I first heard of the Road to Santiago (there’s a longer name for it in Spanish that I always forget) a few years ago. I was watching something on TV about Shirley MacLaine, and how she’d done this pilgrimage and it changed her life. I supposed there are infinite life-changing opportunities, from the smallest to the largest moments, but this was an idea that caught my attention. Maybe having grown up in Colorado where we regularly tackle mountains for the fun of it, the idea of walking 500 miles along an old road to get to an equally old Spanish city in the name of personal transformation seemed like an adventure.
It still does.
In fact, when I discovered Paulo Coelho and his wonderful books, I re-discovered this trek through him – because he’d done it, and written about it. And I admired him and what he stood for. I want to be able to claim an undertaking such as this – not for bragging rights, but for myself. Because somehow these undertakings always change everything.
I’m getting ready to hike Grays and Torreys Peaks tomorrow. No doubt my hip flexors will seize up in pain from years of dance-world abuse. No doubt that half-way up I’ll enter into a serious war with my mind about not wanting to go any further. And no doubt that once I reach the summit, I will be glad as hell I did it. Not 500 miles, not Spain…just a little piece of my state and a six-hour cleansing of the soul.
In the words of Coelho:
“The Signs – at times imperceptible, at others very clear – are all around us. But they require careful interpretation if they are to be transformed into a road map.” (Manual of a Warrior of Light)
My road map is still being drawn. But it could include, some day, the Road to Santiago.