By Julie Lynberg
So after hiking a pretty exhaustive 28 kilometer day, I remember how surprised I was to feel really good the next day when we walked from Arzúa to Pedruzo. We started the 20 kilometer day by leaving at 7 as usual, picking up the trail and setting off into the outskirts of Arzúa between interlacing fields and forests. I felt like we were racing the sun as it peeked out above the valley and the morning fog slowly disipated. The trail slowly twisted past farmhouses and sleeping cattle dogs and I whipped out my camera to capture the unbelievably picturesque surroundings.
Within the first hour or so of walking I knew I was going to have a good day. My knee pain was subdued for the time being, I had worked out all my morning sores, and I felt a surge of energy. I remember absolutely loving this hike and feeling inspired. As much as I love meeting so many new people on the Camino, I really benefitted from walking alone for some of the hike and getting time alone since we’re surrounded by other students and pilgrims for the entirety of the Camino. I then remember seeing more kids from our group that served as really good motivation to keep up my pace and work my way up to them. We hiked the remaining 10km or so until we reached Pedruzo in really good time and I was very pleased with myself especially right after a really hard day. And after this day I remember realizing that we were almost done with the Camino. Coming off of having such a good day, I knew I would be able to finish the last 20 km walk into Santiago strong.
Photo: Tom, Julie and Heather enjoy some trail time together.
By Julie Lynberg
Now that we have completed the first half of our journey to Santiago de Compostela from Leon, I have been able to observe some ways that my sociology major is helping me analyze Camino people and practices.
As we set out each day before the sun has reached our section of northern Spain, individuals come together as we walk and start a repeating process of communication and connection. This communication is such an essential aspect of the Camino and reproducing the society formed along the way because of the opportunity to create a very unique group of people from many different countries with countless different stories. It is interesting then to see how it’s complicated by language barriers and how people still manage to overcome these barriers and form group bonds. Many people in our group have met interesting people and formed friendships with strangers as they try to learn about each other’s lives and countries in ways we’re not able to by reading a textbook or attending a lecture.
I also see how symbols of group membership bonds with other peregrinos and immediately establishes understanding. Many fellow hikers have shells strung to the outside of their hiking packs, repeating the tradition from the midieval years when pilgrims carried shells as a sign of their religious pilgrammage to prevent thieves from stealing their belongings. Hikers are further recognized by sturdy walking sticks and muddy hiking boots. For many these hiking boots secretly create painful blisters and swelling as each peregrino pushes their body forward, knowing that each kilometer means one less until reaching Santiago. Our combined spiritual, historical, or physical reasons for completing el Camino only intensify our group connections and exemplify the many different ways individuals bond with rituals, activities, and shared goals.
Photo: Julie (right) talks with Serene as the two prepare their journals for class.
By Serene Cherian
One thing that I really love about this experience is how it greatly pertains to what I want to do in the future. Being a double major in international studies and Spanish, I believe that being here and doing the camino has really opened up my opportunity to be more independent and practice my Spanish. There are also people from all over the world, some who don’t speak Spanish, that I also talked to. For example, I met a couple from Belgium, and I was able to exchange information about our reasons for doing the trip and our experience thus far. It has been very rewarding to be able to interact with so many people from different places. I chose international studies because I love learning about different countries and individual cultures and traditions, and this experience has really allowed me to do all of that. So basically, not only am I able to interact with the natives of Spain, but I am also able to learn about people that come from everywhere, doing the same thing that I am doing. I am looking forward to the last few days of the camino and absorbing all it’s worth.
Serene hikes with Julie on the Camino.
Friends of the Camino Hokies,
We are into some pretty intense hiking and wifi access is sporadic so please forgive the sparse posts. Days begin early as we are on the El Camino by 7 a.m. The temps get hot and sun screen is being applied liberally! Blisters are not uncommon amongst us but our spirits remain positive. We had an uphill day and tomorrow is a long haul with a steep down. Note that our schedule and distances are located in the klicks (kilometers) category at the top of the page. Buen Camino!
Roman ruins from the first century have been unearthed in Astorga.
Eric Moody checks out exhibits at the Museo Romano.
Did you know this about today, May 21:
The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) in partnership with UNESCO and a wide coalition of partners from corporations to civil society is launching the world campaign “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion,” aimed at engaging people around the world to Do One Thing to support Cultural Diversity and Inclusion.
This day raises awareness on the richness of world cultures and the opportunities that cultural diversity can bring to societies. This study abroad opportunity to the El Camino, offered by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, is living this campaign to its fullest.
What have you done today?