Category Archives: Original Camino Posts

What the Camino really meant for me…


Me (a very masculine looking me with an abnormally round head) and Kathleen at the Cathedral of Santiago

I was recently looking back at an old blog that I made during my trip to Spain to complete the Camino de Santiago.  It’s been a lot of fun looking back and remembering how much I learned during that trip and since then. I love the theme of the blog so much that I’m continuing it here on a new hosting site.  I wanted to make sure that I had the original blog still connected to this one so I’m going to post them here… As mentioned before, looking back at those old blog posts reminds me of where I’ve come from and where I’m going.  When I prepared for the Camino I remember feeling like I was getting ready for something that was going to change my life.  I just knew something huge was  going to happen.   In the end I was right but you can’t really see that reflected too much in those posts.  Really because everything “big” that happened, happened after I left the Camino and went further north to Oviedo to do my internship…

What I learned on the Camino is was to endure pain.  That sounds horrible but it’s true.  I had an amazing time on that trip but it was very physically taxing.  Every morning when I would get on that bike, my legs hurt, my seat hurt and my muscles were tired.  We were exposed to elements and attacked by giant swarms of flies and we were filthy dirty all of the time.  What happened though was that as soon as we stuck in our ipods and started peddling, the pain somehow went away.  The pain became joyful.  We learned from our pain, our bodies broke down and repaired themselves even stronger because of that pain. I also learned that if you go at a pace that’s comfortable, then it’s not too bad. Just don’t push your way through life and you’ll still get to the end… just with less pain!  I learned to persevere and know that even when I’m stuck on the side of the road feeling desperate and totally alone, if I keep at it, if I keep moving forward, I will make it.  There will be a reward at the end.

Well, all of this wonderful knowledge came in handy for me a little while later.  Soon after I finished the Camino and went to Oviedo to start my internship, I got a call from home that came with horrible and painful news. This news shattered me in more ways than one.  I had to listen to something that had happened back home while I was sitting a world away, alone on the side of the road with nowhere to go.  I had to look back and say “well, you can’t ever go back can you?” and look forward and know that if I just kept moving, if I just persevered, then I could make it.   I am happy to report now that getting through that pain was hard but in the end, just like I arrived to Santiago, I have arrived to a healed heart and it no longer hurts.  It took a while for that pain to go away but each time it hurt I thought about what I had learned about living through pain on the Camino.

This perseverance also helped me a tremendous amount when I returned from Spain to finish my Master’s degree.  I had left half way through my degree to pursue an internship that would help me later on in my career.  It was one of the most valuable experiences I have ever had and it was so amazing and I would never change it for the world.  Anyone who had taken the time to listen to why I wanted to go on that internship was very excited for me and supportive.  But, believe it or not, most of my professors were not.  In fact there was some attempts at convincing me not to go… I ignored them.  When I came back to school, that meant I had a lot of catching up to do.  I had Master’s papers to write, Master’s comprehensive exams to study for, paper and exam defenses to prepare for,  teach 60 students a term and actually get through all of the classes that I had to take.  Near the end I almost didn’t make it.   I mean I really almost didn’t make it.  My adviser brought me into her office to break the news to me that there was just too much left to do, I wasn’t even close to being done and there simply wasn’t enough time to do it all and fix what I needed to fix.  She informed me that I probably wasn’t going to graduate… my heart sunk. My heart sunk and then I got fired up. No one was going to tell me what I was not able to do and what I am capable of. It took the good part of an hour to actually convince her that I was going to do it. No matter what! When I told my friends and family what was going on, the most common response was “Well she just doesn’t know you very well does she, then?” My friends and family knew that I could do anything I put my mind to and it was good to have them there to remind me of that. My friends were really what saved me during those times.  Without the support and help from my friends, I never could have done the impossible task that was ahead of me.   Which actually brings me back to the Camino as well… you can’t do it alone! You need someone you trust to help you through it 🙂 So, long story short, I worked harder than I ever have in my entire life that last term.  I never slept, was a walking zombie and lived in this tiny little cave-like office that I shared with other grad student teachers.  There were many ups and downs and I cried a lot.  I had complete break down near the end but at the end of the day I did it!  I did it! I reached my Santiago! I graduated!

