I’m a middle-aged woman and mother who has just completed an 847-kilometre Camino, travelling alone for the first time in decades.
This summer, pilgrims arrived in record numbers – more than 3,000 each day – at the pilgrims’ office in Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral in Santiago is the destination of many paths of pilgrimage in Spain and beyond, the third most popular pilgrimage in the world after Rome and Jerusalem. The bones of St. James are claimed to be located in the cathedral.
For six weeks, I walked from St. Jean de Luz in France along the Camino del Norte on the north coast of Spain – solo -- carrying everything I needed in a backpack weighing about eight kilograms. At 53, I’m used to my creature comforts, and to people relying on me for big and little things, but for the first time in 20+ years, I had only myself to look after.
There is the physical challenge of walking for six weeks in challenging terrain; will my body hold up (it did, mostly)? There is also the mental and spiritual journey of the Camino; how will this change me and what will I learn about myself (still in progress)? Will my family cope without me (yes)?
I also had to face the day-to-day practical challenges of hostel accommodations, functioning in a culture where I did not speak much of the language, and in connecting with people who are much younger and much older than I.
I documented my photos and commentary on the Polarsteps app. You can read and see everything here.