The Camino de Santiago is a 500 mile, historic pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. It is walked by thousands every year, both Christians and non-believers. To mark his 50th birthday, the brilliant Norwegian cartoonist Jason decided that walking the length of the Camino was what he needed to do. On the Camino is Jason’s memoir of that trek — 32 days and 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre, observing with the eye of an artist, chronicling both the good (people, conversations) and the bad (blisters, bedbugs). Full of quiet incidents, odd encounters, small triumphs, and the occasional setback, On the Camino is the latest graphic novel by a master cartoonist.
2 months ago I returned to the U.S. from a 500-mile journey across Spain. On foot.
I have about 1500 photos (…or so), and I figure if I post a few of them every day I’ll finish sharing them next year by my Camino Start Date Anniversary, May 3rd. So here I go.
I arrived in France, met new friends Anna (Atlanta, GA by way of Bulgaria) and Frederic (Germany) at the airport and headed by train to our starting point, St. Jean Pied de Port. We trudged through some rain, jet lagged and clueless, up into town to the Pilgrim Office for our Camino de Santiago Pilgrim credentials. Then I stayed at this charming B&B for the night.
Despite all the cloudiness, that red hair turned blonde over the next 36 days. Those days start tomorrow. Stay tuned!
I survived the first day. 23.4 km from St. Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles. I crossed the Pyrenees from France into Spain with a girl I met from Mexico, Edna. She is really awesome and I honestly loved hiking with her.
The hike was difficult- you scale uphill 1400m in altitude, for roughly 15 kilometers. You walk through farm land with horses, cows, and sheep all around you as the Pyrenees start to go smaller and smaller in the background. It was honestly so beautiful. When we got to the top, we screamed out “YESSSS” because we (wrongly) believed that after the flat part it went gradually downhill. It didn’t. You cross from France into Spain on a blessedly flat part only to discover you still have a little more to climb. Then you basically go straight ass downhill. My leg hates me from the downhill, but man, the forests you enter into after that initial falling down reminded me of home. I kicked the fallen leaves like a five year old, happy as a clam, trying to distract myself from the 22 pound bag on my back.
I feel like a champion. I honestly do. Me left knee hates me (kind of like how most of normal America hates Donald Trump) but I survived. The rest is honestly going to be hard, but I think surviving the Pyrenees after passing so many grave markers of pilgrims who didn’t make it, anything is possible.