Of course, looking  back I could never describe how hard these two things were to go  through.  It’s hard if you’ve never experienced it either to really understand how difficult they were.  But with this post traumatic stress blocker that I’ve developed, all I know is that I did it.  I can do anything I set my mind to.  The pain isn’t that bad. If you just keep going and pace yourself and make sure you have a really good friend to help you along the way, you can do anything!!

Santiago (original post 9/22/2009)



The arrival of Santiago came upon us quite quickly. After our long day of covering 83 km we were very proud of ourselves but then realized that we had only about one days worth of riding before we got to Santiago. I started to panic a little bit. I wasn’t ready for it to be over. I wasn’t ready to get to Santiago. It’s funny because usually you want to reach your destination, your goal but in this moment I wasn’t ready for the journey to end. I hadn’t had my “Camino Moment” yet. I hadn’t had time to put everything together in my head and reflect on the journey. I just couldn’t stand to have this end before I was ready. So, we didn’t go to Santiago right away. We actually decided to stop half way between Palas de Rei (the town we were in) and Santiago. I knew that that day was going to have to be a day of reflection for me. I was a bit depressed as we head out on our bikes. My legs were exhausted and my Camino was coming to and abrupt end. I kept peddling and soon found my rhythm so that I could think. I had a lot to think about.

Usually on the bike I would listen to my ipod and get lost in the songs or be so focused on my body, the bike and the road that I didn’t really think about a whole lot when I was riding. Most of the time I was just absorbing what was going on around me, taking it all in. This day was going to be different. I needed to process some things that day and really prepare to end the Camino. I was thinking back to our first days where everything was new and fresh and exciting but at the same time completely overwhelming. There were a couple of times, especially with all of the problems with the bikes, that I wondered why I was there. I was questioning my ability and I was asking myself what this really could do for me. What was I thinking?! But there were many things that pushed me along. The people we had encountered were so wonderful and helpful. There was this cheering on from other pilgrims and the people around us. There was this feeling that once we entered the Camino that it would takes us to where we needed to go. There were some tests along the way but if we trusted what was around us we would get where we needed to go. Then there was a time where we lost all concept of time. At the beginning of the Camino when you met another pilgrim you would ask them where they started from that day and where they planned on going, how many km would they do that day. People would ask when you started and which day you were hoping on ending. But as time went on and the closer we got to Santiago the less this was important to everyone. People stopped asking how far each other got in a day and started asking about their experiences. People were feeling changes in themselves and wanted to talk about it. People seemed less rushed as before and seemed like they were enjoying their journeys. I think there is a certain point for everyone when they stop thinking about arriving to Santiago and only really think about what is at hand for the day. It’s almost like you get in this crazy little bubble that’s disconnected from the rest of the world with no desire to break it.


This day was a great reflection day for me. I was able to think about the Camino, think about what I had thought about and learned and contemplated on. It was a wonderful experience. When we got to the town we were supposed to stop at we decided that we didn’t want to spend our last night there. There were too many people and to ‘city.’ We asked a man at a hostel where he thought we should stop and he suggested Santa Irene. We rode a while before we came upon it and would never have stopped there unless we were suggested to. We were so glad that we did though. We rode off the main road to find a beautiful refuge with a huge yard and the cutest rooms ever. It was so peaceful and relaxing there. Most pilgrim hostels are just a place to sleep and do laundry. This place was really a place to relax. It was the perfect way to end our trip. We took naps in the yard and ate wonderful home cooked food. We met some really great people as well. Over all we were ready to go to Santiago the next day. I think that we had just the right amount of relaxation and reflection that the next morning I was so excited to arrive. I was singing along to my ipod out loud most of the time. The ride was short because we ended up covering so much distance the day before so we arrived pretty quickly.

