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THE EXPERIENCE OF PILGRIMAGE: Medieval and Modern Transformations BY MELINDA THACKRAH A Senior Project Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts U nder the sponsorship of Dr. Malena Carrasco Sarasota, Florida May, 2012
ii To my family and friends for their encouragement, support, and understanding.
iii Acknowledgments The idea for this project I owe to the professors of t he Honors Interdisciplinary Studies personal pilgrimage experience marked the beginning of my own quest. The project would not have been possible without the fi nancial support of my employers, Larry and Barbara Schoenberg. Additional funding was granted by the Student Research and Travel Grant and the Council of Academic Affairs at New College of Florida. I owe a huge debt of gratitude, and my sanity, to my Ne w College advisor and senior project sponsor, Dr. Malena Carrasco. During the course of our three year relationship, she has always been supportive and kind, yet still critical. I cannot say with certainty that this work would have been completed withou t her calming, steady guidance. Special thanks to my Baccalaureate Committee members, Dr. Mariana Sendova and Dr. Aron Edidin, for their time, effort, and consideration. I am grateful to New College for an excellent educational experience but also for the exposure to a group of young people whose talents and diverse personalities are simply amazing. Too many to list here, the friendships I have made during my time at school have inspired, nurtured, and sustained me; you know who you are and have my und ying thanks and love. I am thankful for the support of my daughter and entire family. Special thanks and acknowledgment belongs to my parents, Linda and Harley Woodburn, for imbuing me with a fiercely independent spirit and the strength of will to pursue my dreams.
iv Lastly, none of this would have been possible without the trust, love, and support of my partner, Glenn Daniel. Steadfastly weathering the highs and lows, he has been my rock, seeing me safely through it all.
v The Camino de Santiago http://caminodesantiagoguide.org/pathsandmaps
vi TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Chapter 1: The Birth of a (Christian) Religious Institution: Pilgrimage Why Compostela? .................................................... .................................................................................5 Chapter 2: Medieval Pilgrims Becoming a Pilgrim Chapter 3: The Camino de Santiago Chapter 4: Modern Pilgrimage Where is the Church ? .25 Chapter 5: The Art of Pilgrimage Re imagined Illustrations 31 Appendix: A Modern Pilgrim A History in Brief ..36 Rupture Mindy the Welder Goes to (Community) College 9 New College of Florida Bibliography 8 8
vii LIST OF ILLUSTRATION S Figure Page 1. Untitled 2. 3. ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 33 4. 5.
viii THE EXPERIENCE OF PILGRIMAGE: Medieval and Modern Transformations Melinda Thackrah New College of Florida, 2012 ABSTRACT The goal of this project was to compare and contrast medieval pilgrimage experience with contemporary pilgrimage. An additional aim was to demonstrate a transformation of the motivations for pilgrimage away from largely religion based origins toward secular concerns. To those e nds, the author undertook a pilgrimage across Spain during the summer of 2011 and experienced her own transformation while on the Camino de Santiago. The experience as a whole was explored through a series of sculptural works designed to re imagine the ex perience of pilgr image through post modern art Dr. Malena Carrasco Division of Humanities
1 Introduction The aim of this essay is to explore the various factors that motivate people to undertake a pilgrimage, to discuss the attendant expectations and experienc es of those with pilgrim status, and to offer a comparat ive view of modern pilgrimage which demonstrates the increasing shift from religious concerns to more secular ones. The first section of the essay looks at the medieval pilgrimage experi ence. The second section examines the resurgence of pilgrimage in contemporary life experiential evidence, and the experiences of other contemporary pilgrims. Noting the growing trend of pilgrimage s motivated by personal or goal o riented ends, whether a test of endurance, a quest for physical healing, or a search for deeper spiritual understanding, the author will argue that religious pilgrimage is, gradually but inexorably, shifting toward the secular, and that the church, as an i nstitution, is complicit in the increasing secularization. The appendix opens with a brief personal history which is intended to illuminate various contributing factors which motivated my own pilgrimage across Spain during the summer of 2011. This is fol lowed by a con densed, anecdotal account of my pilgrimage experience including many encounters and conversations with fellow contemporary pilgrims. These stories reveal a range of personal, purpose driven motivations for pilgrimage that are far removed fr om those of its religion based origins. Pilgrimage : a time honored ritual immediately conjures religious associations From a purely Western and Christian viewpoint as
2 a source of ori gin, what impetus lay be hind the m C an religious fervor alone account for the ever increasing number of pilgrims? What other factors can be identified as sources for motivation? How did one become a pilgrim and, once accorded that s tatus, what did daily pilgrimage life entail? The timeline of pilgrimage spans centuries and continues even today. How does the modern pilgrimage experience compare with its distant ancestor? What is the role of the church in contemporary times? Wha t m otivates the modern pilgrim? Using the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela as a lens, and focusing primarily on the experiences of pilgrims, this essay will explore these questions.
3 CHAPTER 1 The Birth of a (Christian) Religious Institut ion: Pilgrimage A cross search of several dictionaries rev ealed that pilgrimage is typically defined as involving religious motivations. The Oxford Classical dic tionary even appended the word he broadest range of definitions: 1 a: a journey of a pilgrim; esp. : one to a shrine or a sacred place b: the act of making such a journey 2: a trip taken to visit a place of historic or sentimental interest or to participate in a specific event or for a definite purpose 3 a: the course of life on earth b: a particular part of the life course of an individual 4: a search for mental and spiritual values A pilgrim is defined as: a wayfarer; a wanderer; a traveler; a stranger; one who travels far, or in strange lands, to visit some holy place or shrine as a devotee. P eople have enacted pilgrimages since time immemorial for a variety of reasons, and yet the concept of pilgrimage is commonly assumed to bear religious implications. Why is this so? The answer is found in the early period of Christianity. In his book, Sacred Tracks, Paul Harpur argues that the three Magi were the earliest pilgrims of Christianity, noting the only difference was an expectation of meeting a living
4 di vinity, not a relic 1 death, as well as the tombs of Christian martyrs and saints were the earliest pilgrim ages of Christianity 2 Edict of Milan in A. D. 313 declared the empire tolerant of all faiths, allowing Christians, previously subject to persecution, more freedom to practice their faith publicly. Hoping to consolidate the east and west portions of the empire, Constantinople declared Byzantium the Roma n capital o f the East. Eventually converting to Christianity, the long practiced faith of his mother Helena, Constantine sent her to search for relics of Christ in Jerusalem where, legend claims she discove red the True Cross. 3 Constantine built the Church of the Holy Sepulcher o n the site 4 Jerusalem, the home and seat of King established site for Jewish pilgrimage; the discovery of the cross and the establishment of Christian places of worship on h oly sites transformed the city into the preeminent destination of C hristian pilgrims 5 Although many places became pilgrimage de stinations, there was a well defined hierarchy o f importance for Christians, placing Rome a close second to Jerusa lem. T he center of church authority, by virtue of S aints and martyrs 6 Rounding out the top three pilgrimage sites for m edieval Christians is the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. 1. James Harpur, Sacred Tracks: 2000 Years of Christian Pilgrimage (Berkeley: Univer sity of California Press, 2002), 16. 2. Ibid. 9. 3. Richard W. Barber, Pilgrimages ( Woodbridg e, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1991 ), 15. 4. Ibid. 5. Ibid., 15 16. 6. Ibid., 51 53.
5 Why Compostela? Santiago de Compostela as a pilgrimage site, was a late arri val. In the year 812 A.D., the local bishop of Iria received news that a monk named Pelayo, following the sounds of music and an unfamiliar star, had discovered the to mb of the Apostle St. James 7 A chapel was erected and Santiago de Compo stela, or St. James of the Field of the Star, joined the ranks of pilg rimage destinations 8 off, historically mage de stinations? 9 According to Catholic Faith, the order of importance in the Christian hierarchy is as follows: Jesus, the Virgin Mary, followed by the Apost les, thus clarifying the status accorded to the Apostle St. James, t recruits. 10 Witness to many important events in d his death in A. D. 44. 11 The legends surrounding St. James added fuel to the fires of imagination among the faith ful and encouraged more and more pilgrims to visit his shrine. It was easy for the faithful to recognize parallel events in the lives of James and the savior, both his death as a martyr, and the means by which h is body was discovered 12 His death at the hands of Herod Agrippa is 7. Conrad Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the E nd of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 4. 8. Ibid. 9. Holy Days and Holidays: The Medieval Pilgrimage to Compostela (Lewisburg, Pa: Bucknell University Press, 1982), 51. 10. William Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela (New York: Italica Press, 1 993), 3. 11. John Ure, Pilgrimages: The Great Adventure of the Middle Ages (New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006), 75. 12. Ibid.
6 believed to have occurred when James returned to Palestine following a preachi ng mission in Spain 13 Evidence for this mission rests foremost on a seventh century Latin version of The Catalogue of the Apostles ; however, Greek originals of the fifth and si xth centuries make no mention of James preaching in Spain. 14 In spite of conflicting textual evidence, the legend remains, and it is at this point that elements of the fantastic and supernatural enter the story; following beheading, his disciples ma nage to collect his body, spirit it away, and load it and themselves on a rudderless boat that managed to make it to the shores of Galicia, Spain 15 nationalistic claim. The story of St. James th e Moorslayer, added to his status 16 Two events served to cement Compo n important pilgrimage site. Pope Calixtus II named Compostela a metropolita n see in A. D. 1120, promoting B ishop Diego Gelmirez to Archbishop. A second factor was the mid twelfth century manuscript the Liber Sancti Jacobi a comp ila tion of five books detailing the legends and miracles of St. James and providing a guidebook for pilgrims choosing to undertake the pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago 17 13. Sarah Hopper, To Be a Pilgrim: The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience (Stroud: Sutton, 2002), 42. 14. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays, 56. 15. Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World 3 4. 16. Hopper, To Be a Pilgrim 45. 17. Ibid.
7 CHAPTER 2 Medieval Pilgrims W hy did people choose to become pilgrim s ? A pilgrim age was an arduous endeavor that could mean many months away from home. The top three designated sites provide the first answer. Most sacred among pilg rims was Jerusalem, important to the Christian faith because Jesus lived and di ed there. Rome enticed pilgrims as the foundation and central authority of the C hristian church, built upon the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, and furthermore, its catacombs were the secret meeting places of early Christians and the burial sites of many saints and martyrs. The attitudes of many church fathers demonstrate how the in honour of He whose faith they witnessed. We honour the Master by means of the 18 Santia go de Compostela housed th e venerated remains of St. James Apostle of Christ and the first martyr of the faith after Jesus Christ. The sacredness of these sites and their relics drew medieval pilgrims who believed that the salvation of their soul could b e guaranteed by their mere proximity to the sacred 19 F or the most pious of pilgrims, pilgrimage was an opportunity to 20 18. Jonathan Sumption, Pilgrimage: an I mage of M ediaeval R eligion ( Totowa New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield 1975), 23 24 19. Alan Kendall, Medieval Pilgrims (New York: Putnam, 1970), 15. 20. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 21.
8 The veneration of sacred relics became an overarching motive for pilgri mage, the goal, 21 22 the desire of other pilgrims to behold these rel ics for themselves 23 Pilgrim requests initially ranged from seeking forgiveness for sins particularly through the use of indulgences, to cures for physical ailments but expanded to less common, more specific r equests for aid 24 The belief that presence and bodily contact was a necessary component for communion with the divine insured a s teady stream of pilgrims visiting sacred sites. Where the relic itself could not be touched, the reliquary housing it functioned as a physical substi tute. 25 the imit sufficient motivati on for the endeavor 26 In imitation of Jesus they would travel in poverty, sleep outdoors if necessary, offer gifts at shrines, and, if on the Santiag o de Compostela p ilgrimage, cross the desert like portion of Spain, with the ever present aware ness that death or illness was a disti nct possibility. 27 21. Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela 1. 22. Ibid., 2. 23. Kendall, Medieval Pilgrims 25. 24. Ibid., 17 18. 25. Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela 2 3. 26. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 22. 27. Ibid., 22 23.
9 private sins that had come to publ ic knowledge or for openly scandalou 28 The church spared no one whether clergy or noble pilgrims to walk, wear little cloth ing, and wear chains 29 It is not surprising that, given the physical dema nds of pilgrimage, civil courts adopted p ilgrimage as a tool often sentencing the guilty to pilgrimages of varying length as punishment for crimes. 30 The early twelfth century brought with it a new incentive for pilgrimage in the form of indulgences i ssu ed by the church 31 Two types were issued by the church and granted if certain conditions were met; a general indulgence granted partial remission from sins, while a plenary indulgence grant ed full remission 32 In A. D. 1300 Pope Boniface VIII declared tha t anyone making the pilgrimage to Rome that year would receive full remission of their sins and the indulgence was born 33 An unspoken but mutually beneficial, bargain emerged between the church and pilgrims; the church issued greater numbers o f indulgen ces and requiring fewer conditions to satisfy them 34 Vicarious or proxy pilgrimages were taken on pulated in the will 35 A new occupation 28. Horton Holy Days and Holidays, 29 30. 29. Ibid., 22 23. 30. Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela 41. 31. Barber, Pilgrimages 51. 32. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 31 32. 33. Ibid., 32. 34. Ibid. 35. Ibid. 28.
