From the NYT 52 Places to Travel in 2021.
The Camino de
Santiago, Spain“An experience that is more
about the self than the selfie.”
My grandfather and I have walked four routes together on the Camino de Santiago. He is 80 and Catholic; I am 35 and skeptical. Our walks were undistracted opportunities for him to transmit family history and a lifetime of wisdom to me, punctuated by bullfights and tapas.
Our first walk was in 2007 after two of his brothers died. I was not expecting to enjoy it; the idea was that we were offering up our sufferings for our ancestors. Instead, I found myself appreciating both the forced meditation and the fellow travelers we met on the way. We’ve gone back multiple times and brought different members of our family with us. I’ve rethought jobs, relationships and life direction over hundreds of kilometers. When you walk into a town, you really smell, hear and see the gradual changes from rural to urban and back again. My father died recently. My grandfather and I are hoping to go back to the Camino next year, and walk the last 100 kilometers on the French route on his behalf. For my grandfather, completing the Camino would release my father’s soul from purgatory. For me, it would be a chance to reflect, in gratitude, with and for the family I have left.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sam Michaux is from Minnesota and moved to Los Angeles to write novels.