Prompt #74: Insiders & Outsiders
Writing Exercise: May 2023
As I’ve mentioned, I’m hiking the Camino Francés and am currently writing to you from a small village called Atapuerca not far from Burgos. We’ve been hiking 17-20 (27-32 kilometers) miles daily but had a “short day” today—12 miles, which under any other circumstances would be called a very long walk. It’s a lot of walking, and to pass the time, I’ve been listening to audiobooks. The one I’m listening to now is Stealing my Religion by Liz Bucar about religious appropriation (as opposed to cultural appropriation), and the book examines three case studies: wearing hijab in solidarity with Muslims, practicing yoga, and…walking the Camino. The book is smart, thorough, and well researched but it’s also conversational and accessible enough to enjoy as an audiobook. I highly recommend it.
Learning the history of the Camino while hiking has been thought-provoking and is adding another layer to my walk. For example, I had wondered about the carved portrayals of men stepping on the necks of other men. I learned what these statues mean from Bucar’s book—they portray the more violent side of the Camino’s origins.
The Camino de Santiago was established during the time when Catholic kings were trying to reconquer the area and expunge the Moors. St James (the apostle the Camino de Santiago is named for) was known for spreading the word of God (possibly on the Iberian Peninsula but as Bucar says, the evidence for this is thin). Legend has it that somehow his tomb washed up on the coast of Spain (and found in a cave by a hermit) and now his bones are supposedly entombed under the cathedral (though no one really believes that anymore). Because of these reasons, the Way of St James pilgrimage ends in Santiago de Compostela.
What most people don’t know about Saint James is that he’s also known as Santiago