Santiago comes from Santo Iago which means Saint James. He was one of the 12 Apostles and rumored brother of Jesus Christ. The legend tells us that his body was found in a boat floating in the Atlantic Ocean near the Northern shore of Spain. His remains were moved inland and buried in the place where we can now find the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The remains were discovered in the 9th century and starting with the next millennium, millions of people walked miles to visit them. The catholic traditions say that when someone has completed the camino, their sins are forgiven.
UNESCO has declared the camino a Universal Patrimony of Humanity and a World Heritage Site. In 1987 the European Union declared it the first European Cultural Itinerary. It started like a Christian pilgrimage but now, anyone can follow it, no matter their religion, belief or age.
In 2013, you can find numerous reasons to start the camino, related to religion or not.
For me, it came in a moment when I needed something for the awakening of the human consciousness in me. I needed to discover my meaning in life and get closer to it. I woke up and gave away the heavy quilt of my overwhelming job. I left the table where I was feeding myself with unhealthy habits. I watched my face in the mirror and could not recognize myself. I managed to smile to the girl in the mirror but I wanted more. I was searching for my self, I was looking for detachment, wanting to breathe fresh air, to find self-discipline. I was searching to live like a spiritual being with a human experience, not the opposite.
So, my being went to Decathlon and found the hiking department. I bought lightweight white T-shirts, long and short black pants, both lightweight, hiking shoes, a purple sweater, a white scarf, the pink wonder-towel, an incredibly small sleeping-bag, trip-knife and a one-day-backpack. I added 3 pairs of waterproof socks, cotton underwear and a huge rain-poncho from my mother’s personal collection (I wondered why someone would wear something like that). I received as a gift from mom a pair of wonder-sandals and a water-bag, which I later called ‘the bladder’. My first-aid kit included a Compeed box, Ibuprofen, homeopath pills against muscle soreness and a sunscreen cream. Cosmetics: one soap, toothbrush, toothpaste and almonds oil. I do spoil myself. The pilgrims also carry safety pins, cash, the pilgrim’s credential, a guide, a camera and a cell phone. They also carry a gravel (or any other object with some personal meaning) which they leave at Cruz de Fer, together with the gravel’s burden. We all have a weight pressing on our shoulders, without it being a real weight. For me, it was a necklace, which I personally made with love, carrying my bad habits during the time I was a teenager and a few years after. I packed my ipod with happy songs and audiobooks.
And I also packed my favorite red baseball cap…