> For the small percentage who walk the entire Pilgrimage each person will have a different experience, walk for a different reason, I can only express my view and this was very similar to a num…

Source: Why do 250,000 Pilgrims a year walk the Camino in Spain. For a 1,000 years Pilgrims have been drawn to the resting place of St James in Santiago de Compostela. There are many Caminos, commencing in Portugal, France and Spain that all have the same destination, however the most popular is Camino Frances. Most Pilgrims do not walk the entire 780km because of time, health or boredom and walk the last 100 km to receive their Compostela certificate.

Why do 250,000 Pilgrims a year walk the Camino in Spain. For a 1,000 years Pilgrims have been drawn to the resting place of St James in Santiago de Compostela. There are many Caminos, commencing in Portugal, France and Spain that all have the same destination, however the most popular is Camino Frances. Most Pilgrims do not walk the entire 780km because of time, health or boredom and walk the last 100 km to receive their Compostela certificate.

> For the small percentage who walk the entire Pilgrimage each person will have a different experience, walk for a different reason, I can only express my view and this was very similar to a number of Pilgrims that I met during and after my Camino.

>Suffering from depression and alcohol abuse for some time, I felt trapped in my business , my home, my life, my world and needed some head space to just think. Depression is horrible illness, once it gets hold of you, it can totally consume your every thought. Its a dark black tunnel and most people who are sufferers will keep their dark feeling to them selves. If you have not experienced the black tunnel, its almost impossible to understand why a reasonably successful business person who achieved accolades in all aspects of his life , would have depression. “What have you got to be depressed about” How many times have we heard this phrase , they just don’t understand. However, I learnt that I was only one of many in this Country who suffered from severe depression, with over 2,000 suicides a year, 75% were males, this just staggered me.
My GP and therapist who was very concerned with my suicidal thoughts, encouraged me to experience an adventure. Stop working and do something that you have always dreamed about.

I had read about long walks and journeys which sounded ideal and a recent article regarding walking in Spain totally caught my imagination. There were countless tales of people searching for a meaning in their life who had walked the Camino in Spain. There seemed something different about this walk, its history of a 1,000 years, reputed to follow the mystical Milky Way intertwined with Ley energy lines and magnificent Cathedrals . With some scepticismI left on a journey with a concerned wife as I had already suffered a minor stroke.
> My 33 day journey started in St Jean Pied de Port in France. It was late September 2014. Rain and cool weather greeted me as I crossed the Pyrenees Mountains into Spain. I have never felt so tired , a 26 km walk. I walked with a handful of Pilgrims from Germany and the States. The following day was a little easier as I slipped into the way of a Pilgrim and after 5 days and it’s remarkable how quickly the body gets use to a daily ritual of walking 20- 30 km a day with a back pack.

> By day 6 life was starting to become more relaxing and I commenced enjoying the countryside more, no doubt walking with all your required possessions on your back starts to change your lifestyle a little.
> Some days you are walking alone, some evenings you are eating alone, everyone walks at a different pace, a different energy, a different reason. I started to mind travel and I would recall silly conversations I had many years ago, some humorous where I would laugh aloud, some embarrassing, and some regretful.
> The general conversations would also change with fellow Pilgrims, we all stopped talking about blistered feet days ago and conversations became more meaningful, more thoughtful and more caring for each other. There were suicide survivors, cancer sufferers, soldiers from various conflicts, reformed drug addicts and there were people like me, exploring and trying to understand ones life.

> This all became more interesting when on day 20 I was in the city of Leon with its magnificent Cathedral , I had limped into the old city , tears in my eyes from the pain of a severe shin splint. I was fortunate, well lucky to walk past a medical clinic with a Camino Shell on its door. Was this a sign? (The Camino shell is the sign or badge some Pilgrims wear. The scallop shell is a metaphor that represents the various routes of the Camino.)
> My Spanish Doctor, Physiotherapist, Psychologist….all in one, treated me for my injury during two intensive days. In limited English he explained that I had to have this injury to realise what the Camino was all about. He had walked the same Pilgrimage many times and will only accept Pilgrims as patients . One has to show the Doctor a Pilgrim passport which gets stamped at each accommodation during the walk.

> We talked at length and this was explained to me.

> The Pilgrimage from SJDP in France to Santiago is made up of three stages.
> Stage 1 of around 10 days is the mind letting go of material possessions. You have what is required for survival being carried in your back pack.
> Stage 2 of around 10-20 days is the inner journey. This is when you question life, your past, your future. You are walking around 25 km a day at around 3-4 km an hour, you have naturally slowed down your life so the mind can discover life again. Its like a reinvention of ones self.
> Stage 3 the remaining stage from Leon, is simply enjoying life as its meant to be. Go forward he said, your leg will be fine, you will also return for another journey.

> I arrived in Santiago on 2nd November 2014, All Saints day. The Camino completely changed my life for the better. Depression will never completely disappear, however discovering the Inner Journey on the Camino, gave me purpose in my life, gave me direction and gave me a reason to live my life to the fullest.

> Last year 2015 I walked the Le Puy Camino in France where I was able to assist other Pilgrims who were fighting depression and searching for a meaning in life. This year in late August another Camino has called me, this time the remote Camino in Northern Spain from Santander along the coast and then inland to Santiago, the resting place of St James.>
>
> Greg Stegman
> “Whimaway”
> 81 Thomas Macleod Avenue,
> Sinnamon Park 4073
> Australia
>
> 0411 421 435
> gregorystegman@outlook.com
>