Most people say that actually getting to Santiago is disappointing. They have days and weeks leading up to this arrival only to find a big city with lots of people and a feeling of strange bitter sweetness at the end. I can understand how this may feel to some people but I really wasn’t that disappointed. When we came around a bend and I could see Santiago with the cathedral towers shooting out of the center I was so happy. It was such a great feeling. I think that I was mentally prepared as well. Almost as if my journey really ended the day before in my thoughts and I was just going a little bit further to make it official. I really understood one of the pilgrims at that time who we had met along the way. He told us that he was walking but probably not going to get to Santiago. He would just walk until he knew he was done and then go back home. I understand that it’s not “getting to a place” that’s important, it’s the journey along the way. Nevertheless, arriving to Santiago gave me such a proud feeling. We did it!!! Despite any problems, doubts or bumps along the way, we did it! We rode up to the cathedral at about noon. There were tons of tourists everywhere. This was a bit strange because I realized that I really felt like a tourist attraction. In the big groups of tourists everywhere they were all being told about the Camino, the pilgrims, the history and then all of a sudden they get to see some arriving. It was funny. Kathleen and I took a picture in front of the cathedral holding our bikes over our heads. I really wanted a victory shot. Of course all the other tourists wanted our picture as well. So Kathleen and I are in some random German, French and Japanese photo albums somewhere! After taking our victory in a little bit we headed to the pilgrim office to get our official certificate of completion. It was great. The people at the office check your pilgrim passport to make sure that you have stamps from all the placed in between to be sure that you really did it.

It was also really great to see the other pilgrims arrive along the way. We ran into an Irish friend that we had met a couple days before and it was really great to sit back and reflect together about our experiences. It showed me even more about what a process the Camino is. I think that I still probably haven’t processed the whole thing yet, what it means to me and what I’ve really learned from it. I can guess that things will probably happen in my life that will make me remember the Camino and then I can really understand what it showed me.

I highly recommend all of you to look for something in your life that is like a pilgrimage. It is such an amazing experience. It is a time of meditation, self reflection and spiritual growth. You will discover things about yourself that you never knew. You will recognize things about yourself that you knew before but would let yourself see it. You will grow as a person and be a companion to others. I hope that all of you are able to do this at some point in your life. It truly is an experience of a lifetime.

On the road again (original post 9/13/2010)


A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving

Kathleen and I spent a few stressful days wondering if we would ever make it to Santiago. We didn´t have bikes and our bags were made to fit on bikes so we couldn´t even walk it. We took a bus to Leon where I slept most of the way and Kathleen was being converted to Opus Dei. Well, not really but the crazy Spanish lady really tried. She also told Kathleen that we weren´t really doing the Camino because we´re not Catholic. She also wants us to call her and hand out in Santiago when we get there… not going to happen.

We arrived in Leon with good spirits but super tired and we just wanted to get back on the Camino. We checked in to the closest refuge which was only 3 euro with free Internet! We realized quickly that we weren´t really into the town too much. It was a city with a pretty old town but we just wanted to be on the Camino. We had pretty bad attitudes about it too. The next day we found out (from a very grumpy tourist office lady) that Leon does not rent bikes. Period. Ok so I guess we´ll have to buy them I thought. I was trying to think of a number in my head to buy the bikes that was the most I would spend. I really wanted to finish the Camino and I wasn´t going to give up. We found a really great bike shop that my husband would drool in and told the owner our woes. Whenever you mention you are a pilgrim it seems like you have this special pass. Everyone wants to help you. He sold brand new Trek mountain bikes for the same price of renting the crappy ones and told us that if we brought them back to Leon he would buy them back from us. What?! Is this really happening?! This is amazing! We took our beautiful bikes and got the heck out of the city. Yes!! We´re back on the Camino. See Camino, you don´t really want me to fail. You just want to test me a little bit…

