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“Solvitur ambulando: It is solved by walking.” St Augustine
We live in a mostly sedentary world, with our days seated at a computer working, and our evenings in front of streaming entertainment. This life shows in our physical and mental health, but since much of our modern malaise can be solved by regular walking in nature, how much more could walking hundreds of kilometers solve?
The Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St James, is a Catholic pilgrimage with a number of routes across Spain from southern France, southern Spain, and Portugal. The most famous is the Camino Francés, the French way, and in today’s episode, Ashlee Cowles talks about her background growing up in a military family and how that has shaped her transitory moves, why the Camino is like the Hero’s Journey and how that shaped the way she wrote her novel, as well as why embracing the pilgrim’s spirit and letting go of detailed planning was one of the most challenging aspects of walking several hundred kilometers. We also talked about the idea of pilgrimage when you are not religious — I consider myself spiritual but I don’t subscribe to any particular religion. The Camino is a Catholic pilgrimage but you certainly don’t need to be Catholic to do it. Any long walk is going to break you down in so many ways and everyone seems to be transformed by the Way.
Ashlee Cowles is the award-winning author of YA novels Beneath Wandering Stars and Below Northern Lights as well as Wisdom for The Way: A Camino de Santiago Guidebook for the Pilgrim’s Soul.
- Growing up on military bases and moving a lot
- On the Camino de Santiago and it’s history
- How Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey is built into the geography of the Camino
- On the different routes within the Camino experience
- Beautiful historical sites just off the beaten path
- Tips for dealing with the physical and mental challenges
- The difference between a long walk and a pilgrimage
- Recommended books about the Camino and pilgrimage
You can find Ashlee Cowles at AshleeCowles.com.
My book, Pilgrimage, Lessons Learned from Solo Walking Three Ancient Ways, is out now.
Transcript of the interview
Joanna: Ashley Cowles is the award-winning author of YA novels Beneath Wandering Stars and Below Northern Lights as well as Wisdom for The Way: A Camino de Santiago Guidebook for the Pilgrim’s Soul.
Welcome to the show, Ashlee.
Ashlee: Thanks so much for having me, Jo. It’s great to be here.
Joanna: Thanks for coming on.
Tell us a bit more about you and your own geographic history.
Ashlee: Sure. Like you said I’m an author mainly of young adult and historical fiction and a lot of my writing is rooted in my early life experiences growing up in a military family. I was born in the United States and I currently live in northern Michigan, which is where all my extended family is from going back to the late 1800s.
But this is actually the first time I’ve lived here. I’ve never actually lived anywhere for more than three years. At one time that’s actually the usually the tour or the assignment length in a military family. You rarely live anywhere for longer than three years and I’ve just continued that into adulthood.
About three years I get the itch to go somewhere else and that’s usually about the time we end up making the change. I’m still trying to beat that three years, to see if I could ever get past that a three-year mark.
My dad was an officer in the US Army. He was a medevac helicopter pilot so I ended up spending my formative adolescent years living abroad in Germany and that’s where I fell in love with Europe and with history and with learning about other cultures. That eventually led me to study abroad in Spain as a college student. I have an aunt who married a Spaniard and lives in Madrid so it was great to be able to spend that you’re living with her.
I then pursued an internship at a peacemaking organization in Belfast and then did a master’s degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. So I’ve done some shorter excursions to Central America to Africa to the Middle East. But I think because I spent those very visceral, formative young adult years living in Europe that’s the region that really feels like a second home. And I just always had this longing to return.
Joanna: I know what you mean about that three-year itch. We bought a house this year and we haven’t owned the house for a long time. And it was funny because I have this real feeling of ‘oh, no, what about when I want to move?’ And then I was like, ‘it’s okay, you can rent it out. You’re still free. It’s fine.’
Ashlee: We just bought our first home and I had very similar feelings, like what happens in three years. They say you have to stay for at least five.