10 emerged; p rofessional pilgrims could be hired, by those who could afford one, to make the pilgrima ge for their patron 36 T he identification of several secular motivations for pilgrimage is most surprising. For the peasantry, a pilgrimage might be the only chance to explore the world beyond their sm all environs 37 Fear of the plague or famine would have driven many to go on pilgrimage 38 Pilgrims tor for some people 39 Pil grimage transcended class; the religiosity of the Middle A ges demanded that everyone, peasants, nobles, and even kings participate. Becoming a Pilgrim make a pilgrim; there was a process inv olved in earning Pilgrim status. The first step was to put his affairs in order by paying off debts, leaving money for his family to subsist on while he was away, having enough money for his journey, making a will, and receiving the written permis sion of his bishop 40 The traveling with their husband. Money and time constraints demanded the route be carefully 36. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays, 28. 37. Ibid., 37. 38. Hopper, To Be a Pilgrim, 7. 39. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 38. 40. Ken dall, Medi eval Pilgrims 35.
11 planned in advance: how many shrines would be visited, what modes of travel would be employed and from where would the various legs of the journey begin? 41 The next step would be to acquire the traditional clothing and accessories that would serve to identify him as a pilgrim: brimmed hat, which g ave good protection from sun and rain; a scrip, which was a small leather satchel in which documents, money, food, and knick knacks were kept; a stout staff, which served as an alpenstock when climbing mountains, a pole for vaulting across streams, and as a weapon against brigands or fierce dogs; and a long thick cloak that could double as a blanket. Strong boots or shoes were indispensible, as was a water bottle or leather beaker. 42 At a farewell ceremony for departing pilgrims, the local bishop would pray for the pilgrims and their journey nd each their staff 43 Saying goodbye to family and friends they would not see for months, or perhaps never again, a pilgrim began his journey 44 41. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 74 75. 42. Harpur, Sacred Tracks, 73 74. 43. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 80. 44. Harpur, Sacred Tracks, 75.
12 CHAPTER 3 The Camino de Santiago One of the top three pilgrimage roa ds since the tenth century, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James ) crosses over the Pyrenees from France and runs east to west across northern Spain. or punishment, meant a longer period of time spent suffering in purgatory the main concern of a medieval person, and the reason indulgences were so popular. T hankfully, the geography of pilgrimage guaranteed penance: The mountains of Nav arra and Galicia that seemed to touch the sky; long and sharp uphill climbs that lasted for hours and often enough for days; defective, at times muddy, at others rocky causeways on which the unevenness of the ground jerked in the sandy ening roads without shad e and uncouth land in which the path dangerously skirted precipices or moved alongside forbidding 45 The physically demanding terrain part of the penitential nature of pilgri mage, was not the sole concern of pilgrims; other hazards awaited them on the road. Pilgrims were easy targets for t hieves and brigands 46 Robbery and violence against pilgrims became so prevalent that three religious military orders, the Knights Templar, the Hospitalers of St. John, and the Knights of St. James were founded to protect and defen d pilgrims 47 Laws, enacted by kings or the church, were enforced in an effort to discourage and 45. Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Comp ostela 45. 46. Harpur, Sacred Tracks, 73 74. 47. Ibid., 76.
13 stem the violenc e against pilgrims 48 Lastly, clearly marked route s kept pilgrims from wande ring too far afield 49 Onc e on the road, p ilgrims travelled by horseback, donkey, or on foot but many travelled by ship to a destination from which they would begin their overland route. Bad weather, sea sickness, spoiled food, vermin, mosquitoes, fleas, lice, and illness plagued these journeys 50 itual preservation 51 This was n and fear for personal safety, nam ely her chastity 52 an option for a female pilgrim as women were pro hibited from entry 53 Whateve r the circumstances, as the day drew to a close, pilgrims eagerly sought shelter; the alternative was a night exposed to the elements and wild animals and spent i n complete darkness 54 Monastic houses were expected to provide shelter and aid to pilgrims assist a pilgrim was to share in the merit and virt ue of his journey 55 Food, blessings, and even medical attention were available at a monastic house and many monasteries would even wash 48. Hopper, To Be a Pilgrim, 101. 49. Ibid. 50. Ibid.,105 106. 51. Ibi d., 46. 52. Ibid., 107 108. 53. Ibid. 54. Harpur, Sacred Tracks, 75. 55. Ho pper, To Be a Pilgrim 110.
14 the weary feet of pilgrims as they arrived 56 H ospitals, founded largely by knightly orders and the church, focused on aiding the sick and the poor and a statute in A. D. 1342 limited a healthy ay to one night 57 According to the Codex Callixtinus, hospices, founded by various religious or comfort of th e devout pilgrims 58 Inexpensive hostels or inns, for those who could afford them, were other sources of lodging, but circumstances might find a pilgrim spending t he night out of doors. A seriously ill pilgrim hoping for a cure could be overcome by the bad road conditions, weather, broken bridges, and the sheer physical e ffort of the route 59 Diverse groups of pilgrims banded and disbanded as needed and devout pilg rims might find themselves travelling with ss than surprising 60 security and p ilgrims were regularly cheated by all ma nner of merchants. 61 Not all was drudgery though; minstrels, jugglers, and acrobats often accompanied pilgrims and wine drunk at the end of the day enc ouraged companionship 62 Feasts and fair days offered a variety of diversions: food and drink, merchandise, games and jousting, music, sing ing and dancing 63 Two 56. Ho pper, To Be a Pilgrim 110. 57. Ibid., 110 111. 58. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 173. 59. Ibid., 172. 60. Ibid. 61. Ibid., 176. 62. Ibid., 181. 63. Ibid., 188 89.
15 terminal rites remained for a pilgrim on the final app roach to Santiago de Compostela: ritual purification by bathing in the Lavamentula R iver and the deliv ery of a piece of limestone carried from the quarries at Triacastela to aid in the buil ding of the church 64 What must a pilgrim of those times have felt as the towers of the cathedral of St. James at last came in to view? Surely the praise belonged to the almighty for aiding and allowing them to reach their destination. The cathedral square would have been filled with people merchants selling trinkets and goods and throngs of multi national people who s panned all classes 65 As r ecorded in the Codex Ca llixtinus impatient pilgrims struggling to enter the cathedral could lead to fighting, bloodshed and even death 66 The splendor of the cathedral, the hymns sung to St. The finale for the weary morning service: according to their nationality, and in their own language. The pilgrims now grouped themselve s around the priest whose duty it was to deliver to them the indulgences they had gained by their pilgrimages. Then, the divine service having been participated in by them, they therewith proceeded to lay their gifts before the altar, after which it was th 67 64. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 202. 65. Ibid. 203. 66. Ibid., 204. 67. Ibid., 217.
16 A ritual of five accompanying gestures developed: touch the stone or silver of the tomb, kiss the tomb while weeping, pray earnestly while prostrate or arms held in the shape of a cross, feel that their sins were forgiven, and know that no compunction or confession was adequate without a succes sion of good works 68 Besides their indulgence, pilgrims would receive one more token of proof of their visit, the scallop shell of St. James. The scallop sh ell, p lentiful on t he shores of Galicia is also tied to St. James by myth: Various medieval legends speak of a prince who, having fallen into the ocean waves, was rescued, covered with shells, by St. James; another speaks of a horse emerging from the wave s of the ocean wrapped in shells. 69 St. J ames became known as the patron saint of pilgrims, his scallop shell symbol worn by anyone who had com pleted a pilgrimage 70 The shells were obviously held in some esteem as they have been found in burials from 160 s ites around Europe. All that remained for the pilgrim was to make his way home, his scallop shell making him exempt from tolls and taxes as he travelled. 68. Davies and Davies, Holy Days and Holidays 218 219. 69. Melczer, The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago de Compostela 58. 70. Hopper, To Be a Pilgrim, 46.
17 CHAPTER 4 Modern Pilgrimage about 12,900,000 hits, a significant number. Pilgrimage as a practice declined in Western Europe with the Reformation and the Enlightenment, but its numbers began to increase dramatically in the late twentieth century. The Alliance of Re ligions and Conservation estimates that in the year 2011, over 150 million people went on some type of pilgrimage to a religious destinat ion, and Christians made up over 42 million of that number 71 Santiago de Compostela compiles i ts yearly figures based on the information they receive when a pilgrim comes to receive a Compostela, the modern equivalent of an indulgence. Their website, archicompostela.org, breaks the overall number down by categories including age, sex, nationality, starting point, mode of transportati on, occupation, and many others. 72 The chart below illustrates the general upward trend. p?projectID=500, 14 April 2012 http://www.archicompostela.org/Peregrinos/Estadisticas/estadisticas2006.htm#POR EDADES, 14 April 2012
18 on a Sunday. So what is all the fuss about? Somehow, despite stories of sleeping on mats on the floor, bed bugs, blisters, sore feet and legs, and the incredible physical effort it requires, the Camino retains the romantic air of a promise, possibly because you hear over and over ag ain Surfing many of the blogs reveals a similar motive. From one of the more well known blogs held career to lead a different way of life. To mark the change he walk ed one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago. 73 elf over to the co 74 I chose specifically to make use of blogs, rather than contemporary books, because they are personal, anecdotal, and the text not as carefully controlled as would it be from a publishing house. Leslie Gilmour wrote this about being a modern pi lgrim: I always had problems seeing myself as a pilgrim. I am not and was not when walking the last time I felt a bit more like a pilgrim. I had walked from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. During that walk I carried all my own things for just over four weeks. I became ill, and once I had to be treated in hospital, and for my own private reason it was very important for me to finish I continued, doctors gave me pain killers in order for me to finish. So I guess for me being a pilgrim is a state of mind. If I felt like I was on walk to Santiago, and I was quite focused on that ta sk while at the same time I believed a result of this pilgrimage is that something about me would change most likely in my mind. Many pe ople I spoke to on the Camino w ere looking for answers to 73. http://www.johnniewalker sa ntiago.blogspot.com/2011/10/, 14 April 2012 74. Ibid.
19 their current problems in life, or a way how to make a de cision at their current cross road. 75 Another blogger on why he walked : Santiago de Compostela, right in front of the Cathedral, I met an Austrian couple who had just finished their Camino. From them, I found out that it was not for religious reasons but pe rsonal and spiritual reason that they embarked on their journey, a journey which took them about a month to complete. Something in my head tells me I need to do it. That day, I looked at the Cathedral saying that I will be back again, and the next time I w ill be walking instead. Four years later, I finally did it! The timing couldn't be more perfect. I'd just turned 40 a year ago and was also looking for a new direction in my life. The Camino may not have given all the answers I am looking for, but it has certainly changed the way I look at life. 76 Stories about the Camino appear to ignite a spark within people; the idea of it burns like a fire, consuming the imagination until, finally, they find the wherewithal to go. With quite a bit of searching, I wa s able to locate a forum thread on the website www.caminodesantiago.me aspect of pilgrimage: I have noticed a minor trend toward some pilgrims setting out for Santiago with a true spiritu al impetus behind their walk. They are doing it to explore Divine Providence, or I know many peregrinos discover or re discover faith on this Road. But how many of us are setting out on the path with a clear spiritual motivation already in place? How is your pilgrimage taking shape? How did your spiritual vision change as you planned, then walked or biked or rode? If you are a Pilgrim of Faith, how is your pilgrimage different fro m anyone elses? 77 is a pilgrim/, 15 April 2012 76. i walk camino.html, 1 5 April 2012 77. topics/topic9773.html, 15 April 2012
20 Response from one pilgrim: My caminos are not religious, but might be called secular spiritual ways. A bit pompous that, but there it is. I may reflect on/discover/ values and meanings, explore the inner life, feel connected to others to history, nature and weather. I may reflect on the fleeting nature of all I see, including myself. 78 From Johnnie Walker: I understand what you mean but I am always personally uncomfortable with definitions of what makes a pilgrim let alone what makes a Pilgrim of Faith. No doubt for some people their faith is clear to them and devoutly held. Some of the rest of us struggle along living with doubts and conflicts and trying to make sense of the journey of life and beyond. I suspect that many people set out to make a long walk and some become pilgrims on the way. 79 A response from the original poster: I recall reading Aymeric Picaud, etc., the pilgrims who traveled the camino at its peak 700 years ago... they were very religious travelers. They sang par ticular pilgrimage hymns, they attended Mass every time they found one, they had readings and prayers together, or sometimes on their own. I am interested in pilgrims spiritual practices during the walk. Do you pray? Use prayer rope or rosary? Do you stop and meditate in any formal fashion? I wonder if there is any particular pilgrim spiritual guide or breviary in use for pilgrims who want to be steeped in prayer and worship as they walk or ride. I dont want to invade anyones privacy, that is not my in tent. I am interested, though, at how "tolerance" of non Christian peregrinos has made Christian pilgrims feel they need to hide their rosaries or blunt their experience so their faith does not "offend" fellow travelers. The pilgrimage to Santiago was/is d esigned to support a Christian journey, (Like it or not, thems the facts,) but many active Christians keep a very low profile. 80 The discussion goes on for awhile but what most struck me is that the original poster, a Christian minor 78. http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/miscellaneous topics/topic9773.html 15 April 2012 79. http://www.johnniewalker santiago.blogspot.com/2011/10/, 15 April 2012 80. http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/miscellaneous topics/topic9773.html 15 April 2012
21 non Christian pilgrims has caused other Christian pilgrims to be less open about faith. Her pilgri mage. At the very least, in comparison to medieval times, there are a great many people who are not defining the experience by means of religion. It was my own experience that people were very comfortable describing the experience as spiritual not relig ious. Among these, a traumatic life event became the impetus for their pilgrimage: the death of a loved one, a critical diagnosis by a physician, or the break up a serious relationship, was most often cited. A great many people, whether cycling or walkin g, intended simply to test their endurance and fortitude. Others sought time for introspection and deeper self awareness. A few people I spoke with declared religion to be the source of their motivation, but their number was minor in comparison. So how does one become a pilgrim in modern times? Permission from the local bishop is a requirement no longer, but pilgrims must carry a credencial The credencial looks similar to a passport booklet and unfold s to reveal a grid where a pilgrim collects his s ellos, or stamps. The stamps are collected en route and are used to verify correct participation in the pilgrimage. Members of the Confraternity of St. James c an apply for them by post. A simple application by mail, 1 2 months befor e you travel, to the A mericans on the Camino The Little Company of Pilgrims in Canada, or the Irish Society of the Friends of St James will also secure a credencial They are also available at one of the four main starting points for the Camino, namely L e Puy, St. Jean Pied de Port, Roncesvalles, or Pamplona. If more room is needed because of the number of stamps collected, an additional credencial can be purchased at many of the larger churches en route. No one supervises the modern pilgrim or demands that his affairs be p ut in order. The next step is to acquire gear, and oh, how that gear has changed in the intervening centuries!