But… We have now been back on the Camino for a few days now and have loved every second of it!! We´ve climbed mountains and flew down the other side. We´ve met amazing people and have visited the cutest little towns that Spain has to offer. Spain is beautiful and I am so grateful for the chance to see it in this way. I am constantly amazed by how taken care of I feel as a pilgrim. The refuge system is absolutely amazing. It is extremely organized. We are able to stop by any of them to fill up on water or leave our bikes if we want to explore a little bit. The people who run them are so great and most of them have been pilgrims themselves. While riding we almost always are waved, honked at and cheered along by locals in all of the towns. I had a family clap me up a hill the other day. It was the best feeling. Today, an old man in a tiny town was looking out his balcony and cheering as we came to the top of the hill panting. Good job, bravo, well done! We´ve also seen written messages from past pilgrims encouraging us in the hard parts. I feel like there is a certain attitude towards pilgrims in Spain. It´s the closest to a native you can get. When you are a pilgrim here you are not a foreigner, you are a friend and everyone wants to help you.







There is also a great sense of collectivism. From the messages of past pilgrims to the encouragement we all give each other to the way the locals help you out as if you were their own, I feel a part of a special group. I´ve also been able to contribute to this as well. The owner of one of the refuges wanted to leave for a while and asked me to man the desk since I speak Spanish. He told me how to fill out the pilgrim and national information of each person and left me to it. Normally I would think this bad service but he gave me a room for 4 euro and drove us in his car to the next town to get some food (it was a small town with not much in it). I´ve really come to understand this idea of ´passing it along´and taking care of other people as much as I can.

The people we´ve met along the way have been very interesting. People do this pilgrimage for very different reasons and it´s really fun to hear people´s stories. Most people want an escape from reality. A lot of the people on the Camino are retired people looking for their adventure and sense of peace after a long time of working for someone else. It´s rare to find a person under 30 doing the camino and most of those people are on bikes. And those who are on bikes, well most of them are men. Kathleen and I have seen two other women riding the Camino. I´s rather interesting. We did meet a great retired couple from Holland who started the Camino on bike from Amsterdam!! Overall, the people have been great and it´s been so much fun learning the stories of everyone.










Today we rode 83 km and we´re feeling great. We´re in a cute little town about 80 km from Santiago. We can feel it coming close. Part of me wants to arrive to Santiago and part of me wishes this could go on forever. People say that the Camino is addictive and I can see why. It´s such a feeling of accomplishment and pride. I know so much more about myself and what I can do than I ever imagined. I am so proud of Kathleen and I and am excited to learn all I can here.

Again, thanks for following my journey. I hope you all find one of your own.

Santiago or Bust. But what happens if we bust?!? (original post 9/8/2009)


“It´s like the Camino wants you to stay here… like it doesn´t want you to get to Santiago.” -Pilgrim in Sansol

We started the Camino officially on the fifth from Pamplona. We had decided to stay another night in San Sebastian with Juan Maria and caught a train to Pamplona in the morning instead of spending the night. We got the the hotel where our bikes were waiting for us and everything seemed great. We got on our bikes, figured out how to get out of town and started our journey. Almost immediately we were greeted with a friendly “Buen Camino” by another couple of pilgrims on the trail. We saw the friendly shell that was on their bags and called out a “Buen Camino” ourselves. This was the first encounter that made our pilgrimage official. We were pilgrims and we were recognized by others. This was going to be a great trip filled with lots of great people to get to know.

We headed out of Pamplona and in the distance we saw huge windmills up on the mountainside. I thought of Don Quijote´s windmills and smiled. Soon the slight slope of the hillside turned into a huge rocky mountain that we had to climb. We couldn´t even ride our bikes because it was so steep and rocky. How were we going to make it? I wasn´t even half way into my first day and I started to doubt myself. Is this the way it´s going to be the whole way? No, it will get better I kept telling myself. This won´t last long. The way up the mountain was so hard. The hardest thing I´ve ever done. My arms hurt from pushing my heavy bike up the rocky side and I was getting tired fast. I kept looking at those windmills that were slowly getting closer. I decided that once I got to the windmills everything would be ok. I thought about Don Quijote again. Just as his windmills were not really a giant I had to think realize this about my mountain. This is just a “hill.” If I could only recognize that I could beat it. I wasn´t going to let my mountain throw me to the ground like Don Quijote´s windmill.

