Into Galicia by David Atkinson


To walk the camino is to awaken every morning with the clarity and simplicity of a single destination that pulls me with a palpable force along a path that focuses my attention, tests and enlivens both body and spirit, with the basic necessities on my back and the freedom to move forward as fast or as slowly as I want, stop when I wish, rest when I need. And do so in anticipation that around the next bend or over the next hill I might come upon a dirt trail through a forest or across an open plain that leaves behind the drudgery and danger of a stretch of asphalt, be surprised yet again by another vast formation of sunflowers at parade rest, their golden headdresses all nodding obediently toward the east, by grey green groves of olive trees or quilted hills stitched with rows of vineyards, by the historical center of a medieval town or city whose ancient gates and cobbled streets quickly wall off and mute the earlier congestion of a suburban approach. And, all the while, traveling alone or in the companionship of like-minded pilgrims, with the expectation that once again, at the end of the day, I might sit down to a meal of homemade paella or grilled squid and a bottle of local Rioja or Vinho Verde, and find in the lodgings of a welcoming hospitalero a place of rest.
- David Atkinson