What’s a Pilgrimage?

The meaning of a pilgrimage through the eyes of a pilgrim:

The journey takes many forms, there can be a religious aspect to it however it is not a requirement. For me, it has more to do with a personal journey and growth. I don’t subscribe to any particular creed. Be happy, be honest, and be kind. That is my mantra. Finding your true soul is a journey that starts inside of you, therefore any one person’s pilgrimage will not match any other. It starts when you allow it to.

Although the Camino De Santiago is largely rooted in a catholic background, the pilgrims on the route of Saint James are of various backgrounds. Any pilgrimage begins when you allow it to, traditionally from your front door. However the traditional route of St. James starts in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and ends in Santiago, Spain. Spending, on average, thirty days walking from France through to the tip of Spain is not an easy feat for anyone. Especially not when you stick to the true path of a pilgrim, relying on the way to support you through your travels. Breaking down both your physical and mental being and building you up again – much like daily life.

You see, a pilgrimage does not have to be some set trail that has been walked for centuries. A pilgrimage can be you getting up from your chair, going out your back door, and walking to another town or through the woods. It may not have much significance to an outsider however on said walk through the woods you may have reached a personal ‘aha!’ moment that alters the way you view your life forever.

I can’t wait to have a pilgrimage of my own, to travel and reach a true transcendental state must be absolute bliss. Although I’m not so sure I can wait until I find my way back to Europe to complete the Camino. That goal will never leave my mind but I think that some preparation is required. Some cultures and religions believe in yearly pilgrimages; so why can’t I take multiple pilgrimages throughout my life? I can and I will!

I want to call myself a citizen of the world and travel across our earth however when looking at my list (I keep a list of places I have been before) I realize that my focus has always been out of the Americas and I never took the time available to explore the land on which I was born. The land that my parents fell in love in and travelled across both together and alone. I need to experience the Appalachian Mountains and the Continental Divide. I need to see what the Rockies look like and the West Coast. I need to know what it is like to breathe in higher altitude, to truly be cold in the winter, and to see Redwood trees that I can’t wrap my arms around. I wish to hike and camp and build fires in as many states as I can. I want to simulate parts of the Oregon Trail and try to understand what the Gold Rush was like. Stand on old battlefields and put myself in the shoes of the people who fought there.

I am a firm advocate that seeing is believing and believing leads to true understanding. Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.” I feel that he uses the term experiment precisely because they are meant to be learned from. Scientists create a hypothesis and then conduct experiments to prove their hypothesis is correct or debunk it. But no matter what, any good scientist will always try the experiment.

xxx
Sam

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Twenty-Four Weeks, Twenty Countries, Three Continents

Now that we have had our introductions, I feel that I can let you in on my extravagant plan. I’m currently working as hard as I can to save a proper amount of money to go on a six month sabbatical where I will walk the Camino De Santiago (30 days) as well as Cinque Terre (12hrs).

On this trip, I plan to continue blogging, write some travel articles, and I also plan on purchasing a GoPro Hero 3+ Black edition camera to film the trip and make a documentary about my travels. Ideally this trip will take off in spring where I will land in Ireland and walk some rolling hills before splitting for England. I’d also like to check out Wales, as my father’s great grandmother originates from there before being banished from her family and falling in love with a Cuban dentist. My goal is to uncover some more information about her and the family my dad really comes from.

After what I foresee as about two weeks, I shall leave the islands for the mainland and visit The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Croatia, Switzerland, and Italy before tackling the Cinque Terre adventure. After Cinque Terre, I shall head to the south of France where I plan for it to be around May and I can attend the Cannes Film Festival once again. I won’t attend the entire two week festival however I will get a pass for a few days to see some films, say hello to some old friends, and acquire some business meetings about the documentary as well as a few other projects I have in the works.

After Cannes, I will head up to Paris for the first time (insert happy dance) and spend a few days wishing I could transport back to the roaring twenties when Fitzgerald and Hemmingway frequented the block. Hopefully I will get to take a walk in Paris while it rains – I always imagine that to be the most beautiful sight.

After a few days in Paris, I’ll be heading to St. Jean-Pied-de-Port where I will collect my shell and  pilgrims passport to begin my month of walking. I shall not tell you about the time on the camino as I cannot predict what my pilgrimage will bring. I do however predict that the end of the camino will mark the end of the fourth month or the middle of the fifth. At this point, I would like to go to Morocco for a while and enjoy Casablanca, Tangier, Rabat and everything else Morocco has to offer.

After that adventure, I’d like to hop a flight to Cairo and spend a week in Egypt. After Egypt, I can head to Israel for some enlightenment and travel back to the states from there. So there it is, twenty-four weeks, twenty countries and three continents.

**Next week I will break down the trip further to prove how realistic it really is.**

xxx Sam

Twenty-four weeks, twenty countries, two continents.