We made it to the top and it was glorious! The view was amazing and we were so happy. We spent some time at the top refueling. We thought that it would be smooth sailing from there. Well we were wrong. It was just as hard coming back down. We had to fight gravity and the rocks to keep our bikes from flying down the other side of the mountain. My arms and hands hurt so bad from holding the bike. Again, I reminded myself that I´ve wanted this for a long time and that I will be proud of myself at the end of the day.

Kathleen and I arrived at a small little town called Puente La Reina. We arrived at our first Pilgrim Refuge content, tired and pretty proud of ourselves. We had completed our first day of the Camino! We walked around the town a little bit meeting other Pilgrims and talking to locals. We saw a couple taking the most beautiful wedding pictures on the medieval bridge. How beautiful! That night we slept hard and were excited for the day to come. Day two. We we got through the first day then we could do anything, right?

Day Two:

This day started a little late. We were the last Pilgrims in town when we rode out. That was ok to us because most people left early because they were walking. We had plenty of time on our bikes. We had a pleasant ride until another crazy hillside came up. Ok, we can do this. We did it before and we can do it again! Then the problems started. All of a sudden my bike rack falls and my panniers are dragging on my back tire. What happened? “Kathleen, you´re not going to believe this, my bike rack broke! How am I going to hold my bags on the bike?” We spent some time gathering snippets of string (including string from my pilgrim shell) to piece together the rack and tie it to the bike. Pieces were missing and there was not way that thing was staying on without help. I felt desperate for a moment because in that moment I realized how many things could go wrong. I mean it would have taken hours to walk the bike while trying to hold up the bags to get to a town where we could fix the rack. We started back on the bikes and I started to feel better. Riding is great and the people and view along the way was amazing.

Later on in the day we switched to the motor way instead of staying on the Camino. This seemed to take up a lot less time and was definitely easier. It seemed that everything else started to go wrong with the bikes. The bikes wouldn´t shift right and the chains were jumping. Kathleen could barely pedal because her chain would jump and she would almost fall off the bike. Then, when we were in between some very small towns and when you looked around you couldn´t see anything for miles all of a sudden my chain broke. I almost started to cry because while looking to see what the problem was I realized that the chain was really messed up. Even if I fixed this chain it was going to break again. Just as I called Kathleen over to take a look, her front and back tires popped. We sat down to patch them because we were going to have to walk the bikes to somewhere. As Kathleen was pulling her tire out to patch we realized that the tube was super old and had been patched many times before. This stupid bike company couldn´t even give us a tube that hasn´t been compromised?! This was getting ridiculous!

I was feeling desperate and hopeless. I thought that our trip was ruined and I was so mad that we got such crappy bikes. In just two days we had a list a mile long of problems. We didn´t feel safe on these bikes and we had paid a good amount of money to rent them. In my head I just knew that not only were we not going to get our money back but somehow the bike renal place would tell us the damages were our fault and charge us. All we could do that night was walk to the next town. When we got to that town we were blown away by the helpfulness of everyone there. We walked in broken on broken bikes and our faces were very telling of the day we had just had. We walked into the first place we saw to ask where we could stay for the night. Immediately everyone started to help us. Someone sitting at the bar told us he´d fix my chain so that I could at least get to the next town. The town that we were in was so small that it didn´t even have a phone booth. The guy at the bar called up the street at the Pilgrim refuge to see if we could get a room. He poured us a beer and told us to relax. I felt immediately better. These people were so nice! I didn´t feel so helpless and I started to have a renewed hope. The Camino had brought me to this tiny little town with the nicest people. Everyone was so laid back and relaxed. We met some really great people and had a really great time.

