The Camino is Calling
My first whisper of the Camino de Santiago came about 5 years ago when Marzenda, a woman in a class I was taking, mentioned she wanted to do this 500-mile walk abroad with her granddaughter. I wondered what would inspire her to do such a thing? Last year I saw the movie “The Way” starring Martin Sheen and his son Emilio Estevez. It opened my heart and was a good movie about relationships, travel and this unique path that people have walked for more than 1,400 years.
The next morning I woke up with a fleeting thought that I would like to do the Camino. Before long, that fleeting thought would circle around in my brain multiple times carving it’s own path into the future. I don’t know if I spoke my desire to do the Camino out loud, but as I was walking with Portland Fit in late Spring of 2012, a walker who had lost several pounds via walking and who had near 75 pounds to go to be at her goal weight said she was doing the Camino in June 2013. Just knowing someone else had the goal allowed me to declare that I too wanted to do it! Most thoughts come and go, but some stick and strongly engage my heart and when they do so, it feels to me like something I cannot ignore. And so for me the Camino became a calling.
A “Pilgrimage” is intentional travel into the unknown (outside previous experience) which is likely to involve hardship.
At times as I began to plan my trip I thought I might go with other people, but as things unfolded it became clear that this is a journey I am meant to make on my own.
WHAT THE CAMINO IS:
There are at least 12 paths through France, Spain and Portugal. Of these, there are 5 paths that bring you to the destination of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The path I will be taking is the Camino Frances which starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It is the same path taken in the movie “The Way” and is sometimes referred to as the way of St. James. About 200,000 people make this pilgrimage each year for physical and spiritual renewal. It’s popularity has increased by tenfold in the past ten years, but is still less than half the estimated pilgrims who walked the Camino each year during the Medieval period.
To follow along on a more detailed map, please use this link and click on the day or area to see more detail.
WHAT IT ENTAILS:
The pilgrimage is about 800 KM (or 500 miles). It is usually taken on foot, but people can ride bikes or go via horseback. The average person takes about 5 weeks to go this distance staying in Albergues (hostels) along the way. It is estimated that only 10% of those who do the Camino train for it. Trails are marked by the shell pointing the way on paved paths, paved roads, dirt paths and over rocky terrain. Those on foot carry their belongings and most suggest taking 2 changes of clothes (one to wear and one to change into). Food is obtained at albergues or bars/cafes along the way. Most towns are 3-8 miles apart with the opportunity to stop and sleep in a variety of places. A typical day is about 15 miles of walking. Temperatures in June and July can range from the low 40’s to high 90’s Fahrenheit.
WHY I AM DOING THE CAMINO:
I want to do the Camino to stretch who I know myself to be; physically, mentally and spiritually. It already has been a great step to see how simple I can be with what I need to take for an 8-week journey. I know without a doubt, that in doing the Camino I will learn new things about myself, others and life.
HOW TO FOLLOW MY TRIP:
- I will be posting a daily photo and brief update to Facebook on days when I have WiFi. You can reference the map to see where I am on my journey and get a sneak peek of the Camino.
- I may (no promises) blog once or twice while on my journey. To be notified of new blog entries, please go to my main blog page and click on “follow” in the top right hand corner. That way if I do post, you will be notified via email.
- A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago book by John Brierley.
- A Village to Village Guide to Hiking the Camino de Santiago by David Landis and Anna Dintaman. New as of May 1, 2013.
- Movie “The Way” (available on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon).
- Documentary in the process of being finalized “Walking the Camino; Six Ways to Santiago”
- Matthew Armstrong with Wife Victoria and Baby Indigo walking the Camino starting in January 1, 2013 with daily YouTube videos.
- American Pilgrims on the Camino has many groups that help Pilgrims on their journey. Portland has their own chapter too!
- Pilgrims who have done the journey including those I interviewed; Carol Routh, Linda Elliot, Heather Badger Knight, Pilgrim Robin from the Portlandia Pilgrims Chapter and Patty Mittendorf from San Diego. A big thank you to each of you for sharing your wisdom so generously. Please know it will make my journey all the better!
TOP TIPS FROM PILGRIMS:
- Listen to the angels along the Camino. They will guide you.
- Travel light. Those who travel light and don’t make it a race, finish their Camino.
- Break in your hiking boots and backpack prior to departure. Invest in shoes that fit and study up on blister prevention and treatment.
- Plan ahead, but also leave yourself open to adventure! Don’t over plan.
- May 28th – Leave Portland
- May 29th – Arrive in Paris
- June 3rd – Fly to Biarritz, Airport coach to Bayonne, Rail to St. Jean Pied de Port
- June 4th – Begin the Camino
- Walk 500 miles one step at a time
- If time allows after arrival in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, walk the Camino de Finisterre & return via Muxia
- July 22nd – Fly to Madrid
- July 23rd – Depart from Madrid, Spain to Portland
SONGS THAT INSPIRE ME ON MY JOURNEY: