Follow the Yellow Arrows
May / June 2014
For my 26th birthday, my friend Kendon gave me a copy of Tracks, Robyn Davidson’s memoir about her trek across the Australian desert. Inside he’d inscribed: “Loulou, your track is lined with wildflowers. Enjoy the journey.” A decade and a half later I wasn’t so sure. Depression, which I’d first experienced in my late 20s, had returned. Life felt like it was on pause.
I’d been introduced to the Camino de Santiago in 2001 when a colleague at the Toronto Star, where I’d worked as an editor, wrote a series of articles about his first experience walking the most well-known pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela – the 780 km Camino Frances across northern Spain.
It took well over a decade, but in the spring of 2014 it felt like it was finally time for me to stop reading about the Camino – and to pack all that I needed into one bag, get out of my head and put one foot in front of the other. Even if I only traversed a 300 km section of it.
Before returning home, words spoken one night over a meal shared by several Canadians, an Australian, a German and a Slovakian echoed within. "So many pilgrims who walk the Camino are at a crossroads in their lives," said Tracy Saunders, a Canadian who has opened her home in Caratona, near Muxia, to pilgrims at the end of their walk. "Every pilgrim has a hole in the ’self' where some future possibility is yet to manifest itself and some past failure still remains."