There are now probably as many people dreaming about walking the Camino de Santiago as there are those dreaming of hiking the Appalachian Trail.
The Western North Carolina chapter of the American Pilgrims is feeding this dream. Month after month, they (we) meet at REI Asheville to talk about why walk the Camino, how to walk it, and encouraging you to get out there.
Last evening, Kathy Ramirez, a yoga teacher, writer, and seeker, gave a presentation entitled The Camino de Santiago: A Pilgrim’s Greatest Teacher.
People walk the Camino for many reasons. Some actually do it as a religious pilgrimage. Others take it on as a physical endeavour, though if you’re a Western North Carolina hiker, you won’t find it physically challenging.
I walked the Chemin de St. Jacques for cultural reason, for some misguided search for my very shallow French roots.
Kathy talked about the spiritual side. She had so many good quotes:
The Camino is a mystic force that is working on you without you doing anything at all. So how can you incorporate this mystic force when you come back home? How can you integrate it into your life? But first you have to get out there, to cross the ocean, climb over the Pyrenees and keep walking. Now you’re a pilgrim, a pellegrina.
Another good quote: I have a dream. It’s time to make it real.She took photos of a lot of sayings on the trail. If the Camino was a national park, it would be considered graffiti, but here it’s inspirational.
What I enjoyed the most about her presentation and what made it different is that she talks about the locals, the Keepers of the Camino as she called. Locals feel that the world is coming to them and they’re cheering you on. She talked to locals because she speaks Spanish. Having the language is so important.
So what happens after the Camino? Another good quote
Just keep walking until the next arrow appears.
But just like every other Camino meeting I’ve been to, the audience wanted to know about the practicalities. What books would she recommend? How much weight did she carry? Where did she stay? What did she eat? And what about those bedbugs??
Just keep on walking.