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Jessica Reschke Get Away for a While Word count: 1843 *In order to respond to my critiques, I’ve had to add a lot to this. Unfortunately that means it’s become far too long. Any suggested cuts from editors would be really helpful! Buen Camino: Stepping out of Time For over a thousand years, the city of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, has welcomed weary pilgrims with open arms and rejoicing. Each year Spaniards and travelers from around the world put on their walking shoes and trek through the rolling green hills, wooded forests, and pastoral farmland of the Camino de Santiago. You too can slow your pace of life in order to take in the stunning scenery, the rejuvenating camaraderie of other travelers, and the sheer exhilaration of walking. “It’s such an authentic way to see a place. It’s beyond seeing Spain,” says 24-year-old Brittany Koteles, who completed the Camino in 2010 while studying in Spain. “You’re retracing

Comment [ML1]: Jessica! I really truly love this article. Most of my comments are trying to find places where you’re redundant or where you can cut or tighten. I feel like the content and the research you’ve done is excellent. I suggest just below a serious reworking that could save you lots of space and possibly keep the reader interested throughout. Let me know if you go for this option or if I can help identify more parts that could be shortened with the current structure. Thanks, Dallin Comment [ML2]: Your addition of the Koteles story made it so much more alive, but the quotes can be a bit long and I also worry about the length. The inclusion of the great quotes made me wonder if you can restructure your article to focus on the Koteles’s journey as a prototype for the reader’s journey. You could tell her story and offer instructions and explanations and your facts as you go along. Sometimes you repeat very similar sentiments about making it personal or customized and those could be cut out with this strategy, probably. Also, you can alternate between story and explanation/information which could help your readers stay involved while also being informed. Obviously this would involve a serious reworking, but I just wanted to suggest it. Comment [ML3]: This sounds a bit funny to me. Walking doesn’t usually seem so exhilarating.

the steps of a journey that thousands of people have made, and you’re sharing that with strangers. You’re crossing a country on foot and seeing the beauty that is has, and you’re meeting the people who live there. You can’t have a much more authentic tourism experience than that.”

Comment [ML4]: Fantastic quote and setup

The Camino de Santiago, a modern pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, is lined with history and mystery. Adventurers have been drawn to the Road to Santiago since AD 814, when, according to legend, a shower of falling stars led a Spanish hermit to the hidden tomb of the apostle Saint James. Many Christians still believe that this is the site of Saint James’ burial—but you don’t have to be a traditional pilgrim to embark on a soul-searching journey; all you need is a pair of walking shoes and a hunger to see life in a new way. The word camino in Spanish

Comment [ML5]: I didn’t find much mystery in the rest of the paragraph. Perhaps rephrase emphasizing “sacred history”?

means “the way” or “the journey”—but as a verb, it means, “I walk.” Travelers on the Camino de Santiago find their reward in the journey, not just the destination. Whether you are traveling for spirituality, exercise, or a scenic vacation, there is no right or wrong way to complete the Camino.

Comment [ML6]: I love that you brought out the different translations. Of course literally the phrase “Camino de Santiago” is pretty much set in its translation, but I think you can incorporate or explicate the “I walk” portion a bit more. I think you actually do address that point with the last sentences, but you can tie them together a bit more. Make this a personal pilgrimage.

Getting Started Everything about this modern pilgrimage—including the pathway you take, the length of your journey, and the extent to which you plan ahead—can be personalized. The traditional walk along the Camino can sometimes take more than a month, but Koteles and her friends only had five days to complete their Camino. “If you’re already in Europe, it’s something you can be impulsive about because it’s not going to break the bank,” she says. “You’re going to traverse amazing countryside and spend only 15-20 dollars a day. It’s the best bang for your buck that you’ll find in the country. It’s not luxurious, but it’s super affordable.”

Comment [ML7]: You can summarize this portion to shorten it up.

For many travelers, living day to day with only the bare essentials is one of the most appealing parts of the experience. The majority of pilgrims opt to stay in albergues, which are inexpensive hostels, lodges, or community centers reserved for travelers on the Camino. Expect to pay between five and ten euro ($6.75–$13.50) to sleep in simple but comfortable bunk beds. Don’t be afraid to set out without a distinct plan. Read online forums, such as, to find out what other travelers have done. If you’re in Spain or southern France, “just take your passport or some sort of ID and go to nearly any city’s culture department or town hall and they’ll tell you where to go,” says Koteles. Wherever you begin your journey, be sure to pick up a credencial—also called the pilgrim’s passport—so you can acquire stamps and gain access to inexpensive lodging meant just for pilgrims. Nearly any bar, restaurant, or albergue will have its own handmade stamp. This last portion of the journey must

Comment [ML8]: I was confused, are these paper stamps or ink stamps? Maybe it’s not a huge deal. Do the stamps just show where you’ve been or do they grant you access to things?

be completed on foot in order to receive the stamps necessary to earn your certificate of completion. “There’s no grand beginning,” recalls Koteles. “We took a night bus to Lugo about 120 km (outside of Santiago. We got off the bus at 7 AM and started walking—and we didn’t stop for five days. You think you’re going to get lost and that you won’t be able to find the path, but we just got there and asked somebody where the Camino was and they showed us to the first sign.” The shell is the official symbol marking the path, but in the wilderness spray-painted yellow arrow and the footprints of other pilgrims will show you the way. Most travelers appear on the path during their summer vacations, but if you want to

Comment [ML9]: You could create an anecdote introducing Koteles with something like this. The shell and arrow thing could be cut.

