It Starts in St. Jean, France

…and ends in Santiago, Spain, 500 miles later (798km).  He did it just weeks ago.  I talked with him and saw the pictures.  If there is no snow on the Pyrenees, the first day begins in France and ends on the other side of a 3500 elevation climb in a 15 mile hike at an Albergue (Hostel) in Roncesvalles, Spain.

Yes, everything for the entire trip is on the back of the Pilgrim.  Wisdom suggests lots of rinsing out of very few clothes and an absolute minimum of anything else.  Rain pants are a necessity, maybe some simple shoes to slip on when not hiking.

The camaraderie that develops with other hikers is a central feature.  It is one of elements of the walk that draws me to this potential adventure.   I had a taste of that camaraderie in the two four day hikes in the mountains on the South Island of New Zealand 16 months ago.  I liked that part very much.

The Camino de Santiago means different things to different Walkers.  Apparently most do it for other than Spiritual reasons.  As he talked about the Camino it seemed that the theme woven into the customs along the way is one of letting go.  There is one place at which the tradition is to leave a stone symbolizing something the Pilgrim wishes to shed.

At the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago it is time for the Pilgrim to say what he/she has come to say, if that has been part of the purpose.  Actually, the journey does not necessarily end in Santiago.    From there the Camino Finisterre leads to what in ancient tradition was understood to be the end of the earth, where something could be thrown off into the sea (at least symbolically) freeing the Pilgrim to make a new beginning.

Having felt the exhilaration of looking down on the blanket of clouds from the top of Mt. Luxmore on the South Island of New Zealand after hiking to an elevation of 5000 feet in a day and a half, heart pumping, mind awash in endorphins, I can understand the potential power of experiencing the Camino de Santiago.   I understand the part that simply can’t be put into words.

While this has not yet reached the level of an absolute commitment, it is beginning to be hard to imagine not traveling the Camino.  I am not getting any younger.  The person who described the trip to me seems willing to keep connected and provide information as needed.

Today I checked online in hopes of enrolling in a Spanish I class at the local University this fall so that a year from now I might have some ability to communicate should this trip actually happen. I was disappointed to discover that all the sections are completely full.  So much for that idea.  While I have a course on CD’s that I can use with my computer, I need some external discipline and a setting in which the language must be spoken with others for there to be any real progress.

If this will happen, there also needs to be a resumption of practice hiking with backpack at some point before it begins.  There will also need to be more rounds of strength training to regain what I have lost in the last sixteen months.

An ambulance just came into the neighborhood (happens far too often) and took someone to the hospital.  Where will it will stop next time?

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1 Response to It Starts in St. Jean, France

  1. PeterT says:

    Reblogged this on The Call to Live.

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