Up to Day 12

Trip Start May 11, 2005
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Trip End Ongoing


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Saturday, June 24, 2006

(Ben here...and now for some history...its a bit on the educational side.......)

According to history or legend, the original camino began in the 9th century as a pilgrimage to visit the final resting place of St. James, one of the 12 biblical apostles. St. James allegedly sailed to Galicia (NW Spain) to bring the message of salvation to the pagan Iberians. This is the St. James portrayed in pictures and sculptures all along the camino, with staff and bible in hand, and a signature wide-brimmed hat to protect him from the sun. He is also typically pictured carrying a scallop shell, the identifying symbol of the city of Santiago de Campostela and the pilgrim to Santiago. It is said that he only converted 9 people.
The history of the camino starts in 813 when Teodomiro, the bishop from the Roman village Iria Flavia, informed King Alfonso II of the discovery of a tomb with the remains of the body of Saint James. He had been decapitated in the year 42 upon a return to Palestine but his followers stole the body and returned it by boat to Iria. His remains were subsequently transferred to Santiago de Campostela which, soon after, became the object of pilgrimage. A magnificent cathedral was built to house the remains beginning in 1075.

Some point to a history that is far more ancient and suggest that (much in the same way that the Romans built churches upon existing pagan temples) the camino follows the traditions and trails of the ancient Celts who journeyed to Fisterra (or land's end), literally the end of the earth as it was known at that time. From Fisterra, looking down along the treacherous Costa da Morte (or the coast of death) and at the sun setting over the seemingly endless Atlantic, it must have been easy to contemplate the margin between life and the unknown. The Romans were said to be concerned when each night the sun slipped into the sea that the water would put it out.

I admit that the association of pilgrimage with religion makes me feel uncomfortable. I prefer more earthly objectives that allow room for thought and illumination, perhaps even of the spiritual kind, without the baggage of religion. My goal was to keep both body and mind fit,(with out spending to much money) to enjoy the changing countrysides of northern Spain, and reflect in a natural setting.....and to hook up with hot chicks!

Oh yeah, The Catholic Church also delcared that you if hiked the last 100k of the Camino de Santiago, you would get 50 years off purgatory. Due to this doctrine the last 100km is jammed packed with every fat tourist, youth group, snoring club and dumbasse ever created! And if 50 years off purgatory is not enough - if you do it on Holy Years such as 2004 or 2010.......you get all of Purgatory off!!!! Now thats a deal. If I were you..I would start kickin babies and pushin over old people with no regets, just as long as you hike a 100 km on the Camino in 2010!
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