Joanna: That’s brilliant. Many of the people I talk to you on this show have this similar sort of feeling.
So you were in Spain and Germany. Do you speak German or Spanish?
Ashlee: Poorly, and I wish I could. Being American that’s one of the big downsides is you don’t get to keep it up for very long. Once you move back to the States and don’t have the opportunity to use it.
As a teen, I spoke German well enough to get around. But I actually had an even stranger subculture experience of living on a U.S. Army base going to an American high school that was in Germany. I was a soccer player and we would go play military schools in England. We would go into Belgium and Italy and so we had this all these traveling experiences.
But it was still very much a typical American high school experience just with this international flavor to it. So I can get by with German and Spanish but not as well as I’d like.
Joanna: Oh that’s an interesting subculture as well. The military kid and also the military kid in Europe.
Today we’re really talking about the Camino de Santiago.
First of all, in case people don’t know, what is that and why write about that after all of the other things you’ve done?
Ashlee: The Camino is a pilgrimage route. Actually, it’s several pilgrimage routes. There’s not just one, but the Camino Frances is the most well-known and the most popular.
It dates back to the Early Middle Ages and it’s really experiencing a kind of rebirth recently. It’s an extremely popular walking route that people from all over the world travel. It’s been very popular in Europe for the last decade or so but it’s really just I think starting to catch on in North America.
It’s this very interesting experience of a hike or a trek but there’s so much more than that. There’s a very personal interior spiritual component, there’s a cultural component and in the historical one, you’re seeing all these wonderful sites and monasteries and churches dating back to the Middle Ages. But it’s also a very social experience. So it’s quite a mixture.
I first explored the Camino when I was a college student studying in Spain and actually had an opportunity to take a class on medieval pilgrimage. And what the professor would do is he rented a van – there were only like eight of us in the class. And so he would rent a van and every weekend, after our classes in Madrid, we would go up to the Camino and we would explore different sections of the route.
So we weren’t really walking it as pilgrims but we had this very knowledgeable guide who would take us to specific historical and religious sites and we would get to really explore them in-depth. That was my first exposure to the Camino.
And my first attempt to write a novel set on the Camino it was actually a historical novel but as is the case with many first novels I wasn’t really there yet as a writer so that story never made it out into the world.
Then in 2011 I actually went back to the Camino and walked about two hundred kilometers of it as a pilgrim. And that’s where I got the idea to write a young adult novel from the perspective of a teen who had a similar upbringing to me who lived this kind of unique somewhat bizarre cross-cultural experience as a military brat, as we’re affectionately known.
But I think what happened is as I was walking the Camino of course with the novel something has to happen to this character. So I had her background in mine but I had been learning a lot about Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey. And it struck me as I was walking the Camino that the hero’s journey is actually really built into the geography of the Camino.
Pilgrims will often talk about there being three stages to any pilgrimage on the Camino. Most pilgrims start out in the Pyrenees; it’s this very difficult, rugged terrain but it’s very breathtaking beautiful scenery. You start out with lots of energy and that’s your call to adventure where you have a lot of enthusiasm.
Then about the middle of the Camino there is this section known as the meseta and it’s very flat and arid and dry and a lot of pilgrims talk about actually experiencing an internal state to an internal desert as well. So thinking about the abyss as part of the hero’s journey.
And then when you reach the end of the Camino you arrive in the region of Galicia which is this very lush green beautiful place which is also mountainous again. And then you arrive at your destination, the cathedral in Santiago, and it’s this kind of experience of rebirth.
So I guess that’s where the idea began is just thinking how the structure of a story is actually built into the geography of this route. And so that’s where I got the idea for Beneath Wandering Stars; it is this coming of age novel that pulls in my own history growing up into a military family. But also the history and culture and geography of the Camino.
Joanna: That’s fantastic. And like you all novels are like, oh here’s a character doing this thing and it might be related to me in some way. And the place might have been somewhere I traveled to. Going winding our travels into a book I think is really good.
