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how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.

One legged man starts round the world cycle in Santiago


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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:
Romanian Paralympic athlete Ionut Preda began his around-the-world bicycle ride at Obradoiro square in Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, 13 March 2010.

Preda, 30, pedaled to Catalonia from Romania three years ago, where he began competing in Paralympic track and field events. He says he’s doing this tour to highlight that the physically disabled are capable of active lifestyles.

He plans to travel through the major world capitals over the next ten years. Preda, who now has a prosthetic leg, lost his right leg22 years ago as he was playing with a mechanical crane as a child. ... the-world/
how to successfully prepare for your Camino
This book's focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared.
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Past OR future Camino
Frances 1999, Aragones 2000, Desde Le Puy 2002, Portuguese 2009, hoping RDLP 2014
Once again, Sil brings us a story of incredible courage. I have just finished blogging about Alasdar, the Irishman, who made the Camino in his late 90's. I was stunned by his life and am still pondering its impact a month after Sil posted, and here I find Sil writing about yet another person who humbles me and vanquishes to the sidelines my stupid everyday concerns enormously. It leaves me wanting to comment, but no matter what words I try to come up with, I always fall short. I'll do what I can - I'll try to remain close to the topic, but I think there is more here...

We are in a "global recession" (though I have been told that Australia is doing Ok Mate: Aussies please advise me.) It is affecting us all. The south of Spain, where I live, is a mess of unoccupied paradises and bankrupt dreams. Directly in front of where I live, my neighbour has abandoned his dream apartment to the bank who are now offering it for less that half of what he paid for 2 years ago: 9 months on and no takers. Even the devlopers are strapped for cash as they have contracts for 24 hour security, pool maintainance, gardeners. It was luxury: it's still luxury. But those who believed in it are paying, big time. I, luckily am a renter as I swore some years ago in Canada that I would never again be saddled with "real estate". ("Straps my Style, Man!") At some time in the future, I may regret it; but not now. Many people here are victims of "negative equity": who is to blame? Would it make any difference if we had the answer to this question? It is easy to lose confidence as we see our dreams become diminished along with our finances. We wonder why we have been struck with this situation. This lack of "Luck".

Then along comes someone like this man.
His courage perhaps puts our feeble worries to shame. I don't say this to make anyone feel guilty (including me, though I do a bit): far from it. I mention it to help us to understand the relativity of life and circumstance.
This year as we all know is a "Holy Year". Does this really matter? Well anyone who knows anything about my views would certainly doubt it. But many more will come to the Camino this year than in previous years and likely subsequent years, especially since there won't be another "chance" (I use the inverted commas very deliberately) for another 11 years. Some will come for "religious" reasons as requested on our Compostela. Some will write "religious/spiritual" reasons because the possibility of striking out the first isn't an option even though we might be very sure about the second, but quite critical of the first. Hey, it's a long way. We feel we deserve our reward: the Compostela. The Church might say no, but... Either way we re-enforce the Cathedral statistics. Maybe it doesn't matter, or...
The Camino, as a way of walking a long distance, appears to be an anachronsim, really: think about it: the truth is unless you are a fit, triathlon-sort of person, you shouldn't be thinking about it atr all. Unless you are a died-in-the-wool Catholic, you shouldn't be thinking about it. It asks for a long time period from your daily income, your family, etc...and GPS's and Cell Phones, and Banking Machines and cheap Hostales and Refugios/Albergues notwithstanding: it's a bloody long way!
But you are thinking about it, or you wouldn't be here. So ask yourself: why?
I recently received an e-mail from Rafael Lema, the author of the brilliant book "El Camino Secreto de Santiago" (alas only in Spanish). One thing Rafael had to say to me was that no less than 90% of pilgrims carry on (now - it wasn't that way when I first walked in 1999) to Finisterre. The Catholic stance is that the Camino ends in Santiago. Rafael also tells me (he lives near Finisterre) that although he has a follow up to his book, he is very doubtful of getting a publisher this year as it is a Holy Year. This truly smacks to my sensibilities as "censorship". What are "They" afraid of? Or perhaps more importantly: Who ARE "They?" (Dan Brown readers: forget it... though it is tempting; but conspiracy theories are not my style!) I found Lema's book truly open: insightful (he was born in the region of Finisterre), fascinating, instructive, sensitive, even loving, and non-judgemental. But he must have encountered opposition somewhere, that I, with Peregrinos de la Herejía, have not. Why? Because I am a "guiri" and he is Gallego? Frankly, this kind of thinking only makes me want to dig more.(As I hope it will you!) I doubt it will stop Rafael either and I am hoping very much to meet with him on my book tour in June/July in Galicia. There is much I hope we can discover together. Why, for eaxmple are there astronomical references/symbols on the Portico of the churcgh at Moraima? At the very least this is highly anti-Cat6yholic: It's also highly suggestive of Priscillianist practices...but let's not go there just yet.

I have it on very good (though disputed by persons who want to believe in the Myth)) authority that the good folks who issue your Compostela in Santiago are told not to give you information about Finisterre, but are told to send you to the nearby Tourist Office to enquire. Santiago, the Cathedral, the City is your official destination and has been since the 12th century. How many other things can you think of in your life which are put into place by the dictates of the 12th Century? We must, surely, have other things we wish to accomplish in our "pilgrimage" than simply visiting the tomb of "St. James" if we wish to continue. And we clearly do. (No more comment but do visit

So why do we walk The Camino at all? In a recent poll (in the much read magazine Muy Historia), 70% of Spaniards said that they didn't believe that St. James had ever even set foot in Spain, let alone was buried here! (Want historic evidence? I have plenty against: see http://www.pilgimageto Many pilgrims have no religious motives for making the Camino whatsoever; But, and I think in this age or refusal to be dictated to by any religious authority, this is most important: we still come! You may be one of them. Past, present, future. I include myself: four times. In our thousands. In our hundreds of thousands. Why? What draws us here? A nice walk in Spain? A chance to check out the reliability of the Gore-tex ads???
Perhaps it is underlined by the sort of courage shown by cyclist Ionut Preda mentioned in Sil's post above, from which I may seem to have strayed enormously (I haven't: there is always some sort of method in my madness!). I don't know his religious beliefs: they may be very important to him and if they are I applaud him, his Spirit, his Faith and his Courage: all of these I perhaps acknowledge with a tinge of envy for mine have never had this type of backing. I would never take this from anyone. If in any way I am stepping on them I ask him to please forgive me as this is far from my intention in writing here. But it doesn't matter to me personally because as I have said -. as I would to anyone in the Olympics or "Special Olympics" - I truly applaud his Spirit. I feel entirely humbled by what he has set out to do. And I wish him every sort of "luck" and encouragement. I also thank him for the beacon he provides for me and the rest of us, pilgrims and otherwise.

I suppose, I end as I began: without sufficient words to express my admiration for this man. But I hope that along the way, I have invited you to consider what is courage, and to whom you should devote it. To yourself, it is always worthy. But don't let any institution or anachrononistic system take away your glory as a distinct human beibng.
Right. I'll shut up now.

Tracy Saunders
Tracy Saunders

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