Walking 500 Miles Across Spain (by Carmen)
I first heard about the Camino de Santiago through an offhand remark in National Geographic Traveler. The Camino is an old pilgramage route that is over 1000 years old. People have been coming for centuries in order to visit the relics of St. James (Santiago in Spanish). It has many points of origin spread throughout Europe. Today, most people, including us, start in the town of St. Jean Pied-de-Port at the French-Spanish border and follow the red route on the map. From there it’s up and over the Pyranees on our way westward towards the town of Santiago de Compostela. We will be hiking between small villages and a few cities alternating between staying the night in cheap dorms tended by ancient monestaries and sleeping under the stars in our tent. From the moment I heard about it I’ve wanted to walk the trail.
But reality sets in a bit as the actual hike comes closer and closer. How am I preparing for the strenuous parts of the hike? I wish I could say it was by working out each day, getting in tip top shape. The real answer is I try not to think about it. Some may construe this as laziness. However, I would argue that my actions go hand in hand with my personal goal for the trek – living in the moment. I’m a planner. I’m always thinking in the future, preparing, making lists (see packing post), considering how to improve things, coming up with plans and then back up plans. It sometimes takes a lot for me to turn my brain “off” and just be still. While trekking 500 miles inherently involves constant movement, it is also an opportunity for me to meditate and reach a state of mental stillness. Ok, I admit I have made a plan for the Camino de Santiago – just take it one day at a time. And keep that Proclaimers song on replay: “I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more…”
Reflection is a key part of the trek for me but so are the people I will meet. I’m expecting a fair bit of commoraderie to be generated by the tired feet and large dorms. And maybe we’ll even share a few good Spanish meals on our way.
During the four weeks of our trek, we’ve scheduled some new posts for your enjoyment. We’ll be back in early October as we make our way (by train) from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid. Wish us luck! Hasta luego.