If there is a better-marked trail in the world than the Camino de Santiago, I would love to know about it.
The seashells, crosses and yellow arrows appear constantly along the path.
You can see them on the ground.
They are crafted with mosaics or set into paving stones.
They are painted on signs for the albergues (pilgrims’ hostels).
And on the sides of houses and walls.
There are official signs.
And unofficial markings.
There are creative renditions of all the symbols.
People put them on their gates.
And in their gardens.
The symbols come in every possible size.
Sometimes they are very large.
And sometimes they are dusted onto cakes with powdered sugar.
And they are are always on the backs of your fellow pilgrims. When in doubt, you can just follow one of them!
The markings can be very unassuming,
but just when you are beginning to wonder if you are on the right road, an arrow will appear.
Or you will come upon one of these stone markers that have also become makeshift shrines.
You never know what will be left on these markers.
And we used them for this purpose ourselves, leaving behind stones, leaves and pinecones that we carried while praying for friends and family.
These markers also let you know how many kilometers remain on the pilgrimage.
We delighted in watching the numbers get smaller all week.
And we knew without consulting our maps exactly how far we were from the end of each day.
The Camino is the only walk I’ve ever done where I stopped bothering to carry my guidebook.
It was especially exciting to reach the marker with the name of the town we were staying in for the night.
And often this would be the moment we would set down whatever small bit of treasure we had carried for the day.
When the kilometers dropped below twenty, we felt a strange mixture of anticipation and sadness over our pilgrimage coming to an end.
Each one of us took away a small reminder of these constant markings on the Camino de Santiago. Mine was in the form of a silver charm that I added to a necklace I already wear. LynEtte found it and bought it for me somewhere along The Way.
I will treasure it always.