The mighty Camino de Santiago

LAST UPDATED: 16 Sep, 2012 @ 22:37
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The mighty Camino de Santiago

YES, I’m one of those, flirting with the idea of the Camino de Santiago.

The Camino de Santiago is a cascade of routes flowing across the whole of Europe and culminating in the town of Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims have walked these routes for centuries, its popularity only dipping briefly for war, plague and the like. Then, after that philosophical fiend Paulo Coelho published his book The Pilgrimage popularity soared once more, attracting people from all over the world to embark on their own pursuit of self-discovery. The ethnography of these people is diverse. It is promised you will encounter and appreciate everyone, both young and old, religious or otherwise, each with their own personal lives, situations and socialisations left far behind them. It’s quite unique to be linked to so many different people by one sole objective; the golden sandy spires of Santiago’s cathedral, in an otherwise unassuming town in Galicia. So, I will join them in the conquest for the Pilgrim’s passport.

I’ve always whimsically dreamt of walking the entire length of the Camino Francés that passes through my home Pamplona from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France and onwards through Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla Léon and then Galicia, a span of 780 km. I’ve observed the early morning trekking of the pilgrims in kaki clothing, dragging walking poles and following the glistening waymarks of Pamplona, dappled in the shadows of trees and sunrise dew. I’ve often had the urge to join them allowing at least month for writing and thoughts and spirituality to run free within me.

Unfortunately, that never seems it will be remotely possible with the constraints of life and the illusion of commitments. Therefore, I’m toying with the Camino, gently dousing myself in a spiritual awakening  and learning something, anything about myself in the short time I have. I hope for a fulfilling experience nonetheless.

It was with a prickling of shame that I stalked the internet’s FAQs for “I have 10 days to do the Camino, where should I start?” I was sure the knowledgeable guru pilgrims would sigh and shake their heads with disappointment when they heard this reoccurring request for advice. Of course, the responses were more than helpful and encouraging. It was a further comfort to my worries of appearing insincere to read how people walk different sections and re-walk the Camino throughout their lives. My self-accusatory preoccupation that my dabble with the Camino will not be dedicated or worthy enough were silenced. Perhaps the time will come in my over-worked stress-induced early retirement for me to complete the Camino, or try many of the other routes that terminate in Santiago de Compostela. I was secured in the idea that my dabbling will be the first of many, and just as valid.

My walk begins on Wednesday, 19 September. Follow me along the way on Twitter @kj_sims or here on the Navarra News blog.

5 COMMENTS

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  1. Buen Camino. Be careful, once you walk for ten days, you may want to walk for longer—The Caminio experience can be addictive.

    When I walked last September and October, there were many pilgrims who where completing the distance in sections. You will not be alone.

  2. While it is certainly good to have a destination, most people seem to be curiously unaware the pilgrimage to Santiago was in the Middle Ages used as a punishment for committed crimes. According to legend, the supposed body of the saint was found ashore between two nearby pagan menhirs, called Barco and Patron, or the ship and skipper.

  3. You’ve probably already seen it, but in case you haven’t, watch ‘The Way’, Emilio Estevez directs his dad Martin Sheen. The Way tells the story about a father (Sheen) who heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who died while travelling the “El camino de Santiago,” and decides to take the pilgrimage himself. A very gentle, thought-provoking film, especially considering it is American!

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