The Camino de Santiago

Posted by on Sep 4, 2013

Once upon a time I walked across Spain. On May 9, 2007  I left San Palis, France, crossed the Pyrenees and  continued walking until I reached a place called Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain.

It was a journey of 515 miles, 40 days, and 3 pair of underwear.

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-31 at 12.19.09 PMimage credit: backpack45.com 

 

This path, often referred to as  “El Camino de Santiago,” or “El Camino Frances” or “The Way of St. James” is an ancient pilgrimage trail that has been walked for hundreds if not thousands of years. At one time it rivaled Rome and Jerusalem as one of the world’s top pilgrimage sites, with 2million people making the trip a year. Santiago de Compostella is said to be the where the remains of St. James the apostle are buried. However there is also evidence that this same route was a pre-Christian pilgrimage path as well.

 

Ever since I first heard about the Camino (from my amazing dental hygienist, eternal thanks to you MaryEllen!) I felt a calling and a yearning to go. I had no idea how I could plan for or do a 500 mile walk- I’d never hiked or done anything like that in my life. But I read books, did research, and learned everything I could.

 

Then a number of years later, just a few days after my 28th birthday and a few weeks before I was to start graduate school, I found myself on a plane headed to Spain.

 

Each day was filled with beautiful vistas, concerns about my feet, conversations with other “pilgrims” (people who walk the trail), and lots of reflection. Nights were spent in “alberges” or “refugios” – inexpensive hostel-like accommodations along the trail only for pilgrims. Some were the same places pilgrims had rested their heads during the middle ages!

 

 

Along the Camino de Santiago, Spring 2007

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 Day 1, Leaving San Palais, France 

 

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Crossing the windy Pyrenees

 

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 Through Navarra

 

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The Refugio with 120 beds! 

 

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One of many old and beautiful bridges

 

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The Episcopal Palace of Astorga, designed by Gaudí

 

IMGP3797Siesta Time

 

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The Camino provides.

 

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Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella

 

So why would anyone walk 500 miles??? It depends… Some people walk the Camino for religious or spiritual reasons, for others for the sport of it, and others pure curiosity. For some it is a journey of thanks, for others of remembrance. For me it was a mix off all of these, and more.

 

Walking the Camino was a life changing trip, and even though I walked the path years ago, its reverberations carry through to today.

 

Camino Resources

 

If you would like to learn more about the Camino de Santiago, here are some good places to start:

 

For Part 2: Camino Hospitaleros, click here. 

Warmly,

pamela

 

25 Comments

  1. Learned something new about you here. I have read a lot about this pilgrimage and known people who have walked it. I can imagine his transformative it must be. Can’t wait to read more.

    • Thank you Kim! It is quite transformative for most people, I believe. More to come soon!

  2. Kudos to you and your adventurous nature! I think if there’s anyway to smell, I mean spell, bravery it’s three underwear (or is it six because of the pair?)

  3. Your courage, authenticity and the love for life that you express through this brave journey inspires me. You truly aren’t alone on your pilgrimage. Each step you take is with those of us who are moved with you. Namaste.

    • Thank you Paul! 36 hours to go and not fully packed…but trusting it will all work out!

  4. Yeah!!!! Go Pamela!!!! You made your Spain dream come true! 🙂

  5. Pamela,
    I love your openness and willingness to be moved, transformed and motivated by the world around and within you. I will not wish you joy, love and wisdom on your journey- I know you bring those with you in abundance. I will wish you sunshine, safety and unexpected moments of inspiration. I am in awe of you and your journey.
    Keep us all posted!
    In friendship,
    Rachel

    • Thank you Rachel! I am hoping for the same-and so are my feet! Thank you for your unending support. 🙂
      Pamela

  6. Yeah Pam!!! So happy for you that you will be officially returning to the Camino this fall. Have a safe and wonderful trip… we will have to reconnect after our various adventures.

    xoxo
    Ashley

  7. Oh my goodness, Pam. Your journal and photos in 2007 were so inspirational and I wish you nothing but the best now. Take care always.

    • Thanks Judy! There are a lot more photos but I tried to provide a true glimse into the experience with just a few. Thank you for your well wishes!

  8. Pam, this looks so wonderful. I am envious of you for the experience – so healthful and calming and beautiful! You are my adventurous friend, always something to aspire to. Have a great trip , looking forward to hearing about it.

    • Thanks Caryl! YOU are MY adventurous friend!!

  9. Pamela, you are truly an inspiration. Not only because of the physical strength and vitality required to complete such a journey, but the fact that you have carved out this time for yourself. Something inside you is trusting your instinct that you need to do this, at this moment, for yourself, and that it will fuel your future works in service to others.I know that so many varied things are competing for your attention, but you have listened to your inner voice which says that this is the path for you right now. All who know you can learn from your tenacity and openness and confidence. You are so special, girl! Thank you for allowing us to share in your journey via these posts. I hope to see you upon your return. (P.S. What brand of shoes will you be wearing, and will you alternate footwear along the way?).

    • Wow thank you Lisa. It does feel like a calling, an unexplainable thing…
      As for my shoes I have really difficult feet. After lots of back and forth, the day before I left (not smart) I went with the Solomon trail shoes that I wore last time. http://www.salomon.com/us/product/xa-comp-7.html
      I also have an old pair that I´ll carry until I know these new ones are good. For the evening, walking around town, and shower I have a pair of Crocks. 🙂
      Yes I hope to see you as well when I am back!!

  10. Pam….I didn’t know you were going again! That is awesome. Have a safe trip and please let’s get together when you get back!
    Love Ya!!!
    Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy! It happened rather fast, I was surprised too! Yes, for sure I will see you when I am back home.

  11. Kiddos to you Pamela. So happy for you to do this again. I definitely want to be in the loop re your adventure. May it be a peaceful and inspiring journey.
    Mary

    • Thanks Mary! You can check here on the blog for updates, and also Facebook where I can post things quickly when there is internet. (If we are not already connected find me under malo.pamela@gmail.com)

  12. Good luck to you on this pilgrimage. You are very brave and I admire your courage. Be safe.
    Kim K

  13. Just wanted to send a little note (not sure if you are checking this) to let you know that we are all thinking of you. Keep on trekking and discovering..
    -R

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