Have you ever heard about the St. James Walk?
It’s a pilgrimage route across Spain that has different routes, all of them having as destination the city of Santiago the Compostela, in the north-west of Spain. Legend holds that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried on what is now Santiago de Compostela. The Way of St. James has been one the most important Christian pilgrimage since the Middle Ages, and for centuries people have walked it for spiritual reasons, but in recent years the Camino (which means “path” in Spanish) has been (unfortunately) over-commercialized. There are thousands of things that could be said about the Camino, but I won’t bore you and will give you the essentials: you can either walk or cycle (or even ride a horse!), you can decide the starting point of the journey, but to obtain the certificate recognizing that you walked the Camino, you must at least walk the last 100 km.
One of the most feared questions was why I was walking the Camino. I perfectly knew the ultimate reason, but it felt very personal, so probably not the first thing you would like to share with a complete stranger after 5 minutes meeting them. I’m not going to reveal that ultimate reason, but during the year abroad I encountered many signs that made me think that undertaking this incredibly tough journey was the answer to my doubts. Apart from the many posters advertising the Camino that I found on the streets in Granada, a photography exhibition about the Camino I found after having randomly entered a building and many of my friends telling me that one day they would like to do this journey, in the second semester I found myself in an incredibly negative and stressed state of mind: I needed to get away from the hectic life of the city, disconnect from the technology and all the social media and finally immerse myself in the nature to find myself and reflect upon what has been a very intense year. So I took the decision to walk the Camino and started training when, funnily enough, I found out that one of my best friends wanted to do the same. My initial decision was to walk alone because I needed time for myself, but the idea of having her company was more exciting because I knew we were going to experience some crazy adventures and having someone to share them with is always great. When I then shared my plans for the summer with another friend of mine encountered in Granada, she decided to join in as well, and there we were: three fearless girls who had absolutely no idea of what was expecting them.
So, we managed to walk for 12 days for 300 km approximately, from Oporto (in Portugal) until Santiago de Compostela. It definitely had been an adventure and we learnt a lot from it, both about ourselves and… let’s say, the “human nature”. In the end, what really counts is not the destination, but the journey, the people, the place and experiences you live.
I’ll leave you with a video made about our journey, hope you enjoy it!
Tharusha, from Granada (Spain)