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Proctor en Segovia: Finding Community on the Camino

Proctor en Segovia

Proctor en Segovia students hiked on the Camino de Santiago from outside of Santiago to Finisterre and Muxía. They immersed themselves in the history, culture, and landscape of Spain’s northwest region of Galicia and found a perhaps unexpected community among fellow long-distance hikers and pilgrims.

Proctor Academy students study abroad in Spain

Sophie M. '25

Nothing but land and fresh air out here. This is what I thought to myself upon walking out of the Albergue Horreo in Olveiroa, Galicia. Nothing but land, fresh air, and possibility. The spring in my step was significant, and suddenly I was 7 miles down the path with sore feet and a smile, feeling like I was on top of the world. When people talk about the Camino de Santiago, it's usually about its religious history, with Saint James being the reason so many people made the trip in the first place. But even though many embark on this journey because of religious reasons, the one thing that connects pilgrims is not the rich history of the Camino. What connects the people you meet on the trail is unspoken and original. The individual experience of walking for hours or days on end, this is what makes someone a pilgrim. The two most significant experiences I had on the Camino had to do with my own personal journey, but mimicked the experience of others I met on the trail. 

Proctor Academy experiential learning in Spain

On our third day of walking, my feet were starting to drag. I had woken late and barely had time for breakfast, and my hunger was setting in. We had only walked miles and had 11 left to go. I couldn't imagine moving another step. I was walking with friends, and as helpful as they all tried to be, our spirits were all low. I was debating calling Ross to retrieve me in the van when in the middle of the wilderness, a small shack appeared. "Para los peregrinos" the sign read, and I saw a group of pilgrims sitting at a wooden table. They had coffee, apples, and toast and all seemed to be taking a break. Count me in, I thought and sat next to an older woman with a big smile and shell on her backpack. While I ate, I listened to the others talking and although I couldn't understand their varying dialects, it was still comforting to be part of a communal break from the monotony of walking. Even without speaking I felt part of the group, and this is an experience unique to those embarking on the Camino. Every person came from a different background and spoke a different language but the common denominator was our exhaustion; it brought us together. This speaks to a greater sort of community on the Camino that is blind to personal differences.

Proctor Academy learning through cultural and linguistic immersion

Yamni '24

I think the Camino was a fun opportunity, and I am very thankful for it. I felt it would have been more real had we been on it longer, but it wouldn't have been as fun for our young group. I enjoyed doing it, looking at the culture, and learning more. It was nice to meet new people, try new food, and see the ocean again. The views were amazing and the weather was perfect all week. It was fun hanging with the group in and out of hotels and making good memories along the way. I have had so much fun in Spain thus far.

Proctor Academy experiential learning about history in Spain through travel

Marion '25

This past weekend we traveled to Galicia, a region in northwest Spain. We traveled to walk the Camino de Santiago, walking about ten to fifteen miles each day. The first day we started in Olveiroa, a small town surrounded by a lot of farmers and other agriculture. The geographical difference between Galicia and Segovia was very noticeable, the most obvious being the coastal area, but the landscape was also very contrasting. In Galicia there were many mountains and a lot of farmland. Over the three days that we walked, we only passed through one developed town, aside from the ones we spent the night in. I enjoyed seeing various parts of Spain because they did differ so much from each other, and we hadn't seen the natural aspect of Spain much.

Proctor Academy students walk on the Camino de Santiago

My favorite days we spent on the Camino were the second and third nights. We stayed in Corcubion and Fisterra, both coastal cities. After the day of walking we were able to stay on the beach. Although it was in the north, the water was not very cold. In Fisterra we watched the sunset at Monte Facho. Before the discovery of the American continent by Europeans, they believed Fisterra to be the end of the world because the ocean looks like it drops off or goes on forever. The last day we went to Santiago de Compostela, where Saint James is believed to be buried. Arriving, I was shocked with how many people that had finished the Camino just in the hour we had spent there. Although the walk was long, the places that we got to visit were beautiful, and was worth it to us. 

