Since I came up with the idea of becoming a pilgrim, and maybe finding out something new about myself in the process, the idea of the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage has changed and shifted in my mind. A simple walk across Spain, to potentially learn/experience something new. A chance to . . . Encounter faith. A way to experience new people and points of view. Exercise.
Where I have found every one of those things over the previous days, I have also learned some things about the Camino itself. Trust me when I say, the undertaking isn’t what you think it is.
(The parapet wall behind the cathedral in Pamplona. Tye architecture of the city is still amazing.)
If all you’ve seen about the undertaking has come from YouTube, I can say that’s those portrayals are all pretty accurate. They’re all a little tainted by personal opinion, as is mine, but their accurate enough.
I think the thing that’s most shocking about the whole affair is the lack of actual pilgrims. There are a lot of people walking along a path that is surprisingly well marked and vendor-laden, but I don’t think any of them are out looking for much more than a stamp in a booklet and a bed for the night.
(A realistic picture of the modern pilgrimage.)
To be fair, I’m one of those people. I’m not overflowing with spirituality. I assume this is because I understand too much about people and their motivations. Still, an actual pilgrim, now and again, that would add so much more to the experience.
The initial days under foot have all been ones of decision. The decision: to continue this craziness or stop and go to the beach? Everyday I quit. I’m going no farther. This was a bad idea. And everyday I end up having a conversation with someone I never expected to have which continues my persistence. I still want to quit. Right now. As I type this. But, I’ll get up in the morning and continue on toward Logroño, My pack on my sore shoulders.
(The alter area of Santa Maria, in Los Arcos. A reason, in-and-Of-itself, to walk the path.)
I may have another conversation there that will continue to push me on. I hope I do. That would be great! We’ll all just have to wait and see.
(Your pilgrim’s credential. Your access card to cheap rooms and cheap meals.)
On another note, some logistics. I flew into Pamplona from London, in Iberia. Got the one-way ticket off Expedia for a reasonable price. I stayed at the Hotel Castillo de Javier. Booked it on booking.com. It was centrally located in town, and quite accommodating, though a bit loud.
Since I stated my Camino in Pamplona, I picked up my pilgrim’s credential at the Bishop’s office next to the cathedral. It was either one or two euro. I honestly don’t remember.
More to follow, if my feet hold up.
(I don’t know what the flower is, but their everywhere along the way.)