This time last year we started toying with the idea of walking the Camino. The Camino of Santiago is also known as St. James’s Way and is a network of walking routes that begin from various starting points and end in Santiago do Compostela, where the remains of St. James are said to be buried.
Some walk the Camino as a religious pilgrimage, others for a cultural adventure, still others as a hiking vacation. Participants are known as pilgrims regardless of their reason for walking.
Although the Cathedral in Santiago is the ultimate destination, the walk is the goal.
There are a number of routes that are considered part of the Camino; after long deliberation and extensive research, we settled on the Camino Primitivo, which translates to the “Original Way” (not “primitive” as you might first think). It ticked all our boxes: as one of the less popular routes, it would not be crowded. However, it joins up with the Camino Frances (the best known and most travelled route) on the last few days, which means that we would get the quintessential Camino experience as well as the quieter one. Since this route goes through a mountainous region of Spain, it would mean a more temperate climate (a little more rain, less scorching heat). And with its 320km distance to cover, we could complete our Camino in the three-week time frame we had allotted (with a few days for relaxation and sightseeing at various points along the route). Plus, it is an opportunity to experience rural Spain at a leisurely pace – whatever pace we choose.
Although we have often travelled before to unusual destinations, this is our first trip where the point of the trip is the process of getting to the destination. Questions have plagued us, mostly in terms of how to prepare. In the end, we decided to complete a few local hikes (on the fabulous East Coast Trail, which includes a number of challenging hikes that we anticipate equal or surpass what we will encounter in Spain), invest in good shoes, pack light, and keep an open mind.
We leave later this week for this adventure not knowing what it will bring. But there will be something unique about waking up each morning with a singular purpose for the day, the journey ahead.