Proctor Academy students travel to Galicia to learn about history and culture

Henry L. '25 - Interview

The guy I chose to interview was named Cormac and he was from Ireland. He was a tall skinny man with bruises running down from his arms to his feet most likely from the harsh terrain he had to cover on the Camino. I could tell Cormac was an adventurous person from the countless tattoos on his body. He mostly likely collected these tattoos from all around the world. He had tribal tattoos, traditional American tattoos as well as a mixture of Christian and satanic tattoos on either arm. Cormac continued talking to us about his journey; he told us he had traveled over 850 kilometers in 35 days in order to complete the Camino. He then asked us how many kilometers we had completed and we replied with, “Almost 42 kilometers”. Cormac just stood there and laughed at us and we knew that 42 kilometers was probably what he did within one day of his journey. He asked us where we were from and he and I found common ground when he said he had visited California recently. After talking we said our goodbyes and as we were leaving I said ‘Buen Camino’, Cormac's headshot around and said, “F*** you, I just completed it.” We both laughed it off and went our separate ways.

Proctor Academy Spanish immersion classroom

Liam '24 - Interview  

It was our second day of our Camino, and we had just finished our stop at a restaurant right on the beach with a beautiful view o

f the water. I was coming up a hill and I heard the two woman in front of me speaking English so I asked them if I could interview one of them. That is when I met May from Belgium. 
Me: “So you’re from Belgium?”
May: “Yes and English is not my first language so sometimes I have to find my words.”
Me: “No worries, what day is this for you on your Camino?”
May: “Today is our fourth walking day and we are going to Finisterra.”
Me: “Oh perfect, we are heading there as well. Where did you first start your camino?”
May: “We started in Santiago de Compostella, you?”
Me: “We started in Dumbria, it is a bit past Santiago.”
May: “And you’re only here walking for a few days?”
Me: “Yes, yesterday we did about 21 kilometers and today we are going about 16 kilometers.”
May: “[Our] first day we did about 24 kilometers and the second day we did 33 kilometers because we did 5 kilometers wrong [laughter].”
Me: “Oh my god [laughther].”
May: “Yeah and yesterday we had about 25 kilometers. Now, today to Finisterre (Fisterra) is about 15 or 16 [kilometers] to go. Then, we go further to Muxia.”
Me: “Are you taking any time in Finisterre?”
May: “Just this evening.”
Me: “Very nice, so what is your possible reasoning for doing the Camino?”
May: “For me, it’s to find out who I am now because I am one year retired. I am a grandma now. I want to think over, ‘What’s the next part of my life?’ To be a grandma, to be not working, but working as a volunteer. ‘What do I want to do with my life in the next part?’ I’m 64 now, so it’s the time to reflect, reflection on my life.”
Me: “I think that’s wonderful.”
May: “Yeah and going to the end of the world, [in] the older days, they didn’t know that there were the Americas. It’s a symbolic place. And also to find out if I could do it, a walk, six days walking, because I am not 20 anymore [laughter].”

Proctor en Segovia experiential history study abroad


Me: “I think that it is amazing that you’re out here. I’m 18 and I’m from the Northeast of the United States. We’re here in Spain for school, but doing the Camino to learn the history of this pilgrimage and also get to actually experience it for ourselves. I’m currently enjoying it so I am glad that you are as well.”
May: “And you only stay for three days?”
Me: “Three days of the Camino. It was a 6 hour drive from Segovia to where we first stayed in Dumbria. Yesterday we walked to Cee, it is a very beautiful town, now we are heading to Finisterra.”
May: “Afterwards, are you going to other places in Europe?”
Me: “No, not necessarily. Tomorrow we are walking to Muxia and then so far we have traveled to Madrid. We will also go to Valencia and Andalucia.”
May: “So you want to do a trip to Spain?”
Me: “Mainly we’re just here for school and to become better Spanish speakers.”
May: “So you speak Spanish?”
Me: “A bit yeah. A good amount so far.”
May: “And you are a student?”
Me: “Yes, I am a senior in high school.”
May: “A senior in high school, nice.”
Me: “Thank you for speaking with me and helping me complete this interview!”

Proctor Academy students interview on the Camino de Santiago

After my interview with May, we took a picture together and her friend Krista asked about my tattoo and took a picture of it. This interaction was one of my favorite and most memorable experiences during my Camino.

Proctor Academy students live with host families in Spain

 

Check out more photos from Proctor en Segovia, Fall 2023!

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