WALKING IN WINTER ON THE CAMINO
A PILGRIMAGE ON THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Each year hundreds of thousands of pilgrims trek across Spain arriving at the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela where the tomb of the apostle of Saint James is located. As far back as the Middle Ages pilgrims have walked the way of Saint James often trekking hundreds of miles. The mountain ranges and formidable table lands of the Meseta are traversed by pilgrims on a journey through history as they walk along roads and bridges built by the Romans. Sometimes they begin their journey from the doorsteps of their homes in Europe and beyond. While others travel from overseas to begin their pilgrimage. The French Way, or Camino Frances, begins 500 miles from Santiago in the French town of Saint Jean Pied de Port. Modern day pilgrims begin the pilgrimage for different reasons, including spiritual enlightenment, religion, physical fitness and adventure. Today’s pilgrims carry a special passport to collect stamps each day, which they present to receive the Compostela certificate at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. The Compostela is written in Latin and recognizes the completion of the pilgrimage. The cathedral also provides a certificate for distance, which is a slightly larger document on parchment. I walked half the Camino with my brother David in the fall of 2016, and returned to finish the 500 mile, million step, journey in the winter of 2018. This is the story of my winter experience on the Camino.