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Rebecca Gallo is walking the 480-mile pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago despite, or maybe because of, the doubts she has about faith. Journey with her along this ancient path.

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June 25th, 2012

Being On an Ancient Pilgrimage in the Digital Age

 
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A sign for the Internet along the Camino.

After walking 12 miles, Philipp and I were relieved to arrive at the albergue in Tosantos, Spain. We were greeted by Dani, a volunteer serving as the welcoming committee, chef, and housekeeper that week. We left our packs in the hall and followed Dani into the living room.

I saw the now-familiar log book on the coffee table. At each day’s destination, we turn over our Pilgrim Credential, which lists our name, starting point, hometown, and country of origin. All of this information is entered into the book, our Credential is stamped, and we are shown to our bed for the night. But Tosantos was different. Dani didn’t make any moves for the book. Instead he asked us about ourselves, where we were from, and our Camino experience thus far. It was refreshing to not be just another pilgrim to be entered into the log.

Twenty minutes later, I discovered why Dani delayed. “Before you decide to stay here, I need to tell you about one rule that we have. You can’t get up before 6:30.” Philipp and I let out big sighs of relief and heartily agreed that this was not a problem at all. Phillip was woken at 5 that very morning by pilgrims rustling in their bags eager to get the day started. “This is not a race,” Dani said. “We want you to enjoy the experience and get your rest.”

The albergue in Tosantos, a town with a population of 20 and a bar with an Internet connection that helped make Rebecca's blog possible.

Our names were entered into the book, our credentials were stamped, and we were shown to our room. On the wood floor were 10 thin mattress pads. Philipp and I were left to claim our spaces for the night. I pulled out my pillow and sleeping bag and laid them on a corner mattress, indicating to the next arrivals that this spot was taken. I took a shower, then headed out to the only bar in this town with a population of just 20: I had a blog post I needed to write and was hoping the bar would have a computer I could use. I walked in to find four men playing a card game in one corner and — hooray! — a computer in the other corner. I slid my one Euro coin into the slot, opened up the Internet browser, and started typing.

Perhaps some people would want to escape from technology while spending 40 days walking the Camino. I’m not one of them. I’m not addicted to my PDA, but I don’t see any need to leave the world of e-mails and Facebook entirely. Also, as a single woman traveling alone in a foreign country, technology gives me a way to keep in touch with my family at home quickly, easily, and cheaply.

When St. Francis walked the Camino he didn’t have the ability to be as “connected” with the outside world as I have. He couldn’t post pictures and updates on Facebook. Nor was he able to post his thoughts to a blog in real time for the world to see. But he probably did write his thoughts, just as I do each day. He walked the same path and probably felt some of the same things I’ve felt along The Way — excitement, love, fear, disappointment, amazement, joy. Did he meet as many people from as many countries as I have? If he did, he surely didn’t collect their e-mail addresses.

So though I walk the same path as St. Francis, technology has certainly made our experiences different. I was asked, before I left, if I thought blogging from the Camino might take away from my experience. I never felt it would. I am a writer and a recorder of stories. I wanted to be able to do that while on this journey, and blogging for Busted Halo has given me a chance to not only document my journey, but to share it with others who may or may not do this journey themselves one day.

That being said, the logistics of being “connected” while walking through towns of a mere 20 people can sometimes be a little daunting. I never considered carrying a laptop. I don’t own one light enough to justify its weight in my pack (though I met three people carrying iPads in theirs). I knew that I would walk through at least four major cities on this journey (Pamplona, Burgos, Leon and Santiago), so figured accessing the Internet in order to send my posts would be possible then.

It certainly hasn’t always been easy. There have been times when, for three consecutive days, I haven’t been able to find a computer on which to write these posts. Or I’d get to a place with a computer only to find it’s not working that day. Or I’d find a Wi-Fi connection, but it wouldn’t allow me to upload my photos. St. Francis had none of these problems.

But to me, it’s all worth it. Not only am I able to share my journey and experiences, but through writing these posts I’ve received a most unexpected — and welcome — gift: comments. I was delighted the first time I logged in from the Camino to see that six people had responded to my first post offering encouraging words — and four of those people I’d never even met. One couple wrote to send prayers and luck and to tell me their young adult group was following my journey. Really? There were people out there awaiting my next post? A whole group of them? It made my search for a computer all the more worthwhile.

Comments people wrote in response to my posts brought me great joy, motivated me, and moved me to tears sometimes. I wonder: if St. Francis was walking this path today, would he choose to use technology to communicate his thoughts on this journey? He had a message he wanted to share. I think he might have used any means he could. And blogging would make it a two-way street: he could share his message and his “followers” could respond, ask further questions, offer support and encouragement — just as mine were able to do for me during my journey.
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What encouraging words could you offer today? Via the Internet or in person, take a moment to send a message to someone.

 
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The Author : Rebecca Gallo
In the spring of 2012, Rebecca Gallo spent six weeks walking the Camino to Santiago. Rebecca writes about putting into practice the lessons she learned on that journey. She's continuing her spiritual journey -- looking for deeper meaning, asking questions of all she's believed before, and finding answers in the people she meets and the experiences she has along the way.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Manuela

    Rebecca,
    I really enjoyed reading your blogs. My friend and I are starting our Camino journey this week.

