Camino de Santiago de Compostela

About two months ago I was surfing through the channels and came upon a Rick Steve’s Travel show.  This particular show was about the Camino de Santiago de Compostela.  I was glued to my chair; I couldn’t pull myself away from the television.  I’ve recently experienced many unsettling events that have me questioning my decisions in the many arenas of my life.  For the next week thoughts of walking the Camino kept creeping into my mind, I even had a
dream or two regarding this pilgrimage. I researched the routes on-line, viewed pictures of others’ pilgrimages and even joined an on-line forum. Finally, I decided I will walk the Camino de Santiago!

My oldest son is an endurance athlete – he competes in the National Ultra Endurance mountain bike races on the East Coast. The time he devotes to his training for each race season is inspiring to say the least.  I decided to ask him how I should train for this walk and he has given me an idea of how to build up my endurance.  I was a bit reluctant to tell him how many miles the walk is, I thought he would think his Mom had taken total leave of her senses – but no, he is very supportive of my efforts.

My next hurdle was to find a companion to walk the Camino with me, for safety sake.  I don’t think a woman walking the countryside alone is too smart.  The route I would like to take is the longest (of course, about 460 miles) going from St Jean Pied de Port in France, through the northern part of Spain, passing through Pamplona (the city famous for the Running of the Bulls) and Leon on the way.  The guidebooks say it takes a month, give or take, to complete the Camino Frances.  I mentioned this pilgrimage to several friends but no one seemed interested or had the time to complete the walk.  I was beginning to feel like I would have to take a tour group, which only completes the last 60 miles of the Camino, so that I wouldn’t be walking across Spain all alone – even though supposedly 100,000 people walk this pilgrimage each year.

Then I received an email from a friend I had worked with before I retired.  She too is retired and has walked the New York City Marathon many times, so I thought she might be up for a walking challenge.  I asked her about the Camino
and Yippee! She is on-board!  I’m so excited and would like to start out on this personal pilgrimage with my friend in the early fall of next year, 2012.  We will be walking the Camino with all of our belongings on our backs, sleeping in hostels along the way and eating and drinking local cuisine – did I mention the Camino goes directly through the Rioja (wine) region?

My intent with my blog is to chronicle my training efforts.  In this way, you, my blog followers, hopefully will offer encouragement for me over this upcoming year of training.  And should any of you wish to join in on this pilgrimage, please let me know.  This week I walked minimally 3 miles daily, alternating between my hilly neighborhood and a steep incline as well as doing 50 squats each day.

Following is an excerpt from one of the Camino de Santiago web pages:

“For many people, the Camino de Santiago has a mystical element. This is for a good reason – its origins are religious: a tribute to the apostle Santiago (St. James). In any case, apart from devotion to the saint, many pilgrims set out on the Camino inspired by a different kind of spirituality, which manifests itself in the need to find out more about oneself, to find the answers to certain personal questions and to discover inner peace. For many, this journey through Spain also becomes an inner journey, where each person can get to know him or herself better.

“Doing the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route provides an opportunity to discover landscapes full of contrast, with plateaus and mountains, meadows and coastline. Different areas of countryside unfold one after another from start to finish. On the route you will find national parks and exceptional ecological areas: the peaks of the Pyrenees; the banks of the River Ebro, with their fertile vegetable gardens; the broad plains of Castile-Leon, with their fields of cereal crops; climbs to lofty mountain passes; the green meadows and pastureland of Galicia and Asturias; areas of stunning natural beauty, where pilgrims feel at one with the countryside as they continue their journey towards the Galician capital. Surrounded by these picture postcard landscapes, walkers can relax completely, forgetting about their day-to-day routine. The mind runs free. There is only the route, the countryside and plenty of time for reflection.”

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool
To weep is to risk being called sentimental
To reach out to another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self
To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss
To love is to risk not being loved in return
To live is to risk dying
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken
Because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The people who risk nothing may avoid suffering and sorrow,
But they cannot learn, feel, change, grow or really live.
Chained by their servitude they are slaves who have forfeited all freedom.
Only a person who risks is truly free.

                          Words of Encouragement from William Ward

6 responses to “Camino de Santiago de Compostela

  1. I am so proud of your decision!!! For me taking risks has been a way of life,but to see a dear friend unfold into a new flower and stretch her limits is a wonderful encouraging thing….I am cheering for you all the way and will be right along side you as often as possible….All good things come to those who open the door !!!


    • Funny how certain actions and decisions affect our lives, isn’t it? One thing for sure I can say – it may have taken 6 decades to get here, but it feels pretty good to have finally arrived! And another thing that is wonderful is to have supportive family and friends. Thank you, a million times thank you!


  2. You will do great! The adventure of a lifetime! Will make so many happy memories and new friends, very exciting and inspiring! You GO GIRL! Would love to, but the old lungs will not let me. The mind is willing, the body ids not. Have had friends who did half of the pilgrimage. They still say it is one of the best things they ever did. Ed biked from Vienna, Austria to Venice, Italy across Slovenia and he still smiles when he talks about the trip. Loved it!
    Keep a journal, starting now and through out the trip. Will be wonderful to look back on in the years to come. Maybe a book?
    Sending you all my best!
    XO Tami


  3. I’m truly looking forward to the journey! For me I think it will be not only spiritual in the Catholic sense but also in the inner knowing sense. I want to prove to myself that I CAN!
    Funny you say “Maybe a book”, Catherine feels positive that I will write a book in my future…….time will tell. I am keeping a training journal already, good advice about starting the “Camino Journal” now. Thanks for your support, I appreciate it greatly.


  4. You are exhilarating Arlen…… I am not the least bit like you but am in amazement of your desires to stretch and grow. This is a wonderful idea and I know you will love every step of the journey along Camino……I know from talking to you that you wanted to journey somewhere and this sounds perfect for you…………do not linger too long in Rioja though,, it will make the rest of the journey too difficult 😉 I look forward to reading about your training and cannot wait to hear about the actual trip in the Fall and your friend is probably right, I book in the making! You’re not getting older, you’re getting better!!


  5. I’m truly excited about this trip, I’ve been studying the guide books and reading everything I can find of the Camino. Yesterday I found a website for American pilgrims on the Camino, I actually can get my “credential” from them. They are based in California and there are satellite groups all around the country. I haven’t finished my research yet, but American Pilgrims sounds like a good group to join and support for my purposes. Hey, who knows this trip may open up a totally new field of opportunity for me, hiking – maybe the Appalachian Trail (at least that would get me on the East Coast). We never know, do we?


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