The outdoor narrative, ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago’ (2012), by Bill Walker, will be available for free upload on Amazon Kindle on Saturday and Sunday, September 22 and 23. This is a story of 6’11″ Bill Walker’s (‘Skywalker’) pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in 2010 and 2011.
The Camino de Santiago is far and away Europe’s most popular footpath. Fully 200,000 pigrims were trekking its main route, ‘The Camino Frances’ in the Holy Year of 2010. This pilgrimage goes back to medieval times and is considered one of the three great Christian pilgrimages (Jerusalem and Rome are the other two). In fact, 500,000 pilgrims per year made the trek to this apostolic mecca in Santiago de Compostela during the 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th centuries. It was one of the greatest mass movements of humans in history. Many simply did it out of loyalty to the apostle, James the Greater. Modern pilgrims, on the other hand, have a much greater diversity of motives. Some are indeed there for religious reasons, others for spiritual reasons. Someone had told Walker the Camino was ”The European Divorcee Trail,” before he began, which he jokes in the book was the decisive factor in his deciding to undertake the pilgrimage.
The Camino de Santiago runs for 800 kilometers (500 miles) from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. It passes through countless pueblos, as well as better known cities such as Pamplona (Hemingway), Burgos, Leon, and Cebreiro. Many pilgrims continue on to Finistierre (‘The End of the World’) on the Atlantic upon completion of their pilgrimage.
The population of pilgrims includes the widest variety of nations (Germans, French, Italians, and Spanish the most populous) imaginable. It is almost like the United Nations on foot. Walker has a happy conclusion in his book: “The Camino de Santiago is the best way I ever found to travel. You do a good amount of walking each day to be sure. But you don’t have to kill yourself out there like on the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. And instead of having to eat that godawful hiker food, you eat great Spanish food and sip red wine each night.And best of all, it is so easy to meet foreigners in authentic ways on the Camino, as opposed to a conventional trip.”
Upon completion of the Hollywood movie, ‘The Way‘, by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen, American pilgrims have finally begun arriving on the Camino de Santiago in significant numbers for the first time ever.
Bill Walker is the author of ‘The Best Way–El Camino de Santiago’ (2012). He is also the author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, as well as Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail.Walker, who is nearly 7-feet tall, is currently working on a whimsical book on the subject of height.