Students in Spanish II are learning about Spain's equivalent of hiking the Appalachian Trail, walking "El Camino de Santiago", known in English as "The Way of Saint James." Part eco-vacation and part contemplative pilgrimage, individuals have been making this trek across Northern Spain for centuries. Originally it was undertaken by Catholic pilgrims, but now-a-days the pilgrims hail from many religions. All seek an escape from the rush of modern living. Here on el camino one can contemplate the important things of life.
During this week Spanish II students have watched short YouTube clips of individuals on el camino , but the special treat today was to skype with Sammy, a student at Pacific Union College, who hiked a portion of el camino last year. Many questions were asked. "How much did lodging cost?" "What's your best memory?" "Is el camino safe?" "Would you do it again?"
Sammy challenged PTA teens to undertake the trail with the mindset of pilgrims of old: a spiritual mindset. He told them, "Amongst our group of 14 hikers, myself and one other determined to enter in to the spirituality of the experience. We would purposely drop back from the others. Nature and the slow pace gave us head-space to talk about the some of life's big questions. The lack of rush meant we could walk in silence or explore ideas at length, as we desired. Of all my experiences in Spain, walking "El Camino de Santiago" is one of the few I wouldn't have done without!"
A word of caution to parents: At least half the class admitted by the end of the skype session that walking el camino now has a place on their bucket list!