Video of Nancy’s talk: The Smart Camino: Pilgrimage in the Internet Age (Jan 2017, London)
By Nancy L. Frey
In January 2017, I gave the keynote address at the Confraternity of St James’ Annual General Meeting in London titled The Smart Camino: Pilgrimage in the Internet Age. In the talk I briefly review some general changes I’ve noticed over the last 25 years and then present my research on the incorporation of new media technology into the Camino and how this has impacted being a pilgrim. The rise of the Internet is the single most important change in the Camino during this period and has dramatically impacted how people engage with the pilgrimage experience before, during and after the Camino is over.
The video is long. To help facilitate listening to the parts that are of most interest, I’ve broken down the video into segments and themes. Please let me know if you have any questions or observations.
0:00-1:00 - Intro to video
1:00-4:35 - Intro about talk and Nancy’s 25 years’ experience on Camino
4:35-5:30 - Nature of change on Camino
5:30-22:15 - General Changes on the Camino over the last 25 years
• 6:55 - Pilgrim’s Office and Statistics
• 7:45 - Numbers
• 8:27 - Sex
• 8:50 - Internationalization
• 10:11 - Mode of Travel
• 10:50 - Roads Traveled and Development of other routes
• 11:44 - Acquisition of the Compostela Certificate & Certificate of Distance
• 14:18 - Motivations and Expectations
• 16:33 - Infrastructure
• 17:50 - John, the Pilgrim Helper and Red tape
• 18:29 - Equipment
• 19:13 - Invasion of our Attentional Space
• 19:42 - Graffiti & Pokemon Go
• 21:08 - The Cathedral: Security, protecting patrimony and limited access
• 21:33 - What happened to the wild dogs?
22:15-23:38 - Changes related to Internet Age. Tech is a tool but not a neutral tool.
23:38-26:44 - Pilgrimage/Camino is a Rite of Passage with three stages: Prep, During, Return. “While the physical component has remained relatively the same, for most people the mental component has changed dramatically…” The Camino in the Cloud.
26:44 – 35:47 - Stage 1: Preparation for the Camino in the Internet Age. Anxiety is normal. Information overload, we overly complicate the Camino, developing pilgrim identity pre-Camino
• 33:12 - What to take and packing lists
35:52 – 1:02:15 - Stage 2: Being on the Camino
• 35:52 - Outcomes of preparation and spectrum of mobile tech usage
• 38:45 - Experience of time and place impacted, Incorporation of “Tech time”; bracketed time away disrupted, stay inside comfort zone
• 42:56 - Internet age pilgrims have new needs and new neediness; my sacred tech time; increase virtual connections and decrease face-to-face connections
• 47:10 - Impact on Camino community and social relations
• 49:53 - Relationship to Home; the importance of “missing” and “longing”; collaborative pilgrimages
• 53:48 - Digital Detox pilgrimages
• 56:25 - Shift in thinking and expectations about “what is the Camino?”; controlling the Camino and fear management; “not having a bed” anxiety; having a “Trip Advisor” Camino; dilution of the power of our experiences
• 1:00:30 - Tech industry encourages us to trust tech and not ourselves; WiFi App; Progressively outsourcing skills to phone and atrophying those abilities within ourselves.
1:02:15-1:05 - Reaching Santiago – transition point; experiences mediated by phones; losing trust in our memories; capturing moments vs contemplating moments
1:05-1:11 - Stage 3: The Return Home
1:11-1:14:59 - Conclusions
The Camino is Life Affirming
Nancy L. Frey
25 October 2016
Life affirming. That was how one woman described what the Camino had meant to her. Looking at this photo of our hands held together upon arrival in the Plaza de Obradoiro, I feel that sense of affirmation strongly. Each person comes to the Camino at a different age, stage and place in his or her life and this is clearly shown through how different our hands are. Some are smooth and unblemished. Others appear wise with age and work. Some come adorned and others plain. A week ago most of those hands had little relation to one another. Now, though, by the end of the week those hands created, as one person put it, a quilt of experience together that will endure and give warmth for a long time to come. Many people claim that the Camino changes you. It can but I think that’s a very big expectation to have before starting. More often I see the Camino opening eyes and doors to possibilities. Challenging people in a good way physically, emotionally and psychologically. Creating opportunities to question attitudes, beliefs and actions. It can be a doorway to the self, others, nature, something higher and/or deeper. People feel good on the Camino. They also feel exhausted, worn-out, and sometimes struggle to get through each day. Sometimes it’s precisely that adversity paired with simplifying one’s life, as you do when on the Camino, that makes people feel vibrant and connected with something fundamental about the human experience. The Camino often gives the pilgrim the gift of clarity and insight into what is most important in life. Time and reflection, though, are necessary to bring those gifts home and into one’s heart and actions. Our hands together in common purpose are witness to the life affirming reality of the Camino and the continuing possibility of what is yet to come once we return home.
