Hi, my name is Beth–unless you’re French, in which case you can call me Elizabeth. Beth, it turns out, is a hard word to hear or say in French. That’s one of the things I learned when, in the spring and summer of 2015, my husband Eric and I followed the path of two million pilgrims before us and walked the Way of St. James, familiar to most Americans as the Camino de Santiago, from Le Puy, France, to Finisterre, Spain. Over 79 days we walked 1000 miles, slept in 74 different places, and yes, we still liked each other at the end.
If a long-distance walk like this sounds like an impossible feat, here’s a better way to look at it:
I turned off all electronic devices and took a three-month sabbatical from my regular life. My only responsibility every day was walk about twelve miles. In exchange, I was offered inexpensive shelter, good food and wine, an international chorus of new friends and companions, stunning scenery, and a place within a story much bigger than mine.
This blog isn’t really about our trip — at least, not in some chronological format. I’m saving that for the book. Sure, I’ll tell you plenty of stories from from the Way, and I can’t pass up a chance to show off pictures of some of the things we saw. But Camino Times Two primarily exists to help you prepare, mentally and practically, for a Camino of your own. And hopefully, it will inspire you to see the Camino as something bigger than the 500-mile stretch from St. Jean to Santiago (although that’s beautiful, too).
Because here’s the thing: I’m not some exceptional, risk-taking, super-fit person. I’m a writer and editor who prefers the comfort and safety of my couch and a good book. I’m not an athlete. I’m not a world traveler. I’m not a backpacker. I didn’t speak any French when we set out, and my Spanish was atrocious. (It still is.) If I can do this, there’s no reason why you can’t, too. Walking the Way doesn’t require any out-of-the-ordinary talent. It just takes a willingness to take a break from the routines of everyday life, and an openness to the unexpected.
So what’s with the name? Why Camino Times Two?
- Because there were two of us, and walking with a partner changes some of the dynamics of a pilgrimage.
- Because we walked twice as much of the pilgrim way as most Americans know about (yet).
- Because as soon as we got back, we started planning our next Camino, of course. In 2017 I returned to Spain for a week on the Camino Frances, and in the spring of 2018, Eric and I will tackle the first stages of Camino Norte.
If you’d like to ask a question, make a suggestion, or share your own pilgrimage story, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’m also available to talk to groups in the Pacific Northwest about walking the Camino.