What is it and what was I thinking?
Known as the Way of Saint James or the French Way to name a few, historically, it is a network of pilgrims’ ways serving pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle, Saint James the Great, in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, northwestern Spain. Tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its route as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. Then again, there are others who simply want to take a hike. The El Camino traditionally begins from St. Jean Pied de Port in southwestern France, and finishes in the Spanish Galician city of Santiago de Compostela (790 km or 500 miles).
Seed is planted… grows…
Last year: watched the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen. While perhaps forgettable for many, being a Martin Sheen fan, I enjoyed the movie, and watched it again over a short period of time. Saw that his journey took place on the El Camino, remembered the name, never gave it a second thought.
Seed germinates Dec/Jan: My sister, Jo, texts me re: thoughts about hiking El Camino, brought up her good high school pal, Sandy, who live in Barcelona. I think, “my sister’s bringing a friend, so I will ask mine”. Text pal, Nancy, she doesn’t know what I’m talking about so I provide further info. She’s in. We 3 begin endless discussions re: logistics. Sadly, over the months, Jo has to back out. Nancy & I dig in further. Can’t hike the entire 780 km due to work/time constraints, so narrow down to 17 days, the 1st week from St. Jean to Logrono, then pick up 2nd week from Sarria to Santiago with a couple of days off. Our trek would take us approximately 286 km (178 miles). A week away from departure, a bit of anxiety hits as well as the “what was I thinking”?!?!
The pilgrimage begins. Critical necessities: hiking shoes/boots, backpack, hiking poles, and following the signs.