Just in case people don’t know, you mentioned the Pyrenees but just to set the Camino in the world. You start in France don’t you and then you walk over the Pyrenees and it’s across northern Spain to the northwest side where Santiago is. But there are other Camino routes aren’t there. You mentioned a little bit but are there.
What are some of the other routes that people can walk?
Ashlee: There are these little tributaries that go out into the rest of Europe. I remember walking the Camino and meeting a German who had walked from Germany. It’s not as well known or clearly marked the entire way. But there are these ancient routes that go to different countries.
My brother in law, when he turned 18, he had his rite of passage into adulthood experience; he walked through Portugal to see Santiago.
There are routes along the northern coast of Spain as well. So instead of walking the French way, which again is that the most popular and the most common route, you can walk along a coastal path in northern Spain. So there really are many. We talk about the Camino but there really are many Caminos and the endpoint for all of them is in Santiago. But then you can start in many different locations.
Joanna: We were in Spain recently and read about the Moorish route or the Arabic route, which is Granada, up that route to Andalusia and that they’ve just kind of done that up and made it clearer because as you say it’s amazing how popular some of these are becoming.
I wanted to mention that because the Camino to Santiago does get very busy. That Frances route, especially in the Jubilee year when all your sins are forgiven.
Ashlee: Yes if there’s any kind of holy year or festival taking place it is going to be very busy.
Joanna: Avoid the Jubilee I would say, unless you need your sins forgiven.
So tell us a bit more. You said you walked 200 kilometers of it and it is about 600 kilometers the Frances, isn’t it? And of course, 200 kilometers is a long way. People listening are thinking, whoa, that’s a long way, to tell us a bit more about that.
How long did it take you and what were some of the highlights of that section?
Ashlee: That took us about two weeks and I really would love to go back and walk the entire thing or like you’ve mentioned one of the less-traveled routes less popular routes.
But it’s interesting because I do feel like I have been to most parts of the Camino. Even though I haven’t walked at all in a linear way I feel like I’ve had that experience of being in the Pyrenees and then going through the meseta to but I definitely would like to do it all at once at some point.
Some of my favorite places were: O Cebreiro is one of the most memorable and I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly. It’s this quaint little village in Galicia that has these ancient round Celtic huts. They look like little hobbit houses and it’s one of the hardest days of climbing on the entire Camino. But it’s very much worth it. The views. It’s just a beautiful place.
And for me, it was one of those traveling experiences where you visit the same place in on two different occasions and you get to see how the experiences can be radically different.
The first time was as part of that course as a college student and we actually arrived by van at night. So we drove up to the village and it was in the autumn and it was just this very rainy misty night that cast this very otherworldly atmosphere on the village. It was also very empty at the time.
We walked into this little town square looking for our hotel and there’s bagpipe music blaring from a souvenir shop but there’s nobody around. And we’re looking at each other like is this Spain? Where are we? This feels that you know we’ve entered Ireland or Scotland or something. So it’s definitely not what most people picture when they think of Spain.
And then the second time I actually hiked up to that same village during my Camino trek and it was late May. It was this beautiful sunny day. It was very crowded and I was walking with friends at that at the time. We ended up enjoying wine and Caldo Gallego, this very rustic soup in this little stone restaurant that felt like a medieval tavern. So just two very different experiences.
And I love that when you travel a lot and you have a chance to go back to the same place it’s interesting to see how different it can be in the later visits.
Joanna: You mentioned some of the historical places, the monasteries or the churches.
Were there any specific sort of architectural things that you felt were beautiful or interesting?
Ashlee: Yes. So there’s two off the beaten path places, literally because they’re not on the main Camino Frances. They’re not too difficult to get to from the Camino. So they’re kind of little side trips.
