Sometime in 2014, I read an article in the Times Colonist about the Camino de Santiago. I am not really sure what exactly drew me to the article. I read it and was quite fascinated about this 800 km journey across the top of Spain.
A movie was going to be playing up at the University of Victoria in the weeks following the article, and I suggested to my two children, Reagan and Taylor, that they should come with me. Perhaps as a family we could do part of the Camino.
I went to the movie and I was hooked. The Camino is a pilgrimage, which of course people do for different reasons. I have my own which I will share at some point in this blog.
Both my kids now have children of their own, and we realized that it was really not practical to think that we could do this together. Nevertheless, Dad…Granddad..said he was going! I originally planned on starting in the Fall of 2015, however everything I had read about the weather at that time of the year convinced me to start instead in the spring of 2016.
I fly from Victoria, BC to Paris on April 23rd, I take two trains from Paris and on April 25th I will start my Camino in St Jean Pied de Port, France . I will simply put one foot in front of the other and stop about 800kms later in Santiago, Spain. From everything I have read the journey should take me about 35 days or so.
I had a ” Camino ” Christmas..I received a number of items that I will need to put in my backpack for the journey. I have bought my “credencial” from the Canadian Company of Pilgrims, which I will get stamped at the hostels or “alberques” along the way. More about them later . At the end of the journey you need to produce this stamped credencial to prove that you are indeed a true pilgrim! For that, you receive a parchment with your name spelled in Latin. After my Camino, I expect to be addressed by my Latin name at all times!
So, how am I feeling now. Nervous as hell, thats how I am feeling.There is no turning back. I know this will be the adventure and a journey of a lifetime. I expect it’s the fear of the unknown that I am a bit wary about. Will I indeed be able to walk that far? What if I fail? Will I be well enough prepared? Can a 64 year old fart sleep in a hostel?
After I have told people about my plan to walk the Camino, usually the first thing that most ask me is if I am going with a group or going alone. I am going alone. I know I have to go alone. From the books I have read and stories I have heard, many folks who travel with a group soon find that for a number of reasons the group breaks up. For simply selfish and practical reasons, quite frankly, I don’t want to debate with anyone on any particular day how far we should walk, when we should stop to eat, or where we should stay for the night. Mostly though, I want to travel alone because I think to take the entire adventure in for what it is, to experience the pilgrimage of the Camino, I have to do it on my own. And it’s not like I will truly be alone. In fact, there are thousands of people who walk the Camino so I expect I will meet many pilgrims along the way. But I am not stuck with them for 800kms!
As far as walking the Camino, some people really get it, and some just don’t. They shake my hand and wish me well and say have a great time, but they just don’t get why someone…me in this case..would want to walk 800 kms across the north of Spain.