Canadian photographer and blogger France Fehr joined us along the Camino de Santiago in June 2015. The Camino rarely fails to inspire the artistic eye and France was no exception. We are very happy to be able to share one of her entries from her blog FUN & LIFE. Enjoying life to the max. France blogged extensively about her 11 day Camino trip with us and this last entry "Camino in photography" captures well the whole journey.
Today, I will not post about Barcelona yet but I will share some photos taken on the Camino. (June 2015)
We were lucky to have Nancy and Jose as guides for this great adventure.
On Foot in Spain is the link if you ever are up to do a walking/hiking educational journey in Spain or Portugal. You would be having a good time .
Now , the photos with little description! But if you want to read and see more on our adventure with On Foot in Spain, I have written 11 more texts ( you can find them on this blog). It was a real pleasure to write our story and to share it here.
The shell, is the symbol on the Camino. We all received a shell to wear around our neck or put on our bag or just to bring home as a memory.
St-James. The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.
Pamplona is the first city where we met with our group. I really liked that city . We had time to walk and get a feel of the place. It has a nice square where people come and sit on benches and visit. Pamplona is very famous for the run of the bulls.
Alto del pardon. monument to the Pilgrim. A 14 iron figures of natural size.
This man had set up a table with little crafts and food. He is only asking for donation.
Our friend, David, took a photo of me at the Sta Maria La Real Monastery in Najera. David and I got along because he was taking as many photos as me.
Sometimes, my husband also took photos of me! Thanks, Stephen.
Food never tastes so delicious when you have walked a few km.
Walking “la meseta” on a beautiful day.
A snack … Little Bee is never too far .
Part of our group listening to Nancy while she explains history of the San Zoilo Monastery in Carrion de Los Condes . They were all happy to be sitting after 20 km walk.
Sam with the rock I brought with me. As I didn’t want to leave it at the “Cruz de Ferro”, I gave it to him as a souvenir. It was a rock I painted a few years ago.
Rainy day on the Camino…
Always a place to stop for coffee if we want to.
Cyclists on the Camino
David is taking photos … and I take a photo of him!
Nancy , our guide . With Jose , they have been leading those adventure for 17 years. The best guides for this experience. Great people with so much knowledge to share.
A monk at the Monastery in Samos.
Jose is mixing the salad for our picnic.
Some animals we saw while we were on the Camino…
On our last picnic, we enjoyed some cider !
Thanks to Saint-James, we had this wonderful walking experience.
and thanks to Nancy and Jose, this trip was a success.
Thanks for reading ! my next post will be about Barcelona. A unique experience. Maybe it will inspire you to do it.
To those of you who are missing the Camino, here’s one way to keep the Camino fire burning in your heart in your daily life. Remember: the Camino is now within you. The Camino is a literal space you go to but once you are there, it starts to grow and imprint itself upon your inner being. It becomes a landscape within. On your inner Camino there’s a rich storehouse of memories, smells, sensations, hardships, triumphs, disappointments, joys, insights….You can return to this Camino anytime you like and draw on the power of those memories and experiences to give you strength in the here and now. No one can take that away from you.
How do you access your inner Camino in your daily life? Make time to take a walk, preferably in nature. Go with intention and keep yourself attuned to your surroundings (ie, take out the ear buds and disconnect your phone). Before you start, visualize a Camino memory or place that you particularly like and start walking, keeping that memory in mind. Give yourself at least 30 minutes. The Camino will come back to you. Let go and allow your mind to do what it does naturally: as you walk memory will flow and you will be on the Camino again. If your mind starts to wander off your inner Camino you can gently redirect it back to the initial memory/place. You may be surprised where your inner Camino will take you. Sometimes those inner miles that you walk will take you the furthest.
Text and Photos: Nancy Louise Frey
Music: The Dufay Collective, Album: Music for Alfonso the Wise, Song #12
When I lead each tour I enjoy incorporating a new story or some piece of fascinating history. Tomorrow we will be starting our Camino in Portugal tour and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to the haunting love songs of medieval Galician jongleur Martín Codax. Little factual information is known about him except that his writing and composition style places him in the 13th C (roughly the year 1230) and that he was probably from the Galician fishing village of Vigo. In 1913 seven of his poems/songs were discovered by accident by an antiquarian bookseller in Madrid (Pedro Vindel). His seven Cantigas de Amigo (a fascinating genre of Iberian medieval poetry expressing the angst of absent love from the female point of view) are unique because they contain both the musical composition (six of the seven) and the lyrics whereas usually only the lyrics have come to us down through the ages and contemporary musicians need to invent or recreate the musical style.
In these songs the singer refers over and over again to her missing love and Vigo, a (now) city on the sea about 40km south of where I live in Spain. The Galician coastline is stunning – deep tidal estuaries meet the open Atlantic with white sand beaches, rocky, hilly shorelines and forested hills that reach down to the sea. I’ve accompanied this post with a few photos I’ve taken of the coast around Vigo and of waves in the winter. It’s rare to hear a voice so clearly and profoundly from the past. The song I share here is the first of the seven and is called Ondas do mar de Vigo (Waves of the sea of Vigo). On the tour we will be driving along the Bay of Vigo and then walking along the shore accompanied by the “waves of the sea of Vigo”. The language is Galician-Portuguese which was the dominant language for poetical expression of the time in the Iberian Peninsula. The singer in this rendition manages to capture the pain of not knowing whether your love will return or not. She looks out onto the waves and wonders, over and over, will he return? I love to watch the sea and I’ve also felt that pain of not knowing whether or not someone will return. I’m attracted to this feeling of connection to a distant past through a common human emotion of longing revealed here both by the lyric and the music itself. Accompanying the article is the Dufay Collective’s rendition of Martin Codax’s Cantigas de Amigo with Vivien Ellis singing. This appears as song #12 on their CD Music for Alfonso the Wise. Here is my English translation. Enjoy this link to the 13th C and this very special and beautiful part of the world:
Ondas do mar de Vigo Waves of the sea of Vigo,
se vistes meu amigo? have you seen my friend/lover?
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
Ondas do mar levado, Waves of the rough sea,
se vistes meu amado? have you seen my love?
E ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
Se vistes meu amigo? Have you seen my friend/lover?
O por que eu sospiro; for whom I sigh;
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God,will he come back soon?
Se vistes meu amado? Have you seen my love?
O por que ei gran coidado; for whom I worry greatly;
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
It’s been another great year thanks to all of you who make On Foot in Spain possible! Putting together our own 2013 On Foot “Year in Review” has brought back wonderful memories of amazing luck with rain seeming to be all around us except on top of us in both April and October, unbelievable wildflowers in June along the Camino, the richness of harvest time in Portugal and the stunning views in the Basque Country and Galicia that fill the heart and soul. One of the things I love about leading On Foot in Spain tours is that I am constantly taken back and reminded of what is most important in life: friendship and caring about one another, beauty found in nature, the thrill of knowing and challenging one’s body, the appreciation of the simple pleasures in life.
Memories flood into my mind of these simple pleasures from this last season – swimming in the cold, refreshing mountain waters of the Lor River in Galicia; eating one of Jose’s picnics after a long walk; leading people over a hill where I know a glorious view awaits them; getting to take my shoes off to walk down pristine Traba beach and watching the others ahead of me doing the same; foraging on blue berries, blackberries, grapes, apples and all the other gifts of the Camino; sharing some of these moments with Sam and watching him absorb it all like a sponge; hearing the storks from their weighty nests high upon the church towers; gorging on cherries in June in the Bierzo valley; milking sheep and tasting the fresh milk; listening to people’s stories and sharing my own…
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a collection of images from 2013 that we hope you will enjoy.
Nancy & Jose
Sweet gift of El Camino memories…..
Just want to say what an amazing pilgrimage you put together. Since I left Spain there is this sweet gift of El Camino memories popping up all the time. I enjoy them but also sometimes they are bittersweet because I miss the group and all we shared. You, Nancy are so smart and kind. You, Jose took such good care of us that it almost seemed effortless but I know it was hard. Oh and you are smart too!!!
Many people ask me about my experience…I still am not able to express how much it meant to me and what it felt like. I tell them about you, Jose, lunch, our group, chocolate, churches, monasteries etc. It is hard to explain the smell of pine trees, the taste of fresh chestnuts, hugging St. James, laughing, being tired, feeling spirit and how grateful I am that I took this trip. I keep trying but please know that your care and attention is appreciated and very easy to voice.
I hope your family is well and stays well. Someday I hope to take another adventure with you.
Kathleen, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela Tour
….learn about myself
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you both for making this such memorable experience. It was a very special week for me, having the time to experience this remarkable place, learn about myself and meet so many wonderful, inspiring and determined people including you and Jose.
Conchita, Quebec, Canada,
Oct 2013, Compostela
….one of the most unforgettable and important experiences
For Wendy – this trip will remain with me as one of the most unforgettable and important experiences in my life
For George – as above. The companionship of our group and others on the walk, together with the countryside, all helped to make a wonderful experience.
George and Wendy, Goodwood, South Australia, Australia
Oct 2013, Compostela
Wow! I felt I was in a week’s course on Spanish history, culture, food, etc. The picnics were great. I am a ‘picky’ eater and there was always plenty to fill me up. I appreciated the variety. Can’t wait for Jose’s cookbook. The experience was wonderful (10+ out of 5). All the stories, history, culture and legends so enhanced my enjoyment and the whole experience. I enjoyed every one of them.
Debbie, Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
All the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends
I love to walk and I walk 3-4 miles every morning but I have never been on a serious hike. Before the trip I was a little apprehensive whether I could make it after I saw the itinerary. The distances looked out of my personal range. I prepared by gradually increasing my distance up to 10 miles on flat terrain with great difficulty. I never thought I could make the distances with the topography I saw. But somehow, it was easier and I was pleasantly surprised. The durations were just enough. The breaks were great and the lunches fantastic. The group was fun and I think the entire experience was rewarding and wonderful. The experience exceded my expectations.
Nancy was a terrific guide - knowledgeable, passionate about her subjects, anxious to share, concerned for our well-being and supportive.
The picnics were outstanding. Jose put together some very interesting and delicious meals. They were enough to fill us but not so much as to be uncomfortable after. Bravo, Jose. I would like his cookbook when it’s published.
I loved it. It had all the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends. I would recommend it and even thinking of doing it again.
Craig, Schaumberg, Illinois, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
A most joyful and holistic experience
It is difficult to put into words what I learned on the Camino, there were so many layers to the pilgrimage. One thing I can say with complete certainty after a lot of tripping and touring in my lifetime... you helped to create a most joyful and holistic experience. I thank you immensely for that and have been spreading accolades about you everywhere.
Suzanne, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
“Slow travel” – unique and amazingly special
Like "slow food" made with care, presented with reverence and savored over time amongst friends. Your walking tours are the "slow travel" - unique and amazingly special. Each moment, each thought, each view is something worth having. This is why I keep coming back *smile*
Maria, Bakersfield, California, USA (3rd time Traveler – Camino, Galicia, Basque)
I’m so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose.
I am so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose. The trip was beautifully paced, with lots of options, so we never felt we weren't measuring up to "expectations." I don't know how you knew it, but you really had a great sense of our hopes and our capabilities, choosing wonderful sections of trails that would inspire us.
Your stories of Portuguese history and fables were wonderful; Jose's picnics were just as delicious as my memories of them along the Spanish camino; Sam was just delightful. I don't think any of us had a dry eye as we bid you three farewell.
Betsy, Boulder, Colorado, USA (2nd time On Foot traveler – Camino de Santiago & Portugal Camino)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
We could be your spokespeople!
We are back to our routine and wanted to thank you again for a wonderful, wonderful time. Dale and I have really felt that we did something so special and the two of you made it special. We have had many opportunities to tell our friends and family about you, Jose and our trip. I think we could be your spokespeople!
Chris and Dale, Lisbon, Iowa, USA
July 2013, Galicia
….a week to remember!
Thank you so much for the wonderful time, the organization, the company and the friendship. You were both so kind to me …. and I am so happy I was with you. I loved Galicia, the contrast between the Death coast and the wonderful forest and villages of the hill country. It really is a beautiful part of Spain. The professional way the walk was organized was excellent. Wonderful food and accommodation and local knowledge made the week very interesting for me. It really was a week to remember!
Faith, Wellington, New Zealand
July 2013, Galicia
I’m filled w/ the most amazing memories.
Thank you for a most wonderful week during which you guided us in our exploration of the fascinating Basque country, as only you and Jose could have done. I am filled w/the most amazing memories. The breadth and scope of Nancy and Jose’s knowledge of history, geography, culture, customs, etc. is unparalleled and just one of the many reasons I would always choose On Foot for a walking tour in Spain. Jose’s picnics were FABULOUS – not just Jose’s world renowned, delicious salads but his choice of cheeses, sausages, bread, dessert, etc.
Christina, Washington, DC (2nd time On Foot walker – Camino & Basque)
July 2013, Basque Country
The week was truly magical.
The week was truly magical. We have always told our children that the best present of all is a wonderful memory and you certainly gave us many rich ones to store in our hearts.
Lucy, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
…expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!)
I want to thank you, Jose and Sam for such a meaningful and rich experience. I hardly know where to begin to talk about how much I felt expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!) So much beauty all around us! Your choice of sights and experiences was fabulous. I loved the variety and contrasts in terrain, in lodgings and in your choices of readings and music especially. I continue to be impressed with your intentional approach to living and learning together. Gratefully…,
Judy, Darien, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
very inspiring educator
We still think about the lovely walk, food, wine, company and experience you and Jose introduced us to… you are a very inspiring educator that brings culture and history alive. A great quality that we have been privileged to be a part of.
Ursula, Roseville, NSW, Australia
Sept 2013, Camino de Santiago
I will remember for a lifetime
Thank you so much for making our trip so wonderful. It is something I will remember for a lifetime. I have tried to take my experience home with me. I am now walking to and from work. My body craves it now. I also am eating differently. It was all that I hoped it would be. Thank you.
Kathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
Nancy and Jose are both extremely professional. They are very knowledgeable about the Camino and are always there to help you with any questions you have! Nancy’s knowledge was my most favorite part! I cannot believe the information that was shared. It was the absolute best learning experience! I wish I would have had a tape recorder so I could replay the information Nancy shared. Jose’s picnics were out of this world!
Cathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
It was wonderful…..
It was wonderful to see you, talk to you, walk and eat with you and be generally spoilt by you and by Spain.
SV, London, UK (3rd time On Foot walker)
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
O a scale of 1-5, I give the tour a 10!
On a scale of 1-5 I gave the tour a 10! You and Jose do such an amazing job! The organization, down to every last detail, is impeccable. The food, lodging choices, history, tours and every aspect was better than I could have ever imagined! Thank you again!
Kelly, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
each minute of it was very precious
I want to thank you for the wonderful experience. I appreciate all of the work that you put into it and all of the little extras that you might feel go un-noticed. I have been asked what my favorite part of this adventure was, I am unable to give a definite answer, only because each minute of it was very precious to me. Thank you.
Janice, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
…you took great care
Thank-you for your wonderful work as our guide to the Camino. The knowledge you shared of the region and the pilgrimage--and especially your stories--added so much to the experience. It was obvious that you took great care in pulling together all the important elements of the trip--the places we walked, the tours, the lodging, the food--providing us with the very best of everything as we journeyed. A special thanks to Jose, too, for he did indeed as you promised "make everything happen." Thanks again for all you did to make the Camino an especially memorable journey.
Vicki, Wilmington, Ohio, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
I just told a friend today; it wasn't 'a' trip it was 'the' trip….
Michael, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 2013 Camino de Santiago
…the use of local produce….memorable, Jose excelled himself…a first class journey
The whole tour was above our expectations. We did not expect the: food, accommodation, coach/drivers, tour guides, lunches, Nancy’s knowledge (each day was an exciting new encounter) to be of such a high standard. Your years of experience indicated to us early on the tour that this was going to be a first class journey. The use of local produce made each lunch memorable. Jose excelled himself in this area.
John & Paul, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
Many thanks for an experience we will live with forever. Ultreya!
Janine & Craig, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
You have a gift of making each person feel special….Jose, he was a smiling face I looked forward to seeing every day.
The trip was perfect in every way. Yes, we were lucky with the weather & the ‘easy-going’ personalities in the group. But, you & Jose, just make it with your knowledge, hospitality & genuine passion for the Camino & Spain in general, plus your generosity in sharing it with all of us. It is very infectious. I’m sure I’ll be back for more. You have a gift for making each person feel special and take a special interest in everyone.
Patrice, Teven Valley, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your care and gentleness…..was inspiring
Our Camino pilgrimage was such a highlight and we couldn't believe our good fortune with the amazing weather, the people we met and the total experience. I loved your particular way of doing things Nancy and Jose - your care and gentleness not only with everyone but with all you do was inspiring for me.
Ann-Maree, Sydney, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart…. for making this the experience of my life
I just wanted to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for making the Camino come alive. I loved the lectures, I loved the food, the accommodations were great and I loved walking the Camino. Thank you for making this the experience of my life.
Annette, Pasadena, California, USA, April 2013 Compostela
I felt I was in a community…
This was the right trip for me. I spoke with a woman who was walking 800km to Santiago. She wanted to know how we were doing this. She could see our smaller packs. I told her we were spending the night in hotels and there was a vehicle taking our things to the next hotel. She said she was spending a lot of her time just looking down and getting to her next destination. The way we did it we had someone telling us about landmarks, history, culture and architecture. Although I came by myself I felt I was in a community and had people I could talk with, laugh with and share my experiences with. Thank you so much.”
Mary Ann, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2013 Compostela
Picnics were like a feast
The picnics were like a feast. Enjoyed the surprise of what was to come and loved the explanations. I felt very well cared for and enjoyed the way the group came together as a unit, enjoying the experience together. Thank you both so much. It would be great to travel again with you both someday.
Margaret, Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge…. outstanding
Nancy & Jose, your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge about the Camino are outstanding. The dedication to all on the tour and care you displayed was commendable. The care and concern you showed my mum during the tour was ‘above and beyond’. Thanks you for making my Camino so special. I would highly recommend you to anyone considering the tour. The picnics were delicious! Loved the local fare! Excellent explanations by Nancy and great set-up by Jose! Many thanks.
Tonia, Carinbagh, New South Wales, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Brazilian photographer Marina de Almeida Prado joined us in June 2012 along the Camino de Santiago.
Here she shares with us and comments on some of her favorite photos from her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. To see more of her work, please visit her website.
Marina de Almeida Prado's Photo Essay on the Camino (2012)
In September 2010, exactly on the 14th, I woke up thinking about the Camino. I knew absolutely nothing about the Camino. I only heard of a few people who had already done it. I eagerly started researching. But a few days later I was completely discouraged, because in my current life with a son, husband, job and home, the thought of leaving everything for 40 days off was just impossible.
One day, just because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I posted the word "CAMINO" on Facebook and immediately a friend asked: Did you do it? I said no and that I would love to do it but 40 days was not feasible. And she told me, there were other ways to do the Camino and told me about the website www.onfootinspain.com.
She told me: “Choose which way and how many days you want to do it. I recommend it!”
My contact with Nancy began on the same day, but due to lack of vacancies, I waited until June 2012.
And on June 3 I left for Spain. This would be my first trip all alone after 12 years. A very special moment. I chose the route "On Glory Roads," The Camino de Santiago From Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela in 12 days.
I’m a photographer and I took all my equipment with me. But I wanted to photograph every second of the journey and by the third day I opted to take pictures with my Iphone 4S so I could use the effects of Instagram and immediately post all my emotions to the world.
There were places and people during my journey that touched me so much. During my time on the path, away from my daily life, I realize what a very privileged person I am. What a great life I have and that I am a truly blessed human being.
One thing I can say for sure: after 12 days in the company of 11 wonderful Australians, 1 American (Nancy), and 2 Spanish guys (Jose and Sam), something very special was born inside of me. Unforgettable!
I’ve attached some of my favorite photos. Click here to follow the link to the gallery. Here are my comments about some of the photos:
I couldn’t believe how gorgeous this bridge was. The water reflection was just amazing! The most beautiful bridge I’ve ever seen!
The second most beautiful view of my path. I felt like standing there, time stopped.
This moment was my favorite, because this view is the winner! I could feel the immensity, the liberty. My freedom!!
On the path, lots of stones piled up. These really impressed me.
The picnics were always a pleasant surprise, with different kinds of cheese, cold cuts and salad every day. A moment we all look forward to! And,the pilgrim bar, long-awaited throughout the path by all of us!
Another very special moment in my path...The deepest blue sunset of my journey. The view from my bedroom window. I think I could grasp the meaning of blue.
I was very touched when I arrived at the Iron Cross. One of the simplest and most meaningful moments of the Camino.
For a moment, this iron bucket made me go back to my childhood at the farm.
Close to Cebreiro. A very special place.
The mass, the smell, the people and the place. Pure emotion.
Marina de Almeida Prado
Fotógrafa - MAP . PHOTO
+ 55 11 999102932
Nancy’s Book Review
Walking Your Blues Away. How to Heal the Mind and Create Emotional Well-Being by Thom Hartmann (Vermont: Park Street Press, 2006).
I was gifted this book by a body worker who walked with us along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2005. After sitting on the shelf unread for at least a year, the right moment finally arrived to crack open the pages. It’s a quick read and easy to access. The most compelling parts are when Hartmann discusses how walking is a potentially healing activity for emotional trauma. This concept immediately began to resonate with my own anthropological work on the contemporary reanimation of the medieval pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which culminated in my book Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago (UC Press, 1998). In the late 1980s people from many different backgrounds, countries, walking experience and belief systems (and frequently without a religious motivation) began to take up the traditional symbols of the Santiago pilgrim, the scallop shell and staff, and set out on demanding journeys walking westward across northern Spain (and even the far corners of Europe) to reach the tomb of the apostle James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. Every year since then, more and more people undertake this walking journey and come home with positive stories of self-discovery, personal triumph, transformation and, even, change.
I found over and over again during my research that many people were led to walk the Camino (a personal journey that can range from one day to four months depending on the walker) to work through their own personal issues. Many were at a breaking point – graduate from college, mid-life crisis, retirement – or had experienced a loss – divorce, death, employment. Whereas many pilgrimage sites, framed within a more religious context, are sought out by pilgrims to heal the suffering body, I found repeatedly that along the Camino, as they walked, people were healing the suffering soul. In Pilgrim Stories, I write:
The journey of the Camino can reveal wounds – loss, failure, fear, shame, addiction – left festering from daily life. Experiences along the way often act as the catalyst that allows them to be exposed. It has been, and appears to continue to be, a road for hopes and miracles of fulfillment of a different order. Some pilgrims, acknowledging this themselves, refer to the Camino as la ruta de la terapia, the therapy route (Frey, p. 45).
Through the walking experience people opened themselves up, usually without any perceived intention on their part, to a whole series of unforced emotional experiences. Time and again, people recounted thinking of people that had not been in their conscious thoughts for years, developing a more active dream life as well as feeling ‘more deeply’ while on the road.
In my book, I discuss this process of opening as part of the elimination of the distractions/stressors of daily life. When life is reduced to its basics and your mind is not absorbed with the minutiae of running a busy life, full of obligations and demands, all of sudden there is space for feelings, emotions, memories to come to the surface. While walking (though also many times during sleep and dreamtime), pilgrims described to me how they came to new insight, resolution or clarity regarding issues from the past. The walking became a healing process for both known and unknown or conscious/unconscious (prior to beginning the Camino) issues from the past.
In Walking Your Blues Away, Hartmann has added a new dimension to my understanding of this healing process on the cognitive level with his discussion of ‘bilateral therapy’ – the alternating stimulation of the right and left lobes of the brain ‘while thinking of a problem or issue’ (p. 30). Stimulating both the thinking and feeling parts of the brain with the bi-lateral movement, the person is able to process the experience in such a way that it is moved from the forefront of memory to the past thereby reducing its negative hold on your psyche. Apparently most of our memories are processed during our REM sleep – another form of bi-lateral stimulation. Sometimes, though, the memories are too big/painful to be worked through in REM. Bi-lateral therapy works to simulate the same type of memory processing so that painful experiences can be worked through and moved into the past. Hartmann explains, “With the walking therapy…in most cases this recognition that the experience is in the past happens during the walk itself. That is the key indicator that the session has been successful” (p. 13). By applying bilateral theory to walking (an activity that requires the constant stimulation of the brain’s left and right hemispheres with its side-to-side motion), Hartmann offers an excellent way for people to heal themselves without having to resort to traditional ‘talk therapies’, or even any kind of verbalization of the trauma or painful memories. He posits that perhaps we have been healing ourselves, since the dawn of time before we had experts – psychotherapists, psychologists, shamans, etc. – by engaging in our most fundamental human activities: walking and thinking.
