What is this Camino-thing?

Two weeks from today we start our journey of 500 miles (or in Eurospeak – 780 kilometers). We will be walking one of the routes of what is referred to as the “Camino,” or “the way.” Our particular route will be the Camino Frances, which starts in the French town of St. Jean Pied de Port and ends in Santiago de Compostela. The route takes us through a good portion of northern Spain, through all kinds of terrain. I heard one person say that we would travel through 89 cities, towns, and villages (and probably see even more Catholic Churches).

Here is a map that gives a little bit of the idea:

There are actually many “camino” routes, many paths to Santiago. Originally, this pilgrimage was a journey that took people to Santiago to venerate the remains of James, the son of Zebedee, one of the apostles of Jesus who ultimately became the patron saint of Spain. People have walked the Camino for well over one thousand years. Today, people walk this path for many reasons, some spiritual, some not. (If you would like more information on the Camino and its history, the web site of American Pilgrims is a wonderful resource.)

A few thoughts in response to recent questions we have received…Lena and I intend to walk the whole Camino Frances. (Though we reserve the right to take a bus every now and then.) We will be taking backpacks, staying in albergues (hostels), and eating food from cafes and grocery stores. We have reservations for the first few nights, but after that will look forward to deciding each day how far to travel and finding a place to stay. We look forward to both silence and conversation and are eager to meet others, to deepening our own relationship, and to relish the silence and simplicity. We are open to encountering the Spanish and French (and other) cultures, but our language skills are extremely limited. We are taking iPhones, but are trying to not be overdependent on technology.

It is a strange but good time in our lives as we are on the verge of many new things. We have never done anything quite like this before. We are glad to share a bit of this with you and hope you will send us your good energy and prayers!

So It Is A Little Early

Yesterday Lena and I assembled everything we are going to carry on the Camino. It was actually quite a major task as we tried to account for everything we are carrying; including water, toiletries, clothes, and all sorts of little items. The goal was to see how much it all weighed. Surprise – my bag was waaay too heavy. I am hoping to carry about 18 pounds, it was over 25. (Lena did far better.) So where can I lose 7 pounds? You look at the picture and see what you think.

Should I take only two pairs of underwear? One short-sleeve shirt? Get rid of any night clothes and replace with running shorts? Saw the handle off my toothbrush? This is a harder decision than I imagined. I’ve already bought a lighter towel that will save 3/4 of a pound. I’m not going to count the clothes I will be wearing (that will save another pound). But I am still a long way off.

I am glad we did this exercise. It makes me wonder about all the excess baggage I am carrying in life. Our Camino has begun.