Arts figure Kolt heads on European pilgrimage

Flin Flon Arts Council cultural coordinator Crystal Kolt has gone for a walk –a long, long, long walk.

Kolt has headed out on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage through western Europe undertaken by hundreds of thousands of people each year. Kolt began the journey at Le Puy-en-Velay in central France. From there, she has walked through a number of small cities through central and southern France and over the Pyrenees into Spain.

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The destination is the Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral located near the northwest tip of Spain - about 1,500 kilometres from her starting point.

According to contemporary Christian legend, the remains of the apostle James are located at Santiago de Compostela, taken there by boat from Jerusalem following his death. The pilgrimage route has been followed by the faithful since the Middle Ages. Certain routes of the trip are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For Kolt, taking on the Camino is a family affair. Her son Julian did the trip eight years ago, starting also from Le Puy-en-Velay. The French town is several hundred kilometres away from the site most people begin the walk on, but is near the ancestral home of Crystal’s husband and Julian’s father, Mark.

Crystal was first inspired to do the Camino after watching the 2010 film The Way, which both depicts and promotes the pilgrimage. Julian was inspired to do the trek by the same film.

“When my youngest son Brandon went to university and with Mamma Mia in the works I thought I might have an opportunity to give it a try myself,”said Kolt in an email to The Reminder from the trail.

Other Flin Flonners have also made the journey in the past. Kolt sought out friends and acquaintances who had gone on the pilgrimage before heading off.

“I had great advice from all of them, so I decided to give it a try myself.”

The decision was not an impulsive one. Kolt began preparing for the journey two years ago.

“I had never owned, nor worn, a serious backpack or hiking boots or Tilley hat before. In all honesty, I had never truly done anything absolutely on my own before,”she said.

Kolt arrived in France July 2 and began the journey July 5. She is estimated to head back to Canada Sept. 2. Kolt will walk around 25 kilometres a day during the voyage, waking up each morning at 5 a.m. to hit the ground walking.

“Regarding the experience, I would have to say that it has been a true adventure,” Kolt said.

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