‘Walking the Camino’ Documentary Wonders Why Walk 500 Miles?

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camino posterBeing an avid hiker and having undertaken many a five day hike through the Andes in Peru, Mt Whitney, Kauai, and Na Pali Coast, and having walked part of the Camino de Santiago trail myself while in Spain last year, I was drawn to the film “Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.

However, hiking 30 miles is not 500 miles, which is the length the trekkers hiked in the movie.   

The director/producer herself, Lydia Smith, had embark on the pilgrimage after being without a job, and in between relationships.  It was such a powerful experience for Lydia that she came back a year later to follow the journey of six people.

Lydia’s goal with this film was to change the world, for people to find their own “Camino” in life, and find what inspires them to change their lives. 

Each of the six pilgrims had a tale to tell, an adventure to partake in and that is what this film is about.  It shares their challenges physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually, and what led them on this 35 to 40 day commitment, and how each left with a new sense of being and purpose in the world. 

The cast of pilgrims ranged in age, nationalities and religious backgrounds. Each had a story that led them to do something they had never thought possible for themselves. 

A 73-year old priest brought his friend Wayne, who through the trek was able to find purpose after his wife died four years earlier and was stuck in his grief. 

Annie, a woman in her 50’s who struggled with her competitiveness and unhappiness in life, found herself leaving with a sense of presence and peace. 

A younger Brazilian woman, now living in the UK, had lost her job and her relationship, was able to now find understanding in her poor decisions. 

Then there was a French brother – sister team (along with her three year old in a stroller), both coming for two very different purposes, each completing the trek with different goals, yet at the end finding their relationship being renewed.

A relationship flourished on the trail between a Danish athlete and a relic-hunter from Quebec, even with her being 10 years older. 

And finally, a South Korean mother who learns through her journey how to tell her husband she loves him for the first time after 27 years of marriage.

The Camino de Santiago trail has a long history of over a thousand years of being a Catholic pilgrimage to pay respect to the remains of St. James (one of the 12 apostles). 

Today, people come from all over the world to complete this 500-mile trek through mountains, farmlands, forests, rivers, and even along some roadways.  The scenery is spectacular and leaves you with a sense of “when can I go.”

You get to see each of the trekkers’ stories revealed throughout the pilgrimage– through the terrain, through their blisters, through their emotional breakdowns, through their connections with other pilgrims, and lastly through their celebration as they reach Santiago. 

Everyone comes with a purpose, an issue they want to resolve, a goal they want to accomplish. The trail broke down the defenses they came with, the masks their lives had created, which is why my favorite quote from the movie is ‘” bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul.”  

You will be inspired to visit Spain and walk the Camino de Santiago after seeing this film. Or, as the director intended, you will be inspired to find your own “Camino.”

 Walking the Camino screens at The Triangle in Costa Mesa on Saturday April 27 at 2:30 p.m. and at Island Cinemas, Newport Beach, on Wednesday, May 1 at 2:30 p.m. Visit NewportBeachFilmFest.com for more information.

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