Beyond Santo Domingo de la Calzada

A temporary diversion on the Camino

I walked the Camino my first time in 2010 from St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela. On the eve of setting out, I didn’t see anything beyond the physical challenges of walking 500 miles on different terrains and possibly sampling some nice, inexpensive wines. Forget any deeper meaning or metaphor of this being an inner journey. It was only once I began my camino that I viscerally understood that there are so many parallels with this journey called life.

I have learnt to embrace life wherever it takes me even if the journey I travel isn’t always pretty. To get to the countryside, I sometimes might have to walk through industrial parks. This is all good because imagine how boring it might be if everywhere we travelled, it was glorious, landscaped countryside. We need something less than perfect to appreciate perfection.

Many people have asked me how one walks 500 miles. The answer is simple. It’s one step at a time. If you looked at the total distance, you might be off put by the enormity of the journey and never start.

My journey has taken me recently in a different direction: a series of tests in late 2018 and then a biopsy determined that I have what has been described as “high risk” prostate cancer. My immediate reaction was to research the condition, its possible outcomes the various treatments available and then to choose a course of action. That was the same as looking at the 500 miles and three mountain ranges to be crossed in the space of a month. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming. What I have learnt to do is take it one step at a time, deal with the specific problems before me rather than lend free rein to a fertile and vivid imagination. 

Straight Ahead?

When you reach the crossroads, which was do you go? This might sound strange, but I have really enjoyed this journey with cancer, my visits to Princess Margaret Hospital, the frequent blood-work and further diagnostic tests every couple of weeks. I use the word embrace rather than fighting cancer.

Arriving in Burgos

It’s an exciting journey, all part of my Camino, even if not exactly what I had planned. I am hoping, of course, that this is but a diversion from my main journey and that soon I can continue where I left off. If that’s not the case then I will cross that bridge when I come to it.