One of my goals for this sabbatical was to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain. I knew I didn’t want to walk all of it, but I did want to experience a taste of. I set out for Spain three weeks ago with the intention of spending time in Seville and Granada to soak in some tile inspiration for the mosaic I am working on in LA and then head off to walk the Camino.
Andalusia is well known for its decorative tiles still produced in the area with roots dating back to the region’s Arab past. Walking through the streets and parks of Seville and the astounding Alhambra in Granada, I indeed found much to inspire me. I spent a week with my friend and my nephew in Andalusia. My nephew recently returned from three years in the Peace Corp in Panama and it was a real luxury to spend time just listening to him share his stories of life in Panama. One of my goals for this sabbatical year was to have time to really listen, spend time in conversation, hearing what people have to say.
Geometric designs found in this region sparked ideas and got my creative juices roaring and gave me much to contemplate as I hopped aboard a train by myself headed for Sarria in Galicia to start walking the Camino.
For those of you that are not familiar with the Camino de Santiago, it is an ancient pilgrimage road system spanning hundreds of miles from France, Portugal, and other points with all roads leading to the Cathedral of Saint James in Santiago de Compostella in Galicia, Spain. In days gone by it was strictly a religious pilgrimage, but nowadays there are many different reasons people choose to make the walk. For me personally, I chose to walk as an homage to my parents who were kind, generous, and lovely human beings. My father died while I was in college and mom died in my thirties. I walked the Camino as a way of reflecting on all they gave me and I also wanted to show gratitude for the way my life has turned out.
I know it is still unusual in the majority of the world for women to not have children, but for me it has been a blessing. I love being an artist, I love my friends and husband, my dogs, and I love having vast amounts of silence. I really enjoy silence. I also enjoy committing and volunteering time to the betterment of my community and the environment. I enjoy teaching art to children and like kids immensely, but I am grateful I do not have my own because my life is a joyful and fulfilled life without them and so I walked the Camino for about 80 (5 days of walking) miles and contemplated how we are all walking such different roads and how important it is to be grateful for the path you choose or are given to walk in this life. I look forward to returning to the Camino in the future and walking another section of it. My favorite moment on the Camino was on my second day walking. I was all alone on the road, walking through farm land, when an old farmer and his equally aging dog walked up and smiled, saying “buen Camino” to me and handed me a walnut. He held it in my hands and smiled with utter joy. I kissed him on the cheeks and hugged him and then walked on down the road with everything I needed on my back.
That walnut made it all the way back to LA:)
Here are a few links if you are interested in learning more about the tile work in the Alhambra in Granada, Spain and learning more about the Camino de Santiago in Galicia, Spain.
A brief history of the Alhambra with photos of tile work:
Brief history of the Camino de Santiago.
A documentary about the Camino:
Martin Sheen starred in a movie with his son about the Camino called The Way:
I end this post with some street art I saw in Spain. Spain has had some hard times lately, but there is much optimism and young artists are extremely hopeful about the future. I found the street art in Spain to be very exciting.