Countdown to Camino
One week and 2 days from today, I’m heading to Spain to walk 500 miles in 32 days on a pilgrimage to see the bones of St. James via the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (Camino Frances).
You might be thinking: What?? How did this come about?
Well, last year, in February, I was talking to Anna (George’s daughter Julie’s daughter who went with us to France the year before) about walking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Now you know I love a good walk, but the idea of camping kind of left me cold. I mean, my idea of camping is staying at a Motel 6 with a black and white tv and eating at Burger King. So I was not too keen on carrying food, shelter, and everything else in the world through the lonely woods. But, the conversation gave me an idea.
A walk that I have always wanted to do, a walk that I could really sink my teeth into is the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. This part of Spain is where James came after Jesus’ exhortation to take the gospel to the far corners of the world. The walk is a 500 mile pilgrimage from the Pyrenees to the town of Santiago (St. James) de Compostela (of the field of stars) church where his bones have found their final resting place.
People have been walking this trail in earnest since the Moors came into Spain and the Spanish king wanted some help in getting them out. The king pleaded his case to the Pope after hearing about a hermit’s vision of light in the field that led to the discovery of James’ (the Greater) bones. The Pope, properly impressed, (and also not a fan of the Moors), offered unequivocal absolution to anyone who made the walk from Central Europe across three mountain ranges in Spain to pay homage to this important relic. It turned out (who would have guessed?) that many of the Catholic pilgrims stayed in this beautiful country and so became available to help the king fight off the Moors and drive them back to Africa.
So, why, you might ask, am I interested in walking for a month to go see some bones of a guy that I don’t really (sorry, James) care about? I can tell you that I don’t really know myself, except for it sounds like a great adventure and challenge, and I’m always up for that. I think the answer to the why question will unfold somewhere along the trail. I also have a feeling that I will come to care very much about those bones before I am finished.
But I’m not traveling alone. The intrepid souls who are willing to join me are:
Susie – my good travel buddy (we’ve been to Costa Rica, Switzerland, Florida, the Pacific Northwest, and an aborted trip to Alaska last summer)
Mary – my good travel buddy and former travel agency co-worker who lives in Portland, OR and has traveled with me to New York, Hong Kong, and Egypt
Morgan – my son (age 16 and last year traveled over 50,000 miles with us last year alone).
Dominic – Morgan’s best buddy, who has traveled with us to Florida and to Washington DC
You may be wondering:
What do we carry and how do we carry it?
What did it take to set this up?
Where do we stay?
Is this a good idea to walk together on such a spiritual journey?
Where do we eat and what do we eat?
How much does it all cost?
Why, why, why, why, WHY?
I’ll try to answer these in the next week and a half before we leave, and with my trusty iPad, I’ll try to update this blog as often as possible on the Camino. So, welcome to the trail!