One is the monastery of San Juan de la Pena, which is in the Pyrenees, and it’s this really amazing 10th-century structure and it’s built right into the rock and into the side of the mountain. And it actually has a lot of Moorish influences, which you see a lot of in southern Spain as you mentioned but you don’t see a whole lot in northern Spain. So it’s a very interesting historical site to visit.
There’s also the Church of St. Mary of Eunate, which is in Navarro. And it’s a small church built into the shape of an octagon and it is believed to have some connection to the Knights Templar. And it’s just one of those mysterious places that you just feel something when you’re there. My favorite scene from my novel is actually was set at that place.
So those are two of the historic places that I would recommend people look into that may not be as well known are they’re definitely not on the main Camino trail.
Joanna: I do exactly the same thing. I have a lot of scenes in amazing churches just like that.
Obviously walking 200 kilometers for some people, or the full 600, this is a physical challenge in itself.
Take us through some of the challenges, either physical or mental, that people might have on the Camino and also tips for dealing with these.
Ashlee: I would definitely encourage people while walking the Camino you see people of all ages and physical abilities. I saw people in their 70s walking the Camino. You can really take it as slow as you’d like. There definitely are physically challenging parts but it’s not as challenging as some of the treks out there.
I think more of the challenges tend to be emotional or internal. That’s part of what makes it a pilgrimage. For a type a control freak like me – I am someone who enjoys planning the trip almost as much as going on the trip. So letting go of that need to plan out everything in advance and know exactly where we’re going to stop and where we’re going to stay. That was embracing the pilgrim spirit and it was one of the hardest parts for me.
But physically I think if you do a bit of walking in advance and pack as lightly as you can. Those first few days your pack feels very heavy but it gets lighter as time goes on and people start to ditch things that they realized they didn’t really need in the first place.
A good pair of boots. A lot of pilgrims will tell you that because blisters are going to be your greatest enemy on the Camino. But if you can really kind of maybe let go of the need to arrive at a certain place at a certain time and slow down a little bit and take it at the pace that you need to, just about anybody can walk the Camino.
Joanna: I’m very similar to you. I do not like to not know where I’m sleeping and one of the things I’ve heard especially on these busy times is you can arrive somewhere and the beds at the hostel might be taken.
How do you deal with that? Where do you end up sleeping for the night?
Ashlee: That was a worry for me as well. And I’ll say that it not turning out too well ended up being kind of a funny scene for my novel.
So there’s always a story. But there are the municipal hostels that are less expensive so those tend to be the most popular and they can fill up the most quickly. But what I found is that in most places there are private hostels there’s usually other bed and breakfasts or other accommodations.
And the Camino, at least the Camino Frances, I can’t say this of the less popular routes because on those ones there may be some stretches where there’s a bit more distance between towns. But on the Camino Frances there’s always a village or a town not too far ahead. So it may end up being an extra-long day of walking but you can usually find a place to find shelter and there’s a variety of different options in most places.
If you’re really on a budget and you’re wanting those really cheap hostels that may be a stressor if that’s your goal. But if you’re willing to say OK I may end up having to pay a little bit more to stay in a private hostel or a B&B I think you’ll usually find a place. And I’ve also just met lots of pilgrims who had some kind of remarkable experience of hospitality where either through a local who lived along the route or through other pilgrims they ended up finding a place. And what makes the Camino special is opening yourself up to allowing those kinds of experiences to happen.
Joanna: And as you say just letting go of it. But it’s good to know that there are amenities. That Frances route is, as you say, it’s commercial enough now that there are other things that you can find places to stay.
And what about food on the route. Because of course like you said you want to travel light so you’re not going to be carrying a camping stove and all of that type of thing.
What are some of the food and drink options?
Ashlee: Oh they’re plentiful for the most part. One of the friends I traveled with jokingly called the Camino ‘the vino Camino’ because you can find very good inexpensive Spanish wine along the entire route. And there are lots of places to enjoy Spanish cuisine, which I think is one of the unique interesting things about this. You’re not really roughing it as far as a culinary experience goes.
