In case you missed it, there have been some interesting responses to the article entitled ‘Pilgrimages Anew’ published in Smart Traveller (1-2 February) in the Travel section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.
Three Letters to the Travel Editor are posted below. The first suggests that some who travel on the Camino might miss out on an authentic experience. Subsequent letters provide an alternate perspective. Taken together, these responses give further weight to the rationale behind our ‘Camino with a Difference!’ tours. We aim to provide supported travel options for a wider range of people who would like to experience the peace and beauty of BEING on a Camino trail. Read on and form your own opinion. But whatever your views, pursue the opportunity – if you can – to take time out from your busy life to journey along one of the many Camino pathways. You won’t be disappointed!
Take the hard road (8-9 February)
Diane McDonald and her paying guests (‘‘ New paths to enlightenment’’ , Traveller, February 2-3 ) are mistaken if they think they are having an authentic Camino walking experience in Europe while staying in hotels and having their luggage transported for them. Enduring privation is the very essence of the Camino; stripping one’s life down to essential needs and bringing mindfulness to the journey, not just arriving at the destination, is the point of it. Maxine Hardinge
Each to their own path (15-16 February)
Maxine Hardinge correctly notes that travel on Europe’s Camino is for reflection and mindfulness, not merely reaching a destination (Traveller Letters, February 9-10 ). The world has diversified since early pilgrims started walking: people seek experiences to match their own frame of reference and capacity, not just to be ‘‘ authentic’ ’ to ancient intentions. You can walk any distance, alone or in groups, take a bike or wheelchair along some sections of the Camino. The chance to be mindful or clear the mind, walking in a beautiful ancient setting, should not be restricted to those fit or robust enough to do it the hard or ancient way. Deborah Rhodes
Check your pilgrimage privilege (15-16 February)
My husband and I walked the final 120 kilometres of the Camino, from Sarria to Santiago di Compostela. At 72, we’re a bit past ‘‘ privation’ ’ and ‘‘ stripping one’s life down to essential needs” (Traveller Letters, February 9-10 ), so, yes, we used small hotels and had our luggage transported for us. That said, we were always mindful of our journey and the thousands of pilgrims in whose footsteps we were walking. We made new friends and enjoyed meeting likeminded people from all over the world. I wonder what Maxine Hardinge thought of the lycra-clad cyclists roaring along the Camino. Wendy Brophy
Pilgrim’s progress (22-23 February)
Regarding Maxine Hardinge (Traveller Letters, February 9-10 ), I have walked the Camino twice, once carrying my pack and staying in hostels (refugios) and once using a pack transporter and staying in hotels. Iconsider neither experience more humbling, deserving nor a more truer pilgrimage than the other. The Camino, and indeed most foot travelling experiences, provide an opportunity for apersonal journey of enrichment and reflection. The individual does not have to suffer sleep deprivation, bed bugs and damaged feet and joints to gain a greater emotional fulfilment. In fact, sometimes the mind and heart can absorb more when the physical suffering is reduced. Jane Westley