kilometres a day, there’s also other people who are doing this.

So maybe you don’t know their names, but you know them because you’re walking a few days with them, even though maybe they are ahead, then you overtake them and then they overtake you and so on. So, I was known, from within old people on the Camino who has seen me more than once, like the guy with two uh, knee band aid, we do, knee bands. So I was kinda, yes, I was kinda famous, uh, like that.

[00:13:41] AKP: You were the, the double, you were the double knee guy.

[00:13:44] Gioele Segala: Yeah, I was like a transformer or something like a human droid or something like that. I don’t know.

[00:13:51] AKP: What did you, uh, wish that you’d never brought with you?

What did you wish you left behind apart from your mind, which was…

[00:13:59] Gioele Segala: Oh, yes, that I was about to, yes. That’s what I was about to tell. Uh, no, nothing. I would say, uh, I started, uh, really well prepared, as I chose to, to head to Camino in September, when it was February, I had plenty of time to organise my trip, to organise my backpack. I started really, really well prepared.

Um, vice versa, there’s one thing a friend of mine who had a Camino before told me not to bring because she said, Oh no, no, there’s no time for that. So if you leave it home because it’s just extra weight, you will be carrying on your shoulders and. You know, it’s kind of nonsense because you wouldn’t need that for a book or a couple of books.

I would love to have had a book because there’s, especially where you have, a short trip that day, like 20 few kilometres and you arrive early in the afternoon. there’s plenty of time, you know, to do the washing, to do your bed, uh, with your, everything you need for the day after, but then you have time to do something.

You can talk with people, you can visit the town, the city where you are, but there’s plenty of time to read and I would have loved to, to have a book with me.

[00:15:20] AKP: Yeah, I’d be with you on that one for sure. And I remember you saying that you really wanted to reduce your screen time. So you were being quite self disciplined with the use of your phone. In fact, I remember you saying you weren’t going to use a phone at all and that we would see you in a month.

But in the end, yeah, we did hear from you pretty much every day.

[00:15:40] Gioele Segala: Yeah. Yeah. I try to reduce my screen time as well. I don’t know, uh, when I arrive, I have a shower, I prepare my stuff, I do the washing, then I can have like an hour or an hour and a half of screen time, like saying hello to everybody who wrote my message or something like that. 

[00:15:56] AKP: Mm. Checking in with the world. Beautiful. Well, what would you recommend for anyone considering doing the walk?

Actually many people I talk with about the Camino, uh, distressed about the long way to walk. How can you do that? Uh, it’s not possible for a human being to walk that much. Uh, or, did you also get some rain? So how, how come, uh, how you do that, without, catching a cold or something like that.

[00:16:28] AKP: Oh, you mean, you mean the mind came in?

[00:16:31] Gioele Segala: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s the first part. When many people think about the Camino, that’s the first part that jumps in, uh, but on the Camino, I saw so many different kind of people from the young guys with some designer in their pockets, from elder people, um, you know, working on maybe five kilometres a day.

Uh, they are, maybe they have problems, uh, with their health, uh, or they’re not walking well, but they’re still doing it every day, as much as they can, without any distress. Um, but everybody can do the Camino if they feel so. So the first thing I would say is the intention. If you feel like doing it, you can do it.

[00:17:22] AKP: And people are also doing it with wheels, aren’t they?

[00:17:25] Gioele Segala: Yes, yes, that

[00:17:26] AKP: with wheelchairs, but there are bicycles and other ways of doing it.

[00:17:31] Gioele Segala: I also saw people who can’t, uh, walk. So they were helped by other people, like pushing their wheelchair or they had like special bikes where they can move with the movement or of the arms, with other people around helping them. So they do it little by little and it’s such a nice thing.

There’s 2 ways to do the Camino. You can have it walking or you can have it by bike. I’m more on the walking side of the competition, but I’m pretty sure that also my bike would be such a nice journey.

[00:18:07] AKP: Yeah, I think that might be, well, I do a lot of bike trips, as you know, but I think I’ll end up walking this one. I’ve had the calling for some time too. That’s why I was asking how loud it was for you.

[00:18:18] Gioele Segala: haha. Yeah, it was really, really loud at the end. Yeah.

[00:18:22] AKP: Yeah. Gioele, what did you learn about yourself?

[00:18:27] Gioele Segala: Um, to answer this question, uh, I would use a phrase, uh, that came up to my mind, uh, the last day of my trip. Uh, I think that’s the real message I brought home from this trip. The phrase is, in order to have a step forward, you have to lose the balance. Don’t be afraid.

[00:18:49] AKP: Mm. That reminds me of the tarot card in the Major Arcana, the number one, the card called the Fool, and he walks off the side of a cliff. And the affirmation with that is trust in the universe. What is it? jump and the net shall appear.

[00:19:08] Gioele Segala: Yeah. Yes. Yes Yes, it’s another way to see the same thing, I think.

[00:19:13] AKP: Mm mm It’s definitely one of the ways that I live my life, but sometimes I wish that I had a little bit more balance and a bit less jump off the side of a cliff, but hey, I probably wouldn’t have, I probably wouldn’t have you in my life if I was like that.

[00:19:27] Gioele Segala: Yeah, yeah, that’s true.

[00:19:30] AKP:  Hey, what role does self-discipline play in completing the walk, Gioele?

[00:19:35] Gioele Segala: The hill, you know all the rocks are moving with you. It’s an important thing. Also the routine. It’s important, uh, if you create, um, a routine, so you wake up like at that time, I was waking up like at 4 30 in the morning without the alarm. The alarm was, uh, ringing.

It was, um, singing after I was actually awake. And then you start moving, you start packing your things and start walking. I think the routine also plays an important role in this thing.

[00:20:15] AKP: If you only could take five things with you, including clothing and shoes and special socks and sunscreen and knee bandages and all the other bits, what would be the top five things that you would take?

[00:20:28] Gioele Segala: Okay, so I would say for sure, uh, comfy shoes. That’s the most important thing, because the muscles of your feet will be screaming hard some days. So a muscle you didn’t even know you had, somewhere, they are screaming loud and you can’t shut them down until you stop. So I would say, in my case, knee bends.

Band aids, bandages. A good pair of sunglasses, especially in the macetas and stuff. And two, and a pair of sticks, walking sticks and that’s it.

[00:21:06] AKP: So you’d go naked, because you didn’t talk about having any clothes.

[00:21:09] Gioele Segala: Oh!

[00:21:13] AKP: Now I know why you had so much fun on the Camino, Gioele.

[00:21:18] Gioele Segala: Yes, yes. It’s part of the game. Part of the fun.

[00:21:23] AKP: Funny, funny birthday suit walk. This is something that’s always made me wonder. Like, how do you think modern pilgrims differ from ancient ones? Like, there are things that you’d have in common, like overcoming the idea that you can’t do it and all of that. and sore feet. But then I think of ancient pilgrims and they really had to deal with, I think, so much more hardship than we do.

What do you think?

[00:21:51] AKP: Please consider supporting the show on Patreon, where you get early access to exclusive full length interviews. Go to patreon.com/FarOutShow. Link in the show notes.

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