22 There are several excellent websites and all offer advice on packing lists. A sample list looks like this: Needle and thread when you get a blister this will help. Thread the needle and run through the blister, leave a bit of thread inside to drain the blister. Two pairs of shorts, on e for night other for day, ( long trousers with zip off legs are good) 1 T shirt 1 shirt (light weight, quick drying) 2 pairs of socks sock liners can be worn under regular socks Sleeping bag 2 pairs underwear Rain gear poncho is the best. Fleece/sweatshirt it does get cold at night and the mornings can be chilly Sandals for evenings Pain killers Sunscreen, a must! Sunglasses Hat Toiletries keep it very light, you can buy more as you go along Towel get quick dry from outdoor store, they are also super light Mobile phone Camera Earplugs too many people snore loudly Small flashlight Swiss army knife Mo squito spray Trekking poles or walking staff Many personal blogs offer packing lists and advice from pilgrims who have walked the Camino multiple times. What is stressed most often is quality boots and the opportunity to break them in. That gear needs t o be small a nd ultra light Minimizing pack weight is key. The
23 recommended pack is between 40 60 liters of volume, depending on whether a man or woman pilgrim an d his small scrip; the only similari ty between gear lists is a hat and staff! One aspect that remains the same is the necessity for proper planning, but here technology makes things much easier. Everything the modern pilgrim needs to know, even more, is available by searching the World Wide Web. Maps of routes, including satellite views, lodging, places of interest, transportation, weather almanacs, profile elevations, everything is available online and at high speed. Smartphone service can be acquired at the country of destination, so it is possible to stay connected much of the time. There are even sites with downloadable maps that can be accessed on the phone. And the apps! GPS tracking that can be sent to friends and family, facebook updates, lang uage translation tools, weather apps, bus and train schedules, pedometer tools to measure steps and/or elevation changes and even an international Starbucks finder! The friends and family of the medieval pilgrim would not know the fate of their loved one for many months, perhaps longer than a year in some cases. Despite the modern conveniences and technological advancements that make the physically harder than the ha rdest day in an aver 81 So why do so many people, self described as not religious, choose the rigors of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela? 81. Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World 19.
24 perspective, the pilgrimage was undertaken for the very specific reason that the great spiritual pilgrim, the vast epic quality of the pilgrimage still instills at the very least much of the sensation of a journey with a deeper purpose, but with this difference: that the undertaking is spiritual not in the sense of being religious but in the sense of having to do with the spirit. 82 the Camino; often travelling ancient Roman road s and bridges, and confronted by centuries old architecture on a near daily basis, one feels steeped in the history of the West. Added to this, the intense physical exertion required; more than once I found myself alone and crying out in despair that I ab solutely could not go on, feeling that I had nothing left to give, and yet, I always found some extra reserve of energy that enabled me to continue. Though I have been a strident, pugnacious, atheist for many years now, there was no denying the spiritual quality of the pilgrimage. Approaching a crossroads in my life, I, too, was seeking answers. Unknown to myself at the beginning of my journey, I discovered a belief that success or failure would define the direction the rest of my life would take. Deter mined to re embody the strong, confi dent woman I had been before a near fatal accident, I forced my feet onward over terrain most would have deemed impossible for me. My solitary trek allowed me to reflect on the person I had been and the one I hoped to b ecome. Like many pilgrims of old, I sought healing, both of mind and body. No saintly intercession was necessary; I found what I needed within myself. 82. Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World 19.
25 Sitting on the rocky cliff at Finisterre, I watched the small fire my friends and I had built consume one of my shirts and a pair of socks. As the fire burned down and the embers blew away, I was finally able to let go of the anger and sense of loss that had been my burden since March 2005. A feeling of peace and contentment settled over me, coupled with newfound hope and excitement for what the future might hold. Where is the Church? tion of the pilgrimage. The presence of the church is rarely seen or felt on the pilg rimage unless one every village or city is travels through. Interestingly, metaphorically, the path nearly always seems to be uphill to a church, downhill once pas t it. But an encompassing feeling of religiosity is never felt on the pilgrimage today. In many, if not most small towns and villages, church doors are bolted shut. There is never ready, easily accessible aid from the church for a pilgrim in need. A fe w parochial albergues remain, but most often they are run by municipalities and private owners at reduced costs to pilgrims. This could be seen as evidence of an economy in decline, but the fact is that the Catholic Church is one of the richest institutio ns in the world and could easily employ a skeleton crew, or even use volunteers to keep their doors open. Added to this is the incredible amount of merchandising behind the pilgrimage. This aspect has, of course, always existed, but is now so prevalent a s to be overwhelming. The pilgrimage has become an industry, every city marketing its version of the scallop shell, St. James, and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela on everything from coffee mugs to keychains. The church is not necessarily, or usua lly, behind t hese efforts, but the feeling is one of a vast money making scheme, rather than a solemn religious effort. Unless the church
26 becomes more proactive in making itself a necessary feature of the pilgrimage, increased secularization, beyond the s imple motivations of pilgrims, is sure to be the result.
27 CHAPTER 5 The Art of Pilgrimage Re imagined By successfully translating my fabrication skills in new ways, and focusing on my creative nature, I have earned a new title while at sch ool, that of Artist. I have worked mainly in 3D, and it has been gratifying to build things again; this is when I am most satisfied and content. I found so much meaning in my pilgrimage experience, how could I not express it in my art? Conceptually, I have attempted to recreate my pilgrimage experience in sculptural works. Having a rich source of subject matter, I explore several themes in the pieces: commentary on the church the fetishisation of the intellectual, the imagery of the journey, and the mental and physical experiences of my journey. I chose to work largely in plastics because the material can be manipulated in such a way as to seem insubstantial or solid, and it also has the quality of transferring light and color. Recognizing the chur incorporated elements of light in most of the pieces. Light is also used to convey environment, mood, tone, and transcendence. Scale was an important consideration, designed to highl ight and comment on the content of the works. Figure 1 is the first piece I worked on in the series. The form itself is an abstraction of the imagery of the cathedrals I visited on the trip. The emphasis is on the linear verticality of a cathedral; s een on the exterior in the towers and soaring spires, and repeated by the responds and columns of the interior. Church architecture also makes use of replicating elements of design, which I have tried to emulate by using multiples of the same shape. I ch ose a pure white
28 presence of God. I purposefully left empty holes in the base to indicate a work in progress, as many of the churches I visited were undergoing re furbishment or repair. For materials, I used Plexiglas for the base and acrylic rods of various diameters for the vertical pieces. I painted the base a flat black in order to focus the light on the uprights. This was the first occasion I had to work w ith the acrylic rods and found their shape ideal because the high quality of internal reflection, allowed a large quantity of light to be transferred along the rods to the angled ends. The different lengths of the rods resulted in mirror effect as the var ious lit ends were reflected within the surrounding rods. The title of f many reliquaries I saw during my trip, while its style and material choices also act to parody them. I chos e to use fluorescent pink Plexiglas for the back which, when lit from below produces a lurid pink ambiance. Unlike the precious and semi precious materials used by the church, the piece is adorned with plastic acrylic je wels, sequins, and gold ribbon. The central compartment, which would normally contain an item significant to the faith, has three colored plastic scallop shells which represent the co modification of the pilgrimage. The shells are direct copies of various cities scallop shell designs wh ich are mass produced images on different domestic items offered for sale along the Camino. My intent was to draw Rather than a bas relief of Saint James, the image in the top section of the cross is a printed color copy, roots, while the iridescent glass marbles amongst them are an indication of the changes wrought in contemporary times.
29 The title of f intellectual over the religious and the spiritual. The form and frame of the cross are insubstantial and appear to be incomplete. The golden brain replaces the s acred heart of the Catholic faith in the center of the cross. Resting in a bed of rope lights, a modern invention, the remains of an item touched by one, pilgrims be lieved that only close personal bodily contact guaranteed intercession. While the brain may act as a parallel to relics of old, it is disconnected and removed from the body. f igure 4, is constructed of multiple poly resin castings of my o wn feet. Caught in the act of stepping up and forward, the emphasis is on the pilgrimage of life. The arrangement and display of the feet specify a ceaseless forward movement and a striving for answers. The casting process was completely new to me. I attempted to pour the casts with strands of electroluminescent wire embedded within to signify the transcendent and transformative nature of pilgrimage. The chemical reaction of the first pour resulted in the resin actually coming to boil and disabling th e lit wire. Additionally, of the eight castings of my feet, I determined that only three were serviceable enough to be incorporated in the sculpture. I hope to find better success in future castings, which will allow me to increase the scale of the work. Cathedral of the echoes the verticality of the cathedrals, but its concept is firmly grounded in the aspects of nature experienced along the way. The scale and sharp triangular shapes are deliberate attempt to infer the often mount ainous terrain crossed along the way. Furthermore, the use of green light, rather than white, is a reference to the natural world in the combination of
30 intense physical exertion whi le surrounded by the beauty and sounds of nature, I discovered personal healing. It is my hope that the group, as a whole, successfully communicates modern pilgrimage as I experienced it, but also allows the audience to expl ore and find their own meanings in the works, and inspires people to undertake their own pilgrimage.
31 Illustrations fig Plexiglas and Acrylic Rod
32 2011 Plexiglas, acrylic, natural stone, glass
33 Plexig las and mild steel
34 Polyresin, acrylic rod, and Plexiglas
35 Polycarbonate, plexiglass, and plywood
36 Appendix A Modern Pilgrim I have come to believe that for many a modern pilgrim, the origin al impet us can be future, we must look to the past. It is in that spirit that I offer for consideration the significant highlights of my past that I hope will illumi nate the private motivations that led to my final resolution to forego the safe and familiar and attempt a solitary walk across Spain. A History in Brief At 22 years of age, I became the sole parent to a 14 month old daughter, Sydney, her father having de cided to take a powder and run all the way back to his homeland of Scotland. A high school dropout, I had few marketable skills. A succession of less than glamorous jobs followed. futur es, or because of them, I was fortunate to have the support of family, my parents allowing us to reside in a rental property they owned. Testing for and receiving my General Equivalency Diploma, I at last found my niche in the welding program at the Pinell as Technical Education Institute. Being the only woman welder, and better than the male students in my class, was an empowering experience. After finishing the welding program, a successful welding test at the firs t business I applied to, resulted in my employment at B & L Cremation Systems. My career with B & L would span eleven years. I started in the parts department and quickly learned fabrication techniques that went far beyond welding school. Within a month, the quality of my welds secured a ne w position
37 fabricating the exposed air systems that sat atop the crematories. If a pretty weld was needed somewhere, I was temporarily borrowed for the job. Shortly after taking over air systems parts fabrication, the manager fired the air systems superv isor and assigned to me the job of redesigning the layout of air system s and burners. Over time, the tops of every crematory model bore the stamp of my design and I called them my babies. I climbed up and down ladders throughout the day and spent hours on my knees installing air systems. The work was dirty and the metal building consistently reached one hundred degrees in the summ er months. Forty five or fifty hour weeks were the norm. I experienced total satisfaction in every job I did. My gender w as an obstacle in the industry, and I adapted by developing a tough faade, My work ethic was the model and welders who model the number two man in the shop, Jamie Rutter, t he only welder I considered to match me in skill but who far surpassed me in his knowledge of fabrication. A fabricator par excellence, Jamie respected my work and never treated me differently based o n my gender. When he became the new shop supervisor acquired a working knowledge of every facet of the welding department. I learned to fabricate nearly every welded part in the s hop from the ma ssive refractory lined stacks and huge expanded to include pneumatic doors and lift tables. I learned to build and install gas trains and when the head ele ctrician left in a huff, I took over the inventory control and ordering of gas y tenth year at B & L.
