warming up

The Puerta de Alcala in the Plaza de la Independencia (“Independence Square”) in Madrid.

I’m a little sad to be leaving Madrid today, but I’m ready to see more of Spain. Just driving away from the city, the surrounding countryside is absolutely amazing, big mountains all around, a mix of thick forests with some more dry, rocky parts. Toledo was the coolest thing we’ve done so far, in my opinion. The views from the top of the town were just breathtaking, and the town itself, with all the old buildings and tiny streets was just unreal.

And oh my gosh, the food here is just, yummalicious. La Carboneria, Carlos’ place, definitely had the best food so far. The tapas came nonstop, and I wasn’t complaining. I have always heard that Europeans eat much smaller meals than we do, but every dinner we have had so far I’ve left the restaurant feeling like I was going to explode. Thankfully we’re about to walk 300km so I don’t feel too bad about it. I’m getting pumped to start walking, it is going to be the most memorable backpacking trip of my life, I can already tell.


The Way sparks interest in El Camino study abroad

Thanks to Virginia Tech faculty members Annie Hesp and John Boyer, “The Way” was released early in Blacksburg and played in front of a packed house in Burruss Hall last September.

Martin Sheen discusses making a movie with his son, Emilio Estavez, onstage in Virginia Tech’s Burruss Hall.

Hesp, an instructor in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, personally lobbied Martin Sheen and Emilo Estevez at a conference back in February of 2011. The movie and its famous star and writer travelled to Blacksburg for a screening, capping an intense campaign on Facebook and a YouTube clip posted by Boyer, an instructor in the Department of Geography.

Emilio Estavez and Martin Sheen

Hesp has biked the El Camino twice. She has also made the pilgrimage twice on foot, accompanied both times by students from the University of Michigan where she was a doctoral student at the time. Hesp’s dissertation focused on the concept of community along the Camino. She was conducting her research at the same time Estevez was writing the movie. Ironically, they were examining many of the same resources at the same time.

In an interview with George Greenia, a professor at the College of William and Mary who organized the “Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies” that Hesp attended in February, Sheen said, “When you get to the core of who you really are, you understand that you’re a part of this whole thing; we’re all on pilgrimage, all the time.”