Women of the Way: Embracing the Camino – Jane V. Blanchard

Jane Blanchard, a 61-year old technical writer, walked the Camino in 2011. She’s recently published a hybrid memoir of her journey: part travel guide to making the journey, part collection of compelling stories from women with whom she interacted on the journey through Northern Spain.

No stranger to physical challenges, Blanchard is a long-time climber and mountain-bike competitor. She’s climbed twenty of the forty 4,000-foot mountains in New England, and after taking up mountain bike racing at age 50 won second place in the Masters Division EFTA Championship Series.

But Blanchard knew the challenges of her 500-mile Camino were not to be approached casually. Women of the Way gets at what it takes to make the journey: building out your equipment, managing the time away from work, working through the cultural obstacles, making your way in a foreign country, and dealing with the mental challenges that make a pilgrimage both difficult and profoundly rewarding. Through her international cast of friends and fellow travelers, Blanchard offers insight into the depth of interaction pilgrims find with others walking the Camino.

Finally, Blanchard’s book looks at the residual impact of her journey and her overall takeaway:

I did not start the Camino with preconceived notions. I was not looking for a change. That is why the changes I underwent were so dramatic. Today, a year after completing my Camino, I am still changed. What interested me and took up a great deal of my time prior to the Camino no longer interests me. That was a dramatic change. Other changes are more subtle: the way I look at life, the importance of my family and friends, and my willingness to drop what I am doing to live in the now—all indicate how profound the Camino experience was on me.

An articulate, well-observed and thoughtful look at walking the Camino with Blanchard’s special slant of incorporating an international cast of women, Women of the Way: Embracing the Camino is available on most ebook vendors. The paperback version is available on Amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and Createspace.com. A signed copy can be purchased at womenoftheway2011.com.