Camino de Santiago

Hello and welcome to my blogsite, if you haven’t visited before.  It was orginially set up to document and share my traithlon endeavors, and now that I’m not racing, I want to use it to share other types of adventures.

I left on Sunday Sept 27th for France, to walk the hundreds of years old spiritual “pilgramage” called the Camino de Santiago.  I will be gone a whole month (thank you, Fraiser, for allowing me the time off, and a job to come back to!), and am walking solo (Thank you, friends, family, and Lucas, for the support to do this!) for the length of the “Camino Frances”; the route that I chose and that is the most widely-traveled and probably most well-known, is about 500 miles.  It begins in St Jean Pied de Porte, France, and ends in Santiago de Compostola, Spain (moving from east to west along the northern length of the country of Spain).  Historically, it is a religious pilgrimage, but has beckoned millions of people over the years to walk and ponder their purpose, step out of a busy life routine, and seek a deeper meaning of whatever aspect of their lives they are feeling called to examine.  It also affords an unique opportunity to meet people from all over the world, gaining perspective from the variety of persons, lives, circumstances, and wisdoms shared, that one will inevitably come across.

I am not an experienced international traveler.  I have only been to Italy, France, England, and Cancun/Tulum (Mexico), and not for extended periods of time.  Ive been to many parts of the US, mainly for triathlon races.  I felt like a fish out of water while traveling on Sunday-Monday, trying to use my Spanish (worse than I thought it was, prideful me!), and hauling a backpack that I thoughtfully packed and mean to be spartan, but, alas,  I am not gifted with being a light packer.  I think I will learn from this trip…I have to carry all my belongings on my back as I walk anywhere from 13-25 miles per day.  ..I may end up mailing some things home.

I stayed in St Jean  Monday (9/28) night in a lovely B&B recommended by Lucas-and-my-friends Christy and Cary Graham, who walked the Camino in March 2014 and really are the ones who inspired this trip in me/planted the seed.  I don’t speak any French, so I was pretty quiet and very tired from the travel during the group dinner at the B&B.  It was fun to listen to that beautiful, expressive language, though!

Day 1 on the Camino:  Tuesday Sept 29, 2015:  I had slept hard and didn’t leave till almost 10am for the first walk:  a true hike from St Jean to Roncesvalles, Spain, crossing the border during the hike.  It was very foggy this morning (typical, I was told), but sun broke through around 11 and it was a lovely, fairly warm day.  Though I live and hike in Boulder with its altitude and challenging grades, carrying a nearly-30# pack over the 1200km altitude gain with some very steep climbs was tougher than I anticipated, and I gained a lot of respect for backpackers!  What I do belive will be even tougher for me, though, is the time spent mostly alone (I did walk with a few people, today, for short periods of time) and allowing myself the space and time to truly think and ponder some aspects of myself and my life:  main reasons I am on this walk.

The hike (21.5km/15 miles) was beautiful, and rewarding.  I ended in the historic Roncesvalles, which is a relgious-based compound of sorts, with a stone chapel where I attended the 8pm mass, and a huge dormitory which is the hostel/”albergue” specifically used to host the pilgrims/”peregrinos” who are walking the Camino.  Its not open as lodging for anyone else, and it only cost 10 euros per night, which apparently is a pretty common price for the albergues along the way.  The 3-course “pilgim’s meal”, including wine, cost 10 euros as well.  To walk this route is not a tourist-y endeavor.  Owners and restaurants benefit from the walking traffic about 9 months out of the year, but do not appear to gouge the pilgrims with high prices.  Most people are doing this for spiritual reasons, and all for personal reasons to seek peace of some kind.  I think it is beautiful that though it has become more and more “popular” and well-known, it continues to have historic reverance and has not become a tourist-trap.

I will try to publish this blog here and there duing my trek; I fly home from Santiago de Compostola on October 29th and I anticipate many lessons learned, and wonderful experiences along the way.  El Camino.

Thanks for reading, and if you want more info or history of the Camino, just Google it, and perhaps watch the movie The Way, with Charlie Sheen.  It’s a pretty good view of what it seems to be like.  I’m certainly no expert yet!

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