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On A Pilgrimage with a Canadian Comedian

Updated on February 13, 2016

An incomplete guidebook to the Camino de Santiago

There are many guidebooks on the Camino de Santiago, and even more travel books in which the author shares his or her personal experience from this pilgrimage. Some of them are serious, some spiritual, some funny... and then there is one which is laugh-out-loud-wipe-tears-and-hope-nobody-heard-you-funny.

Comedian Paul Huschilt from Canada had always wanted to write an "incomplete guide book" to something. When caught in a weak moment he agreed to come with two friends to walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain, he decided to make the best of it and finally write one. The result is "The Reluctant Pilgrim: An Incomplete guide to Walking the Camino de Santiago".

All photos are my own.

Burgos, pilgrim, Camino de Santiago
Burgos, pilgrim, Camino de Santiago

The Camino -- what?

The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage network of roads across the Western Europe, that all end up in Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The road Huschilt and his friends chose to walk is the Camino Francés, so named because it traditionally starts on the French side of the Pyrenees. From there it snakes across the North of Spain for 780 kilometers to the West of the country.

Author and friends decided to walk from Burgos to Santiago, which makes 505 kilometers. Oh, excuse me, that should of course be 505,2 kilometers (as is regularly pointed out in the book)! He comes to regret this decision many times on the journey - but that's what makes it so much fun for us readers.

Photo: Statue of a resting pilgrim in the city of Burgos.

The Reluctant Pilgrim

The Reluctant Pilgrim: An Incomplete Guide to Walking The Camino De Santiago
The Reluctant Pilgrim: An Incomplete Guide to Walking The Camino De Santiago

Paul Huschilt is definitely giving his all in this book. It is absolutely packed with humor. Who cares if it is - according to the book cover - only 97,7 % true, when even his check-lists are as funny as his anecdotes!

It is filled with his own illustrations, as well as more or less interesting recipes and ditto impromptu poetry. With his funny and light-hearted way of writing, he offers a nice break from the huge number of more spiritual and soul searching Camino literature that is already available.

He still manages to capture the pilgrim's experience in a believable way, and I recognize myself a lot in the way he describes his Camino.

If asked to describe this book in one word, it would be this: quirky!



What kind of travel literature do you prefer?

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A chance meeting with the author

Two years ago, my husband and I met while walking the Camino, and on the same day we also met Paul Huschilt and his three walking companions. They were now walking the first half of the pilgrimage, from St. Jean Pied-de-Port to Burgos, to complete their journey.

We kept bumping into them for a while until Pamplona. There we had a lovely farewell dinner at a tapas bar (tapas is really called pinchos in Pamplona) before they moved on and we stayed behind. He told us about his plans to publish this book, and since then I have been trying to be patient, waiting for it to become available on Amazon.

And it turned out to be well worth the wait!

I'm hooked!

The reluctant pilgrim, treadmill
The reluctant pilgrim, treadmill

This is me. I'm on the treadmill for my daily(-ish) workout. I found this book so un-put-down-able that I had to keep reading it while warming up. I don't usually bring books with me on the treadmill unless they are audio books, and this is so far the only exception.

Don't stop walking, Camino de Santiago
Don't stop walking, Camino de Santiago

What's in a name?

The title of this book would be enough to make you think twice about doing this pilgrimage. The tagline, "Everything you need to know to stay home", takes it even one step further. Why would you want to go yourself, when you can sit comfortably in your own warm, lovely, clean home and read about it?

It is a bit of a paradox, then, that reading this book will make you want to get up and out there, buy a backpack, and do exactly what he seems to advise us against. It fills you with a desire to be part of this age-old tradition, not for the tradition's sake, but in the hopes that you will encounter the same strange variety of people and have the same bizarre and - at the same time - magical experiences that Huschilt describes.

Photo: Somewhere between Linzoáin and Zubiri this graffitied road sign encourages pilgrims to keep walking.


You will laugh out loud, and I take no responsibility for embarrassing incidents caused by the reading of this book in public. Sometimes, trying not to laugh will cause a grimace that makes it look like you have gas. I wish I wasn't speaking from experience...

Have you ever read a travel book that made you laugh out loud?

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    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @DebMartin: Me too!

    • profile image

      DebMartin 3 years ago

      I agree with DreyaB. I love Bill Bryson's books.

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @william-roy-clay: Yes, it is called "The Way" and is definitely worth watching. Thank you for reading!

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @tedwritesstuff24: Ha ha, that made me laugh! Thank you for reading :)

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @DreyaB: I have read some books by Bill Bryson, and really enjoyed them. I will make sure to pick up Notes from a Small Isle. Thank you :)

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      Notes from a Small Isle by Bill Bryson, though a lot of his travel books have made me laugh. I have another book I need to read now! :0)

    • delia-delia profile image

      Delia 3 years ago

      Congratulations on LOTD! Sounds like an interesting and fun travel book to read. I love to laugh, so I think I would try it. Thanks for sharing!

    • tedwritesstuff24 profile image

      TedWritesStuff 3 years ago

      Yes.. Lonely Planet and all the rubbish they talk and bad advice they give... Lets Go is a close second.. but their paper is softer for when you run out of loo paper..

    • profile image

      william-roy-clay 3 years ago

      Now, I'm very curious about book, your article makes reading the book sound like a fun experience. Wasn't there a movie with Martin Sheen about walking the Camino de Santiago?

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      I really haven't but this is still a terrific lens. Congratulations on getting LotD!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      I love travel books and authors that don't take themselves seriously. Not that a book is a "them." That's the part of my comment that isn't absolutely true. ;-) As an enthusiastic pilgrim, I'm sure I would enjoy this book. Congrats on your feature.

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 3 years ago from Concord VA

      I don't travel, but this sounds like a fun book to read! Congratulations on LotD!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      Congratulations on Lens of the Day! It sounds like a fantastic and fun book. Enjoyed reading every word of your review.

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 3 years ago

      Don't know when I'll make it to Europe. But I might just look for this book at the library to be entertained. Thanks for the lead.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 3 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      I seem to only have bought the more serious type of travel guide so far, but do recall having bought the Michelin Guide to tour France and many of the restaurant reviews which seemed funny or odd turned out to be spot on when I visited the establishments. I think I would enjoy this guide very much. Well done on the LOTD.

    • biorra2 profile image

      biorra2 3 years ago

      Great lens :) I must read the book.

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 3 years ago

      @sybil watson: Sounds like I might have to read that one! Thanks :)

    • profile image

      sybil watson 4 years ago

      There is a series of guide books about Hawaii called "Hawaii Revealed" and when I happened to pick up the one about the island of Hawaii, where I live, I literally laughed out loud right in the middle of Costco. The author is hilarious and I agree with every snarky comment he made about some local restaurants. "The Reluctant Pilgrim" sounds like a fabulous book.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      I haven't but I'm aspiring to read this one. Thanks for the hee-hahs!

    • ValerieJoy profile image

      Valerie Smith 4 years ago from New Zealand

      This definitely sounds like a 'must read' book.

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      @takkhisa: It is such a quick and fun read!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 4 years ago

      I do want to read this book! I hope I will be reading this soon :)

    • Aibrean82 profile image

      Aibrean82 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I will look for Walk Across America! Thank you for the tip!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Walk across America had some funny stories in it, but it wasn't a guidebook. This book sounds hilarious. I like the title!