    Manuela

  • Susan McQueary

    Thank you for continuing to write even with the tech challenges. I’m so happy to have stumbled on this blog – I’m working on a plan to do the Camino myself and have enjoyed reading about your experiences. Buen Camino!

  • Susan Inman

    Rebecca – I have been following your journey on the Camino with great interest and anticipation for each new entry. After seeing The Way with Martin Sheen, I have been moved regarding what this spiritual journey means to so many people. Thank you for making the time to write to us. Looking forward to reading more!

  • Mike Hayes

    Go Rebecca go! I’ll most likely be heading there with students in March! Know of our prayers as you continue to journey.

  • Brian

    Rebecca,

    Through your blogs I too followed you along your Camino walk.
    Thank you for sharing the journey – it gave me a few moments of prayer each time I found you had updated the blog.

    Each journey begin s with a first step and each prayer begins with a moment of faith.

  • Yvonne

    Bravo completing your Camino adventure, Rebecca! You were wonderful to step out in faith and to allow us a glimpse of your experiences through your blog posts. Thank you! You have inspired me! May this journey forever fill you w love and trust that everything is perfect each step of the way.

    Peace and blessings ~

  • Rebecca

    Good news Jane – I have one more post to write in this series! Thanks for following me and for sharing my posts. And thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  • Jane K

    Rebecca, I have been one of your avid followers and have commented numerous times on your posts. I have waited for you posts and have shared them with my oldest daughter- whom I took to see The Way- when it first came out. You have been insightful and honest and your decision to blog for Busted Halo- is one that I am personally grateful for. May God always bless you on your road of life…and be a part of every journey you take in the years to come. Keep writing Rebecca…(hopefully for Busted Halo too- as I am a frequent visitor) Stay well and thank you for sharing…I will miss your posts! Oh and by the way you are spot on with regard to St. Francis! He would have used any and every means available. Take care! Jane K.

  • Rebecca

    Hello all -
    Thanks once again for taking the time to respond to my post. I am back home now and will write one more post in this series :)

    Mike – what a wonderful memory. The community meals and blessings were the best parts of staying at these types of albergues.

    Manuel – July 25 is also celebrated in Santiago. Many pilgrims start the Camino with the goal of finishing on that day. I hope your wife does get to walk The Way. And from experience I can tell you it’s great to have someone meet you in Santiago when you arrive.

    Remy – Oh, I surely remember those moments before arriving in Estrella! Thank you for being there for me:) And thanks for the youtube recommendation – it brought back great memories:)

    See you soon Bob:)
    Renegade – we didn’t. I was one day too early for that I heard…
    Traci – Thank you for your compliments and blessings. Good luck on your journey.
    Carolyn – I thought of you every time I saw or heard mention of St. Francis!

  • Carolyn Martone

    Rebecca, Assisi the dog said to tell you that this was her very favorite blog post because of the connections made to St. Francis. And because she doesn’t have an Ipad either.

  • Traci

    Hello, I am new to your blog so I just finished reading your past posts. Thank you so much for taking time to share your journey with us. You have given me so much to consider when I compare your journey to my own. Your writing is wonderful . May God continue to bless you on your journey.
    Traci

  • renegadepilgrim

    I stayed in Tosantos too….did you get a tour of the ermita on the top of the hill? It has quite the history and the guidebooks never seem to talk about it.

  • Deacon Bob

    This one was super, Becky! I really liked the way you connected to St. Francis and his walk along The Way. Your blog – and your walk – have been a blessing for many, including you! See you in a couple of weeks!

  • Rémy

    Hi Rebecca! I suppose you have written this blog post at home. I was sure you’d succeed to reach Santiago because you have a big interior strength; I checked it just before arriving to Estella; do you remember it? Congratulations! Even if it is less difficult than at St Francis’s time, everybody is not able to do it. I think it is beneficial for oneself to succeed in doing difficult things.
    Thanks to your use of digital technology during your journey, I could know what happened to you next Burgos and perhaps you’ll soon send to me some photos of the first legs. Talking of which, on “You tube”, type Grañon and you will be able to see a place which ‘ll remind you of souvenirs.
    Thank you for starting up this blog that allow to keep in touch with you. CARPE DIEM or seize the day (my prefered sentence). Rémy.

  • Manuel Cavazos

    I am very happy to find your post a out the pilgrimage to Santiago. My wife has always talked about doing this pilgrimage. Her dream is to go on it with her grandmother ever since reading The Pilgrim by Paolo Coehlo. I’ve always joked about joining them in Santiago upon their arrival and that I will tour Paris with our young son while they are on their way. July 25 is a day of celebration in the town where my mother was born in Santiago Tangamandapio Michoacan Mexico because it is named after all after the Apostle Santiago. It’s also my wife’s birthday. I hope to someday be able to give my wife this gift of going on the pilgrimage!! Thank you for posting your experiences. We will be following you as you post!!

  • Mike Harrison

    Thank you for your blog and may you continue to grow as you walk your own Camino
    I too stayed in Tosantos – I was there on Easter Vigil this year. Most of the Pilgrims attended the Pascal Mass with the entire town. After Mass, everyone was invited back a simple meal of soup and bread

    This was my most vivid memory of true connectedness that is offered to those stop slow down and truly engage

    Finally finding WI-FI (Wee-Fee) is a great Camino adventure

    Buen Camino

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