In September of 2020, I plan to walk the Camino de Santiago.
The Camino de Santiago Trailwalk dates back to the 9th Century and is one of the most famous and sacred pilgrimage walks in the world. The walk crosses Spain and ends at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The Cathedral is the shrine dedicated to Jesus’ Apostle, Saint James the Great, and is said to contain his remains.
Thousands of people complete the Camino de Santiago Trailwalk every year. Their motivations are as varied as the routes. Some people complete the walk as a form of spiritual retreat or spiritual growth. Others complete the walk as a test of their physical strength and endurance. Many pilgrims are drawn by the astounding beauty of the countryside, towns and villages. The warmth of the people who populate these towns and villages and communion with fellow pilgrims are major attractions. The Trailwalk is of great cultural and historical significance. The Camino de Santiago is home to 9 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Great food and liquid refreshment are an added bonus. In my case, every one of these boxes can be checked.
There are nine routes that can be followed to complete this pilgrimage. Here are a few: Camino Frances, Camino Primitivo, Camino Portugues and Camino del Norte. Camino Frances is the most popular and is the route I will follow. It starts at St. Jean Pied de Port, in Southwest France, crosses the Pyrenees mountains, proceeds across northern Spain and ends at Santiago de Compostela. The distance travelled is 565 miles. I plan to walk from Santiago de Compostela to the sea, an additional 80 miles. The time from start to finish is approximately 34 days.
I will be completing this pilgrimage with John Berchild, a dear friend who I have known for over 50 years. In fact, John suggested this trip in a post on my blog during my Mississippi River adventure. John is a few weeks younger than me. We will be 78-years young when we begin this journey. John and I began our legal careers at a Los Angeles-based lawfirm in the 1970’s. We became good friends because we share a lot of the same life values. John and his wife, Kathy, hail from Wisconsin, and they now live in Superior, Wisconsin following John’s retirement in 2007. They fully embody all of the great Midwest values that I wrote about so often in my Mississippi River blogs.
I am especially happy to complete this trip with John because he is a Veteran, and I revere our Veterans. John was commissioned in the United States Navy in 1965 after graduating from college. Part of his rationale in choosing the Navy was “I knew the Viet Cong didn’t have submarines.” John served in Viet Nam on the USS Porterfield, a World War II Destroyer (“lots of bombardment and other action.”). He then tested torpedoes for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Long Beach, California. He then transferred to the east coast and later cruised the Mediterranean where he was stationed on a Destroyer Tender in Naples, Italy and Valletta, Malta. He concluded his service (as he said “I lucked out”) with shore duty in the Salisbury Plain area in England. John was discharged from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. Here are John’s thoughts on our upcoming Pilgrimage:
I always look at my Navy time as one of those watershed events that really changes the whole direction of your life. Most things evolve, but some things are events that make a fundamental difference. I think the Camino (at this time of my life) might be another one of those events.
Well said John.
As usual, I will blog this trip on my website. I hope you will walk with John and I and support us with your thoughts and prayers. As I complete this immensely spiritual journey and visit the many churches and cathedrals along the way, I will pray for you and the ones you care for and love.