Friday, 23 August 2013

Camino Shells on the Way

Two years ago I got the idea in my head to walk the Camino. Read up more about it here. I was going to try and hike about 12 - 14 days, but got tendinitis in my foot, so only did 9 days.  A lot people will walk the whole Camino from St Jean to Santiago (most popular route) which is a nearly a total of 800 km's. This usually gets completed in 30 -33 days.  I only had time for a few days, as I wanted to see a few other cities in Europe while I was there. 

Many people do the Camino for spiritual / religious reasons, but I just wanted to do it for some soul searching. If you haven't watched the movie called 'The Way', then do yourself a favour and watch it! You will get a very good feeling what the Camino is about.  I wouldn't say that I found my soul, haha,  but I definitely learned a few things about myself.  I walked alone, which was great, as it is easier to meet people.  Everyone that is hiking are from different walks of life, you are stripped from everything that makes you unique in your normal life. On the Camino it doesn't matter how much money you have, what profession you specialise in or what car you drive, because you are just a hiker like everyone else.  You all have the same common goal, to walk each day from town to town until you reach your destination.  This taught me not to be so quick to judge others as you don't know their history to make them who they are today. Everyone's journey is different.

If you are thinking of walking the Camino, you are more than welcome to ask me any questions that you may have.  I found the Confraternity of Saint James of South Africa to be very helpful with any Camino queries.  Have a look at their site here.  They will give you a letter for the Embassy to help you get your visa.  I also found this site with a Camino planner very helpful, look here.  I followed this couple who walked the Camino, look at their experience here.

On the Camino you will find these scallop shells everywhere showing you 'the way'.  I read up a bit about the history of where the shells come from here. Here's a brief history:

The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries the scallop shell has taken on mythical, metaphorical and practical meanings, even if its relevance may actually derive from the desire of pilgrims to take home a souvenir.
Two versions of the most common myth about the origin of the symbol concern the death of Saint James, who was martyred by beheading in Jerusalem in 44 CE. According to Spanish legends, he had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro river.
Version 1: After James' death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, it washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
Version 2: After James' death his body was mysteriously transported by a crewless ship back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As the ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.
The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which meet at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim: As the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up onto the shores of Galicia, God's hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago.
The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.

I took photos of my favourite scallop shells.

You can read about my hike from day 1 - 10 here: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8Day 9 and Day 10.  

My #1 Favourite

My #2 Favourite

My #3 Favourite

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