38 During my time at B & L, I got married and divorced. Dependent solely on my wages, the promotion to supervisor made it possible for me to support my daughter, contribute money to a 401k plan, and even open a savings account. I rew arded myse lf by doing something selfish but stupid; I bought a motorcycle, loving the feeling of freedom it gave me. The eleventh year at B & L was the happiest of my life. Sydney was doing well in school and I enjoyed a great deal of pride and satisfact ion in my work. My struggle had finally paid off and our future seemed assured. Tragically, this was not to be so. Rupture On March 11, 2005, the first warm Saturday of that spring, my best friend Laura and I decided to ride motorcycles down to Madeira Beach for lunch and a swim. The accident that day is the point of rupture that completely altered the trajectory of my life. I was taken by helicopter to Bayfront Medical Center. Both my arms were broken and my pelvis was crushed. Doctors told my moth er to expect the worst but, after nine and a half hours of surgery, I survived. I underwent several surgeries on my arms and pelvis over the next three weeks. The worst prognosis was that I might never walk again, or that I might waddle duck like. I was a guest of Bayfront for eleven weeks. Once I returned home, under the care and supervision of my fifteen year old daughter, a year of physical therapy followed. I approached my physical therapy with the same commitment I gave to my work and recovered, up to a point. Nerve damage to my left arm prevented my fingers from fully opening, leaving my hand claw like. I was also unable to turn my palm face up. As for my repaired pelvis, I could neither walk too far, nor sit too long. Medications and weekly steroid
39 injections managed my pain, as much as was possible. I was finally forced to accept that the welding career that I loved was at an end. This was my rupture. Mindy the Welder Goes to (Community) College I think it is fair to say that the first by meaning and purpose. Of course, I still had a daughter, but I needed something that would r estore relevance to my life; I hoped to find it in higher education. I entered community college, determined to find a new career for myself. I had done well enough on the entrance exam to earn an invitation into the Honors Interdisciplinary program and it was there that I first learned of the pilgrimage. The three semester long program was taught by Professor s Fenley, Bird and Yakle. Beginning with pre history and ending with modern social movements, we traversed the arc of western civilization, and for each period examined aspects of its art, history, architecture, government, literature, and philosophy. Dur ing the section on the Middle Ages, Professor Yakle announced that she and Tony Amico, one of our classmates, had collaborated and created a slide show presentation to share with the class. On that day I learned about the Camino de Santiago. Beginning he r lecture with a brief overvie w of the history of El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, Professor Yakle surprised everyone with the news that she herself had been a peregrino a pilgrim, a few summers earlier and Tony had walked the Camino the previ ous summer. She told stories of fellowship, life on the road, the places she had visited, and the feeling of community among pilgrims. She did not romanticize the difficulty of the walk and
40 the physical endurance it took. Far from being a petite woman, in our first class she had jokingl y in her early to late fifties. I was astounded at her accomplishment. She told the class that a person would never know their feet better than if they went on a pilgrimage id that she told easily be in terpreted as religious intent. She told stories of sleeping in refugios and of one night spent in a monastery. At this point, she looked at Dr. Fenley and, with a twinkle in her eye, noted that differed from her own. A young man, he had often slept under the stars, a few times in barns, and even been invited to share Their pictures and stories fascinated me. title bout climaxes in his run up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, arms raised in triumph I thought that to accomplish it myself problems and pain left in the wake of the accident. At that moment, I promised myself that somehow, some way, I would make that journey myself. The pilgrimage became a symbol of an event would restore me wholly to the person I used to be.
41 New College of Florida The second semester of the IDS program, our professors brought us to Sarasota to visit the Ringling Museum and New College of Florida. All three professors spoke highly of the school and drew parallels between the IDS program and the academic experience of New College. I made my mind up right then that, come hell or high water, I was going to transfer with an A. A. degree and attend New College of Florida. I did transfer to New College and intended to go on from there to a graduate program in Library Information Science. I was on the track to a new life, but a promise I made myself four years earl ier and nurtured in my heart lay unfulfilled. While at New College, I landed a job cataloguing Medieval manuscripts for Larry and Barbara Schoenberg. I spent most of my time with Larry and we became especially close. I talked to him one day about the pilgrimage, what I thought it might mean to me and that I hoped to make it the focus of my senior project My passion must have been obvious for one day he said that he would like to help sponsor it. The school had two resources I could apply to for funds, but I had known the amounts would never cover the four weeks of travel I expected to need. I excitedly realized that his help would make the trip possible. I started planning, hardly daring to believe that it was going to happen. image story, I had talked to my family several times about my desire to go on pilgrimage, but it is my sense that they never imagined that I would really attempt it At the next family dinner, I dropped the bomb and told them I was actually going on a pil was being reckless. My grandmother initially thought it was some sort of school trip and was
42 f ather looked at h Then he looked at m I visited Professor Yakle at school and discovered that she was going to make the trip again that same summer. She wrote down her personal packing list as a guide and a list of must see places along the pilgrimage road. I gave her my planned departure date and she calculated that I had nine weeks in which to train. Looking at me seriously, she said I needed to start walking each day and increase the dis tance every week. Knowing about my physical problems, she cautioned that my pack weigh as close to ten pounds as possible, her own being fifteen pounds when packed. I applied for my passport and school funding. My friend Emily helped out by letting me b orrow her expensive hiking backpack pack as light as possible, especially necessary in my case, and I soon discovered that ultra light equals ultra expensive. The trip became real for me when I purchased my non refundable plane ticket; I was going on my pilgrimage. I spent a whirlwind four days in Barcelona seeing the sights with my friend Tracy. My feet were in constant pain after the first day of this and I began to worry about the month long hike I would start in a few days Seeing Tracy off at the airport, I admitted to her that I was afraid of what lay ahead. She told me that I was strong and she believed in me. I had grounds for concern. Pain, discomfort, and the excuse that I had no tim e because of school meant that I did not exercise and I had gained a lot of weight since the accident. Even to people unaware of my physical problems, I did not look like a person who would attempt a to train, fearing that it would frighten and dissuade me from going. My feet and back had not stopped hurting since my first full day of
43 sightseeing in Barcelona. It was sheer madness. These were my thoughts as I spent my last night in a hostel in Barc elona. The next morning I took the train to Pamplona where a bus would take me to Roncesvalles, the starting point for my pilgrimage. There are several different routes of the Cam ino de Santiago and I had decided on the Camino Franc s because it was the m ost travelled and, if I encountered any problems, it would be easy to get help. Since hundreds of thousands of people had travelled it, I figured that all that traffic would have worn the path down and thus be easier for me. I had chosen Roncesvalles, 7k m south of the French border, as my starting point because both Professor Yakle and Tony had started there and it was near the supp osed battle, where he had blown his Oliphant and died. At the station, the backpacks and walking s ticks identified who was a pilgrim and around forty of us boarded the bus. I had not spoken with anyone at the bus station but had noticed pairs and groups of pilgrims talking together and it appeared that I was the only solo pilgrim. Once outside Pampl ona, the bus turn ed on to a two lane road with many twists and turns that forced the driver to maintain a cautious speed. We traveled up and down hills and I noticed a steady climb in elevation. It was dusk when we arrived at Roncesvalles. Scrambling of f the bus and retrieving my backpack from the outside compartment, I simply stood there, frozen with indecision. A taxi was waiting for pilgrims who had chosen to start at St. Jean Pied a Port. The rest headed for the monastery and albergue In minutes, I found myself alone. A huge boulder stood in front of the monastery. In a daze, I walked over to it. According to legend, it was the monastery, and the old pilgri
44 had been was remarkable, it was actually cold here! Then I saw the sign at the edge of the road, Santiago de Compostela, 790 km. The reality hit me then; I had a long walk ahead. Already an xious, I could not bring myself to stay in the huge 480 person albergue that night. I was literally freaking out. I discovered that the two smaller albergues were already full. and I went to see if a room was available. Newly renovated, the mosaic stone floor and huge, dark wooden beams remained and the mix of the old and modern was beautiful. The receptionist personally escorted me to my room. Confused when I noticed curtains that looked like a partition, I asked the woman if there were people on the other side. She laughed, spread her arms wide and said, Roncesvalles mainly exist ed as a pilgrimage site, and knowing that pilgrims typically shared accommodations, I had assumed I would have roommates. Opening the curtains I had believed to be a partition revealed a small alcove and pair of shuttered windows. I opened the windows in the bedroom and flung the shutters wide. The view was breathtaking. In the darkening light, I saw a beautiful meadow and a mountain rising behind it. I went outside to find something to eat before it got too late. The two small albergues had restaura nts and I chose the one closest to the hotel. The restaurant was s mall in size, and pilgrims were seated together whether or not they knew each other. Restaurants along the ten Euros and includes a bottle of red wine. Seated at a table with an older Spanish man who was also a pilgrim, I ordered my first menu peregrino. I should mention that I embarked on this journey knowing almost no Spanish. The meal was an experience in itself. The man knew a little English and we tried to communicate over the first course, a delicious but unfamiliar soup. The second
45 course was to be some kind of fish. When it arrived, I stared with wide eyes; it was not a clean, deboned, filet but an entire fish with head, tail, and skin. A bulging eye looked up at me from my plate. I heard a noise and looked up to find my dinner companion trying rather unsuccessfully not to laugh, tears rolli ng down his cheeks. I guessed he had seen my look of hor ror. Not knowing what tomorrow would bring, I had to eat, and, after first removing the head and tail and placing them out of sight, I gestured to the man for help. Still laughing, he used his own fish to demonstrate how to remove the skin. I cleaned my own and hesitantly tasted it. It was delicious! After dessert, I said buena noches to the man and headed back to my room. I had sent my Barcelona clothes back with Tracy and had been wearing my one pair of long pants for two days. T aking advantage of my solitude I washed them in the bathroom sink and lay them near the radiator to dry overnight. It was late when I finally fell asleep. The next morning I ate one of the peanut and granola bars that Glenn had insisted I bring and got a cup of coffee down stairs. Slinging my backpack on, I went over to the credencial Since this was my starting place, a form was filled out with my name, country, start date, and that I was on pied or on foot. The cockleshe ll is the long established symbol of the pilgrim and I had decided to wait until Roncesvalles to purchase one. They were much larger than I had expected and had the Cruz de Santiago painted on them. Finally having received my stamp and paid for my shell, I went outside and tied the shell to my pack. Most of the pilgrims had left by eight a.m. and it was after ten by then. I could stall no longer. I walked slowly to the road sign, my official starting point. Adjusting the pack on my back, I left the roa scenery was beautiful, lush and green. The air was moist and the day cloudy and gray but,
46 thankfully, it did not seem as cold as it had been on my arrival. I was wearing one of my ultra light t shirts under my one long sleeved shirt and my pair of long pants. The trees on both sides made a canopy over the trail. I could not stop looking at my surroundings until I tripped on a rock and nearly fell. That scared me, a fall mig ht end badly and a broken bone would mean an end to my journey. I began to pay more attention to the ground and came to a complete stop when I wanted to take a picture. I was determined to document as much as I could. Every now and then, noticed the yel low arrows that marked the way. The trail lay close to the road and I caught glimpses of it along the way. I have lived most of my life as a city dweller in Florida, and the land I traversed that day was a pleasant distraction. Rolling hills and forest s surrounded me and everything was so green, singing with health and vitality. Sheep, cows, and a few horses populated many of the meadows. The way was very rocky and muddy for much of the first day, and twice there were streams where boulders or large, rough slabs of cement functioned as a makeshift bridge. Steeper inclines meant less mud, but the rocks and scree made for uncertain footing. I was surprised to find that, at several of the most aggressive declines, large sections of poured and textured c ement made the path. I surmised that this was for the safety of pilgrims. It was so very quiet. Oh, there were the various sounds of nature, most frequently cowbells the first day, but they did not intrude on what I largely considered silence. Some way markers were actual signposts with the distinctive cockleshell and these displayed the number of km to the next city than a twenty block area, many even smalle r. Rarely was a shop to be found, but even the smallest of villages featured a church, always the largest and tallest building.
47 That morning, the hotel receptionist had told me that the first town with an albergue was Zubiri, a distance of around 21 km. She had offered to call and make a reservation for me and I had gratefully accepted. Looking at me rather dubiously, she told me that the first opportunity to secure transportation, should the need arise, was a taxi in Viscarret. I told her that my map h ad shown bus stops at several places on the map. She laughed and told me that the bus, the same that had brought me to Roncesvalles, ran only once per day. That bit of information was the first inkling I had that the brilliant plan I had devised, to cont inue by bus whenever I became tired, might be more of an issue than I had believed. I think euphoria carried me for a while, despite my pained feet. It was not long before my right hip hurt, followed within a km or two by my left hip. After an hour or so, the trail left the road and the terrain became hilly. I knew my pace was slow. My back started to hurt and I kept trying to shift my pack to a more comfortable position. An internal dialogue commenced; s this to herself? How much can your body Reaching the second town, the rain promised by the gray, cloudy sky started to fall. I ducked into the alcove of a building to get out my rain jacket and pack cover. I was struggling with the pack cover and beckoned me to follow him. I was not happy to see that we were going back the way I had just come. After a couple of blocks, the man turned and led me to a building set back from the road. I had passed the only restaurant in town. We went inside, sat down at a table, and introduced ourselves.
