Throughout time, people have made pilgrimages to sacred places. Tracy Brumby-Cameron took the Santiago de Compostela journey.
Can you imagine what it is like to let go of work, home and responsibilities, pack two sets of clothes into backpack weighing only eight kilograms and walk 790 kilometres across Spain for six weeks? That is what my husband, John, and I did just recently when we walked The Way of St James from St Jean Pied De Port in France to Santiago De Compestella in Spain.
Back in our normal lives we were always rushing and not really seeing. When you travel by foot there is a peacefulness and honesty about the journey. You cannot overlook what you see.
We were serenaded by frogs living in the ancient nourishing aqua ducts of the farms we walked by. We watched caterpillar trails as they made their way across the path, saw our shadow grow smaller each day as we walked towards the west. Storks built huge nests next to the church bells that rang out. Houses were built from the stone. Farmers herded their cows through towns. Spain was beautiful, green, lush and vibrant and the people were warm and generous.
A pilgrimage is a simple way of living. Each day we would get up, put our packs on our backs and follow the yellow arrows (these mark The Way), walking until we decided to stop for the day and find a bed.
Breakfast each day was after walking five kilometres. Bars opened at 7am offering coffee, toast or a croissant and sweet freshly squeezed orange juice. Lunch was a bocadillo (Spanish sandwich) and dinner was a pilgrim’s menu. Ten Euros for soup, salad or pasta followed by meat or fish and potato, dessert, accompanied with a bottle of Spanish wine and bread. After walking 22 kilometres a day, simple food can taste amazing and yes, you can lose weight on a diet like that!
Our accommodation was mostly in Albergue’s along The Way – bunk bed dormitory style. The cost was between five to 10 Euros for a bed. What about the snorers? Yes there were some and my husband had practiced his snoring before we left home too! We took earplugs, but I didn’t use them. After walking that distance, I guarantee you were tired and you slept soundly.
Proudly after walking all that way, I did not get any blisters on my feet! My footcare beside good shoes and socks involved taping my feet in the morning and oiling my feet after the walk. I was the exception to the rule though.
Before departing, we had pondered for weeks about whether we should or could do the walk. Arriving in Santiago at the Cathedral was emotional.
It wasn’t just the achievement of walking for 35 days, it was the connection having walked the path that many thousands of pilgrims had walked before us and the gift of each day living a simple life with simple needs in a peaceful way.
Would you walk the path? Let us know below!