Friday, March 21, 2008


I think about the camino every day - dream about it at night - and yearn to be back walking those well trodden paths. I can understand why some people return time and time again - not only to walk different paths, but to walk the same paths. It is as though the camino hasn't finished with you yet; hasn't taught you all the lessons that need to be learned; hasn't revealed all its secrets or truths, and so you keep returning, searching..........................
What makes the camino addictive?

The camino is basically just a long, hard hike through the mainly rurual north of Spain. There are only four large cities of note - Pamplona, Burgos, Leon and Santiago. Many of the little villages are run down, partial ruins, empty churches and converted monasteries. But, there are so many things that make it unique that unless you have walked it it is difficult to understand the pull to return. Not everyone who walks it has this call, but if you do experience it, it is almost impossible to ignore. Perhaps it is the adrenaline rush of the physical, mental and psychological test that one goes through walking over 800kms, day after day for a month or more, crossing mountains, rivers, difficult paths, through all kinds of weather. Perhaps it is the energy one becomes addicted to - the endorphins that are released by continual exercise. On the camino I can walk up mountains with a backpack on - at home I tire just walking to the shop!Our ancestors must have had this basic survivial rush every day but we no longer need to fight off wild animals to survive or kill for our food, following the herds or seasons to feed ourselves. Perhaps walking the camino duplicates this 'genetic memory' of being vulnerable nomads.

Perhaps it is....

the adrenaline rush you get on the way to the start ... it is a new beginning.. the start of a wonderful adventure.... embarking on a journey through history and of self discovery
The first stamp in the credential marks the beginning ...
The first step on the way ..... and starting most days with a stunning sunrise... (How many of us, in our busy lives, see a sunrise every day?)

Yellow arrows and shell markers that lead the way ... you rely heavily on these and once back in your own suburb or city, you find yourself still searching for arrows and your heart misses a beat when you glimpse a yellow blotch on a street. Crosses are found all along the camino - they are a testament to the passion of those who went before and even though I am not religious, I find crosses to be a comfort symbol - a warding off of evil spirits perhaps! Breathing in fresh mountain air ..... no pollution, traffic, billowing chimneys, just clean air.

Spectacular wildflowers in the spring

and bountiful harvests in the autumn.

spider webs glistening in the morning dew
White and Black European storks on their nests
and deep blue skies with white jet stream trails
Brilliant green vineyards and bodegas

Quaint villages and tiny pueblos with straw and mud buildings
Romanesque churches and ancient monuments

Communal meals in the albergues
Singing for your supper in a renovated church Caring hospitaleros at the pilgrim refuges
Watching the sunset with other pilgrims and singing pilgrim songs before supper
Eagerly anticipating each new day - unsure of what you will find over the next hill
Approaching the last village of the day as though you have come home
The freedom of walking every day, leaving yesterday behind, no concern for tomorrow.
The simplicity of a physically strenuous but uncomplicated lifestyle
Stepping off the treadmill of our ‘real’ life, with no television, telephones, newspapers, meetings, deadlines or bills to pay.
Watching a shepherd leading his sheep
or people working in the fields
cows being led to pasture Walking on a Roman Road or bridge
Simple crosses in a wire mesh fence
Hugging a tree
Angels in the sky .... Stained glass windows

Witnessing the daily progression of dawn to dusk

Walking through history every day
The charm of going back to basics - no en suite bathroom, no electricty, no running water


  1. Thank you so much for your valuable input on my blog. I will make some of those corrections now, and I will defiantely be visiting your blog for encouragement and info for when we finally make the Camino. Thanks again and hugs back!!

  2. Camino, "why do I love thee, let me count the ways...."

    Quite thorough and inspiring! Keep them coming...

    Warm hugs from the Caribbean,

  3. Anonymous10:18 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your photos and so many friends seem to be retiring from adventure...seeing women closer to my age going out and doing....makes me anticipate and look forward with a smile! Wonderful Blog!!