48 His name was Jean Paul and he wa s from France. I consider our meeting to be my first Camino miracle. He had started north of Le Puy and had been walking for four weeks. I was seriously impressed. I was exhausted and sore after managing a scant six and a half km and he looked to be in his sixties! We ordered lunch and talked about our lives. I told him about the accident that had led me to attempt the pilgrimage. His English was very good and when I inquired about it he told me that, at age twenty, he had hitchhiked across the Unite d States, into Mexico, and back up into Canada. From the details he shared, I calculated his current age complete answer, I turned the tables and asked him why he was doing it. He did not answer except to say that he thought that everyone who did the Camino was at least a little crazy, but that he tended to like crazy people best. He had a room in town for the night and urged me to stay also. He pulled out his M ichelin guide and showed me the steep rise just outside of town. I could see the concern in his eyes but, feeling guilty about the nice woman who had made a reservation for me, I insisted that I had to go on to Zubiri. As we readied to depart, he noted t hat my pack was not fit properly. A friend had loaned it, I explained, and no one had shown me how to adjust it. He started pulling the various shoulder, sternum, and belt straps, explaining that the pack should not shift as I walked. To my surprise, it immediately felt better. When we left the restaurant, he walked a short way with me, pointed out where the trail was going to turn, said goodbye and that he hoped we would meet again. bad as he had indicated. To describe it as a hill is misleading; the ascent went on for a long way and I had to make frequent stops to catch my breath, bent over with my hands on my knees to ease my back. Since the accident, sitting on the ground was usu ally out of the question for me because of the effort it took to get up again. Like the little train that could, my internal voice started
49 reappeared. Sweati ng, I stopped to take off my outer shirt. My back, hips, and feet hurt terribly. I was literally staggering when I reached Viscarret. I found a small store and went I said to the two women inside. They understood my meaning and made a call that resulted in some rapid talking and gesturing that I did not understand. This was Basque country, and the language is very different than Spanish. This went on for a while, each of us trying out different words and gestures. Eventual ly, I came to understand there was a single taxi and it would come in an hour. I bought a huge bottle of water and went outside to wait. I sat next to a small fountain inscribed with the wor and did not move until the taxi came. The taxi finally arrived and I hobbled to it on my sore feet. The taxi driver, noting the state I was in, laughed as he stowed my pack in the back. In broken English he said that the fare to Zubiri, only 10.2 km (6.34 miles) was twenty Euros, appr oximately twenty nine dollars at the conversion rate at the time! As I would soon discover, the goods and services required by modern pilgrims are as much of an economic boon for same road the bus we went around the many curves. This was apparently another point of hilarity for him. He assured me that I would find the land beyond Zubiri much easier. He dropped me just outside my albergue and I went in to spend my first true night as a pilgrim. The albergue was a pleasant surprise considering some of the stories I had read online. It was very modern and clean. I checked in and receiv ed the second stamp of my trip. Unlike the Medieval pilgrim, predominantly male because of the difficult and dangerous conditions and expected to start from his/her home, modern pilgrims have the choice of many starting points in Europe. Indulgence was gr anted after reaching Santiago de Compostela, whereupon, the pilgrim
50 credencial is stamped at churches, cathedrals, albergues refugios and even many bars and restauran ts, along the chosen route. An important change from past requi rements by the church is that only the last 100km if on foot, or 200km if on bicycle or horseback, need be completed in order to obtain a compostela or certificate of completion. Still indu lgenced by participation. Once checked in at the albergue the owner said that hiking shoes had to remain on a series of racks in the foyer, to prevent dirtying the floo rs. The albergue had no curfew, which surprised me. Professor Yak le had said that most enforced a strict curfew, after which time the door would be locked, no matter that your belongings were inside. Laundry facilities consisted of a sink and clotheslin e in the backyard. The sex segregated bedrooms, the only such experience of my trip, were upstairs. The room had six bunks and two twin beds, though those cost extra. My reservation was for a bottom bunk and had a plug right next to it where I could cha rge my phone and camera. I noticed that even though there were bed linens, the other pilgrims had each spread their sleeping bags on the top of the sheets. Assuming that I was the only inexperienced pilgrim, I spread my own sleeping bag out, wondering if fear of dirty linens or bed bugs were the cause. I took one of my two sets of clothes and my toiletries and went to shower. With a good deal of amusement, I used my ultra light travel towel for the first time. Barely larger than a bandana, it quickly b ecame damp and I wished that I had packed the larger one that Glenn had bought me. Arriving in the late afternoon, there was not enough time to wash my clothes and have them dry by the morning. Since I only had one long sleeved shirt and one pair of long pants, the cool weather meant that I would be wearing dirty clothes the next day. I did not want to pay the high prices for the dinner offered at the albergue so I walked
51 down the street to a bar, ordered a beer, and pointed at something that resembled a sub. It turned out to be ham with a few pieces of green pepper on the hardest bread ever set before me, no condiments. My intention was to use my Facebook account to update my status and so inform family and friends of my progress. Learning that this would be the easiest way for me to communicate, my parents created a temporary Facebook account for themselves. The bar had a couple of pay for internet computers in the corner and I used one for my first update. I had survived my first day. Exhausted, I returned to the albergue fell into bed, and immediately fell asleep. Morning arrives early on the pilgrimage; most places require pilgrims to be on their way by 8:30 a.m. so they can clean and prepare to reopen at 12:00 or 1:00 p.m. for the next batc h of peregrin s The only items on offer were cereal, toast, coffee, and a small glass of juice. A couple across from me was speaking in English and I took the opportunity to engage them in conversation. Chiming in when the husband started complaining abo ut the breakfast, I said, Brussels, Belgium. The discussion turne pilgrims in the room planned to travel the 20.6 km to Pamplona. I wanted to as well but, having only managed just over 11 km the previous day, doubted I would make it. I managed to start walking by was a difficult walk, but I had not imagined so many rises and descents. The elevation profiles I had printed back home and brought with me are not a true representation of the terrain. Instead, t hey appear to indicate the average elevation at certain points and straight lines
52 connect the dots. There are a great number of internet sites with very detailed descriptions and photographs of the terrain, but I had refused to do much research beyond my expected itinerary. Wanting to experience the pilgrimage on my own terms, I had also avoided reading the personal accounts of other pilgrims, whether on the net or published in books, fearing that bias would influence my expectations. A steep hill greete d my eyes only a short time after I started walking. I took my first break of the day when I happened upon a pilgrim fountain that had benches around it. I topped off my one liter camel back and rested a few minutes. Although resting gave my back and hip joints some relief, getting started took effort. My feet were in terrible pain as I reacquainted them with walking. Later, I came across a young couple petting a pastured horse and I stopped to talk with them. Any excuse for a rest at this point! Jou rneying from Canada, they had started at St. Jean a few days earlier and thus had crossed up over the Pyrenees Mountains. The young woman was having a good deal of trouble with her feet and legs and had begun walking backwards down descents because the pa in was less. I left them there and continued on my way. The very steep and rocky descents I came upon later made me think of her. I could not imagine how anyone could possibly do this backwards. Detour signs directed me around a broad expanse of wheat fields. I must have missed a yellow arrow because as I was walking down a stretch of highway I saw two pilgrims d waited as they approached. With a questioning follow him. The other pilgrim, a much older woman with a handkerchief draped over her head, followed a few feet b ehind us. He stopped next to a tall hill and gestured upwards. Sure
53 enough, I saw the yellow way marker. I looked up at the dry, dusty, ascent and groaned aloud. go started up after the man. I was amazed at the rate he climbed. This was the steepest ascent I had come to thus far and I was already exhausted. It was hot and scrubby brush was the only vegetation. He disappeared from view and I struggled upward, stopping now and then to rest and catch my breath. The ground, bleached nearly white from the sun, was dry and cracked. Rocks and scree slipped under my feet and slo wed my pace even more. Once at the top, trees offered some shade, but the heat was awful. Then the unthinkable happened, my camelback ran out of water. There was no sign of civilization anywhere and I had no idea how far the next town was. Freaking ou t because my heavy breathing made my mouth constantly dry, I thought to myself that I was probably going to die up there. I passed a ruined building overrun with bushes and weeds. Maybe a half an hour later, I experienced my second Camino miracle. As I c ame around a bend, I saw a man. Incredibly, he had a cooler full of drinks for sale. Eagerly eyeing his goods, I asked what a can of tea or a bottle of water cost. Preferring to take no chances, I bought one of each. I sucked on the can of tea and mana ged to ask the distance to the next town. He said it was maybe a km. I thanked him and went on. Still walking quite a bit later, I realized that he had been wrong. Coming to a crossroads, I could see a city in the distance. My excitement was brief, ho wever, when I noticed the yellow arrow on a power pole that indicated a direction away from the city. I stood for a minute, sorely tempted to turn towards the city. Sighing, I continued in the direction indicated by the arrow.
54 Reaching an old, wide br idge that crossed a shallow river, with dim acknowledgement I noted the beautiful scene; small rapids tumbled over stones and the sun was shining on the water. I staggered across the bridge. A church stood at the far side and I recognized the clamshell a albergue I used the heavy doorknocker and a priest opened the door. He led me to his office where I collapsed on the couch and began crying hysterically. He waited patiently for me to calm down and I started apologizin g in English. He responded in Spanish; I had hit the language barrier again. Nevertheless, as the proprietor of an albergue he knew what an exhausted pilgrim needed. He pointed to a sign and I saw the price was only three Euros. It would not have matt ered if the cost had been twenty, I could not go any further. He insisted on carrying my backpack. I limped along behind and whenever a step had to be negotiated he turned to make certain that I could manage it without assistance. Across the cloister, a flight of stairs led into the building that functioned as the albergue Leading me past a larg e room of maybe twenty bunks, he entered a smaller room with only eight bunks. The only vacant bunks were top bunks and I doubted that I could climb up into one. Gesturing, I demonstrated the limited movement of my left hand to him. Understanding that I could not climb, we went back to the larger room and I chose a bunk by a window. He set my pack next to it and motioned me to follow him again. He showed m e the bathing facilities and the kitchen that could be used by pilgrims for cooking. The tour apparently over, I returned to my bed and lay there for an hour. I had sweated all day, was dirty and dusty, and probably smelled. I forced myself out of bed and went to the showers. Once clean, I used the sink to wash my clothes and hung them on the clothesline in the cloister. My only snack since breakfast had been one of the protein bars
55 that Tracy had given me when she left Barcelona. Tired and sore, I h ad to go in search of food. The priest saw me walking back toward the church and came out to show me how to work the gate latch. He gestured to his watch and then to the gate. Curfew is 10:30 p. m. Nodding that I understood, I went out. A sign let me know that I had made it to Arre. That meant I had done not care. My body and feet ached. I found a caf, ate a bocadillo and had a grande caf con leche The f armacia was my next stop, and I bought 600mg caplets of ibuprofen, hoping the anti inflammatory would help my aches and pains. On my way back to the church, I stopped at an open storefront selling fruit and bought an orange for dessert. Returning to the church, I Ivy climbed the old, stone, walls and flowering plants were all around. Two hanging cages were home to several small birds. Because the church l ay on the outside edge of the town, the garden was quiet and a feeling of peace settled over me as I relaxed. Two older women that I recognized from the albergue the night before were playing cards at another table. Then the man I had followed earlier in the afternoon, and fallen quickly behind, came in through the front gate and asked to join me. Difficulties of communication were becoming a common feature of the pilgrimage thus far, whether dealing with locals, or meeting people from around the world. Luckily, my companion, whose name I learned was Carlo, spoke a fair amount of English. Carlo was Italian and lived in Italy. With some pride, he told me that he was walking around 40 km per day. Beyond the personal motivations for pilgrimage, I hoped th at the journey would demonstrate my theory that the medieval pilgrimage had turned away from the religious incentives that were its origin; it was my belief that the motivations of modern pilgrims had become largely secular in nature and I intended to buil d my senior project around that theory. No time like the present, I
56 thought, and asked Carlo why he was doing the Camino. As I had suspected from the athleticism. In his late for ties and obviously very fit, his self imposed daily goal of 40 km was punishing his body and he suffered from various aches and pains. Sore muscles in his legs were his biggest complaint and he told me that it was his nightly ritual after a shower to massage his legs from hips to feet with arnica gel. He believed it to be very effective and recommended I buy some. I wrote the name down, intending to buy some at the pharmacy the next day. While we were talking, the priest came through th e cloister with the much older woman that had been following Carlo as I met them while going the wrong way. After showering, she joined our conversation. Her name was Juta and, though German by birth, she had lived in Naples most of her life. Juta spok e German, Italian, and English. She was e xcited to discover that Carlo was Italian, and they spoke to each other in Italian she spoke in English to me. Ju ta became the go between. T ranslating for us both, she explained any unfamiliar word. Juta was on the pilgrimage because, as she said, she was fat and her doctor had told her she had to lose weight or the stress on her heart would likely kill her. As a light drizzle of rain began to fall, the priest came out and, refusing our offer to help, moved ever albergue We moved the conversation inside and joined a larger group of pilgrims in the kitchen. He was slightly older, but managing at least 40 km a day. I experienced my first case of pilgrim snobbery as each tried to outdo the other with their stories and laughed at the pitiful distances Juta and I were doing. Gesturing to include me, Juta exclai
57 including me in the fat statement. To make her point, she told them that she had seen and watched a fox and seve ral baby ducks on her travels, sites they would probably have missed because of their rapid pace. The kitchen was filled with lively conversation as everyone shared their stories of life on the road, including a recent theft of boots. It was nearly eleve n when the group retired to bed. Even tired and sore as I was, the evening had been fun and I understood the community of fellowship of which Yakle had spoken. It was Juta who explained that odor, not dirt, was the reason that hiking shoes stayed on rack were gone and another pair left in their place. Theft was the only reasonable explanation. Pretty sure you go to hell for that, I thought again. Boots seemed like such a personal item and gross besides. What kind of person would want them? The cool, moist night air had prevented my clothes from drying. I knew it was typical for pilgrims to safety pin their damp clothes to the outside of their pack so the sun could finish drying them, but I had forgotten to pack any. Pamplona, a proper city was only 4 or 5 km walk and Juta and I decided that our slow pace dict ated that we should walk together. Juta needed to buy a new rain poncho, and I was planning to purchase some safety pins and locate some eggs for breakfast. Pamplona was a real city. Instead of the usual spray painted arrows, way markers were brass disc s that bore the distinctive scallop shell and set into the sidewalks and roads at regular interv I was able to order an omelet and my usual grande caf con leche A t a nearby sporting goods store, Juta bought a poncho and I bought a fanny pack with an adjustable strap that would allow it to be worn over the shoulder and safety pins. I pinned my wet clothes to my backpack and we
58 headed out. Taking a much needed break at a roadside park, I unpinned my clothes and spread everything over the branches of a tree. It was a funny sight to see my socks, underwear, pants and sports bra blowing in the wind. In the distance I saw a long, steady rise with a town at the top and I mentioned it to Juta. She an assertion intended to reassure both of us. A few km outside of Pamplona, disaster struck when the two piece sole of my left shoe separated. Professor Yakle had advised that I bring two pair s of shoes and switch them out each day. This was o ne of the many ways devised to prevent the horrible blisters that plagued modern pilgrims. The reasoning was that by alternating different foot beds you could lessen the chance of developing hot spots, a reas of skin where friction would lead to blisters. I had chosen to bring a pair of hiking shoes and hiking sandals, so it should have been possible for me to switch to my shoes and have my sandal repaired. I had worn my hiking shoes my first day because of the temperature and threat of rain and had found them to be uncomfortable. Despite the fact that my feet pained me all the time, I did notice that it was less when I wore the sandals on the second day. As we walked toward the next town, the sound of my flapping sole accompanied us. Juta could not help laughing at my abs urd situation. Of course, since the town was only slightly larger than the average village, there was no shoe repair shop. Fortunately, there was a bus to Cirauqui, a suburb of Puent e la Reina, where we planned to spend the night. We checked into the albergue and went off in search of glue. A small hardware store near the town center had a tube of glue for shoe repair, but it required a twenty four hour drying and curing time. Retur ning to our room I carefully cleaned and re glued the sole. I would have to wear my despised hiking shoes the next day.
