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Thursday, 19 June 2014

Gyrovagues: Camino Jacobeo del Ebro, Camino Catalan and Camino Castellano-Argaones June - July 2014

Tortosa Station: the end of the line and the start of the trail. Somewhere in this photo a lost guidebook is flapping around.
On Friday 13th June I set out from Bristol to travel, by train, to the Catalunyan town of Tortosa; via London, Paris and Barcelona. The SNCF strike nearly derailed my plans but I arrived the following Saturday afternoon. After a quick coffee and tapa – and after losing my guidebook before I’d even left the station – I  set out on the Camino Jacobeo del Ebro, one of the many ways to Santiago de Compostella.
So! Up the Ebro without a metaphorical paddle. My plan was to post at the end of every day’s walking but you know what they say about good intentions – I’ll have to play catch up.
What I'm actually here to do is, like the paths ahead, uncertain and subject to change on a whim and a prayer. First and foremost I want to walk. No, let me rephrase that, I need to walk; I'm like a junkie desperate for a fix. And, for reasons I hope to articulate over the next couple of weeks, I need to walk in Spain. Beyond that my broad remit - and when I say broad I really do mean a vast amplitude - is to start piecing together a narrative for my research, the relationship between landscape and spirituality/religiosity. It's a tall order, easier to ruminate over in my mind than set down on a piece of paper but at some point it has to be done. For this particular 'pilgrimage' - I started off calling it a hike but that didn't seem appropriate - there are two concepts upon which I'm trying to focus: the idea of the Gyrovague, which I've mentioned previously, and the notion of a 'Catholic gaze'. That is, how we perceived and are affected by the landscape from a particular cultural-religious perspective. That is, I think, the main reason, I came to Spain - again - but there are other themes at work: language being one, the network of caminos being another.
When I arrive at my destination - and as yet I'm unsure where or when that will be - I should have the outline structure of a nascent thesis.
Some hope!

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