The Way of St James

Trends & Culture - May 19th, 2011

For the past week I have been walking the El Camino de Santiago or Way of St James -an ancient pilgrimage route, in use for over 1000 years.  Starting in Burgos I will walk 600 km on the Camino Frances route with the possibility of ending at the Atlantic city of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest of Spain.  People do this pilgrimage for many reasons, religious and not, however it is said that people for centuries have walked this route to gain forgiveness for their sins. God only knows, I have sinned in my life however this isn’t my motivation (or at least not fully)- I am walking it because I can and I relish the opportunity to face myself in what I see as a walking meditation.

The people I have met on the way have been incredible individuals from all over the world. The spirit of the pilgrim is well and strong as fellow pilgrims share and support each other along the way. The greeting of “Buen Camino!” sings out as we meet and pass each other keeping you firmly on the path that will lead to the next town and alburgue (pilgrim´s accomodation).

I have been walking between 25-30km each day and it has been physically very challenging. I hadn´t appreciated how difficult it is  to walk with a 13kg backpack which has seen many pilgrims plagued by massive blisters on the soles of the feet and tendonitis in the foot, shins and knees. I myself have gratefully been blister free despite wearing my only real shoes since my journeying commensed (Keen sandal-shoes), nevertheless the distance and impact of the kms has lead to a moderate case of tendonitis on the top of my right foot and ankle.

Treating myself with reiki and reminding myself that these sensations are meerly “uncomfortable” rather than pain have been invaluable. Setting off around 7am alone, I find myself meeting up with other pilgrims for a bite to eat or cafe con leche in the village bars and cafes  that offer a welcome reprieve and chance to drop the backpack!  Communion with pilgrims I meet along the path is welcome after a silent morning (10-15km) of walking and my Friends of the Camino continue to inspire me day after day.

Access to internet is not so easy so I will be posting photos to these posts later on.