The Camino de Santiago is an 800 kilometer pilgrimage, westward across Spain, dating back to the Middle ages. It is said that the remains of St. James were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they were buried in what now is the city of Santiago de Compostela. For centuries, people have walked this pilgrimage route to pay homage to St. James and/or for penance, physical or spiritual reasons.
I walked the Camino or The Way of St. James in the spring of 2016 and 2017. Although for a combination of reasons, I best describe my motivation as a desire for an uninterrupted, prolonged challenge. My expectation was that along the way, the physical challenge would also produce a mental and spiritual challenge; that immersion for six weeks in a foreign land would afford unexpected and overdue epiphany.
After my 2016 Camino, I documented each day with a photograph and an original haiku. As a comparison, I did the same in 2017. Each day’s photo reflects time and place; each haiku describes impression.
Both years, most days, I walked to and from the same town. However, the variables of time of day, weather, sunlight and shadow influenced the photos I took. Likewise, the people I met along the way undoubtedly influenced my impression. Each of these variables made a similar experience, different.
I’ve often wondered why I stop to take a photograph when someone else might not and what contributes to forming my first impression. What catches my eye enough to make me want to pause and record what I see? What helps me “size up” a place or person?
By walking the same route in the same season, I wanted to find out if repeat experience could still be unique. Would what stopped me in 2016 also stop me in 2017? Was it possible I would photograph from the same vantage point? And in the looking back, could I rely on my first impression to tell the story or would a second impression inevitably alter the first?
Hope you’ll take a look…and maybe get a glimpse of what I experienced.
In April and May, 2019, I will begin documenting another Camino through France from Le Puy to St. Jean Pied de Port. I look forward to this pilgrimage across France, ending where I began to walk across Spain in 2016 an 2017. All the variables I spoke about are still there but I’ve added another since this is not the previously taken route.
Hope you’ll take another look as I start my journey on April 19th.