“Three Friends, 33 Days, and One Unforgettable Journey on the Camino de Santiago”
The long version of the title is so spot on.
It is all about a journey, yes. But so much more than just a walk. So much more than just doing the physical distance between the two points on the map.
A few words about this pilgrimage (source):
THE CAMINO IN HISTORY: El Camino de Santiago, in English “The Way of Saint James,” is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Elder lie. The Camino has existed as a Christian pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years, and there is evidence of a pre-Christian route as well. Throughout the medieval period it was one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages undertaken. Indeed, it was only these pilgrimages—to Jerusalem, to Rome, and to Santiago de Compostela—which could result in a plenary indulgence, which frees a person from the penance due for sins.
Christian legend has it that when the Apostles divided the known world into missionary zones, the Iberian peninsula fell to James. Seventh and eighth century documents suggest that he spent a number of years preaching there before returning to Jerusalem, where in the year 44 AD he was beheaded by Herod Agrippa I. After his martyrdom, popular belief relates that his followers carried his body to the coast and put it into a stone boat, which was guided by angels and carried by the wind beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the Strait of Gibraltar) to land near Finisterre, at Padrón, in northern Spain. The local Queen, Lupa, provided the team of oxen used to draw the body from Padrón to the site of a marble tomb which she had also provided. Saint James was believed to have been buried there with two of his disciples.
Through the years, people walk the pilgrimage for many different reasons: a challenge, a bucket list “thing”, a test of strength and/or endurance, and yes, there are those who take it as a very spiritual experience.
For our three 17 year friends it starts as a one thing they want to do together before heading to college. They know each other since kindergarten, they are friends in a somewhat funny way – long phone conversations being the “main thing”. Piper, Tess and Dani are as different as can be, yet there is that bond between them that goes way back. As they walk they discover so many things they did not know about each other, but also things they did not know or did not realize about themselves. Their friendship deepens, the bond gets stronger and true because of all the adventures and experiences they go through. On their way they experience so many different feelings, the mysterious things (miracles!) that happen, the signs and the fact that they open their eyes and hearts enough to read them – change their characters forever… They definitely grow emotionally during that journey, having time to re-think their priorities, and maybe for the first time ever – re-evaluate their principles…
I absolutely loved this book. Already recommended it to my friends. A book that touches your heart in a special way, that makes you think about your own life, but also that gives you a few chuckles while you read – well. Such book should be recommended!!!
On a very personal note – I’ve read “Along the Way” from a perspective of a person who went on a few pilgrimages herself. Nowhere near 300miles, just mere 100 (in 6 days). Still it brought up memories of hurt feet (no blisters! 🙂 ), open eyes and heart, re-evaluating important points of life… And that pure happiness when you reach your goal, reach the destination. The thoughts, experiences and memories from the walk – well. It just stays with you for good 🙂