Southern Methodist University
El Camino de Santiago
If you could have a ticket to go anywhere, where would you go and what would you do once you get there?
Some say that the most important piece of a journey is the first step. My first step is into thick, saturated fog. At other times, this fog would create a sense of isolation, but here, it is a being which has enveloped thousands of sojourners before me.
With the ticket in my hand I book a flight to the Biarritz airport in Anglet, France. From here I catch a taxi to St. Jean Pied de Port, a town in the southwest corner of France, exactly five miles from the Spanish border. This town, populated by about 1,500 people, is the beginning of El Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Saint James in northwestern Spain. Tradition holds that the saint’s remains are buried in this Cathedral. St. Jean Pied de Port, located on the river Nive, sets the initial tone for the expedition by introducing the overcast fog. I can only see as far as each step in front of me. Travel brochures encourage the newbies not to worry, as the fog only persists to the Pyrenees, and until then you have no need to see far ahead because the way is flat and the travelers are plenty. Initially, I fail to heed this reassurance as I do not yet know the travelers; instead, I rely solely on my own squinted eyes pointed at my feet.
I clumsily attempt to...
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