I have twice walked El Camino de Santiago, a Spanish Catholic pilgrimage across Spain. This is a 500 mile ancient walking route that follows the Milky Way across northern Spain. Each night, pilgrims slept in special hostels that are housed in 500-year-old churches. During the day we followed painted yellow arrows westward: alone or together along a path that has been trod by hundreds of thousands.
I walked the Camino as a young woman, most recently when I was 21 years old. This was an important experience for me: to be alone out in the world, traveling and speaking a different language and brushing up on my toughness skills. I slept outside many nights and sang to myself as I walked: Cat Steven’s Father and Son, Jeff Buckley’s Hallelujah, and By the Rivers of Babylon.
El Camino is a hard road: physically painful, lonely at times, and spiritually grueling. But at this time in my life (some might say before I fully understood the possibilities!), I never doubted my ability to care for myself or get home safely. I hope to one day return to Spain and walk this way again.