Every journey has a beginning and it usually starts long before the first step is ever taken. When I decided a few years ago to make the pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, the most common reaction I got from my family and acquaintances was “Why?”
The long answer is too long to go into in detail here, but the beginning of this particular journey includes several books I’ve read (among them Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which I first encountered in high school and which put the idea of pilgrimage in my head; and, more recently, Strong as Death by Sharan Newman), several places I’ve been, and a long-standing interest in the history of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
The short answer is: I want to see if I can do something that will help me understand, in however limited a way, the experiences that a devout person living in late Medieval Europe would have experienced.
There are lots of websites and blogs out there advising people on how to prepare for the Camino and recounting individual experiences of walking across the north of Spain. One of the best and most comprehensive sites with links to lots of other useful places is the Camino Forum. My intent in writing about the Camino is not to advise others, but to describe what worked for me. I also hope to share the experiences that will expand on my short answer reason for going.