We are now headed to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, a 780 km journey from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We have 29 days allocated (yes, that translates to approximately 27 km per day) after which we hop onto a plane and fly to London, England where we will be visiting relatives (Colin and Lynne) for a few days (my niece, Catherine’s in-laws) and then staying on at their place for the month of July while they travel to Canada. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we must complete our odyssey in Spain.
There are many pilgrimage routes that end in Santiago de Compostela but the one we are planning to walk, Camino Francais or The Way of St. James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times, together with Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned. There are other major pilgrimage routes such as the Via Francigena to Rome which I mentioned we followed for a few kilometres while doing the walking tour of Tuscany a couple of weeks ago.
Nowadays, thousands of people embark on these pilgrim walks and they are becoming increasingly popular with each passing year. For example, according to Wikipedia, only 690 people walked the Way of St. James route in 1985 compared to 272,703 in 2010. Today, the reasons for doing a pilgrim walk are as varied as the people who do it. I’m still trying to figure out the reasons why I am doing this journey. I am attracted to the challenge of it both physically and psychologically in much the same way I was attracted to the challenge of running a marathon. The idea of having time to think, time to enjoy my solitude and the opportunity to meet people from around the world also appeals to me. Maybe the most tempting reason of all is having a legitimate excuse to ditch my husband for a month. That’s right, we plan to walk the Camino independently. So while we may start off together, or maybe we’ll stagger our start, we will each go at our own pace and walk our own Camino. We will meet up again on June 26th in Santiago de Compostela.
I have mixed feelings about walking the camino alone, especially as a woman. Part of me embraces this idea and thinks it is what I need. But part of me is really quite scared to venture out on my own like this. I’m following my own personal philosophy to “feel the fear but do it anyways” and will embrace this walk and all it will entail.
You may also be interested to know that as pilgrims, we will enjoy special privileges along the way. At the beginning, we will be issued an offical “pilgrim’s passport” that will be stamped at each albergue (hostel) we stay at. We will receive pilgrim rates at restaurants and hostels; some hostels only serve the needs of pilgrims. On average, we expect to spend about 30 euros each per day unless of course, unbeknownst to me, Chris packs it in after the first couple of days and checks into a five star resort for the rest of the month.
What does this mean for the blog? I have decided, after a lot of deliberation, not to bring my laptop with me as I don’t want the excess weight or the distraction. I would like to share my journey with our friends and family in real time so I plan to write about my experience along the way whenever I can find an internet cafe. I can’t promise a daily post, but will try to get online every couple of days. I’ll do my best with photos as well. Let’s put it this way, I’ll do what I can to share my experience with you as I live, or should I say, walk it.
I invite you to come and walk the Camino with me. Buen Camino.