Theres a saying, the trips the trip. That saying could have been coined to describe Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago.
The trip chronicled in this lovely, gently resonant documentary by Portland-area filmmaker Lydia B. Smith, is a 500-mile journey across the north of Spain. Since medieval times, pilgrims seeking spiritual solace have trekked westward through farmlands, mountains, villages and cities to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, where its said the remains of the apostle St. James the Great are entombed.
Smith herself made the trek in 2008, and she says it changed her life. So she decided to make a documentary focusing on six others who shouldered backpacks and set forth on foot to find well, what they find is as individual as the walkers themselves.
A Canadian widower named Wayne makes the journey to honor the memory of his late wife. A French single mother named Tatiana pushes her 3-year-old son in a stroller across rough and sometimes muddy paths as an act of religious devotion. A Brazilian woman named Sam is fleeing personal travails: loss of job, a toxic relationship, clinical depression. She disposes of most of her belongings, including her antidepressant medications, hoping to find a measure of unmedicated inner peace.
These and other pilgrims introduced along the way tell their various tales. Some complain of blisters and tendonitis. For a stretch, one man says he endured pain with every step. Its not a stroll, a Spanish woman warns.
But spirits are soothed by the companionship the walkers develop with others making the trek and with the Spaniards they meet along the way. They are captivated by the beauty of the scenery. Its like walking in a post card, one woman says. (Among other things, the picture is a beguiling travelogue.)
And they journey within, examining their lives as they fall under the spell of life slowed down to a walk.
The camino brings you peace that you cant describe, one of the travelers says. After seeing Smiths film, youll understand what he means.