It isn’t your feet that get you to Santiago, it is your faith.
It has been one solid week since I retured from my pilgrimage on the Frances route of the Camino de Santiago. The pain has never been so real and pervasive but the joy and beauty has never been so exquisite.
What is the Camino de Santiago?
The camino or “way” in Spanish, is a foot journey (sometimes bicycle) that has many beginning spots, the most common in San Jean Pied du Port, France (also known as the Camino Frances) and treks around 775 kilometers or around 500 miles to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Pilgrims usually don a shell with the cross of St. James painted on it to mark that they are on pilgrimage. Each is given a credential, which is stamped along the way, marking the distance travelled and giving pilgrims permission to stay at albergues, or simple accomodations, distinguishing them from tourists. Pilgrims follow yellow arrows and shells across the land to the final destination, Santiago. Here are the legendarily interred bones of St. James. Pilgrims may claim a compostela at the end to mark the completion of the trek and distance travelled. An end worthy of the trip for many, but for many, it is not the destination, but the journey that matters for most.
Everyone comes to the Camino for some reason. In fact, the most common conversation starter is: Why are you doing this? It may have been a death, a heartache, an aching need to find purpouse, a book or movie that inspired the pilgrim, a want to make reparation for something in life, a draw to silence, adventure or perhaps companionship that drew people to the Camino de Santiago.
Maybe it was one of these reasons or maybe not, but we all seem to be in agreement that some form of crazy drove us to become peregrinos and peregrinas. Our reasoning differs but makes for an interesting segway into making new walking companions if for a minute, a few hours, a day or for the way.
Was it worth it? Many ask this. To this question I most certainly must say that moments of sheer agony or resplendent joy are intensely felt every step of the way. And yes, these are worth it!
In my next few posts, I hope to share some of the beauty and wisdom I learned along the way. Stay with me and we will continue to explore food, culture and philosophy, camino style.
Maybe you will choose to become a pilgrim next?