The Best Way to Walk the Camino de Santiago–Be ‘Entrepreneurial’
“Be entrepreneurial,” I advise people heading overseas to walk the renowned Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Indeed, I have crossed the Atlantic three times myself to trek the 500 miles from St. Jean’s Pied de Port in southern France to Santiago de Compostela in the northwestern Spanish province of Galicia, and this is the conclusion I have drawn. Be entrepreneurial.
What do I mean? Well, an entrepreneur, by his or her very nature, is looking to increase opportunities and decrease risks. Likewise on the Camino, pilgrims should be looking to immerse themselves in propitious situations and avoid people and circumstances that a re a waste of time.
A Camino pilgrimage can be about a lot of things: religion, history, art, food, wine. But for me, more than anything else, it is about the people. For it is difficult to imagine a setting with such a wide cast of nationalities peacefully interacting with each other as they go about their daily toil. Personally I find that relationships develop ‘organically’–they just happen as people struggle along the trail, look for albergues, places to dine, wash clothes, bathe, etc. This contrasts with a regular packaged tour in which everything is prescribed in advance and spontaneity is minimialized. Honestly, you just can’t help but feel an affinity with people that you never would have met on other trips, as they are preoccupied doing the same thing as you.
Of course, not all pilgrims are the same. That is the Camino’s glory. But you will come across literally thousands of pilgrims on your journey. You will be around these people all day. Very soon you will become adept at recognizing the ones who are the best company, who have the most to teach you, who travel the same distances on a daily basis as you, who share your sense of humor, who bring the best out of you. Those are the pilgrims you want to hang with. Better yet, you will have the opportunity to spent A LOT of time around these people.
Pilgrims. Be entrepreneurial in your choice of hiking partners.
Bill Walker is the author of The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago. He is also the author of Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Appalachian Trail, Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, and Getting High–The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.