Santiago de Compostela

11:22 PM Tarun: there?
 me: Helll
11:23 PM  Tarun: :)you and your typos!
  I have a proposition for you
  for travel/writing
11:24 PM Tarun: there is a trip that we need to make…in the next 2-3 years
 me: Tell me
11:25 PM 
Tarun: have you heard of the walk to Santiago de Compostela?
more commonly known as the Way of St. James
 its a 800 km journey in Northern Spain
  it takes about a month and about 120k people do it every year
11:26 PM me: When are we  leaving?
  I am ready:-)

And I was wide awake. I had never heard of the Santiago de Compostela  and so I started reading up on it.The more I read the more intrigued I became. People walk 800 kilometers on a quest. It is more than doing a pilgrimage to the Church where St. James’ remains are interred.  People do it to quit smoking, for a miracle or just for a long walk.

There is a beautiful movie on this pilgrimage called “The Way”. I found the movie delightfully touching. It brought out so many little simple things that we fail to see/ take for granted.

At the heart of the story is an opthamologist, Tom whose son Daniel  dies while on the way.  Tom arrives in France to pick up his son’s remains and  on the spur of the moment decides to take up the walk for Daniel. While on the way he meets Joost from Amsterdam who is walking to lose weight, Sarah from Canada on a quest to quit smoking  and Jack from Ireland suffering from a writer’s block. To each one the way is a very personal quest.

The movie though themed on the way, explores the journey of every individual and their connection to each other. The story is unique  in the way it portrays how four people, culturally different in every way unite while on a really long walk, how they fight,argue, disagree and yet in every way look out for the other; how across 800 km four strangers become invested in the another’s cause. It gives you a feeling of redemption. Its not a bad world out there after all!

If you are a traveller it is difficult not to relate to them.To me every dialogue had a meaning. But here are few that resonated with me. Read it, listen to it and then judge me.Tell me if I am wrong.

People don’t choose a life. They live one.

When was the last time you went abroad. I am not talking about business. Nepal , Morocco, India, .. I gotta to go to these places. gotta go.

Tom: I followed the same route… then I detoured and thats how I got here a couple of hours before you/
Tom: My guide didn’t say anything about a detour.
Joost: That’s because you don’t have  the dutch guide book
Tom: The Dutch guide book?
Joost: Because we Dutch are always trying to find the shortest route to the next party. You know what the say ‘If it ain;t Dutch it ain’t much.
Tom : Have you ever walked the Camino Senora?
Senora: No never. When I was young I was too busy and now that I am old I am too tired.
Tom: What did she ‘drugs’
Joost: Oh nothing. … Well nothing by Dutch standards anyway!
Joost : When we met in …. you didn’t say anything about going on pilgrimage.
Tom: I wasn’t going on pilgrimage
Joost:Yet we are. You said you were  on family business
Tom: I am
Joost: but you have all the equipment for the walk
Joost:Tom that box with the ashes.
Tom:My son.
Priest : Miracles happen on the way.
Tom: You believe in miracles?
Priest: I am a priest. It’s kind of my job.
Sarah: How long have you been here, Jack from Ireland.
Jack: On the Camino or this spot.
Sarah: You pick.
Jack: On the Camino … hmmm thats hard to say.  On this spot….hmmm thats hard to say.
Jack: Then there was a dog fight near a cheese farm. Now what could that have meant?
Sarah: Jack , maybe a dog fight near a cheese farm is simply a dog fight near a cheese farm.
Jack: Ok! Thats good. That is very good. Maybe there is no such thing as a metaphor, maybe I should stop trying to make a metaphor of every bend of the road.
Christ I haven’t had an original thought in months. Writer’s block.
 Jack: So far 15 % percent say there are doing for health. Less than 5% say they are doing it for miracles.
Tom: Miracles are in short supply these days.
Joost: I am not doing it for health reasons or miracles. I am just a fat Dutchman trying to lose a few pounds.
Joost: Tom you think I will be thin like this guy by the time I get to Santiago
Tom: Sure Joost. Just keep eating the lamb. Nothing a few  pounds of lamb to shed the excess weight.
Joost: But it’s part of the Camino experience.You can’t come to Spain and not eat their roast lamb.
Jack( writing): A youth,not yet a man, no longer a child. could not have known that of all the bags at his disposal, the one he artfully made his own contained the most precious cargo of them all: The remains of Tom’s only son Daniel.
We all have a quest. Sarah’s clear, Tom’s becoming clear, but Joost for whom kindness is an instinct is further away than ever.
Armies march to war. Pilgrims march towards a new kind of peace.
Tom: Ishmael, I am not a very religious man.
Ishmael: Religion has nothing to do with this.
Tom: You have been be taking an awful lot of notes lately.
Jack: Yes I have.
Tom: End of writers block?
Jack: Thank You
Tom: Glad to be of service.Trust you will treat us all kindly when the book goes to sales.
Jack: A good writer is usually dire broke. So when I left college I wrote for travel mags. Thought I will put some money away then get to the novel.
Twenty years later here I am still doing the same. I am not feeling sorry for myself. This is the life I chose.
Tom: Jack you write whatever you want about all this, what you saw,what you felt. You write it like it happened. You write the truth.
Jack: I’ll do my best.

When I was young I was too busy and now that I am old I am too tired!

Write it like it happened. You write the truth!


5 thoughts on “Santiago de Compostela

  1. I stumbled upon The Way (movie) this summer. Loved it! After several viewings of the movie (…yeah, several), I am in awe of Yorick van Wageningen’s ability to convey so much emotion wordlessly. Especially remembering his solo moments in the Portico de Gloria, and, again, outside the cathedral after the Blessing of the Pilgrims.

    Other poignant quotes:
    Capt. Sebastien: “You walk the Way for yourself, only for yourself.”

    Sarah: “I hit you with everything I had and you took it.”
    Tom: “My mother taught me that only a coward hits a woman.”
    Sarah: “… your mother could have taught my ‘ex’ a thing or two.”

    The movie is also sprinkled with moments of levity.

    Sarah: “It’s Don Quixote and Sancho Panza”
    Joost: “That must make you Dulcinea”

    Joost: “You can do this on a BIKE?!! Why the hell are we walking?!”

    Tom: “What are you, five [years old]?”
    Joost: “No, Just scared.”

    Jack: “An American without an opinion; somebody take a picture!”


    • Rick,

      Yeah I watched it SEVERAL times too! I love the movie.. how all the emotions and the characters come together at the end.
      I am going to do this really long walk one day!


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