August 8, 2002

Siempre Arriba! - Always Up!

A Pilgrimage Across Northern Spain

People from all walks of life have made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain to visit the remains of St James in the the cathedral. I studied Spansih near the Northern Spanish town of Burgos, while living with a host family for the month. My 'pilgrimage' started at the French-Spanish border, and continued some 550-miles and 36 days to Finesterre, the 'end of the world' on the Atlantic Coast.

When legend has it that a hermit found the tomb of St. James in 814, the faithful have made the pilgrimage to the cathedral in Compostela de Santiago in Northwestern Spain built in the saint's honor. In the Middle Ages half a million pilgrims a year flocked there from all over Europe. I once came across a journal entry of a 16th century pilgrim, and it reminded me of Appalachian Trail thruhiker journals. So I had to add it to my list of 'future' adventures.

In August, 2002, I took four-weeks of immersion Spanish lessons at Aula sin Fronteras in the village of Salas de los Infantes, in Northern Spain, not far from the Camino. This gave me a chance to begin learning a new language and to learn more about the people and culture of Spain.

On September 13th, 2002, I began my pilgrimage along the Camino Frances route from St Jean-Pied-de-Port, at the Spanish-French border, heading west about 550-miles across Northern Spain to Santiago de Compostello and Finisterre in little more than five weeks. I was blessed with great weather even though it was reported to be one of the wettest summers on record. Hostels, also called refugios or alburgues, are set up along the route in Spain specifically for the pilgrims use, most costing little if anything. But the highlight of the entire adventure is all the wonderful people I met along the way. Truly a melting pot of the world, with pilgrims from all over Europe and the World.

I dedicate this pilgrimage to people
caught in the crossfire in the conflicts spanning the globe.
May they show strength under adversity
but retain their faith in humanity,
giving everyone reason to hope
in peace and justice for all.