MARCH – APRIL 2017
The Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James, Pilgrim’s Journey … so many names for a very, very long walk!
We had some life style changes to make and figured out the best way to do this, is to break away from the known to the unknown. From being comfortable to totally out of our comfort zone!
Therefor, in March 2017, our backpacks were packed and we were ready to leave Cape Town for a 5 week walking journey of about 720km in Spain. Does it sound daunting? To me, it did … but this was a challenge we were dreaming of for years and very much looking forward to.
Yellow arrows and scallop shells – the way markers on the Camino de Santiago
Our adventure already started on our way to Spain with us arriving in Madrid without our backpacks! Oh my, what is a pilgrim on a walking journey without a backpack? The airport staff in Madrid informed us that our backpacks were still in Dubai, but that they would make sure it got to us.
Lesson learned: Next time, get a smaller backpack that can fit as carry-on luggage
In good faith we found our seats on the midnight bus from Madrid to Pamplona with only the clothes we’ve had on. We had a booking for one night in Aloha Hostel and were still convinced that we would start our Camino the next day (Monday morning). But the Camino threw us a curveball even before we started, because our backpacks only arrived after lunch on Monday and we had to postponed our start to the next day, Tuesday.
Lesson learned: Things don’t always work out the way you planned it. Accept it and move on
In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that our backpacks took 2 days to get to us. Now, we had chance to recover from our long flight from Cape Town and more time to discover the beautiful city of Pamplona. This was unplanned, but we’re actually so happy we had the time to see more of Pamplona … it’s gorgeous city!
Here are a few photos taken in Pamplona:
Our “Credencial del Peregrino” – issued by the The Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa. Over the next couple of weeks, we will accumulate many “sellos” (stamps) from each albergue/hostel where we will stay
Just a side note here to our fellow South Africans:
Contact The Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa (you will find them here) to assist you in your initial preparation for the Camino. They are based in Milnerton, a suburb of Cape Town, and have assisted us with all our enquiries and the necessary paperwork to apply for our Schengen Visas (which South Africans will need to travel to Spain).
History on the Camino shell:
Our scallop shells – a symbol of direction on the Camino
It is said that this symbol is a metaphor – its lines represent the different routes traveled by pilgrims from all over the world, which all lead to one point – the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.
Pilgrims wear this symbol themselves which further enhances the camaraderie along this great walking trail. You will find the scallop shell on the milestone markers which are guiding pilgrims in the right direction.
We bought our shells at a shop in Pamplona and tied it to the front of our backpacks … this was the last thing we had to do, before we could embark on our journey.
Day 1 (of 29 days in total) will follow in the next post …