Back to the Future…Camino style


Remember these shoes from last year? I walked a whole week on the Camino, and bombarded my feed with photos and waxed philosophic about what it all meant and laughed at myself at the preposterousness of my thinking I even had a clue. 

Most people take a month to six weeks to walk the whole Way of St. James. Others take longer, or do it in smaller chunks. But they eventually do it. Somehow. 

The way I’m doing it seems to be rather convoluted and I’ll briefly tell you why: the whole time I was walking into little Spanish villages and their monasteries and/or churches last year, I kept saying to myself, ‘I wish my mom could see this. Wish she could experience what this whole thing is like.’

My friend Nathan even mentioned having biked the route with his mother, and I thought, ‘That cheating bastard…you can’t be a pilgrim on a brand new shiny bicycle.’ 

I’m here to tell you I was wrong. I’ve slowly come round to the philosophy that however you transverse the damned thing is really your business. 

I’m going to show a bit of it to my mom. She can’t walk it, but she’ll come along with me, and we’ll see some of those things I wanted to share with her last year. If there’s time, I might even take her to Santiago

That’s not cool, though. Right? You can’t just go to the end of a pilgrimage without having made the pilgrimage? Sure you can, and we just might. 

Here’s what I intend to do: write about it. Before during and after. I met people last year who’d fantasized about going on the Camino de Santiago for decades. They finally made their way and fulfilled a longtime dream. 

My friend Casey made noises about joining me someday, so I’m going to extend this invitation to her and anyone else who’s so inclined. 

First of all, join one of the groups of pilgrims – there’s a private Facebook group just for women that I’ve heard is quite extraordinary. 

Secondly, read about their experiences, watch that Martin Sheen movie or one of the many documentaries about the Camino, or talk to me. Leave a comment below if you want to hear my take on this. Anything, really. 
Finally, like last year, it’s pretty much all I’ll be talking about the next few weeks. If nothing else, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the photos. 

try to encapsulate the Camino in a few short moments of chit chat

a pilgrim daydreaming of the comfort of his armchair
 Not sure where I heard it, but it’s been said that you have a short window of opportunity in which people want to hear about your holidays. 

After ‘How was your break? You were in Spain weren’t you?‘, there’s a few moments where you can share generally, before the conversation moves on to what’s been going on in your absence. Or the news of the day or whatever you might normally talk about. 

Of course close friends might be different, and if you had some earth-shattering news to tell, people might perk up and give you a bit more leeway. However, when I think about what I was doing last week, and I try to encapsulate that in a few short moments of chit chat, I find myself sputtering out banalities. 

It was great,’ I reply. ‘Yes, Spain. Northern Spain – flew into Bilbao and then walked along the Camino de Santiago for a week. 

‘No, I didn’t do the whole thing. That’d take six weeks or so, and I just didn’t have that kind of time.’

Then back to daily life. That’s just how it is. To be expected, even. Life moves on. 

The thing is: I do have this blog and this is as good a place as any to leave my impressions from my limited time on the Camino. It wasn’t easy blogging while actually there, so I took photos and wrote down impressions as I was going. Fully intending to keep talking about it long after I returned. 

The photo above is a pilgrim imagining the comfort of home, which made me smile as I saw it while lugging my pack. That night as I was icing my swollen foot and uploading that photo, I was already quite aware that I was going to miss the simplicity of the Camino upon returning to the day to day. 

I walked around my adopted hometown today, as Munich came to life with the bustle of locals and tourists alike. Someone in Spain told me about his having walked the Jakobsweg, which is what the Germans call this pilgrimage – it’s German for the Way of St. James  – from somewhere in the former Yugoslavia. That’s purportedly the ancient way, from what he said. 

There’s a route that goes through the Bavarian Alps, as well. I’m already imagining taking a week sometime and following the way markers toward the French border. Maybe I’ll even take my dogs and see how manageable it is to find a place to stay along the way where they’d also be welcome. 

In the meantime, I’m looking at photos that remind me of some of my better moments following The Way and I’m doing my best to bring the best of that Spirit to my daily life here back at home. 

Here’s one of the only photos I have of me while I was out there: