The author takes 2.5 months to travel a thousand miles from Le Puy, France to Santiago, Spain, via ancient pilgrim routes. Lucky for us, he boils down those months into a tiny 130 pages, still managing to convey the majesty, the silence, the intrepid blistering travelers. The first section debriefs the medieval pilgrimage experience, the second section his more elaborate and thoughtful piece, the third section photos along the way, and fourth section detailing How-To.
A friend mentioned this pilgrimage as something she and her husband were going to do in a week for an attempt the final leg of, spiking my curiosity because while the Machu Picchu hike has become trite, this pilgrimage remained unsung. Sights along the way look like this. I feel strongly that you’d need more than a week to get into the mood of a pilgrimage. Modern life can sometimes be put on hold, no?
In the course of this downshifting from modern to medieval speed, the pilgrimage acts like a mental sauna, sweating out the stress of daily life as you sit and watch the shadows of the clouds move slowly across the land, pass gradually over the hill, and silently cross over the stream, the cows, the low stone wall, and finallly, you. Your mind first stops listing the things you have to do next, then it quits going over what had been happening at work; soon you stop humming and whistling to yourself and, eventually, there’s a certain “white noise” and you begin to notice everything: the course of the sun, the phase of the moon, which way the water flows, where the wind is from, how the clouds are forming, and how deep the Milky Way looks from the balcony of your fifteenth-century refugio.