Camino de Santiago 9/20/17: of things lost and the real Camino


It wouldn’t be a major trip without the loss of things either misplaced, absentmindedly set down or just plain left behind. For example, my Spanish-to-English dictionary that rests on a table outside St. Jean or a bag of chocolates and my guidebook left in a stall in the bano de hombres of Pamplona’s major catedral. Honestly the tasty chocolates were the bigger loss; I wasn’t too enamored with the jumbled and confusing guidebook. Both were quickly replaced. 

Replaced, too, is the temporary gaiety influenced by cervezas and vino; those mask the real and true meaning – a spiritual quest – that has driven pereginos in their thousands to walk through Spain for nearly 1,000 years.

Pilgrims such as Gibert, a young Brazilian, and an unnamed 20-year-old from Arizona, both of whom are overt about the answers to life questions they hope their Camino journeys may provide. Others, like me, walk for lesser reasons, as Hillary said of Everest, “… because it’s there.” This heathen is under no illusions otherwise. 

But there is no overlooking the religious, spiritual element; it is present in virtually every step. Iglesias dot the route in close proximity to the route dictated by tradition and history. Religious symbols, either ancient or newly fashioned by pilgrims, are visible within feet of the path. It is why the Giberts and others trod for nearly 600 miles. They expect to discover an internal or external influence to manifest itself for their benefit. 

The brief backstory. St. James is the patron Saint of Spain. Although James never walked the physical path, nevertheless the Camino honors him via roadways from several directions – from Belgium, Germany and Russia, et al – that converge at a common start point, St. Jean Pied de Port, France. 

So my quest differs marginally from that taken by the faithful. I suppose the best others like me can hope for is for the same result Gibert and others so earnestly believe will happen to them. 

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