The idea of walking this famous medieval path has always interested me, not for religious reasons but simply, as a thrill seeking adventure to do with a friend or two. Our aim would have been to savour the culinary delights of the region and sample the range of wines on offer, as we trudged across the landscape of this fascinating region. Still in my mind, I could still picture us coming across a mixture of granite churches, slate roofed cottages and farmhouses set deep in the valleys and countryside, where historical architecture, landscape and the simple rural life blends harmoniously to produce a tapestry of natural beauty.
Unfortunately this has yet not materialised for various or a combination of reasons. Sometimes we are just too engrossed with life, sometimes we are not ready, or sometimes it’s simply just not meant to be.
But because I have finally decided to go alone, I must say that I have also begun to believe that it is “El Camino” that actually calls you, not in a mysterious way (that would really have spooked me!) but simply because of a series of coincidences that occurred to me.
Ever since Philip passed away, my desire to walk “El Camino” has been much stronger than ever. Why it does so, remains a mystery to me. I am not quite sure but everyone else seems to be quite certain that my desire to do it is more akin to a spiritual journey than seeking a lonely-walking-adventure holiday!
I would have never envisaged nor planned my journey as a pilgrimage but it is quite clear from reading personal accounts online that it truly does become an awakening experience, even spiritual! It is like many have said…”Maybe it is “El Camino” at work.”
Who am I to judge?
Anyway, how I got to the point of making the decision to go was purely down to chance. A casual and out of the blue encounter and an enthralling conversation with a long, lost school friend (and a seasoned and eager veteran of “El Camino” at that) finally urged to me to seriously consider doing it sooner rather than later. He even encouraged me to watch the film “The Way” (starring Martin Sheen). A film which he undoubtedly felt would move me into action (or not) given my circumstances. The one final piece of advice he offered which he felt was essential if I wanted to enjoy it and derive the greatest benefit – should I decide to go – was to do it alone!!
Hmm…So where to start?
Firstly, I watched the movie. A low cost but highly poignant movie by all accounts, with several familiar faces in it, proved to be the all important turning point. There was something in that film that truly resonated with what I had experienced and it was this that pushed me further in the direction of Santiago. So I had to go… but certainly not alone!
A few quick phone calls to some friends proved fruitless and understandably so. My eagerness to depart as soon as possible was obviously a non starter since everyone had prior arangements and couldn’t get themselves out of. So after some deliberations (mostly with myself!) I decided to embark on this journey on my own, mindful of the fact that I am completely lacking in orienteering skills and conscious of the fact I am quite prone to losing my way anywhere I go (except to work, unfortunately!)
So finally and after some letter writing to the appropriate authorities, I was given permission to leave. It was then just a matter of further research, finding out as much as I possibly could, getting the right advice and essentially purchasing the necessary equipment to take on my journey. Amidst all that, I trained almost every day, walking for endless hours, sometimes at an early and ungodly hour, trying to get as much mileage as I possibly could. Fortunately, I was mostly accompanied by a good friend who probably has gotten fitter than he ever has been in his life!!
So that in a nutshell is how I got here…. As it is, I am now at the stage where I am fitter than a few months ago, better equipped than a SAS soldier and still very likely to get lost along the way!
So as they ……..Buen Camino……