The documentary, “Walking the Camino,” has slowly been making its way across the country. After months of monitoring screenings in various states, the movie finally arrived close enough for us to see it in a weekend road trip. Only 1.5 hours away from home, we arrived at the small, college town of Normal, Illinois. Although the t-shirts in the college bookstore window poke fun at the town name (“We’re far from Normal here.”), it’s quintessential small town America. The showing was held at the historic Normal Theater, which being on the National Register of Historic Places, is a treat in itself to visit. In addition, all concessions were only $1.00, which was an extra bonus! (Gotta love cheap date nights!)
After seeing Emilio Estevez’s movie “The Way,” I have become very curious about hiking the Camino de Santiago. Through my research, I have a feeling that movies may glorify the experience a bit. Harry and I love the idea of hiking through the French Pyrenees and the beautiful countryside of Spain, ending our days drinking Spanish wine and enjoying good conversation. However, we’re not too keen on the idea of bunking with others and staying at crowded albergues. Stories of snorers, bed bugs, smelly hikers, and shared sleeping quarters have us questioning if we would enjoy the experience enough to make it through the month-long hike. Nonetheless, something or someone is calling me to do this walk.
After the movie, we rehashed the film over some fine Irish beverages at the local pub. It’s funny how a good documentary and a Guinness can get some great dialogue going.
We discussed the story of the woman who brought her small son with her on her Camino. Once you witness a child reach Santiago de Compostela, marking the end of the 500 mile walk, it definitely diminishes bragging rights. Similar to many others who have made the attempt to walk across the country, we spoke of the fear that our knees and hips wouldn’t last. As we debated how much gear one should actually bring with them, we started to get a little symbolic.
Together, we came up with our own personal reflection of the life of a backpacker:
“The bigger the backpack, the more fear you carry.”
In the movie, a young man walks with a small backpack with a change of socks and underpants. He carries confidence as he makes his way. You start to see other Camino hikers lose their gear, as they slowly find themselves and become more confident too.
I anticipate that even though we are only bringing along two backpacks, as Harry and I become more confident will we too will be shedding “weight.” And by weight I mean unnecessary gear, actual pounds, past burdens, and any fear or questions that we hold inside as we begin this amazing journey.