There’s a menu del Dia or the menu of the day. A lot of the cafes and restaurants will have a special menu for pilgrims that are often discounted and all-inclusive. So that’s something to look out for and it’s pretty affordable and it allows you to try a lot of different cuisine options without having to think too hard about it. You just order the Pilgrims menu for the day. So that is definitely not something I think most pilgrims have to have to worry about.
Joanna: I would say that being vegetarian in Spain is difficult because it’s a very meat-based culture, don’t you think?
Ashlee: That is true. Yes, there’s tortilla Espanola, Spanish omelet if you eat eggs.
Joanna: You can’t be vegan. To get away from cheese and eggs will never happen.
Ashlee: That would be a challenge for sure.
Joanna: So then on a budget that people might consider, because of course, again I’ve thought about this and to do the full six hundred it might be five, six weeks, seven weeks if you need a bit of extra rest along the way, which for many people is a pretty big trip.
What would people be spending if they aren’t staying in private accommodation every night but equally are not living a completely basic life?
Ashlee: I walked back in 2011. I always have to factor in exchange rates and all of that. But if I remember correctly the municipal hostels I think you could get a bed for, I want to say, between 12 and 15 Euros a night. I don’t know if that’s changed. I imagine the prices have gone up since 2011.
Joanna: That sounds about right. I would have said maybe 20 euro. Which is what? About eighteen dollars maybe?
Ashlee: So I would say you probably can budget about 20 euros for accommodations unless of course you want to stay in a private room or you know in a nice B&B it’s going to be a bit more.
Joanna: And then food on top of that. 10 euros a day?
Ashlee: I think so, if you stick with the program menu of the day. Maybe between 10 and 15 euros.
Joanna: Exactly. So you are saying it’s not a luxury holiday, which is great. You mentioned that it was sociable and you met someone who walked from Germany and obviously you meet different people every day. I’m married and the thought of six or seven weeks away from my husband is difficult and yet I think it should be done alone.
What are your thoughts on doing it alone or in a group and also on meeting people along the way?
Ashlee: I agree. I think there is something very powerful about doing it alone. I did walk with friends and it was a wonderful experience to share together. But the very extreme introvert in me at times longed for a little more solitude.
And there’s definitely stretches on the Camino where it’s a bit more secluded. And since you do have a good idea of where you’re going to end up at the end of the day – usually you have a point that you think you’re going to reach – it’s easy to get some solo walking time in. Just tell the people that you’re walking with you’ll meet them in the next town at the end of the day.
But I agree that the Pilgrims I met who seemed to have the most powerful experiences or met the most interesting people seemed to be the ones who were walking alone. When you’re walking in a group with other people strangers don’t tend to approach you as often. And so those who walked solo they met all kinds of interesting people and formed these little communities along the way where they would see someone at the beginning of the route and then run into them again at the end and their paths would kind of cross. But they were still walking solo and had this time of solitude.
So there’s pros and cons to each. But walking the entire six to eight weeks alone is an experience I definitely want to have myself one day.
Joanna: I’m 45. I still haven’t done it and it’s like I’ve got to do it. It’s (maybe) going to be next year. And I keep thinking that I really feel like I want to achieve that. It’s a really weird thing, isn’t it?
Ashlee: Yes. And even if you did end up walking with someone just a practical tip. So the scallop shell is a symbol for the Santiago Pilgrim and you can see them everywhere. They’re sold all along the route.
If you do end up walking with people I think you know having the shell that you can use as your introverted symbol for when you need some alone time, I found that that was a way to communicate to others that I need to go off and walk by myself for a while, if I was wearing the shell without having to say ‘hey, guys I want to be alone.’
Coming up with some kind of a symbol or a way to communicate with those you’re walking with that now is time for my Camino solitude may be a way to lessen tension if you’re walking with other people.
