On Monday, I went to the monthly Asheville REI meetings of the American Pilgrims on the Camino. At this point, I don’t go to these meetings to learn more practical stuff – though I always do. I go for camaraderie, support and plain entertainment. Mark Cobb, the evening’s moderator, said that there are now over forty American Pilgrims chapters, a far cry from when these meetings started.
Karen and Dan presented their trip from Porto, Portugal to Santiago, along with another couple that didn’t want to be part of this blog. Starting from a picturesque fishing village, Karen and Dan walked 140 miles to reach Santiago and get their Compostela. You need to prove that you’ve walked at least 100K (60 miles) to get your certificate. To do that, you need two stamps per day, along the way. You get stamps at your lodging, bars and even churches.
Their slide presentation showed a compilation of farmland, stacked hay, and grapes ready to be harvested. They also talked about the reality of walking every day, such as sore feet that needed Compeed and long lines at the albergues (hostels).
Their beautiful food photos showed only fish, bread, and baked goodies. Where were the fruit, vegetables, and even grain? I need to get those from grocery stores because restaurant and snack bars aren’t going to offer anything fresh. In these small towns, fresh fruit and vegetables are the luxury items since there isn’t much traffic.
Karen and Dan took a rock from home and carried it to Santiago. They also put a shell on their backpacks. Supposedly, leaving a rock behind is symbolic of leaving a marriage, a job, a burden that you’ve been carrying. The shell is for keeping something (I’m not quite sure what) close to you.
This presentation made me wonder about pilgrims in the Middle Ages. What did they wear? What did they eat? Were there women pilgrims? It’s time for me to do some research.