Taking Your Soul for a Stroll
Written by: Ann Kirkland
“For a man that goes on a pilgrimage does best of all if he starts out with the heart of a wanderer, eager for the world as it is, forgetful of maps or descriptions, but hungry for real colours and men and the seeing of things.”
Who would think that walking for hours each day through all weather conditions, often over rough terrain, would be just the right restful and refreshing antidote for my condition? But it is. Put simply, the Camino offers respite from the business of modern existence.
On the Camino, the distractions, decisions and deadlines of home are stripped away. The thieves of our time and focus are eliminated. So, its first gift is, paradoxically is a lightening of the load.
We begin in the heart of Spain in Madrid and then set out for Leon to receive a Pilgrim’s Blessing.
Each day is lived in the simplicity of the path, traveling at just 4 km an hour. There is time to savour the hallowed landscape that surrounds us with its vast display of fauna, flora, and sky. We walk at our own relaxed pace, stopping when we choose, to rest or to delight in a gaggle of ducks enjoying their morning ablutions.
The people you meet on the Camino generate a welcome optimism about the ties that bind members of the human family and the simple kindness we are capable of, irrespective of our differing religions and philosophies. It is absolutely blissful to be travelling with people of all ages walking for countless personal reasons.
The local Spaniards who live along the Camino are unstinting in their hospitality to pilgrims, maintaining the trail, pointing them in the right direction, offering a cup of cold water, even planting trees on sunny patches to cast some shade along the trail.
The power of the Camino is as potent today as it was over a thousand years ago when the first pilgrims set foot towards Santiago.
So this fall do take your soul for a stroll. Carry only a light day pack as we are supported by a van piloted by Pepe our incredibly friendly driver. Offer yourself a respite from the business of modern existence!
Begin the day with a steaming café con leche, enjoy a picnic in a wooded knoll for lunch, and then linger over a splendid dinner at a rural heritage property in the evening. You may ask if you need to be an Olympic athlete to do this walk? Absolutely not. But ensure that you walk regularly at home, perhaps stepping up your stamina in the weeks before heading over – and let your anticipation build.