2021 is the next Holy Year of the Camino – that network of pilgrims' ways leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, northwestern Spain.
People have been walking Caminos for centuries – and putting on a pack, carrying the most basic of provisions and hiking hundreds of kilometres with fellow pilgrims is as popular today.
According to Jacobean tradition, pilgrims who walk to Galicia during a Holy Year and pass through the Holy Door of the Santiago Cathedral are forgiven all their sins.
In a series of stories we get Great Walks readers to share their Camino experiences.
This week it's Tiffani Peite:
"In 2007, I battled breast cancer. During the months of treatments, I felt shattered. From the day of diagnosis forward, the overwhelming fear of a reoccurrence consumed my life. Soon after, I had heard about the Camino. I had a hunch that it would be a wonderful place for me to walk alone, clear my thoughts, and reclaim my happiness.
For the next year, I researched a great deal. Facebook groups were where I became educated in the starting to end points, the footwear and clothing to wear, the terrain, backpacks and gear, etc. To train, I walked 5 to 8 miles at least 5 days a week. Rain or shine.
On June 5, 2015 at the age of 52, I set off on my first Camino. Starting in St. Jean de Port, France and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. During a typical day on the Camino, I would arise early, hike miles through breathtaking landscapes, arrive at the hostel, shower, hand wash my laundry, eat, sleep, repeat. Each day, meeting delightful people from around the world. Some of whom are now my close friends.
Debbie from Australia and I became instant friends, inseparable for weeks. We had an exceedingly challenging day walking many hours through the unshaded plains of the mesata with a temperature of 100 degrees. It took every bit of strength to continue. Debbie, accustomed to hot weather, supported me every step of the way.
Because of the Camino, I have learned that I am brave, strong and determined. I am not an island, I needed others to find my way just as they needed me.
My advice to others is train, research and pack light. Good fitting footwear as well as a backpack is imperative. Be kind and helpful. Slow down. Take rest days. Most importantly, relish in every moment. I have since walked two more Caminos and am planning a 4th. Everyday I yearn to return. I no longer think about cancer and am a 14-year survivor."