When I first walked the Camino de Santiago in 2016, I was surprised just how few of my friends and family had heard of the way.
The film, The Way brought droves of Americans to the Camino yet the Brits still lagged behind.
Until a brilliant t.v. series, The Road To Santiago aired on British television in 2018. The intrepid seven, as they were called, walked sections of the French Way of Biarritz to Santiago de Compostela. Heather Small, a member of the former group M People was the only black person in the group. Before any reader is offended by the word, “black” is an acceptable word to use in the UK.
I loved the show apart from one incident. Heather Small ended up being racially attacked by a volunteer in an a church in the Meseta.
An incredible misrepresentation of the Camino spirit, or so I thought at the time.
As I’m a Camino Guide, I’ve spent the last three years wandering various Camino routes and realised that pilgrims do indeed tend to be white from privileged backgrounds.
My experience inspired me to write a piece called “The Camino de Santiago Is A Universal Experience For All,” as a result of what I call Camino fundamentalists, whether for religious or racist reasons, such as the man who racially attacked Heather Small because of the colour of her skin.
My words are not meant to criticise, as such, sometimes reactions like this are more about ignorance than hatred. I write this words to reassure people of all creeds, culture, colour and religion that the Camino de Santiago is an experience for all. Gone are the days when your religious inclination or the colour of your skin make a difference.
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The Camino de Santiago and its people welcome one and all.
Check out my book, A Wild Woman’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago for practical advice on preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago including snippets from my journey and stories from Camino pilgrims.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2021. All Rights Reserved.