El Camino de Santiago: Rites of Passage

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Trafford Publishing, 2006 - Christian pilgrims and pilgrimages - 270 pages
El Camino de Santiago - Rites of Passageis about the Chimenti family's travels on a 500-mile walking pilgrimage. It started as Nahja, their 12-year old daughterOs "rite of passage". It turned out to be a test for everyone.

The Camino de Santiago is a 1,200-year old pilgrimage that crosses Northern Spain from the French border in the Pyrenees to Santiago near Cape Finisterre. It is steeped in myth, history, and tradition.

The idea for the book came when I looked for a book to tell me what it was really like to walk the Camino. I found several straightforward travel guides, dry books on art and architecture, and lots of "personal" journeys. I wanted to know what day to day life was like on the trail. I personally was fascinated by the myths and legends of the Camino. I kept a journal while we walked, then once back home flush out the background until I got the book I was looking for a year beforehand. The reader learns what it is like to walk the Camino and gets lots of juicy tid-bits.

The journey takes you through 40 days of boot-sucking mud, snowstorms, and blazing Iberian sun. We walk out of the Pyrenees, across the meseta, through the hills of Galicia, then into the medieval town of Santiago. Come along and meet the people of the Camino; partying Germans, pilgrims who seek truth, Spanish punks, self-proclaimed Templar knights, the "elephant boys", and a Camino dog who walks 20 kilometers with pilgrims everyday. Stay in the refugios, some like palaces, others like bunkers, with hospitalieros who can range from drill sergeants to saints. Fly down the mountainside with Wayne, his foot bleeding, in a falling apart car with a self-proclaimed "Templar Knight" who blares Gregorian chants.

This is a great book for any one interested in learning about "the Camino" or any one who likes a good adventure story. Included are many tales about the people we meet and the places we stay at. The story recounts the rich history and myth of this legendary medieval pilgrimage that in its heyday attracted a half a million people. It gives practical information about the journey for people who are intrigued enough to want to try it. This is a pilgrimage that is accessible to everyone. It is safe and as challenging as you want it to be. Meanwhile you step back in time, and to a whole other mindset.

It is an inspiring story that talks about the value of rites of passage. See how our family overcomes challenges and adversities; and the rich lessons that are learned. As one refugio keeper told us, "Walking the Camino is usually the most significant thing that a person does in their life. It touches and changes everyone."


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