This year’s pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago promises to be a unique blend of familiar and new territories. Unlike our previous journeys, our destination won’t be the traditional Santiago de Compostela. Instead, we’ve decided to conclude our journey in the city of Burgos. The starting point will reach all the way back to the very beginning of the French Way at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port (SJPP).

Initially, I had envisioned taking my daughter along the last part of the route, supporting her as she earned her first Compostela—a cherished goal for pilgrims along the Camino. As I poured over maps and memories a different kind of journey began to take shape.

In recounting my previous treks, it became apparent that the sections of the Camino that resonated most deeply with me were found towards the beginning of the route. Consequently, we decided to focus on the highlights of the early stages, concluding our pilgrimage with the final five-day stretch from Sarria to Santiago.

At this point, my son, Blaise, voiced a sentiment that also didn’t sit well with me. Due to the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the pandemic in 2021, we had been forced to bypass the first three days of the Camino, which would have seen us crossing from France into Spain. In light of the complexities associated with international travel during that time, our decision was a prudent one, but it left a void we have long yearned to fill.

Everyone packed in the Ford Puma. After 7 hours crammed in the car, we made it to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

After thoughtful deliberation and consultation with Josie and Dominic, we collectively decided to forego their initial opportunity to earn a Compostela. Instead, we agreed to undertake the first third of the Camino, rectifying our past omission while sharing with them our most favorite part of the Way.

For those unacquainted with the traditions of the Camino, it’s worth noting that there is no prescribed timeline for completing a pilgrimage. It can span across years, even decades, with segments completed in their proper order. The only requirement is to maintain a pilgrim’s credential, a document which tracks your progress along the route. This flexibility allows every pilgrim to embrace their unique journey, one step at a time.

As a Catholic father, sharing this journey with my family is a blessing and an opportunity to bond over our shared faith, while also celebrating our individual spiritual journeys. This year’s Camino may look different, but its essence remains the same. It’s not solely about the destination; rather, it’s about the journey and the experiences we enjoy along the Way.