Pilgrims Who Start Their Camino in Sarria…

35% of all pilgrims who receive their compostela certificate (this is the certificate that authenticates the fact that you completed the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain) in Santiago de Compostela begin their pilgrimage in SARRIA.

My compostela certificate, issued to me in September, 2019, after I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago from Astorga to Santiago de Compostela.

That’s AWESOME! Good for them! So THRILLED they had this experience!

Michael and I waving our tubed compostela certificates in the air in front of the Cathedral in September, 2019. Victory!

There is a lot of talk in Camino groups around the internet that disparages this 35%. They even give them derogatory names likes Touragrino and suggest that they are destroying the Camino. Peregrino is the Spanish word for Pilgrim, so those who walk the Camino are known as peregrinos (peregrina is the feminine word, but en masse peregrino refers to all…much like actresses are also grouped in to the collective of actors). Calling pilgrims who only walk the last 100km Touragrinos suggests that they are merely tourists out for a stroll, and that they don’t experience the ‘actual’ Camino. Don’t listen to these people!

Michael, Jenifer and I in front of the Cathedral soon after arriving from walking the Senda Litoral Route of the Caminho Portuguese in September, 2022.

What the Camino snobs either ignore or don’t seem to take into consideration is that a LOT of people don’t have the option to take the amount of time off work that it would take to walk the entirety to the Camino Frances (or any of the other routes that take 30 or more days to walk). They have their heads stuck so firmly up their arrogant asses, that they don’t realize that others are not as privileged as they are when it comes to having free time away from their workaday lives.

A pastoral scene somewhere around the 50km mark between Sarria and Santiago de Compostela.

Walking from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela does not make a pilgrim any less of a pilgrim. It doesn’t mean these peregrinos appreciate the Camino less than those who begin in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France. Quite often it means they would much rather walk the entire Camino, but that their circumstances will not allow it. That the ‘true pilgrim’ snobs add insult to their injury is just deplorable.

Michael and I, at the 100km milemarker on the Camino Frances. September, 2019.

The Camino should be a place of no judgement. Sadly, that’s not the case. Those who have the privilege to walk the entire walk often mock those who cannot. So not cool. Each pilgrim makes their own way. Your Camino, your way.

A collection of old walking sticks left behind at the old pilgrim’s office in Santiago de Compostela. May, 2014 from my Camino from Ponferrada to Santiago de Compostela.

If you can only take a week (or two) away from your world, you have a couple of Camino options. ONE is to walk the last part of the Camino, where you get to experience walking to the Cathedral and all that that uplifting experience can bring you. ANOTHER is that you can walk the first part of the Camino Frances from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, get all your stamps and come back the next year to continue where you left off…doing a portion every year until you get to the end. ANOTHER is that you can walk any ole part of the Camino you wish to explore. The choice is yours, not some loudmouth internet troll’s who is trying to tell you you’re not a pilgrim if you don’t walk the entire pilgrimage route. You don’t need those people in your life.

There are a myriad of reasons that not everyone can do a full Camino, and it’s nobody’s business but theirs. If you’re considering doing a Camino pilgrimage and can’t do the whole thing, please don’t listen to naysayers! DO YOUR CAMINO YOUR WAY. Enjoy every minute of it! Don’t let them steal your joy.

There is NO SHAME in not doing the entire pilgrimage route. The joy is in experiencing what you can of this unique path. Whether you do it for religious reasons, spiritual reasons, or just because you want to go for a walk…all reasons and all distances are valid. ENJOY!


By Kevin Craig

Author, Poet, Playwright. Author of The Camino Club, Billions of Beautiful Hearts, and Book of Dreams, all from Duet Books, the LGBTQ Young Adult imprint of Chicago Review Press. Other books: Pride Must Be A Place, Half Dead & Fully Broken, Burn Baby Burn Baby, The Reasons, Sebastian's Poet, and Summer on Fire.

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