The True Pilgrim


Ghosts in Plaza del Obradoiro
Photo Credit: Righettini Valentina

They think they understand what it is to be a true pilgrim but they don’t, because they didn’t do it right, they took the easy way, they slept in hotels with wash machines and fluffy down pillows, these people, the touristas, let some hired rental company that advertises on Google AdWords carry their backpacks from town to town in a van with a big scallop shell on the driver’s door.

An extract from Walking Backwards (A journey of a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago):

“And everyone drifts away from the Pilgrim Office of Santiago and the hardcore walkers, who tell themselves they really did it, like the pilgrims did it, for one thousand years, have their official certificate and wander around afterwards in the square trying to find someone they recognize from the road, someone who knows what it truly means to be a pilgrim, not like these people, the heretics, the impure, the cheaters, the upstarts, the bicycling “decafeinados” they call them, those come in on the last lap people, 100 kilometers out, who think they understand what it is to be a true pilgrim but they don’t because they didn’t do it right, they took the easy way, they slept in hotels with wash machines and fluffy down pillows, these people, the touristas, let some hired rental company that advertises on Google AdWords carry their backpacks from town to town in a van with a big scallop shell on the driver’s door. But maybe the true pilgrims are so tired at this point that they don’t even care that their daily bread has been leavened with the bitterness of competition and resentment and tears.”  – From Chapter 4 “The Scallop Shell” of Walking Backwards (A journey of a thousand miles on the Camino de Santiago)

Photo Credit: This stunning picture and others like it by Righettini Valentina can be found here.