York grad student embarks on 900-km pilgrimage

Angela Durante has never been one to shy away from challenges, especially those that push her body, mind and spirit to their limits, wrote the Whitchurch-Stouffville Sun-Tribune April 2. Which is why Durante is embarking on a 35-day, 900-kiometre pilgrimage from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain this week.

She jetted to Europe Sunday. The rest of the trip will be one long walk. “I don’t know what this 900 kilometres will bring me; I’m curious; I’m dying to know,” said the 31-year-old York University PhD history student and Whitchurch-Stouffville resident.

The trek Durante is going on is called the Camino de Santiago, which traverses a large network of ancient pilgrim trade routes across Europe and ends at the tomb of St. James, who was one of the original Twelve Apostles. The trek, which Durante will do all on foot, is also part of a larger trip she is embarking on. Once she has reached Santiago de Compostela, Durante will head off to Portugal and Morocco, where she will write the next chapter of her PhD’s dissertation on the images of women produced in the 1920s. “I found this fabulous place in Morocco (Essaouira)…. The pace of life is a lot simpler and a lot slower, and I think that’s what I like about it.”

Through her travels, Durante has also found a greater appreciation for a simpler life. “I used to be one of these (24/7 connected people) and slowly, over the past couple of years I’ve pared down,” Durante said, adding she does not own a phone, watch or car. However, she does have a computer so she can work. “At first I think (people) find it jarring, but once they know me, they realize I don’t want to be found 24 hours a day,” she said. “I think we live in a crazy time. I think we live in a time of too much pressure, too much technology, too many distractions.”