If I ever decide to take a long excursion on foot, whether it be the Pacific Crest Trail or the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain, I know one thing I’ll do first. Break in those walking boots.
Because aching feet are just not fun. Sonia Choquette found out the hard way. In her one month plus pilgrimage, she always felt her feet were “on fire.” Ouch. But she also found out much more.
In Walking Home: A Pilgrimage from Humbled to Healed, the author describes the long walk/hike on the Camino, taken after the deaths of two close family members and the breakup of her marriage. Would the solitary hike leave her feeling healed and whole again?
Her one companion on this journey is a rubbery, green, six-inch figure named Gumby. Her childhood friend, Gumby serves as a totem of sorts, providing a sounding board to the author’s ups and downs. Some days he gets to ride up front, clipped into her backpack. Other days he’s unceremoniously stuffed into a pocket, like a set of car keys. Everyone who sees the little feller smiles.
It takes a while for Choquette to find her rhythm on the trail, and in her book. Each night is a new town, different hostel and a varying diet of food and human company. She meets Camino Patrick, a doppelganger of her ex-husband, also named Patrick. A smooth talking Greek puts the moves on her after a few glasses of wine. A frantic woman loses her wallet and calls off the hike, just like that.
There are wonderful innkeepers, and terrible ones. A simple thing like an elevator after a hard day’s hike can represent a major miracle.
Also there are churches, many of them, along the way. They serve as a shelter from bad weather, a place to rest the feet and soothe a hurting soul.
Ever since I saw The Way, a movie starring Martin Sheen, I’ve been interested in this trek. I might make it there someday. Now that I’ve read this book, I feel more prepared to take it on. I’m hoping it doesn’t take a major life change to nudge me there, but even that might be okay.