- Past OR future Camino
- 2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago Hape Kerkeling, translated from the German by Shelley Frisch. Free Press, $15 paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-4165-5387-8 - JUNE
The 500-mile route along the Camino Frances, from the base of the Pyrenees to the shrine of St. James at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, has afforded a sacred pilgrimage to Christians for centuries, and German comedian Kerkeling, somewhat whimsically, resolved to hike it. At 36, a self-described “pudgy couch potato” who suffered some health problems, Kerkeling, wanting to know who God is, set out along the route in the summer of 2001 with an overheavy knapsack only to nearly give up at the first pass. There are nearly 40 stops along the way (helpfully laid out on a map insert), and chapter by chapter, Kerkeling chronicles nearly every one. Pilgrims must get their credencial del peregrino (passport) stamped at official hostels, usually dreary bunk-packed dorms, as they go, but Kerkeling, a fastidious German craving privacy and hot baths, mostly chooses to stay in hotels. As well, he jumped into cars and trains whenever his feet were smarting. Encounters with other pilgrims enliven this travel account, especially the two English-speaking ladies who accompanied him toward the end; as they approached Santiago, they all felt emotionally uplifted. While the author is better known in Germany and his antics somewhat lost in translation, his emotionally probing narrative develops depth and a touching sincerity.