In May 2006, armed only with a small rucksack and a staff, Tony Kevin, an overweight, sedentary, 63-year-old former diplomat, set off on an eight-week trek across Spain. But this was not just a very long walk — it was a pilgrimage.
From Granada, in the southeast, to Santiago de Compostela, in the far northwest, Tony followed the Via Mozarabe and the Via de la Plata, two of the many pilgrim trails that crisscross Spain and Portugal and that all lead to a single destination. In the Middle Ages, the cathedral city of Santiago de Compostela was Europe’s most famous centre of pilgrimage, and in recent years it has enjoyed a remarkable revival; every day towards noon, hundreds of hot, tired, and dusty pilgrims stream into Santiago Cathedral for the daily Pilgrim’s Mass.
What, in our busy, materialistic 21st century, is this apparently anachronistic phenomenon all about? What drives tens of thousands of people of all nationalities and creeds to make long, exhausting walks across the cold mountains and hot tablelands of Spain, to take part finally in a medieval Christian liturgy of spiritual renewal and reconciliation with God?
Walking the Camino beautifully captures the flavour of what it was like to walk the camino, and is filled with fascinating observations and anecdotes about the nature of contemporary Spain. And because pilgrimage is such a deeply personal experience that has the potential to unlock the deepest recesses of hidden memory and conscience, it is also a profound personal meditation on the nature of modern life.
It will be of interest to people who contemplate making, or who have made this walk; to those interested in the politics and culture of contemporary Spain; and indeed anyone who appreciates fine travel writing.
‘Go the distance with Kevin this one: it may well help inspire your own faith journey.’
Marjorie Lewis-Jones, Insights
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‘In this lovely book about an inspiring journey, this “rather overweight and sedentary 63-year-old man” writes about the enormous challenges of walking across Spain and the rewards he found in contemplation, reflection, and the spirit of fellowship he shared with his fellow travellers. This memoir is a deeply personal journey, but Kevin also ponders the old-fashioned notion of pilgrimage in the frenetic 21st century.’
‘Its strength … is its observant, informed, humane reflectiveness. Kevin’s excursions into practical advice alone make the book worthwhile.’
Gerard Windsor, Sydney Morning Herald
'Walking the Camino is like a cold Spanish beer … [Kevin] takes the less travelled trail from south to north; longer, but a lot more interesting.
‘If you're brave or foolish enough to tackle the trip, Walking the Camino, as replete with travel tips as it is with wisdom, would be the perfect partner.’
Barry Oakley, Weekend Australian