Insights from the Camino: An Interview with Anne Pinder

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Insights from the Camino: An Interview with Anne Pinder

Embark on a journey of insight and discovery as we delve into the world of the Camino de Santiago through the eyes of Anne Pinder, a seasoned pilgrim and guide. In this interview, Anne shares her profound connection with the Camino, recounting experiences spanning over three decades. From the allure of history and nature to the transformative power of slow-track travel, Anne provides invaluable perspectives on the evolution of this ancient pilgrimage route and its enduring impact on pilgrims worldwide.

1. What led you to the Camino (and when was that)?

My first Camino was in 1989 when a Spanish woman friend and I cycled from east of Pamplona to Santiago and beyond to Finisterre. There wasn’t really a specific impulse to do the journey, just that I had always liked history, art history, nature, legends, and slow-track travel, and the Camino brings together all those things.  Since that first Camino, I’ve walked the classic route forward and backward as well as parts of other Camino routes – and no, it doesn’t get boring; every trip has something new and different people.

2. How has the Camino changed since you've been walking it and guiding it?

The most obvious changes are an increase in the number of pilgrims and diversity of pilgrim nationalities, as well as an increase in places to stay and bar-café stops along the way. There was a big leap in both between my first trip and when I started guiding in 2004, and more gradual change since 2004. The less obvious change is how much technology has simplified and speeded up the journey, perhaps too much of both; pilgrims seem to be in a bigger hurry, something the locals notice and is a frequent answer when I ask them how the Camino has changed for them. That might be because life in general has speeded up, but the Camino is a perfect opportunity to slow down, even though people don’t always do that.

3. How has the Camino changed you?

I think I’m more observant and appreciative of little things, as well as really feeling how everything and everybody is connected in some way.  I’m also even more aware of the importance of slow-track travel to help us take a break from our fast-track world.

4. What are your participants consistently surprised and delighted by on the Camino?

People love specific places – the views on the warmup walk and O Cebreiro village on our first walking day, the roadside stand with fabulous almond cake, or the silent walk through the Magic Forest. Some things don’t always happen, so are even more special – like bagpipers on the trail or seeing the big Botafumeiro incense burner in Santiago.  Something odd that surprises many people is how nice it is to actually travel on foot, covering real distance over a week without getting in a vehicle for six days: a unique experience for almost everyone.

As our conversation with Anne Pinder draws to a close, it's evident that the Camino de Santiago holds a special place in the hearts of those who traverse its paths. Through Anne's reflections, we've gained a deeper understanding of the Camino's ability to inspire, transform, and connect pilgrims from all walks of life. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or embarking on your first pilgrimage, may Anne's insights serve as a beacon of inspiration for your own journey along the Camino de Santiago. Buen Camino!

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