The next morning we set out about 17km to the next big town. There we spent the whole day trying to get a hold of the bike rental people. Again, I was for sure that they weren´t going to work with us but at the end of the day (after hours of trying to contact them with a whole other page worth of stories to tell about the process) the company would be giving us our money back. Yay!!! At least now we can find new bikes. We had the best time again just meeting people and listening to stories about the Camino. We saw two Japanese boys who were doing a documentary on the Camino. They were trying to record the amazing journey that it is.

So, it´s not a total bust but we still have to get new bikes. Because of all the problems we´ve lost a lot of time so we got on a bus and jumped towns to Leon. Tomorrow we will see if we can rent new bikes or possibly buy some. I am in good spirits now. I´ve realized that these things that have gone wrong are just a part of the journey. My trip isn´t ruined because this is the way it was supposed to turn out. I was supposed to stop in that tiny little town and meet the people I did. I was supposed to only be able to go to the next bigger town because I needed to see what I saw and talk to the people I talked to. The Camino knows what it´s doing.

My first few days in Spain (original post 9/4/2009)


Well, I´ve been in Spain for a few days now and we´re having a blast! We arrived in Madrid after the best plane ride I´ve ever had to Europe. I didn´t sleep but I was rather comfortable and it didn´t seem to take so long like it usually does. We left Portland at 8 in the morning and arrived in Madrid at 8 in the morning Spanish time. We had a whole day ahead of us. A friend of ours was on the same flight (going to see her family in another part of Spain) so we had a coffee at the airport before we each took our subway lines in different directions. We found our hotel, near the Plaza Mayor, took a shower and set out on the town. Now we hadn´t slept in over 24 hours so it wasn´t as easy as it sounded. We ended up sitting at a cafe so extremely tired that we couldn´t even drink our coffee. So, we went back to the hotel and took a three hour nap. Ok, so 3 hours in 24 hours, great! We ended up walking miles and miles around the city just wandering around taking everything in. It is sooo good to be back in Spain. I started seeing the little things that I love about Spain but I almost forgot. The way the laundry detergent smells on the hotel towels. The way old ladies walk arm and arm through the streets window shopping. The way old men walk side by side with their hands clasped behind their backs and walk with a rhythmic saunter. And how even at 11 o´clock at night you can see little children playing in the streets.

That night we slept for about 5 hours. Jet lag was getting to us and it was hard to sleep. We boarded a train the next morning to San Sebastian, a city in the Basque Country to visit a friend of ours that studies with us at PSU. He´s from here and has been here all summer visiting his family. It´s been really great to be able to see him with his family. It´s one thing to visit a place but another when you´re able to see real people, how they live and the love they share between each other. This city is one of my favorites!! It is right on the beach and is so quaint. The food is to die for, really, and the people are so great. We walked around the city and headed up to a view point where you can see the whole city, the beaches, and the sea head out towards France. To our surprise there was a Regatta happening in the sea. Teams from all over the North came to compete and there were tons of people everywhere. I´ve never seen so much spirit for a boat race!! It was a lot of fun and it was great to see the event and all of the people involved.

Later, we had a pretty traditional style of eating where you go from bar to bar eating small plates and them moving to the next one. In the Basque country they are called pintxos (in other parts of Spain they have similar tapas. Seriously every bite was amazing. We had things like croquetas with ham and chorizo, morzilla (blood sausage, mmm so good!!) mixed with seafood and stuffed into peppers, baskets of bread with goat cheese and caramelized plum spread over the top, the most amazing calamari I´ve had in years and tons of other amazing little dishes. We literally stuffed ourselves! It was soo good!

We ended the evening sitting in a plaza filled with people and children. The sights and sounds included little Basque children switching between Basque and Spanish with a bilingualism I would love to have while playing futbol in the center as their parents enjoyed a glass of wine and a band of men erupting in song while winging their beers from side to side and making a harmony only learned by singing the songs together since they were young. It was the perfect end to the perfect day!

