Travels with My Donkey: One Man and His Ass on a Pilgrimage to Santiago Hardcover – Jan 18 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
A man, a donkey, and a very long walk: Moore's latest European adventure (after French Revolutions and others) finds him embarking on an ages-old physical and spiritual pilgrimage across Spain to the famed cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Moore entertains with his snappy one-liners and skewed views of the locals, his fellow pilgrims and his own reasons for undertaking the camino. Against advice to the contrary, he pursues his search for a donkey to accompany him, which "upgraded his camino from big walk to revelatory voyage of self-examination." Moore shines in detailing "Tim and Shinto's Excellent Adventure": during the day, he accumulates "clicks" (kilometers) and cajoles Shinto across bridges, grates and roads; afternoons and evenings are spent searching for donkey-friendly lodgings (and encountering a share of slammed doors). Fellow pilgrims (the "Baroness von Munchausen"; "New Mexico Joe") get full portraits between details of communal living and eating, and the sordid intimacies of the shared bathroom. His sections on the pilgrimage's history and the towns he passes, however, are dry in comparison to his anecdotal asides and may only appeal to history buffs or those who've traveled this route themselves. While Moore may not have found his "inner Tim," he does take readers on an entertaining, unusual adventure.
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“If you enjoyed Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, this feels like the natural sequel---a well-told comic misadventure with a history lesson woven in for good measure. This is about the most entertaining travel writing you’re going to pick up this year. A rollicking ride through the Spanish countryside with quirky observations, more interesting company than Chaucer seemed to find, and an ass named Shinto who now has enough comic material to jump on the lecture circuit. Arriving in Santiago with Moore was even more enjoyable than the journey I made along the Camino myself. All the fun, none of the blisters.” --- Doug Lansky, author of Last Trout in Venice and First Time Around the WorldSee all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Here we have the hero, a "token" Christian, taking on a daunting journey, a pilgrimage, about which he is not convinced he needs.
Just because the author is a bit different, and in keeping with his vision of a pilgrimage, he decides it would ease his load if a donkey carried his backpack on the 800 km trek.
Our hero knows as much about pilgrimages and donkeys as the average man knows about nuclear physics, but off he sets and shows the reader the weaknesses, also the strengthening of himself and his spiritual beliefs, masked in a series of happenings enroute.
The lack of understanding of how a donkey thinks, only strengthens the author's learnings on the pilgrimage.
The story showed to me, that we cannot be perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and yet being imperfect does not prevent us from being good people.
The tale at times may be considered irreverent, and deeply spiritual in other areas, but above all is a story about any of us; warts and all.
Most certainly not a "goody two shoes" tale of travel, where all goes according to plan. This makes the book all the better a buy.
I laughed and cried and saw myself and others I know in many parts of this adventurous pilgrimage, which is riddled with belly laugh humour, sadness and the way daily life truely is for most.
The author and his donkey, will earn their place in heaven, for God I am sure, surely laughed and agreed with the happenings of these two characters on their pilgrimage.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Mr. Moore first became aware of the Camino when he met a pilgrim on "a small boat in Norway." As is common with those who've walked the Way, the idea settled in his mind and bloomed after a period of germination. Also like the typical pilgrim, he began doing research and making preparations for the trek. However, unlike most of us he decided to bring along a donkey. After some searching, he finally found one named Shinto and committed to his adventure. He and Shinto were trailered to Valcarlos, Spain, and commenced their trek to Santiago one step at a time.
During the next forty-one days, Mr. Moore and Shinto experienced numerous adventures on the Camino. Shinto became somewhat of a focal point - most of the time for good, but sometimes for ill. The author soon discovered the difficulties involved in herding a somewhat truculent donkey, including health issues, finding enough food for both of them, and securing donkey-friendly accommodation. Even so, he persevered and eventually formed a bond with Shinto based on shared hardship.
"TWMD" reminded me a lot of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods," another humorous account of a trek along an old trail. Indeed, both books made me laugh out loud in some spots and cringe in others. However, since I was fresh off the Camino, I was actually able to identify with Mr. Moore's experiences. I loved revisiting familiar towns and fondly remembered (or no-so-fondly remembered) refugios. And I empathized with the author's trials and tribulations, such as blisters, prickly pilgrims, harsh climate conditions, and fast automobile traffic.
"Travels With My Donkey" made me miss the Camino, and it also made me glad to be a peregrino. Recommended for those contemplating the Camino, pilgrims who have already walked the Way, and wanderers in general.
"No man can ever have felt more proud of a donkey as I did watching Shinto crap atop the Cruz de Ferro. It was, indeed, his pilgrimage too." - from TRAVELS WITH MY DONKEY, as the author and Shinto stand atop the famous pilgrimage milestone
In 2004, for no particular reason related to piety, author Tim Moore decided to make the venerable east to west pilgrimage across the width of northern Spain starting at Valcarlos and ending at Santiago de Campostela at the enshrined (supposed) remains of the apostle Saint James. Not wishing to carry his stuff all 466 miles, Moore decides to pack it in with a donkey. Thus Shinto, an ultimately endearing 200 kilogram package of obstinacy, phobias, and more or less stoic forbearance.
The books biggest flaw is the lack of any photos - especially photos of "Shints" - even though the author makes multiple references to pictures taken. I had to go to the Web to retrieve a color snap of Tim and his faithful companion which I printed, trimmed, and pasted into the book for the benefit of its next owner. Shinto bears little resemblance to the donkey portrayed on the volume's front cover.
As a lapsed Catholic and in the face of life's day-to-day responsibilities, Moore's 41-day trudge seemed an enormous waste of time. However, that doesn't prevent a feeling of reluctant admiration for one who'd actually do it, especially while pushing, pulling, and cajoling livestock all the way. After all, Tim produced an engaging and humorous narrative about the experience which provided several days of chuckles. And I did appreciate the author's comments about Shirley MacLaine.
More interesting to me than the narrator were his fellow pilgrims: trekkers with about the same walking pace tend to keep meeting up, not necessarily in lockstep day after day, but over and over the course of the camino. These people become familiar friends--Evelyn, Petronella, Donald the bar enthusiast, the Australian known as Total Shithouse--whereas those walking notably faster or slower become a host of one-time encounters. Indeed, it occurs to me from the friends he makes, and what we see of his wife and kids and his brother, that Moore is probably a nicer guy in person than he comes across in his writing.
The book completely fails to inspire me to try the camino myself (and if I did, I would never do it with a donkey), but it is a good way to read about other people doing it. And I can easily believe that someone who has done the walk themselves will enjoy the book much more than I did.
One oddity: whenever our hero tries to explain--to bartenders, refugio staff, waiters--that he is traveling with a donkey, they consistently misinterpret his "Tengo un burro" as a request for a cigar. Can any Spanish-speakers out there enlighten me about a plausible misunderstanding, or is this just Moore's idea of humor?