59 Lying in our bunks, with Juta once again acting as occasional translator, we swapped stories with the Italian couple sharing our roo m. They looked to be in their late forties and were Juta and I had been having, bragging that he and his wife had taken the Aragonese Way to Puenta la Rei damage from my accident and he acknowledged the truth of my claim. Juta s our room count to seven. Exhausted and having been on a steady diet of pain pills, I had no trouble sleeping. In the morning, Juta went do wn for coffee while I finished getting ready. When I came inside. She said that he was almost in tears. I understood; as a pilgrim, you are dependent on you r gear for survival and it would be expensive to replace. Leaving Cirauqui, the path leads to an old Roman bridge and road, following it for many km. It was thrilling to be walking on an ancient thoroughfare, but its surface was treacherous. The course of centuries had caused the road to buckle in many places and stones jutted up dangerously. Every step was a potential ankle breaker and the hills and valleys culminated in the longest and steepest incline up to that point. Juta often lagged behind but I would eventually stop to wait for her and use the opportunity to rest. She complained that I did not need to wait for her, reciting her favorite I told her that I was making the decision of my own accord, not be for a couple of hours, we both needed food, and I was desperate for a ba throom break.
60 The next village on our path was eerily quiet, with very few people about. Seeing the church that sat atop the highest point of land, I suggested to Juta that we use our status as pilgrims and ask to use the bathroom. We found the church locked up tight. Considering the dismayed and made long complaints to Juta. Why was there no help for us? The church, as an institution, had plenty of money to ma intain a skeleton staff to keep the churches open and available to pilgrims. Written in the twelfth century, the Codex Calixtinus, the first official mass. I consi dered this incontrovertible evidence for my secularization argument. Where was the presence of the church? We rested at the fountain next to the church and I continued to complain. Juta asked if I had not noticed the treatment pilgrims sometimes receive d from locals. Though they live in Spain, Juta said, most locals do not go on pilgrimage and do not fencing that ran along both sides of the trail that starte d at Roncesvalles and for a good portion I suggested that perhaps the attitude was the result of unpleasant encounters with pilgrims or a feeling of intrusiveness caused by so many years of an unceasing stream of foreigners on their land. I told Juta that I was going to be the pilgrim ambassador of goodwill. I noticed an albergue across the street from where we sat. A woman was beating rugs on the second floor balcony a nd a man pulled up in a car and started carrying packages inside. I went over to ask if I could please use the restroom. The man, thinking I was there for lodging, said that they would not be open until one. When I explained my need, the woman on the ba lcony overheard my conversation and said I could use their facilities. I immediately expressed my gratitude, several times, and when I was leaving, left a fifty cent piece on top of the
61 xperience with a p I said to Juta. The next step was to find lunch. S eeing no shops or restaurants so far, I continued to search as we made our way through town. Even the town itself was hilly and as we neared the other side without seeing anything, I said that we had to find someone to ask. Juta did not want to go back, but we had to eat. Coming back around a corner, we noticed two women standing in the doorway of house and talking. The woman on the inside of the doorway noticed us and, with an unmistaka andale, andale locks, finally locating one store. We bought some food and snacks, ate lunch, and got the heck out of that town. This was only day four of my journey and I was in bad shape, Juta not much better. We walked for many km over more gently rolling hills, but the surface of the path was still very rough. Moreover, shade was nonexistent because the land was just one vineyard after another. The sun blazed down on us, the day was dry, and h ot, little clouds of dust rose with each step. Every time we passed a fa rmer on a tractor We had gone about 15 km from Puente la Reina and, as we were approaching the city of Lorca, I saw a man taping a taxi, he was putting up was his phone number and the cost of his taxi service. He looked at us and asked if we really needed a taxi. With a minimum of 6 k m still to go, Juta and I looked at each other and considered. The fare was ex pensive because it was a Sunday; it would cost each of us While not a believer in the Almighty myself, I did not argue with her assessment that divine
62 intervention was the source of our luck. Though Juta cited health concerns over religious ones as motivation to make the pilgrimage, I knew that she was a member of the faithful. Besid es, the pitiful physical state of my body needed little persuasion. Overwhelmed with relief and elated over our good fortune, we laughed and joked with our driver and felt both guilty and sorry as we passed pilgrims who were still walking. Par for the course, I was tired and sore, but our good mood lasted the rest of the afternoon and evening. The taxi driver recommended that we stay at the parochial albergue and dropped us there. There was no price for lodging; it operated solely on donations, augmen ted by the dinner, but it was not a requirement. The albergue itself was very clean and our room slept twelve in bunk beds. It was my first opportunity to experi ence a communal dinner. Every pilgrim contributed, either helping with food preparation or with cleanup afterwards. Before dinner commenced, the hospitalero volunteer staff recruited a pilgrim from each of the nationalities represented to read aloud a prayer in their own language. The reading of the English version fell to me. Twenty of us ate dinner at three long tables, placed end to end, under a large canopy. The food was simple, but tasty. Large bowls of salad were the first course, followed b y a hearty stew and fresh bread from the local bakery. We emptied many bottles of wine while we ate and talked. The constant buzz of conversation surrounded me, sometimes involving the group at large or, very often, smaller groups made up of immediate di nner partners. Dessert arrived just as the sun began to set. My involvement in the general conversation lapsed after I met and began talking with Michel, a thirty year old French man seated near me. As our comfort with each other grew, the conversation became more personal and he shared details of his life that roused my particular
63 interest. I then turned the conversation to my own topic of interest. I told him that I hoped to re of motivations responsible for the ever increasing number of modern pilgrims. Furthermore, I told him of my growing certainty that, in many cases, the origin of impetus could be traced back to a significant life event tha He eagerly agreed to be my first interviewee, and when the dinner was over, we moved our chairs to a quieter spot. His only concern appeared to be where to focus his gaze during the interview. His nervousness, barely noticeable as I started the inter view, disappeared completely as his story unfolded. This pilgrimage was his fourth, and he credits the profound experience of his first pilgrimage as the motivating factor behind his second, third, and fourth journeys. His first pilgrimage was, in effect a second rupture of trajectory. What was responsible for motivating the first? As with my own story, Michel could point to a single event as the cause. For several years he had been in a relationship with a girl he believed to be the l ove of his life He had a well paying job as a mechanical engineer and was planning to ask his girlfriend to marry him when she suddenly, and without warning, broke up with him. It left him devastated and depressed, he told me. He decided to go on the pilgrimage in ho pe of finding new meaning for his life. He said that the experience helped him to heal and, further, radically changed the direction of his life. He gave up his job and moved to a Buddhist community in France where he planted and tended a vegetable garde n. As he talked, I could see the happiness and contentment he felt. Of his four pilgrimages, two were on foot, and two by bicycle. Asking which method he preferred, he answered that for him, bicycling was best because he could never take more than two we
64 religion, he said that wherever he stopped for the night, he wou ld usually try to visit the church and pray at the altar. Emphatically he stated his dislike of organized religion, but said that he felt close to God when he prayed at the altars. Curious, I asked him if he was motivated to visit the historically signif icant cathedrals and churches along the route, but he claimed that was never a deciding factor for him, any church would do. He said that he planned to do at least some of the Camino every year of his life for as long as his body would allow. He was the very picture of confident serenity and other pilgrims who had caught some of his interview commented that his worldview was to be admired. That night I also met Goia Stefano. Goia, a seventy three year old Italian man, had done the Camino Frances from St. Jean Pied a Port to Santiago de Compostela ten times! I joked that he must not be married, but he told me he had a wonderful wife at home. He started doing the Camino when he retired. I told him that his wife probably appreciated his new retirement h obby because it got him out from underfoot for a few weeks each year. I asked if I could interview him. He demurred because of the late hour but told me that if our paths crossed again, he would consent. e p.m., but I was quickly learning that the afternoon. This schedule helped minimize the amount of travel during the worst heat of the day and left time for the everyday tasks of pilgrim life. Carrying only one or two sets of clothes meant frequent washings, and clothes stood a much better chance of drying if given a few hours in the afternoon sun. Food presented another difficulty. In a conversation that after noon with my mom, I told her that I felt like I was slowly starving to death. Walking quickly burned off the
65 carb heavy breakfasts, leaving me hung ry. Lunch was a sporadic event, dependent on whether there was a bar or shop in the vil lages and towns I ca me to, and, if one existed, on whether or not it was open when I passed through. The Spanish siesta was playing havoc with my eating habits! Businesses closed during siesta time, which began at two p.m. and ended at either four thirty or five p.m. My mo m said that I needed to buy some preserved meat or hard cheese and some bread to keep in my pack. After our conversation, I wandered around town and, using my where I bought a long stick of cured chorizo sausage, a bag of mini croissants, cheese, and some fruit. The next morning saw the end of my relationship with Juta. I knew that my body had reached its limit and needed a break. Every step since Roncesvalles had b een painful. Just setting my feet on the floor in the morning was torture for fifteen My hips and back hurt also, but it was the pain in my feet that dictated the distance I could walk each day. I had weighed my backpack on a sc ale at the bus station in Puente la Reina and learned that it weighed twenty six pounds! A far cry from the ten pounds Professor Yakle had suggested, so it was no surprise that I was having such difficulty! I had tried to explain to Juta that I w anted to give my body a rest and take the bus the next day, but she on We set out in the morning but after only twenty minutes, I knew I was making a an know how my body finally had to say goodbye.