Joanna: That’s a good one. Of course, the other thing is some people don’t have this as a life goal. So sometimes you would end up doing it alone because someone doesn’t want to come along.
Ashlee: Very true.
Joanna: I want to get into the idea of pilgrimage vs. a long walk. I’m not a Christian but I consider myself spiritual and I love monasteries and churches and nature. I feel like it would still be a pilgrimage even though I’m not a Catholic and I believe my sins will be forgiven or whatever.
What are some of the things that make the Camino a spiritual journey, even if a pilgrim is not necessarily religious?
Ashlee: I think that’s actually one of the most interesting things about the pilgrimage in our current day is the fact that it is rooted in Christianity and in Catholicism and it feels very medieval.
The modern pilgrims walking it today are people coming from all different backgrounds, different faiths or no faith at all. You would never feel out of place. It’s a very open and welcoming environment as far as the difference between a pilgrimage and a long walk.“Man's real home is not a house, but the Road, and that life itself is a journey to be walked on foot.”― Bruce ChatwinClick To Tweet
I actually just heard this quote yesterday. “Tourists pass through places. Places pass through pilgrims,” and I just I love that. I’m still trying to figure out what exactly that all that means but I think it really does describe what a pilgrimage is.
As a tourist, we’re often looking to maybe check off the boxes to see certain things or to have certain experiences. We’re very much in the driver’s seat and it’s about reaching that destination.
Whereas a pilgrimage is more about letting the places shape you. And it’s more of this interior journey. And you’ll meet pilgrims who keep going back. Oftentimes when we visit a certain place or complete a certain hike we kind of feel like OK I’ve done that I’ve achieved that goal. And I find it very interesting that the Camino there are lots of people who return over and over again and they they’ll describe it as addictive actually. And I wonder if part of that is because it brings up all these paradoxes and tensions that are part of being human.
So it’s both. It’s a journey that’s very physical but it’s also very internal. It’s this time of solitude and introspection but it’s not like hiking in the Rocky Mountains where you’re not going to see people. There’s community as well and there’s a social aspect as well. And like we discussed, it’s a very simple journey. It’s not a luxurious experience.
But there’s also still creature comforts of great food and bottles of wine for two euro. And it’s this marked route so you can follow without really having to think too hard or do much planning, you can just follow it. And it’s actually more rewarding if you resist a strict itinerary.
So there’s all these kind of tensions and paradoxes and it’s just this very holistic experience where mind, body, spirit, they’re all brought together. And I think that makes it a very human experience. And as a result, a spiritual one regardless of what someone’s background or beliefs are.
Joanna: I don’t know where my attraction to it came from but it’s old. I must have read about it at a young age and then felt an attraction to it on so many levels.
So your books; obviously you’ve got Wisdom For The Way, which has storytelling aspects and also some spiritual side of it as well.
Are there any other books that you recommend about the Camino or pilgrimage?
Ashlee: Yes, there are many books about the Camino and it’s a very popular topic for memoirs. So a more recently published memoir about the Camino that I’d suggest is Walking to the End of the World by Beth Jusino.
She’s interesting because she is maybe like you. She isn’t walking the Camino for a reason of faith. That’s not her primary motivation. So it was very interesting to read about the pilgrimage through her experience.
For anyone interested in the actual history of the Camino you can read a 12th-century guidebook written I think it was by a monk in the 12th century who walked the Camino and documented his experiences of different locations. That’s called The Pilgrims Guide To Santiago. There’s a version of it edited by William Meltzer. And that’s easy to find on Amazon or other places.
And then another book that isn’t about the Camino or even about pilgrimage in particular but just is about walking and its role with how it influences our creativity. It’s a very interesting philosophical book. It’s called The Old Ways by Robert Macfarlane and I’m about halfway through that one and it’s wonderful.