Tomorrow we will be starting the first leg of the Camino de Santiago! It will take us about 15 days to complete on bike. I´ll try to post some pictures as soon as possible. Send us your good thoughts so we have a safe journey!

Poesia del Camino (original post 8/28/2009)


Polvo, barro, sol y lluvia
es camino de Santiago.
Millares de peregrinos
y mas de un millar de años.

Peregrino ¿Quién te llama?
¿Que fuerza oculta te atrae?
Ni el campo de las estrellas
ni las grandes catedrales.

No es la bravura navarra,
ni el vino de los riojanos
ni los mariscos gallegos
ni los campos castellanos.

Peregrino ¿Quién te llama?
¿Que fuerza oculta te atrae?
Ni las gentes del Camino
ni las costumbres rurales.

No es la historia y la cultura,
ni el gallo de la Calzada
ni el palacio de Gaudí,
ni el castillo de Ponferrada.

Todo lo veo al pasar,
y es un gozo verlo todo,
mas la voz que a mi me llama
la siento mucho más hondo.

La fuerza que a mi me empuja
la fuerza que a mi me atrae,
no sé explicarla ni yo
¡Solo el de arriba lo sabe!

before my journey begins (original post 7/26/2009)


I was recently looking back at an old blog that I made during my trip to Spain to complete the Camino de Santiago.  It’s been a lot of fun looking back and remembering how much I learned during that trip and since then. I love the theme of the blog so much that I’m continuing it here on a new hosting site.  I wanted to make sure that I had the original blog still connected to this one so I’m going to post them here…

As I am getting ready to leave for Spain, many things are going through my head.  I will be there for five months and each of them will be filled with excitement but the adventure first and foremost on my mind is the Camino de Santiago.  I have wanted to be a pilgrim on the Camino for 7 years now.  The first time I saw a pilgrim walking across Northern Spain I was very intrigued.  Why would anyone walk for weeks on end covering hundreds of miles armed only with a walking stick, a backpack of essentials and a shell around their neck?  The Camino de Santiago (or the Way of St. James) during the medieval times was one of the four main pilgrimage sights along with Mecca, Jerusalem and Rome.  People used to walk hundreds of miles so that when they arrive at the holy destination, their sins would be cleansed. Nowadays people from all over the world walk the Camino for their own type of Pilgrimage unique to each person.  Everyone has different reasons for doing it.  Of course I don’t need to be a pilgrim for my sins to be cleansed but the idea of a spiritual journey that is both physically and mentally challenging has been on my heart for a while now.

If we think about how busy our days, weeks and months are and reflect on all the craziness that is our lives it can be overwhelming.  This last year has been particularly crazy for me.  Starting Grad School, being a wife and trying to maintain relationships with friends and family, buying our first house and running a non-profit has definitely kept me busy.  There is always some deadline, and not enough time in the day. There is always an immediate and long-term goal hovering over my head and things that slip through the cracks because I can’t do it all.  What if for a couple of weeks my only goal would be to move my body from one point to another? All I would have would be my own thoughts, a trusty companion and the dirt on my feet.  What would I think about? What would I learn about myself and the world around me?  What perspective would I gain? What would it do for my spirituality? What part of Amanda would I discover?
This will be a time of only partial solitude.  I will be away from my normal life and the people who usually fill it but I will be traveling with a dear friend of mine, Kathleen.  I am also very excited to have such a great friend going with me.  Journeys are exciting, but even more special when you can share them with someone.  What would Don Quixote and Sancho do without each other?  Who would tell Don Quixote that the big scary giant he is about to face is only a windmill?  Who would teach Sancho that what is more valuable than any exotic island with all the power in the world is true friendship and brotherly love? Who would love Don Quixote through the process of finding himself if not his best friend Sancho?! Would Don Quixote ever have made it so far through his journey if it weren’t for his friend?