66 I walked slowly bac autobus estacion purchased a ticket to Los Arcos, the town where Goia had said he planned to spend that night. Hoping to interview him, and thus prevent the complete waste of a day, I tried to follow the dire ctions he had given me and checked in at Albergue Casa Alberti The woman who ran the albergue spoke a little bit of English and said there were two rates, one of which included huevos but I paid the higher price anyway because even my limited experience told me that food options might be scarce. My room had eight bunks, but its own small private bathroom. The first pilgrim to arrive, I claimed a bottom bunk near a plug by spreading my sleeping bag across it and went to ask the woman if there was a store nearby. She said there was and using both words and pantomime, let me know that there would be a running of the bulls in town that night. I planned to attend, figuring that it was a r are opportunity to experience Spanish culture outside of the pilgrimage. I walked gingerly back to town and found a caf. Hungry and tired of less than stellar experiences with Spanish food, I ordered a pizza. Afterwards, I took a stroll around town, not ing the festive atmosphere. A couple of people were drinking beer at a table in the town square and I heard one of the young men speaking perfect English. His backpack and walking stick identified him as a pilgrim and I went over to say hello. He was fr om Ohio and the young man with him was a local he had met that day. Like most people I had met in Spain, the local man ith the language, most surprising when the person who used it was fluent. Ordering a beer for myself, the three of us chatted. The running of the bulls was a twice weekly event in Los Arcos. Imagining something along the lines of the videos I had seen of the Pamplona event, I was disappointed to learn that
67 the bulls were really vaca or cows. My companions assured me that although they were cows, they did have long horns. Somewhat mollified, I asked how many there would be. I collapsed with laughter when told there would be at least four or as many as seven! It was too funny that so many people would turn out for a handful of cows! Walking back, I found Goia sitting on a low wall beside the road. I had not gone to the correct albergue and he was staying at the municipal one a block further. I told him that I had the Camino. God, Jesus I understood then that religion motivated Goia to go on the pilgrimage. We talked a bit more and he promised that my feet would get better after a week or so. He gave me the name of an albergue in Logrono where he stayed every year. As we made our goodbyes, he took my face in his hand s and said that he saw something in my eyes that convinced him that I would be ok. Too tired to think about finding dinner, I made little sandwiches out of the food in my pack, and was asleep by ten p. m. A pleasant surprise waited for me at breakfast; apparently moved by my passionate request for huevos the woman who had checked me in was frying eggs! With a grateful smile, I took one of the fried eggs from the plate she had set on the I ate it on a piece of the har d bread I was growing accustomed to in Spain, and she returned to the table and gestured for me to take the other two! Settling my pack on my back, I thanked feet still hurt and I knew that at some point one, then both, of my hips would hurt. I had no particular destination in mind, just a plan to walk as far as I could. The terrain was very hilly and I saw a solo pilgrim woman just ahead of me. I caught up with her when she stopped to get something out of her pack and we introduced ourselves. Mikayla was from Denmark and, as
68 was the case with everyone I had met from a Nordic country, she spoke perfect English. We were close in age but she looked tremendously f it. As pilgrims do, we talked about the reasons that brought us there. Always an athletic person, Mikayla wanted simply to see if she could do it. We spoke of my accident and she thought I was quite brave to make the attempt. At the next town, we parte d ways because I needed to make a rest stop. Fifteen minutes later, having enjoyed a coke with ice and a bathroom break, I started walking again. To my surprise, and hers as well, I caught up with her some time later. She told me that she was surprised t a hurry to get somewhere I can stop and sit down Sansol, she decided to stop for lunch. Having managed only seven km from Los Arcos and know ing that a rest would only cause a temporary increase in pain once I resumed walking, I After Sansol, steep ravines cut the hilly terrain. One grade was so steep that I watched a pair of bicyclists dismount to walk their bikes down. An equally steep ascent followed every reached Torres del Rio. The distances between towns had not bee n too bad thus far and after a short break, I decided to go on. I had used the map I purchased in Roncesvalles only once because it was a massive fold out map that was difficult to follow. If I had looked at it then and seen the eleven km stretch of isol ation to Viana that lay ahead, I probably would have stopped in Torres del Rio. I do not know how many km I went before my mental breakdown, probably four or five, but at the crest of yet another steep hill, I came upon the remains of a small building. The day had been hot and dry and there was no roof to shelter under, but the spot looked like a popular
69 please God I need help. I am trying so hard, please h two decades, the realization of what I had just said stunned me. I probably just used God as an expletive, I thought to myself. Still, it was a clear indication that I believed my situation to be desperate. I co uld not even imagine taking another step, and I needed to use a bathroom. When Mikayla climbed the hill a short time later, she found me sitting at the top, crying uncontrollably. I cannot go on, I told her. She tried her best to reassure me and offer ed me something called She said it was an herbal remedy that helped people calm down during times of severe stress and was very popular in Europe. I swallowed the granules and she stayed with me until my crying subsided. Before she left, I asked if she would please watch the trail for pilgrims while I took a bathroom break. My call of nature complete, I thanked her and insisted that she not wait on my account any longer. After a period of fifteen or twenty minutes, I got up, shuffled around bit and resumed my trek. The day had been extremely hot and a short time later, I pulled the final swallows of water from my platypus. Mikayla had given me an estimate of seven or eight km to Viana. tried to keep my rising panic in check as I trudged up and down the hillsides. As my luck would have it, I found none. Alternately crying and cursing aloud, I finally saw a cluster of buildings in the distance. Relief washed over me at the sight of a s mall park with a fountain that lay at the entrance to Viana. Four pilgrims were at the park and one of t she exclaimed, rushing over to give me a hug. refilled my camel and eagerly drank from it. Mikayla bent under one of the spouts to wet her
70 head. We went over to the small picnic bench where the other pilgrims were and Mikayla made the introductions. Two of the pilgrims, a ma n and woman, lay spread out on the ground in their wet under clothes. Guessing that a wet head alone was not sufficient, I surmised that they had stripped third p ilgrim, a man with the worst sunburn I had ever seen, was sitting at the small picnic table. The Camino tracked constantly westward so, for most of the day, the su back. A sunburn to the back of my calves had initiated a new ritual for me; every morning as I got ready, I slathered myself with sunscreen before dressing. I could not imagine how the man had made it this far without having learned of the necessity for sunscreen. Considering my starting point that morning, Mikayla told me that I had walked nineteen km that day. It was a small wonder then that the day had taken such a brutal toll on my body. My immediate plans uncertain, I wished everyone buen Camino and started up a hill to get the lay of the land. Startled to hear my phone ring, a sound I had not heard in days, I scrabbled to retrieve it. It was my mom. When she asked how I was doing, the tears began to fall again. The facebook status updates that friends and family were following typically included the distance I t ravelled each day. I had been h overing around the eleven km mark, and genuine when I told her I had done nineteen km that day. I gradually calmed down as we talked and she overheard me asking several people where the autobus estacion was located. She commented on my growing Spanish vocabulary and I promised to update my status as soon as possible. Viana was not large enough to warrant a bus station but there was a bus stop where, in less than an hour, I could get a ride to Logroo W aiting at the bus stop with me was a woman
71 and her two young daughters. This would have been unremarkable except for the fact that I were obviously British. I us conversation. They were using vacation time to go on the pilgrimage. The smallest daughter was no more than five years old, and the elder girl between eight and ten. I told the mother how I had marveled at the sling that I had seen her use to carry the youngest girl on her chest, while still carrying the large heavy pack that held their belongings. Their Camino was much like my own up to that point, alternating between walking and bus rid es depending on how tired the I remarked. More pilgrims arrived and waited for the bus. I had read that Logrono was the capital city of the La Rioja province of Spain the heart of winemaking country. As the capital city, I expected it to be more of a size to which I was accustomed. I was not disappointed. Disembarking at the bus station, pilgrims took off in several directions. Goia had given me the name of the pa rochial albergue where he always stayed, so I set off to get directions to the Iglesia Santiago el Real, the Church of Santiago. The albergue was identifia plaque mounted on the front of the building and a tiny nameplate on the door intercom. As a parochial albergue it operated on donations. Bathrooms were single person use and sex segregated, two per gender. The sleeping arrangements were a new experience; around thirty, one inch mats lay on the floor with perhaps eig hteen inches of space between them. Needing a memory foam pad on my mattress at school in order to sleep comfortably, I knew my body was not going to appreciate the thin pad. A much older man was walking around in his bikini underwear. I showered and wh
72 minutes, catching up, and she held up a tank top and asked if I thought it appropriate to wear after I asked, nodding toward underwear m an. I told her that I A shopping district was only a couple blocks from the church, offering everything from clothes to candy. Passing a restaurant, I spied t he couple from Belgium sitting at an outside table. Walking over, I pulled out a chair and sat down. Looks of irritation turned to surprise as uente la Reina, they had decided the y could not continue. They flagged down a school bus; the driver let them on and they returned to the city. They were all smiles as they told me that they were now making the trip by rental car. They said they planne d to try the Camino again in the future after and walked quickly back for dinner. I rang the buzze r, just a few minutes past six, and a priest opened the door. I hurriedly apologized for my lateness, but the priest said not to worry, I had not missed dinner. In broken ncing it aspect of a parochial albergue is the communal dinner. Everyone shared stories and many hospitalero a young man named Victor Morales, was a wine sommelier visiting from New York City. He acted as translator for Father Ignacio, who promised us a surprise after d inner.
73 stops along the way to highlight certain architectural details of the church, Father Ignacio shared nd, since I was the only native English speaker, Victor acted as my translator. Having recently completed a Gothic cathedral At one stop, we were able to vi ew the exposed structures of the vaults. Finally reaching the top, the city and its lights lay before us. It was very beautiful and I begged to bring my sleeping mat bonita The angels I scoffed at that Victor translated that Father Ignacio said that it was the most romantic thing he had said in a long time. The evening remains one of my favorites. Unlike every other night, where tiredness guaranteed rest, my sleep that night was fitfu l. My ultra light sleeping bag, weighing only one pound and nine ounces, added little padding, and I tossed and turned trying to find a position that eased my painful joints. I gave up around six a.m. and got my earliest start to date. Logrono is a larg e city and, as such, has the usual trappings of urban life, making it sometimes difficult to locate way markers. Stopping several times to ascertain to the way, my easy identification as a pilgrim, and obvious confusion, caused locals to shout and point o ut the proper direction. As the route progressed, I had noticed a growing trend toward helpfulness from the local populace. Still in excruciating pain, I walked 13 km to Navarette and took a bus to Ciruena. As I fell asleep that night, I realized I had survived my first week on the Camino. I started early the next morning, determined to walk the 14 km to Granon. As I walked, I noticed changes in my physical condition. When I began my journey, my right hip would begin to hurt after having only walked a km. Pain in my left hip would follow after a couple km more.
74 My first stop of the day was 5.7km away at Santo Domingo de la Calzada and I was pleasantly surprised to realize that neither of my hips hurt. Excited by this, I set off on the 7.7 km to Grano n, wondering how I would fare. I arrived by two p.m. Though still sore, I was not as bad off as on the previous days. Goia had recommended the parochial albergue in Granon, saying that Father Ignacio was responsible for founding that one as well as Logr hospitaleras managed the albergue and gave me a warm welcome. One of the hospitaleras was just starting her two week stint and, as the first pilgrim of the day, I was received with much pomp and circumstance as she gave m e her first formal tour of the facilities. The sleeping quarters were in the attic garr I noticed sadly, were once again mats. A small set of stairs and tiny door led to a space above the church vaults that functioned as t he laundry A skylight lit the clotheslines hung directly on top of a church vault that I had to climb to hang my few items. Retrieving my camera from my pack, I went outside to sit in the small courtyard and garden behind the church. The sun shone throu gh the tree branches and small birds flitted from branch to branch and hopped through the grass. A cat prowled under and around the stone benches circling the fountain. The grass looked so soft and I saw another pilgrim stretched out on it and reading a book. Without a concern for the consequences, I stripped off my socks, lowered myself to the ground and lay on my back. I took pictures of the sunlight slanting through the trees. A short time later, I rolled onto my stomach and examined the tiny daisy like flowers that dotted the grass. I noticed a small, pale blue eggshell lying in the grass. I took pictures of everything. Sitting, I marveled at the feel of the grass beneath my feet. I spent an hour and a half this way.
75 Many people had arrived, in cluding my new friend Goia, and pilgrims filled the living room and dining table at the communal dinner. Someone said grace and gave thanks to everyone who helped with the meal. Noisy chatter filled the air. Afterwards, we were invited to participate in a traditional candle ceremony to be held in the church choir. A ring of candles lit the center of the choir. Sitting in the wooden stalls, each of us was to pass a single candle and share any thoughts we might have about our journey. Sometimes the cand le passed from hand to hand without a word, but many people spoke of God or loved ones before handing the candle a fierce spirit of independence tha t I could att Choking on sudden tears, I candle. When it was over, many exchanged hugs. The sleeping mats had been pushed ever closer together as sleepin g capacity was reached. I engaged a couple across from me in conversation. Shaun and Janis were from South Africa and had been traveling in the company of another couple, Rudiga and Claudi from Germany. Comparing our various aches and pains, Janis told blistered so badly that Rudy was sending her ahead by taxi to the next stop. She suggested that I send my muchilla ( backpack) with her and try walking a day without it. Rudy said that it was no problem, and I went to sleep with a much improved peace of mind. In the morning, Janis let me borrow a small rucksack to carry my camelback and other necessary items. The four of us set out and I was amazed at the difference my lighter load made. Shaun had come across an abandoned lar ge plastic crate on wheels and added shovel pulled it behind him. He was such a novelty that people would often stop him and ask to take
76 his picture. He each picture. The terrain had leveled out quite a bit and fields of poppies covered many of the rolling hills. We walked together for most of the day. I pulled ahead a nd Shaun and I had a disagreement. The group was discussing the upcoming walk to Burgos. I explained to the group that, based on the advice of personal acquaintances that had done the Camino, I planned to take a bus from about 10 km outside of Burgos bec ause the way followed or lay on the heavily trafficked roads of an industrial area. Shaun said that he considered it to be cheating. Having found bus rides to be necessary to sustain my journey thus far and likely influenced by feelings of guilt, I argue d with Shaun. Using I picked up my pace and drew ahead of the group. Feeling like I was on a forced march, I gained enough of a lead that I reached Tosantos forty five minutes ahead of them. I was tir ed and sore, but happy when I realized that I had managed 21 km that day! I saw Claudi and thanked her profusely for bringing my pack. She pointed me in the direction of the Albergue Parroquial de Tosantos. is at my albergue length brown hair, tanned skin, and brown eyes and was absolutely beautiful. The young man introduced himself as Jordy and I know that I stared as he set about checking me in. The tour ended with the sleeping quarter s, which boasted only six spaces, but included, what else, but the dreaded floor mats. Sighing, I took a shower and went to check out the sights. The village was very small with no shops and a single bar/restaurant. As usual, the bar also served as the steep ascent followed the town of Villafranca de Montes de Oca. Although I had managed to do 21 km that day, I felt in no way ready to tackle the ascent and the 23km to Ages. I checked to
77 see whether any bus stops were en route. Finding none, I asked the woman working behind the bar. Villafranca did have a bus stop that took people up the mountain. Figuring that I could easily manage the descent, I asked her the time. It ra n once a week, on Saturdays, and today was Wednesday. albergue, I was delighted to see that Goia was a guest as well. I also met Amanda and her father Albert, pilgrim s from California that had arrived during my absence. An older Spanish woman came to lead the tour to the Ermita de la Virgen de la Pe a After the tour, we walked back to the albergue and preparations for dinner began. I sliced tomatoes and chopped car rots for the salad. Several of us contributed money to purchase bottles of wine to go with the meal. Bread and soup were the main course. J se Luis, the proprietor, but not a priest, invited us to attend a short ceremony in the small chapel upstairs. T he slightly religious overtones of previous ceremonies had not been problematic for me, so I decided to attend. This one would prove to be my last. door was two thirds the size of a regular door and the space was perhaps a ten foot square. Low benches ran along two sides of the room facing an undersized altar at the front, occupied by the obligatory statue of the Virgin Mary. J se Luis sat on the floor beside the altar. Bringing forth a small glass chest, he drew out slips of paper. Sifting through them one by one, he would pass each to Jordy and say the name of someone present to whom it should be given. Receiving my own, I saw that it was a prayer request in English. Uh oh, I thought. After everyone had one, J se told us that pilgrims wrote the prayers the night before. We were to read them aloud for the ears of heaven to hear. Jose said that he would send them on to the Cathedral Santiago
78 where surely the saint wo uld answer them. By turns, we each read our slip, but it did not end there. Collecting them, Jordy gave each of us a slip on which to write our own prayers. Feeling ambushed, I composed my prayer: whose dogma has been the impetus behind much of the death and destruction throughout declined to come upstairs. J se was just warming up. As Jordy collected our p rayers, he handed out sheets of paper with lyrics. Jose Luis began to sing what I can only assume was a hymn. As he reached the chorus, he gestured that we should all sing. In the cacophony that followed, I understood that the lyrics were in each pilgri I thought. Looking at the rapt faces around me, I just did not get it; the ritual held no meaning for me. I breathed a sigh of relief as the song ended. J se said a prayer and I believed the cerem ony to be at an end as nearly an hour had passed! Wrong again. J se said that a special dedication was next. I wondered how rude I would seem if I excused myself to go to the bathroom. Too late, I thought as J se moved to the benches, drew Albert to hi s feet, and brought him to stand before the altar. He began to tell the story that had brought him and Amanda to Spain. Lillian, his wife death, both of her older si and the website that a friend had created in their memory. He broke down, softly crying, as he told all of us that he and Amanda were walking the Camino in remembrance of Lillian and her sisters. Amanda, an Art History graduate and casual ceramicist, had produced seven ceramic told their story and gave contact information. Their plan w as to leave the horses at different
79 sites along the Camino and they had decided that this chapel would be one of them. Not a dry eye remained as they placed the ceramic horse on a small diagonal shelf just below the ceiling in I thought to myself. Feeling guilty about my earlier impatience, I hugged Albert, and he thanked me for sharing their experience. Still, that albergue would be the last of the parochial kind. So much time had passed that it was nearly curfew. Janis and Shaun had decided to make use of the large yard to pitch the tent they had brought and sleep outdoors, so I went out to wish them goodnight. Jordy, sitting at the picnic table, motioned me over. He was han d rolling a cigarillo and offered to roll me one as well. His English was not the best that I had encountered, but we struck up a conversation anyway. I asked how long he had been the hospitalero and I was eventually ab le to work out that he had been a soldier. There was such sadness in his eyes, but I knew that time constraints and our strained attempt to communicate would prevent me from grasping his motivation to make the pilgrimage. I said goodnight and went to spe ak with Janis and Shaun. We made plans to walk together the next day. Heading back inside, I was horrified to find the door locked! Panicked, I knocked loudly and Jordy let me inside. Poor Janis and Shaun, if they needed a bathroom break, they would ha ve to make due. I spent another night tossing and turning on a thin mat. In the morning, I learned of a taxi service, Jacotrans, that would pick up backpacks and transport them to any designated albergue within 25km for seven E uros. The steep ascent th at lay ahead and the distance to Ages made the decision easy. Jose Luis gave me a Jacotrans envelope. I filled out the pertinent information, put seven Euros inside, sealed the envelope and called the service to confirm pickup. Amanda and Albert decided to do the same. Then we hit the dusty trail.
