This is my new series on COOL PEOPLE that I may or may not continue. I just met a really interesting person last night, and wanted to share what I learned about him with the worlddddd (a.k.a. whoever is reading this).
So, a friend of my roommate brought over this Dutch guy to our house for dinner last night. She’d met him earlier on and he doesn’t really speak Spanish. He is a “peregrino” or “pilgrim” who for the past FIVE FRIGGIN’ MONTHS walked from Holland, through Belgium, through France, and finally through Spain, until he reached the historical pilgrimage site of Santiago, which happens to be the city I live in. For those of who aren’t terrific at geography (I’m certainly no superstar at it), here is a map of Europe. Just look at the incredible distance that he covered, ON FOOT:
I am seriously in awe of him. For a short history lesson, el Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where supposedly the remains of the apostle St. James are buried. This route was apparently one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times andddddd here’s some more historical background from grand ol’ Wikipedia:
“Legend holds that St. James’ remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. The Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th-century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year arrived in Santiago. Later, the route attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.”
A lot of people used to walk barefoot all the way to Santiago from their starting point which is crazyyyyyyyyy. Nowadays, some people even walk all the way from Russia. But, at least now, people realize that shoes are the way to go. At least, the sane ones do. 🙂 Tens of thousands of people every year go on one of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, so every day I see people all around the city and especially by the old part of town, carrying their walking sticks and wearing big backpacks.
Now, back to the coolest person of the hour, the guy named Guy who created his own unique pilgrimage route from the Netherlands!
Guy’s story is basically as follows: He is 25 years old and has lived in the Netherlands, I assume for his whole life. He started running into problems about 7 years ago with weed…. starting 7 years ago, he basically told me that he took really poor care of himself. Although I never really thought a person could be addicted to marijuana, he makes me think otherwise. He told me that he became so obsessed with smoking that if he only had ten Euros left to spend, instead of spending that money on food, he would spend it on weed. It got to the point where he was unable to eat unless he smoked first, so it only made sense to spend the money on weed since he wouldn’t be able to eat the food he purchased, anyway. Finally, Guy reached a point in his life where he really needed a change. Not only did he want to become healthier and take care of himself, but he still didn’t know what it was he wanted to do with his life. The combination of those things brought him to go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
For FIVE MONTHS, Guy forged his own path from the Netherlands to Santiago. He never took the trail that the majority of pilgrims use. He brought a compass with him, along with a tent to sleep in at night. I believe he said his backpack weighed 23 kilos, but I could be mistaken. When I met him and he told me he did the Camino, I assumed the journey took him like 8 days (most people don’t do the entire journey anymore). But, he told me how long it actually took him, and pointed to his beard as proof. (Damn, it was like a Moses beard!)
On his journey, he had plenty of time to reflect on his life and think about his future and over the course of 5 months he realized that he wants to go to law school to study international law and be a lawyer. He also plans on drastically changing his lifestyle by majorly cutting down on his weed intake (although, he is realistic and didn’t say he was completely quitting).
I am so impressed by his decision to leave his home and walk by himself through a total of 4 countries to find himself. It may have taken him 2300 kilometers, which translates to 2,046 miles, to really figure out what he wanted for his future, but he did it.
GOD. HE IS SO COOL.
So, now that he’s done all of this, he can finally go home and chillax and be healthier and apply to law school. Right? Sort of. Guy hasn’t had enough yet. In about 3 weeks, he is going to bike around to a few other cities in Spain and, ultimately, is going to return to the Netherlands…. but, not by bus, not by car, not by plane, not by boat, and not by train. He is going to do it by foot.