At the moment I’m maintaining a post-a-day pace with this blogging business, however I have no doubt that this will slow down once I start travelling… don’t worry!
Another significant part of my preparation is familiarising myself with the Camino Portugues. This ‘Way’ is one part of the collection of pilgrimage routes across Western/Central Europe known as the Camino de Santiago (the way of Saint James). The route traditionally starts in St Jean Pied de Port in France and finishes in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. However, for thousands of years people have also been walking other routes to reach Santiago de Compostela such as those that begin in Spain, other parts of France and Portugal. The routes vary in length, remoteness and the amount of physicality required.
I have decided to do the Camino Portugues which I believe traditionally begins in Porto but has been kind of unofficially extended to start further south in Lisbon. A friend of mine – the same person who WWOOFed in Europe – last year walked a route of a Camino that stretched across Spain. He seemed to get a lot out of meeting the challenge of dealing with physical exertion and social isolation (I believe he walked around 650 km over a period of approximately 2 weeks, although I could be wrong). The seed of curiosity was planted in my mind. Towards the second half of last year one of the women I work with mentioned that she had also walked a Camino – the Camino Portugues. She described the scenery as beautiful, the people as friendly and the terrain as not too challenging. Again, as my colleague described her experience and what she had gained out of it, it seemed to me like something I would love to do. What better way of getting to know a country inside and out? My decision was made!
After borrowing her Camino Portugues guide book, I had gotten enough information to set a rough date for undertaking the walk. In September (Autumn in Portugal), the Way is reportedly not too hot nor busy. The month is timed after the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, which I definitely want to be around for again. Despite my planning, I had a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that walking across rural parts of a foreign country alone may not be the best idea for a young lady!
I mentioned my Camino intentions and reservations to a good friend of mine in Perth who is planning to defer her study of Architecture for a year and do some overseas travelling. As I described the walk and what would be required and gained, the excitement and understanding grew in her eyes until she finally exclaimed “I want to do it too!” And that’s how our plan to walk the Camino together was formed. We assured each other that at moments requiring solitude and reflection we would allow each other the space to walk ahead, and at times requiring companionship and protection we would be there for each other. We are meeting tomorrow to plan out the details, order a Camino guide online and work out where we can buy the best hiking boots in Perth!
I should mention that although I don’t consider myself to be a religious person, I do feel that I am a spiritual person and I am interested in gathering information and experiences regarding different theologies and forming my own opinions. Some of the teachings of Buddhism that I learnt last year have helped me to deal with my emotions and dealings with other people (still a fair bit to learn there) … it has also prompted me to look for the ‘truth’ in every religion I come across. I think walking the Camino will be another step in discovering my spirituality and trying to understand my place in the world. Maybe there’ll be some cute guys too :o)