The Camino de Santiago Pt.1 : One Way Tickets

About a year ago I graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a BA in Development Economics and a minor in Art: New Media. Which means much of my time in undergrad was spent in the art center or the library, or somewhere sleep deprived in my house furiously creating in hopes of making the deadline. My last semester of college was characterized by about 4-5 hours of sleep a night and doing my best to stay sane until graduation.

And so graduation came and went with a flurry of family and friends and relatives and trips and smiles and congratulations. I lined up a summer internship with Helm & Harbor, a little creative company based out of Fremont that did photography and videography for NGOs and Non- profits. With them I got to meet with and create with more creative minds in Seattle and Denver and Jordan (yes. The country). But there was still something in me that needed to do something spontaneous and celebratory and for myself.
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 A few years ago I lived and studied in Bilbao, Spain at the Universidad de Deusto for a semester. During my time there I was able to experience the Camino de Santiago for the first time. I had seen the movie “The Way” and read a few random articles about this trail, and now I was living in the country that held this ancient tradition. So I was able to convince a few adventurous souls to do a three day portion of it with me from Pamplona to Logroño. I fell in love with the trail and the community and then spiritual journey. This was stuck in my mind, and I tucked it away in a back corner for a later time.


Brief History of the Camino de Santiago:
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In English, “The Way of St. James”, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where legend has it that the remains of Jesus’s apostle Saint James the Elder lie. The Camino has existed as a Christian pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years, and there is evidence of a pre-Christian route as well. Throughout the medieval period it was one of the three most important Christian pilgrimages undertaken. Indeed, it was only these pilgrimages—to Jerusalem, to Rome, and to Santiago de Compostela—which could result in a plenary indulgence, which frees a person from the penance due for sins.
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Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela reached its peak during the Middle Ages and it is safe to say that it constituted a major cultural aspect of that period of history in Europe. The medieval peregrino surely almost always was undertaking the arduous journey that was the Camino for serious religious reasons. The modern peregrinos‘ reasons for walking surely span the range from the religious through spiritual to historical and cultural to sport. Where the medieval peregrino was seeking forgiveness for sins or for the Saint’s assistance in some matter, most modern peregrinos will, for whatever reason, be looking to earn thecompostela or certificate of completion of the Camino from the cathedral in Santiago. To accomplish this the modernperegrino carries a pilgrim’s credential or passport which is stamped in the various cities and villages passed through. This record serves as proof that the route has indeed been walked or bicycled.

This was that later time. I really had no idea what in the world I wanted to do after college. The concept of getting a full time job right out of school has not been very appealing to me, and so one random Wednesday in July I bought a one way ticket to Paris, to set out on my first completely solo trip, and to walk the Way of St. James.
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That was about the extent of my thought process when I booked my ticket. But I also made a decision chart. And though it may a bit morbid and melodramatic, I would say it reflected my thoughts well.
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My decision became pretty dang clear by the time I finished filling out the sheet, and so I acted slightly spontaneously and purchased my airfare, telling myself that I can figure out the rest of it later and to not become too concerned. After all, I had a month and a half to go, and a few more countries to visit before then.
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Why a one – way? Because I didn’t want to limit myself to a specific time frame so that I could take full advantage of whatever came my way.

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