The camino. That’s what we called it while we were there. El camino de Santiago, or in English “The Way of St. James”, is a long path that starts in various different places in Europe (mostly in Spain but there are starting places in France and England as well). This is an important part of the history of Santiago de Compostela and so a portion of the classes that we took focused on the camino and for a whole weekend we hiked part of the camino. In three days we walked over 20 miles and I must say when we calculated it at the end I was very impressed with our group. During my walk I spent a lot of time alone. My classmates raced ahead of me to finish the paths and despite my attempts to keep up I often fell behind. At first I thought it would be a lonely journey and that I would never catch up to my classmates and get left behind but after a little time spent alone I began to really appreciate what I was seeing.
My time alone meant that I really got to take in the Galician countryside and see it for all that it was. I would walk through cool, shady forests and then pop out to walk along a set of fields with tall grass. It was beautiful. It was breathtaking. I started to understand why Galician’s where so proud. The other half of the classes that I had to take in Spain were about Galician culture and a lot of the media that we saw presented Galician’s as proud people but always the settings were sad. Filled with rain and sunless skies what we watched and read didn’t help this message of pride shine through but I got to see if for myself during my time walking the camino.
This region of Spain is more than the rain that blankets it. It is not a place where sadness resides and takes the hearts of those living there. It is not a place that should be ignored. Galicia is a phenomenal region of Spain that is full of natural beauty. It is a place undisturbed by industrialism. I can see why Galician’s are proud. They live in a place full of beauty and they come from a culture that is older than contemporary Spain. I learned these things about Galicia from my host mother and through the classes that I took while in Spain but the message was not able to hit home until I saw the country alone and as a whole. My time alone on the camino allowed me to absorb the nature around me and really see what this country has to offer. It allowed me to take everything that I had learned about Galicia and contextualize it. It allowed me to see this country for what it truly is, a place of beauty and worth all the praise that its inhabitants give it.
“Camina sola es major que camina en un grupo.”