Joanna; Oh he is amazing. He’s like a national treasure here in the UK. I’m actually reading his Underland at the moment, which is completely not about walking. It’s about what’s under the earth and caving and graves and things like that. But he is probably one of our best nature writers. So I’m glad you recommended that book.
Ashlee: I just discovered him and I was like I bet he is very well known in the U.K. but he’s brand new to me and it’s been a wonderful introduction.
Joanna: I can recommend all his books. He’s a beautiful writer. He’s actually one of these writers. I’m like, ‘oh I just can’t write any other book ever’ because he’s so amazing.
Ashlee: We all have those.
Joanna: Imposter syndrome. Fantastic.
You have travel in your background and in your life but what does travel mean to you in a broader sense, both to you personally and to your writing process.
Ashlee: Well like I’ve said I think it’s just in my story, it’s in my upbringing, it’s in my background. And so that’s definitely part of it.
I think those of us who have this wanderlust, it’s hard to know where it comes from and why we have it.
I have two sisters. They had the same upbringing that I had and they’ve spent most of their adult years in one place. So the wanderlust bug didn’t bite them as it did me.
As far as travel and my creative process, I’m a very driven person in normal life and I can easily get tunnel vision when it comes to my goals and pursuing them. Travel just really helps me slow down and see and notice things that I wouldn’t otherwise notice. It makes me feel like I’m in my body instead of just in my head all of the time.
It allows me to capture certain emotions and so it’s definitely influenced my writing more than anything else. Everything I’ve written, every novel manuscript, there are always memories that even if the book isn’t set in a certain place and I am in a very literal way recounting a certain experience or a certain scene or a certain place the memories of my travels and the emotions that certain experiences produced. Those get brought into the fiction in some way even if they look very different from what the original experience was.
Joanna: Absolutely. I just tend to kill people in my locations! I feel like I would do the Camino and write two books, similar to how you have. I would write some kind of thriller and probably then a memoir as well, which would be different. But it feels like it would generate a story and introspection about the world.
Ashlee: Yes. I can see a The Name of the Rose type-thriller set on the Camino. That would be a book I would want to read.
Joanna: I’m reserving that one! I do like what you said there about travel and probably walking as being in your body and not your head. I feel this is so important for modern life. We can travel through our phones by holding our phones near our faces but by actually moving your body in a new culture, in a new setting can just be so different to looking at pictures of that place.
Ashlee: I agree. Pinterest and YouTube are great for doing research for writing but there is something about I think it’s the emotional connection. It’s not just the description but the way you felt about it and the way you feel about a certain location, a certain encounter with a colorful character that you meet in your travels. Those are the real treasures that we can gain from traveling as creative people.
Where can people find you and your books online?
Ashlee: You learn more about me on my web site, AshleeCowles.com.
I’m on Instagram at the same name and my books are available on Amazon and pretty much all the usual online places.
Joanna: Fantastic. Thanks so much for your time, Ashlee, that was great.
Ashlee: Thanks, Jo. I enjoyed it.
I first heard about the Camino about 35 years ago in an art history class and instantly wanted to do it. I never realized there were different walks, so that is something I will have to research. Thank you both for this episode! While I walk often, you’ve inspired me to begin preparing by doing longer walks on trails near me.
Jo Frances Penn
The Frances route is so famous that people forget the other routes, but there are various tracks from all over Spain and Portugal as well. I hope you enjoy the research and the training, and maybe see you on The Way!
Hi, Jo & Ashlee! Loved this one! I’ve researched a pilgrimage on the Camino De Santiago so many times. I’m intrigued by the Portugal portion of the walk. I bring it up to my husband at least twice a year. Maybe when we’re empty nesters. I definitely could do it alone or with my husband. I think he and I would both want time together on the trek and time to be alone, which he and I could totally pull off (I think).
Thanks for the interview! It’s got me thinking about this journey again.
Jo Frances Penn
Glad you enjoyed it, Heather! I hope you and your husband manage to do it. It’s incredible what a draw it has on the soul, right?!