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Review from Confraternity of Saint James in London

Book review
Thatcher, Guy
A Journey of Days Continues. Mud, Mountains and Mindfulness on the Camino of St Jacques.
GSPH Inc. Canada 2013

This is the story of Guy Thatcher’s attempts – ultimately successful – to complete his half-finished walking pilgrimage from Le Puy to Santiago. From the moment I picked up his book, I was hooked. A pleasure to handle with coated paper, attractive layout, good photos and type-face, I found it to be one of those ‘don’t want to put it down’ reads. Written in the present tense Guy’s account retains an immediacy throughout the 210 pages. The Canadian author already has a book under his belt, ‘A Journey of Days’, and his confident, authoritative and fluent style is evident – he knows how to construct a sentence, to pose rhetorical questions, research and present informative background information with a light touch and give the reader little ‘cliff hangers’ to keep one reading on. He is always outward looking, a keen observer of his fellow travellers and his sometimes drole observations of the life of the camino are both sensitive and often self-deprecating. Continue reading Review from Confraternity of Saint James in London

Why did I walk the Camino?

One of the questions that I now get asked a lot is; “Why did you decide to walk the camino?” It’s a good question and it deserves a thoughtful answer. For a long time I didn’t have an answer to this question. I first became aware of the camino about 10 years ago. But that is all it was – awareness. Then about five years ago, that is three years before I actually went to Spain, I started to feel a compulsion to walk it. I did not then know why, nor do I now.

What I do know is that the compulsion grew until I realized that I really wanted to do this. So I spent two years getting myself and my gear ready to walk. As I was walking on the camino, I wondered why I was there, and I had some ideas, but no convictions. No blinding insights, as in “Aha, so THAT’s why I’m walking!” Even after I came home, I still did not have a clear answer, but I do have some thoughts about it. I believe that it was a mix of curiosity and bravado. The curiosity part was partly I wondered whether I could actually walk a very long distance at my age, partly curiosity about the psychological impact of walking alone in a strange country for over a month and partly curiosity about whether there would be any spiritual overtones in walking a path that millions of pilgrims had walked for a millennium. The bravado part was thinking that I could walk over 700 kilometres at the age of 70. As it turned out … well, you know how it turned out.

By the way, I won’t be blogging every day … I don’t think … but I will keep up a steady stream of whatever crosses my mind. I find that I really enjoy knowing that people are reading what I write and evidently getting some value out of it. I would be happy to answer any questions that you pose to me.



10 April 2009

One of the questions I often get asked is, when I walked the camino in the early spring of 2007, did I intend to write a book about the experience? The answer is no, not only did I not intend to write a book, I did not intend to even keep a journal. It was my wife, Carroll, who wanted me to keep a journal and when all her entreaties failed, she enlisted our daughter Meredith to help persuade me. Even then I was stubbornly unconvinced and it was not until a few days before I left home that one of them presented me with a small notebook that I could carry in a pocket. I took it with me because that was easier than arguing.

When I ended up in Pamplona for five days because my unaccompanied baggage, my backpack, had not yet arrived (that’s another story), I had lots of time to wander around old Pamplona, make notes about what I saw and send them home via the Internet. We were emailing a lot because we were trying to track down the backpack. By the end of the five days, when I finally got underway, Carroll emailed me that there were a lot of people reading the emails that I was sending and to please keep them coming. That level of interest in what I was doing encouraged me to keep the journal going and to send messages home … and those emails became the framework for the book, although neither one of us realized that at the time.