Sunday, March 22, 2009

Discovering the Camino

One month to go until we start our excellent Camino adventure! Actually to be more accurate, our Camino truly started two years ago with a presentation at King's College, Las Peregrinas. It was the first time I had ever heard of The Camino de Santiago de Compostela and I think I was hooked from the very first moment I saw a flyer advertising this talk about five women who left the comforts of their family and homes to don a backpack, fly half way around the world and set out walking for some 800 km. I'm not sure what it was about this undertaking that resonated with me. It wasn't the fact that it was an ancient and on-going Roman Catholic pilgrimage; I'm not that religious. I like my creature comforts so I couldn't have been enthralled with doing without a hairdryer, a razor or my insulated tea mug for over a month, or the fact that I'd be lugging 10% of my body weight in a pack on my back or the fact that I'd be sharing sleeping quarters with road-wearied, sweaty strangers and possibly bed bugs but enthralled I was. Some mention was made that if you walk the last 100kms to Santiago and have your pilgrims' passport certified you receive a special dispensation to serve less time in Purgatory than you might have really deserved. That held some appeal too.

After the Las Peregrinas presentation, I rushed home to interrupt my husband's NCAA Basketball Tournament viewing to announce, " I think I've discovered something we'd like to do". To be honest, I thought we'd do the Camino in the same manner as our recent hiking adventures; we'd book with HfHolidays, our new favourite British tour company, and Hf would take care of all the arrangements, the guides, the luggage transfers, the hotels and the meals. We'd just don a daypack and walk those last 100kms. ending each day in a small, quaint pensionne, sharing meals and comaraderie with our fellow walkers before settling into our comfy clean beds to rest up for the next day. That misguided fantasy lasted less than a day. Right away we started researching the Camino and right away we both decided (okay, Dayton decided it first) that we were going to do this as pilgrims and that we would do the entire Camino Frances starting in St. Jean Pied-de-Port and ending in Santiago some 800km later.

Now, two years later and one month to go, we have come a long way from that initial impulsive decision. In researching the Camino we have had so much help and advice and we have met so many wonderful people who have already done the Camino and who have shared their experiences and words of wisdom with us. We've read the books, poured over maps, highlighted the 'best' refugios and have saturated ourselves in Camino lore. Now it's time to sit back and let our Camino happen. What a treat!


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