Book Shares Highs and Lows Experienced Along Camino de Santiago
THE SOUTHERN CROSS • NOVEMBER 2019
Reviewed by Father Charles Fuld
If you are thinking of going on a month-long retreat sometime in the coming year, here is an idea to consider: Hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route also known as the Way of St. James that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain.
But beware! As California couple Kenneth and Aurora Strange, two of the 5,000 pilgrims who walked the Camino last year, warn: “It is not a journey for the faint of heart or the soft of foot.”
You get a sense of this experience through Kenneth Strange’s new book, It’s Your Camino: One Couple’s 500-Mile Pilgrimage Across Spain. This is no tourist booklet, filled with dry facts and schedules. Rather, it’s a detailed travelogue, recounting the couple’s 31-day walk — day-by-day, mile- for-mile — from the town of Saint-Jean- Pied-de-Port in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, through Spain’s Basque country, to the city of Santiago de Compostela in the northwest corner of Spain. It includes stops at churches, cathedrals, shops, restaurants and sleepover spots, a survey of the countryside and encounters with many fellow pilgrims. It showcases the highs and lows, the joys and frustrations that they encountered along the Way.
Pilgrims have been walking the Camino de Santiago for more than 1,000 years. Its destination is the burial place of St. James the Greater, one of the Apostles.
As Strange’s book reveals, the pilgrimage route attracts all kinds of people, different but very much alike in their goal. Strange recalls encountering a blind couple hiking the trail, both young and old couples, and pilgrims who got lost or injured along the way and decided to take a bus or a taxi for the remainder of the journey. Some do the trek one segment at a time over a span of three to five years.
That’s where Strange gets the title of his book, It’s Your Camino. How you do the trail is your choice. And the manner in which it will impact your life is just as unique.
As pilgrims, the Stranges’ priorities changed. Their focus was on the Navarran landscape, the medieval villages through which they passed, the churches or inns where they sought shelter, and all their fellow travelers. Every day was a challenge and an inspiration.
How you do the trail is your choice.
And the manner in which it will impact your life is just as unique.
Chris Kellerman, of Resurrection Parish in Escondido, who recently made the trip with her daughter Lauren, agrees. She says that she will always remember each day, each step and all the faith-filled people she encountered along the way — and hopes to return someday.
It’s Your Camino is available at Amazon.com. The price is $6.99 for the Kindle version and $14.95 for the paperback. Visit the author’s website at www.kennethstrange.com.
The Southern Cross
Father Charles L. Fuld is managing editor of The Southern Cross.