It was when we moved to Santa Fe in 2004 that I first learned about the Camino. I was intrigued by such pilgrimages that drew people from all over the world to Spain and France to walk on ancient paths to a common destination. However, I did not feel that I had to do it. I still don’t feel that I have to do though when my daughter mentioned it the other week I did volunteer to walk with her some day. And maybe someday I will walk part of it with our friend Alexander Shaia who is leading a walk this fall.
But for the time being I am happy with my own version of the Camino. I’ll call it my Rio as that is the Spanish word for river. The Rio has become a powerful week in my life. Sharing this experience every year with my good friend Karen Yeversky is a large part of the beauty of the week. We paddle together, much as the walkers tale strides along the various routes of the Camino. Sometimes we are quiet. Sometimes we are reflective. Sometimes we debate and wonder and make up why things are the way they are. Sometimes we laugh until we cry. Always, always, we test our physical and emotional endurance. And every year we end up further down the Ohio River. no matter what. I love to write about our journey and usually I hope to do that on the river. But this year I found it hard to write anything on my little iPhone more than an update of the highlights of a particular day or two.
So now, having been back for nearly two weeks, I will start to write some more detailed reflections on our powerful week in the gorgeous Ohio Valley, the people we met who helped us, the animals, birds and flora we saw and, this year in particular, the food we discovered. The food was a hit on Facebook. I think some people didn’t believe we were actually camping. It was fun to find the seasonal floating restaurants along the more populated parts of the river. We just never know what we will find on our annual journey.
In the weeks to follow, I hope to be faithful to our journey by recounting stories that let you know why it has become so important. What I fear is that no matter how articulate I may be, you may not fully be able to experience the power. I assume this is similar to my friends’ stories as they recount their steps along the Camino. In the end, each journey is our own. I suspect that even Karen and I, though paddling in the same canoe on the same river, have different versions of the beauty of the week.