His work is strongest when discussing the history of bilateral therapies and the application of them to walking based on his own experience and practice. Bilateral therapy has its origin in the development of healing techniques derived from hypnotism first recognized as therapeutic by Mesmer in the 1700s. He describes the fascinating story of Freud’s initial usage and success with bilateral therapy and hypnotism before he abandoned this path in favor of psychotherapy when hypnotism was discredited in Europe and America in the 1890s. His middle chapter on cultural bi-lateralism is over generalized and I found it to be an unnecessary distraction to the larger theme.
The last three chapters provide concrete advice on how to utilize his technique not only for resolving past trauma or negative feelings around a nagging issue but also as a means to increase creativity, motivation and physical health. His technique is thoroughly described and is easily accessible to the lay person. It consists of five steps very briefly summarized here (pp. 62-67):
1 – “Define the issue”. Figure out what’s bothering you and picture it in your head.
2 –“ Bring up the story”. Flesh out the issue and determine its level of strength inside of you.
3 – “Walk with the issue”. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to get resolution.
4 – “Notice how the issue changes”. While walking observe how your feelings around the issue shift.
5 –“Anchor the new state”. Review the transformation of the feelings to fix it in your mind.
He encourages a positive and optimistic viewpoint and helpfully reminds the reader: “Remember: There is no failure. There is only feedback. Learn from the feedback and continue on.” (p. 65)
His ideas resonate with my own observations of how people experienced the walking along the Camino. It was very common for those walking to come to some kind of resolution or decision. Many people wanted to do something more creative with their lives upon return home. Others spoke about returning to the Camino to ‘recharge their batteries’ – that the walking along the Camino gave them mental and physical energy that they felt lacking in their daily lives. Perhaps it was simply engaging in this process of bi-lateral movement while walking that allowed people to stumble along the path to their own healing process. In 2008 I interviewed a modern-day Camino legend, John the English gentleman who aids wayward pilgrims in his campervan, for a chapter I wrote for Lonely Planet’s 7th edition of Spain. He had a nice of way of describing the same process of healing. I asked him why he thought people were walking to Santiago today and he responded :
“My impression is that a very large proportion have suddenly been confronted with a grave problem with home, work, family, career, their physical health or love life…and they are so overwhelmed by their everyday preoccupations that they don’t know what to do about it. Walking the Camino is a unique kind of therapy. I call it ‘Self-administered Ambulatory Psychotherapy’. Troubled minds heal themselves – by walking the Camino de Santiago. (Spain, 7th edition, article: Camino de Santiago by Nancy Frey, p. 125, Lonely Planet, 2009).
John has also observed the healing quality that is experienced by those who walk this historical pilgrimage path. Intuitively people have sensed that walking to Santiago will be good for them and have heeded that call to go, once again, the ‘human speed’.
Hartmann’s book and technique will potentially be very helpful to people who walk (or those who don’t but who would like to) and who would like to more consciously make their walks productive for healing, creativity and focused thinking. While for many people the bi-lateral movement brings about the healing without realizing it, by having the technique available, it can potentially help people focus on problem solving as well as ‘anchor’ the new state so that the change is more lasting. In Pilgrim Stories, I write: “While it will not determine outcomes, making the pilgrimage can help the participant on a personal level to ‘rework the past’ and possibly ‘move toward a renewed future’ (Frey, p. 46). This sentiment is in essence the point of Walking Your Blues Away – it takes a very basic human activity and explores its great potential for healing and future well-being. Go take a walk!
 Thank you Erin Susan Parks for bringing this book to my attention. Erin is the owner of LMT Massage for Optimal Living in the Atlanta area.