experience the best weather and smaller crowds, the Camino is ideal in May. As you walk through the green growth of spring, you will make new friends and get to know the warmhearted Spanish people. Eventually, after many days—or weeks, depending on where you begin your journey—you will meet up with the majority of travelers about sixty miles outside the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the buzz of excited travelers will accompany you as you cross the final hamlets to reach your destination. Choose Your Adventure Though some people do it on bicycle or horseback, the Camino is defined by those who walk the path. Whether you choose to trek the hills in hiking boots or to take the paved paths, it is important to be physically primed for the journey. It is not a mountain climbing expedition, but there are many hills that can be rough on unprepared feet. Despite this, many men and women over the age of seventy walk the path each year. There is no expected walking pace on the Camino, and there are plenty of small towns and cafés along the way where travelers can refuel or take an afternoon siesta.

Comment [ML10]: This paragraph seems to include two topics that maybe should be separated or worked in other places. “go in may” and “outside the city the pilgrims meet”

Pilgrims often carry only the bare necessities on their backs and spend their days strolling through picturesque medieval villages and culturally rich cities, as passersby wish them a “buen Camino.” The majority of the paths wind through the hill-covered countryside of Galicia in northern Spain. “They call it the España verde, the green Spain, because there are forests and

Comment [ML11]: Include the spring recommendation with this quote?

beautiful cliffs, and mountains. There’s so much more to Spain than flamenco and the Mediterranean backdrop,” says Koteles. “This trip is more than an immersion into Spanish culture; it’s an immersion into Camino culture. You’re in an environment that allows you to learn from the stories of the people doing it. You bond quickly because you’re achieving this crazy amazing task—together.” If spontaneity is your style, then gather what you think are essentials, and then put half of it back. Get to wherever you want to start, and just begin walking. You might be surprised to find how empowering it can be to wander the path entirely at your own pace. Choose Your Path There are nearly thirty recognized trails on the network of paths referred to as the Camino de Santiago. Whether you’re starting in Spain, France, Portugal, or even Germany, there is a path for you. One of the best ways to choose between them is to first decide what city or country you would like to start in and how long you have to travel. From there, you can visit sites such as to learn more about each path. The most popular paths to Santiago de Compostela follow the trails of the earliest longdistance pilgrims who came from beyond the Pyrenees in France and traveled west across northern Spain. The three most popular of these are the Camino Primitivo, which includes stops at remote monasteries, The Camino del Norte, which follows the stunning coastline cliffs of northern Spain, and the Camino Francés, or French Way, which is the most traditional path. The

Comment [ML12]: I think you can cut this, it’s been covered nicely previously.

average distance for the full walk on the French Way is about 500 miles, depending on the trail you choose. If you feel deterred by this distance, consider picking a starting point that is further along. One of the highlights of the Camino is that you can choose to begin wherever you like. Another well-known route is the 140-mile Portuguese Way, which winds northward from Porto, Portugal. Like the French Way, the Portuguese path is fairly social; you will certainly meet friends from around the world all along the way. This path offers the option of taking either the coastal route or the inland route over the beautiful but tiring Labruja hills.

Comment [ML13]: I think you can cut this or mention it with the previous three paths.

A Fellowship of Pilgrims When Koteles and her friends set out on their own spontaneous pilgrimage, they expected to enjoy the landscape, but they never imagined the friendships they’d create. “You get to town each night, and you have people waiting for you cheering you on.” On their journey there was a group of five old men from Madrid who were referred to by the whole group as los abuelos. Led by a charismatic 89 year old man, they were one of the first groups to arrived each day. When Koteles finally arrived in Santiago, it was crowded and full of tourists. “We found the abuelos in the center of town in a plaza,” she remembers. “A band was playing and it started raining, and we were just dancing with the abuelos in the rain, celebrating.” This is one of her most prized memories from the trip. “You form incredible bonds with people because there’s no pressure from the real world. You skip ten steps of the getting to know you process because everyone’s there with a purpose.” Similarly, along the path there are friendly faces waiting to welcome you to the part of Spain that they call home. A few days into the journey, Koteles and her friends walked by a woman in her garden who greeted them and invited them in for tea. “Her name was Maria Pilar and she explained that years ago she had a corporate position at a job she didn’t like, and then

Comment [ML14]: Amazing story

she did the Camino and it changed her life, so she left her job and bought a cottage on a secluded portion of the Camino.” Maria Pilar now leads a simple life making jewelry, and she opens her home to pilgrims whenever she can. The Take Away Get away from the office or the demands of school, and let life slow to the pace of your walk. On the Camino, time is your only luxury, experiences your only priority. No matter which path or way of traveling draws you in, if you’re looking for a chance to reflect, reevaluate, and remember what is truly important, there is no greater setting than the path through the rolling green hills of Spain. You may begin your journey with strangers, but you will arrive in Santiago with friends for a lifetime. Take paths that are out of the way, meet new people, try new foods, learn new words. The cathartic power of nature and the rejuvenating power of fellowship will be your greatest allies on this strenuous but beautifully rewarding journey.

Comment [ML15]: Great ending. A little fluffy, but great summary of it all.

“Sometimes I think we’re so concerned with seeing every sight that we risk turning tourism into a to-do list instead of an experience,” says Koteles. “This trip is one of the best ways to counter that. It’s a way to let travel facilitate your learning about other places, and other people—but also about yourself.”

Comment [ML16]: I think you can cut this part.

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