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Walking through history

By Jade, 10/22/2011 - 20:56

I always wanted to do the "Camino de Santiago" but it was never the right moment, more appealing, exotic and relaxing destination were winning the last moment holiday contest...maybe also because is difficult to voluntarily choose to walk 30 Km per day during one month.

Two years ago, with a friend, finally I decided to start the Camino, the French one, starting from Roncesvalles toward wherever we could arrive within the ten days of holidays we had. Our aim was to "walk away" all the nervousness, the stress, the bad moods and the bad thoughts we were carrying daily in our city lives, ours was going to be a lay walk through the history and the art of Northern Spain.

Equipped with a map of the Camino, the passport of the pilgrim and a light backpack, leaving at home all the unnecessary gadgets of our everyday life (which comprise almost everything but a change of clothes, a toothbrush and a soap!) we started to walk from Roncesvalles at 6 am of a really hot august day, after having the first stamp at the Monastery and Pilgrim hostel of Roncesvalles.

I didn't know what to expect, a part the fact I had to walk and walk and walk, under the sun, in the dust, in the woods and within cities, following a path that remained unchanged since the XI century. As soon as we arrived at the first village I was fascinated by the Camino, the complete full immersion in the nature, the complete absence of superficial needs, and the natural habit of sharing.

During the Camino the pilgrims, and only the pilgrims (to be more precise the pilgrims are those who do the Camino walking, riding on a bike or a horse), can stop at the pilgrims hostels which offer them a roof and a shower for 3-7 euro (or pay-what-you-can). When a hostel is full and there is no other in the village or town, the pilgrims are hosted at churches and gymnasiums and rarely do you find yourself without a bed.

At the Hostels all the pilgrims are together, enjoying the afternoon, the village or the town or the city, the sun, relaxing, sharing the stories of the day, the pains of the feet, the daily laundry and the planning of the dinner. In a really short period of time you get to know all of your companions as well as you know your friends at home, perhaps becoming more familiar with details of their intestinal issues and feet than you would like!

During the Camino you go back to our ancestor's way of life, getting up early before the sun, focusing on the major needs of your body, sharing everything with the rest of the pilgrims no matter what brought you there. I don't think I am able to describe just one part of the Camino I did or one city where I stopped, because the entire experience and the taste of it were for me new and fascinating, something not related just with panorama or the surroundings, although you get to walk through huge beautiful windy mountains, green vineyards and yellow dry esplanades. I never thought about the Camino as an eco-trip but looking back now I would say that was the most eco-trip I had ever done!

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