Andrew McCarthy Wrote a Book About a Father-Son Pilgrimage. His Son Gets His Say.

“It didn’t really feel like a big decision,” said Sam. “It was something you’d always talked about, and it intrigued me — the idea of walking across a country. I didn’t feel like, ‘Oh, now I’m going to walk and do this thing with my dad so we can get closer.’ It wasn’t really like that for me.”

“But I’d say it did draw us closer,” I said.

“Of course,” he said.

This conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Before you set out on something like the Camino, at least for me, the idea of completing it or finishing felt kind of amorphous. I didn’t know what to expect. But there’s a great strength that comes with an achievement like doing the walk. It’s kind of unshakable. It’s a tangible thing that you completed that can’t be taken away from you. I suppose for the first time I gained a sense of doing something hard that had seemed a bit incomprehensible. I mean, there’s a hill and it’s so far away, and then I get to the hill, and then I walk to the top and then off in the distance there’s another and it’s super far away. And then I get to it and then I get to the top, and then there’s another till you reach somewhere. And that gives you, I don’t know, a kind of ownership that can’t be explained away.

Yes, I did. I found it difficult, physically, for the first two, two and a half weeks, and then for the last few I felt like I could walk two more countries.

Because what’s the point in just going to Santiago?

Yeah, but I wasn’t a religious pilgrim. That wasn’t a thing for me. It was always talked about as a walk across Spain, and then you’re stopping 90 percent of the way? Why would I just stop?

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