Why are we doing this? Good question! Until two months ago I never heard anything about the Camino de Santiago, and now here we are, set to leave home for the most physically demanding challenge of our lives. I’m not even sure how it happened that I decided to make this journey, but I know how it all got started.
One day I received an email asking if I would help a couple who volunteer in their neighborhood. They sponsor an annual back-to-school event, providing school supplies and uniforms for the children. Getting to know this couple was as much fun as helping with the event. We were discussing movies when they asked if Ray and I had ever seen the movie, “The Way.” Having not seen the movie, they proceeded to tell us about The Way of St. James, or Camino de Santiago. After seeing the film in 2014, they were inspired and walked the Camino Frances, 500 miles across Spain. Because I’ve always wanted to visit Spain, I was fascinated by the thought of this pilgrimage. More than 2 years after their trip, I was caught up in their enthusiasm and excitement.
Our 20th wedding anniversary was coming up and I had already been trying to think of a memorable way to celebrate. Taking a trip to Spain would certainly be memorable, but the Camino de Santiago would be unforgettable! I started asking questions and got more excited with each answer. The views, the food, the quaint towns, the history, the people of Spain, the pilgrims from all over the world, it sounded like a perfect adventure.
Ray had just finished a two-day hike with a group up Volcán Barú, the only place in the world where you can see the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean from the same place. I had no desire to go on that trip as it is a rough hike and can be near freezing temperatures at the top. Cold weather and I do not get along. A few years prior, Ray and our son canoed the MR340, the world’s longest non-stop canoe and kayak race. While I liked the thought of Ray and I racing together, a back injury from my youth made it impossible to even consider. I happily ran ground support for them, which was a race of its own. Before that were their Boy Scout activities with no Moms allowed. It had been a long time since I had gone sailing or camping. While I was never a fan of sweating, I had become more and more fond of electricity and indoor plumbing, and less of discomfort. But I was immediately attracted to the idea of walking across a country that had always held my curiosity. I started searching for information on the internet and couldn’t stop; hours and hours of reading about the Camino. Ray didn’t even have a choice. I decided that we were going to walk The Way and announced to our friends that we would be going to Spain in May before I had taken even one practice hike.