Jeez, it's Monday already!
B and I don't do a whole lot of traveling, at least not by the standards of many of my blogging friends (hello Bob Lowry, Stephen Hayes, Linda Myers and others!). And when B and I do go on a journey, it's usually by car. To Hilton Head, SC, for example, where we vacationed for a week in April. Or Pennsylvania, for Christmas. Or Cape Cod, where we're decamping for a week in July.
But my sister is a traveler. She and her husband flew in this past weekend from Phoenix, after making a stop in Washington, DC, and on their way to a reunion of old friends in Boston. They're also planning a trip for July, they tell us, to get away from the Phoenix heat. They're driving to Santa Barbara, then Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, where they're renting a place in the city for a couple of weeks.
But that's just their run-of-the-mill traveling. The real trip they're planning is a pilgrimage to Spain, to walk the El Camino de Santiago.
I only heard of the El Camino last year when I saw The Way, a 2010 movie that tells how Tom, an American doctor played by Martin Sheen, learns that his estranged son (played by real son Emilio Estevez) died while walking the El Camino de Santiago. Tom then decides to walk the trail himself to honor his son. He meets several travelers along the way, each of them making the journey for their own reasons, and in the end the doctor comes to terms with his son as well as his own life.
Apparently, the El Camino goes back to the Middle Ages, when pilgrims traveled from their homes along a number of routes, all converging toward the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The church is reputed to contain the remains of St. James, one of the apostles of Jesus, who traveled to the Iberian peninsula to preach, was ultimately beheaded, and then brought back to be buried at the site.
The route was particularly popular in the Middle Ages, when it was believed that indulgences could be earned along the way. Over the centuries the pilgrimage slowly lost its appeal, until by the 1980s it was almost forgotten. But in 1987 the Council of Europe declared it one of the first European Cultural Routes, and then UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site. The route began to attract more modern day adventurers from around the world -- people not necessarily going on a religious journey, but who have other reasons to make the trek.
Presumably the movie further enchanced its appeal. My sister and her husband are going with another couple, who walked a part of the trail two years ago. They're taking their hike in the beginning of October, hopefully, "after the worst of the crowds have gone."
I guess hiking the El Camino de Santiago has become a standard on many an American bucket list. It's not on mine -- I don't like to fly, and I don't like to go places where I don't speak the language. But still, it sounds like a great destination for the more adventurous wanderers among us.