80 It was a beautiful walk that morning. I did pull a bit ahead of the others, but I waited for them at Villafranca de Monte de Oca. At a caf bar in town that offered a selection of different foodstuffs, we po oled our money and cobbled together a kind of picnic brunch, except that we ate at an inside table. Upon leaving, the way markers immediately began to direct us upwards. Just outside of town, the steep ascent began. I was at my best in the mornings and heard the claims of man y pilgrims that I walked rapido, rapido Worried that the ascent would prove too much and I would fall behind, I hit my stride and focused my eyes on the path ahead. After half an hour of constant climbing, I began to imagine that the top lay around ever y curve. I was disappointed as each turn revealed further ascent. I passed by a muscular Asian man listening to his iPod and we nodded, saying buen camino to each other. Fearing to lose my momentum, I did not stop. At last, I reached the lookout at the top. The valley spread out below me and I took a few pictures. Looking back, I saw no sign of my companions. Half the A few minutes later, I realized the magnitude of my accomplishment. I had climbed a mo untain! The feat was something neither my doctors nor I would have imagined to be possible. The tears started to flow as I wept for joy. Overwhelmed with emotion, I shouted, I did it! I climbed a mountai ladylike gestures accompanied m y outburst. All of this came to an abrupt halt as I rounded a bend and saw three female pilgrims watching me. buen Camino struggled on, but the pride and satisfaction remain.
81 What goes up must come down and a steep descent followed. I allowed myself a proper break when I reached the monastery of San Juan de Ortega, stopping at a bar for my now standard coca cola y lim n con hielo (coke with lemon and ice). I rested for fifte en minutes and waited to see if Janis, Shaun, and Rudy would turn up. As previously mentioned, stopping meant a difficult restart and so, wanting to ride my euphoria as long as possible, I stood and walked on. The remaining 3.8km seemed a trifle, but I f elt certain that a blister was forming and the pain in my feet was nearly unbearable when I reached the albergue El Pajar in Ages. Sending my backpack ahead proved to be the solution for me and I was able to walk farther each day. My feet never stopped hurting, but I grew accustomed to the pain. The scenery changed constantly as I made my way across Spain. Twice, I allowed for rest days; once in Burgos and again in Le n to see the city sights and take in the history. The cathedral in Burgos was the mo st stunning piece of church architecture I had seen to date. Begun in the 13 th century and completed in the 16 th century, Burgos cathedral exemplified the Gothic style and I was excited to compare it to the cathedrals I had seen images of in my Gothic cat hedral class. The spires and towers were visible as I approached. Upon reaching the square, the sheer size of the building astounded me. Adding to my amazement was the decorative ornamentation that adorned the architectural elements. I took at least a hundred photos of the exterior as I walked around the building. The cathedral seemed to take up an entire square block and when I returned to the entrance, a posted sign announced the cathedral tour hours were over. I headed back to the albergue to che ck on my clothes and rest before dinner and Jean Paul was there! We exchanged a hug and I babbled excitedly about my journey. I told him that I had finally gotten an ampolla (blister), but was unsure of the best treatment for it. He suggested we go to d inner together and we set off. At dinner, he mentioned that a restless
82 night had followed our first meeting as he worried over my safety. When we returned to the albergue he offered to minister to my blister. Opinions on blister care varied greatly amon g pilgrims: whether to pierce them and use antiseptic, bandage them, cut the skin away completely, or pass a needle and string through the blister and leave the string to act as a wick to prevent moisture from accumulating inside. Using his own supplies, Jean Paul rubbed a special cream called Second Skin on my foot and applied a Compeed plaster over the blister. He then covered the area by wrapping an elastic tape around the ball of my foot. He told me that I could shower in it and leave everything in p lace for four days. Jean Paul was leaving early in the morning and offered to walk with me, but I told him that I could not leave Burgos without seeing the interior of the cathedral. We exchanged emails and wished each other good luck. Early the next mor ning, I went to the bus station to check out the schedules. I wanted to bypass the high traffic area around Burgos. The high meseta started outside of Burgos and I intended to walk only a small portion of it. I chose Hontanas as my destination, 31km bey ond Burgos. Amanda and Albert were at the bus station also and asked what my plans were. I told them I wanted to walk from Hontanas the following day so I could visit the ruins of the convent San Ant n that I had heard were extremely beautiful. They dec ided to do the same. I had several hours to explore the city before the 2:45 p. m. departure. I breakfasted at a sidewalk caf by the Arlanzon River and returned to the cathedral. Presenting my credencial with a reduced price of admission. The interior of the cathedral was spectacular. Everywhere I looked I saw ornate grillwork, carved the middle ages is repr esented here Paintings hung throughout the cathedral. Stone sepulchers were topped with life sized
83 sculptures of the historical personages that lay within. Detailed iron grillwork fronted the many chapels, altars, and the choir, whose stalls were made of beautifully hand carved wood. Many of the responds featured fully rendered sculptural figures. I spent two and a half hours taking pictures of the interior but the amount of detail was so immens e, that a week would have served better. I visited the El Cid monument and spent the rest of my free time admiring the architecture, fountains, and parks. A comforting familiar pattern to my days emerged. Leaving so early in the morning meant a 9 11 km w alk before I could secure a real breakfast and caf con leche. I might see pilgrims I had met the day before or even a week or so earlier. Once lodging was acquired, my day was far from over; after showering, clothes had to be washed and hung to dry, fol lowed by a visit to the local supermercado, farmacia or both! Preparing for bed was a ritual in itself; gel was rubbed into sore muscles, special lotion applied to the feet, and supplements taken that experienced pilgrims had recommended for pain. I lea rned to repack my rucksack at night and attach the money and envelope for Jacotrans to pick up in the morning. Having attempted, with a lot of trouble and little success, to secure mobile coverage for my smartphone, coverage was sporadic at best and I usua lly waited until a convenient internet caf could be located before contacting home or updating my status. I had downloaded several gigabytes worth of audiobooks and music on my phone, but the only time I availed myself of either was on the nights when a particularly obnoxious snorer, or snorers, demanded the use of headphones and background noise. Being l level of introspection deeper than any I had ever experienced. The journey between towns and cities, surrounded by nature and toiling earnestly, seemed the most authentic of my life. I was
84 present and living in the moment each day in a way I had never been, noticing the minutiae of my surroundings. Reaching the Galicia region, the final approach to San tiago de Compostela, I felt like my hard work had been rewarded. Verdant forests greeted me, birdsong and tumbling waters the only sounds accompanying the rhythm of my walking sticks. The silence was profound; the sounds of nature were not the cacophony of noise I was accustomed to in my urban life. The last few days of walking were a revelation, despite the ever present pain of my feet, I felt strong and powerful like I did before the accident. And proud, I was proud of the stride I had developed, the way I walked and carried myself. The evenings were still a period of recovery for me, but I ended each day wishing I could continue walking. The joke nickname my trip has earned me sin for who would have ever guessed at th is result? And my fellow pilgrims were another surprise. Oh, there are still those whose attitudes as legitimate, or real: walkers disdain bikers, St. Jean Pi ed au Port is regarded as the more is their own, whatever their motivatio n. On the whole though, I experienced the communitas of pilgrimage and can easily see the attraction it would have held for pilgrims across the centuries. My last week of walking I met Keith from Glasgow, Robert and his dad, also Glaswegians, and Lukas and Baptiste from France. Keith, a 40 year old, had suffered such terrible blisters that he had to use taxis much of the time, often bringing Lukas and Baptiste, both 21, along for the ride. We would find each other again each night and share stories of the day and of our lives at home. Remarking on my progress and how quickly I walked, I amended
85 ing Santiago de Compostela from Mont Joie, and seeing the spires of the cathedral for the first time, I waited for the emotional outburst but a smile and a feeling of anticipation swelled within me, quickening my steps. office. Reaching it, I went inside and asked the young woman greeting pilgrims where I was to moved forward and it was at last my turn to present my credencial that was the moment reality came crashing do wn around me and I started to cry. Making solicitous noises of concern, the worker who brought me a cool drink of water, they spent the next twenty minutes talking to me, bringing out a map of the city and circling where my albergue was, what places I must visit, where I should go for the best local food, and what bars I should drink at that evening to celebrate. Then I received the final stamp on my credencial and my Compostela was prepared and presented to me. Leaving the office, I spent the few remaining minutes on my phone to call my parents. The crying started again as my dad answered and sa and saying it had been remarkable to follow my progress. I finally made my way into the he portal with the statue of St. James, touched by so many
86 hundreds of thousands of pilgrims was blocked by tarps and scaffolding. I stood with Keith I found my boys later that night drinking outside at one of the many bars in the busy center that surrounds the cathedral. We drank late into the night. At one point, Keith said to ng to make it. I have watched you every night this past week and I have to say you have really bars that night, finally parting ways around 4 a.m. and planning to meet at noon the next day and take the bus to Finisterre the end of the earth. Finisterre, believed to be the end of the earth in the Middle A ges, is the real finish line lowing. Not being fact that astonished my New College advisor, and in retrospect, I guess surprises even me. It is just that religion holds no place in my life, so the supposed tomb of a long dead Saint did not matter to me. It was the idea of the journey and what successfully completing it might mean for me that was important. Arriving in Finisterre, we all took rooms at a nearby hostel and met a short time later to walk the final few kilometers up to the lighthouse. I pulled ahead, as usual, eager to reach the finish line. Once at the cape, we lit a fire amongst the rocks, a tradition among modern pilgrims. I added a stinky, stained pilgrim shirt and a pair of socks to the fire. Keith and Robert decided to climb down the rocky slope to the ocean, and the rest of us spread out, finding seats on the giant boulders, each lost in his own thoughts. I reflected on the question of what I had b een chasing a nd found an answer: freedom from the paralyzing fear of pain. I had dealt with so
87 much pain since the accident, pain from surgeries, pain from rehab, and the residual effects of it, that I had ceased pushing myself in any way. I had reached a crossroads in life and, fearful of the path I might take, had put a goal in front of myself that I wanted to badly, I had no choice but to carry on. What I discovered was that although there would always be pain, it would not prevent me from accomplishing what I wa nted. Much like the pilgrims of old, I came in search of healing, and I found it.
88 Bibliography Barber, Richard W. Pilgrimages. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1991. Holy Days and Holidays: The Medieval Pilgrimage to Compostela. Lewisburg, Pa: Bucknell University Press, 1982. Davies, J. G. Pilgrimage Yesterday and Today: Why? Where? How? London: SCM Press, 1988. Dunn, Maryjane, and Linda K. Davidson. The Pilgrimage to Co mpostela in the Middle Ages: A Book of Essays. New York: Garland 1996. Harpur, James. Sacred Tracks: 2000 Years of Christian Pilgrimage. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002. Hopper, Sarah. To Be a Pilgrim: The Medieval Pilgrimage Experience. S troud: Sutton, 2002. Kendall, Alan. Medieval Pilgrims. New York: Putnmam, 1970. Melczer, William. The Pilgrim's Guide to Santiago De Compostela New York: Italica Press, 1993. Rudolph, Conrad. Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Co mpostela. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004. Ure, John. Pilgrimages: The Great Adventure of the Middle Ages. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2006.