The Camino de Santiago is a set of 13th Century religious pilgrimage trails, all leading to Santiago de Compostela, a city of 100,000 in northwest Spain. The destination of the “Way of St. James” is the town’s Catholic cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The route I’m taking is the Camino Frances, a 500-mile, six-week walk that starts in southern France, crosses the Pyrenees mountains into Spain, and then goes west across northern Spain almost to the Atlantic.
Towns along the route have had in place for hundreds of years a system of hostels, so that the peregrinos (pilgrims) can readily find shelter and food. In 2018, over 300,000 pilgrims made the walk, including 60,000+ over the age of 60, and 18,000+ from the U.S.
Notice how sunny and nice these photos are? Well, the reality is that the walk goes over mountains, through farmers’ fields, over rivers, and through towns large (like Pamplona) and small. It can be hot, it can rain, and then there are the cattle and sheep and territorial dogs on the trail. As romantic as I’d like to be, I know this walk will be a challenge and a wonder.
Why am I going? I’m not terribly spiritual generally but this is my way of making a sharp break from too many years working with computers and software, of disconnecting from our increasingly hectic and shallow society (U.S.) and launching into what, at 68, will probably be the last chapter of a varied and interesting life.
I intend to provide posts along the way and I invite you to come along with me on the Camino, and perhaps be inspired or moved. My pilgrimage starts September 9th.