My name is Bob and I am a peregrino (Spanish for “pilgrim”). Several years ago I was made aware of a wonderful movie entitled “The Way,” starring Martin Sheen and directed by his son, Emilio Estevez. This film tells the story of a father’s love for his son and takes place along the ancient pilgrimage route that runs across the top of Spain known as the Camino de Santiago (or Way of St. James). This film changed my life in that it engendered an abiding passion for all things related to the Camino. Since that time there has been no turning back.
I am a retired businessman who left the workforce in 2012. My wife and I, plus our three dogs, spend our winters in San Diego, California and summers on our 100-acre farm in Washington State. In retirement I have found time to pursue many interests without having to worry about such annoying distractions as work schedules and the like.
The Camino de Santiago is more than a single path. It is actually a network of many routes that all converge at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where the remains of James, the Greater, son of Zebedee – one of the twelve disciples – are believed to be interred. (See About the Camino.) Men and women from all walks of life have been making pilgrimages to Santiago for over 1200 years ago. Even today, thousands of pilgrims make the trek to Santiago each year. In 2016 alone, 277,854 pilgrims arrived in Santiago, according to the cathedral’s official Pilgrim Office! Of this number, 176,075 pilgrims arrived after walking on the Camino Frances – the most popular route that stretches from the town of St. Jean Pied de Port in the southwest corner of France almost 500 miles across the top of Spain to Santiago.
In the fall of 2014 a friend and I hiked the Camino Frances arriving in Santiago on October 19. This was the experience of a lifetime and I have tried to document the journey and convey some of the thoughts and feelings I had on the Camino in this blog. I have often felt inadequate in this endeavor since the Camino was so much bigger than anything I had ever experienced or could adequately express. But, I can definitely state that I have been changed by the Camino experience and that it has now become an essential part of my life.
During the months since completing the Camino in 2014 I have kept up an active engagement with the Camino community primarily through the American Pilgrims on the Camino (APOC) Facebook page. Since 2014 I have become aware of some of the other Camino routes and have developed an especially keen interest in the Via Podiensis – the 500-mile Camino that begins in Le Puy en Velay, France, and ends in St. Jean Pied de Port – the traditional start of the Camino Frances.
As obsessions are apt to do, this interest has coalesced into a plan to return to the Camino this summer. The plan is to hike the entire way from Le Puy en Velay to Santiago – a distance of almost 1000 miles! There are days when this seems crazy and other days when it appears to make perfect sense. But, I have the support of a wonderful wife and feel confident that I can and should make the pilgrimage once again. The calling is strong. I have had to face up to my fears and anxieties about this undertaking, but feel better equipped to face the challenges having already completed the Camino Frances. I am not proposing to enter into totally unknown territory. So, after a hiatus of almost three years, I plan to reactivate the blog and start documenting this next chapter in my Camino life. I hope you will join me on this adventure.