I read a number of books about the Camino de Santiago before I did it in July-August of 2007. They were either practical guidebooks or deeply personal memoirs. I'd begun reading "Travels With My Donkey" about two weeks prior to departing for Spain, but I didn't get past the introduction - too busy with preparations. I figured I'd read enough anyway, and I wanted to save what looked like a good book for post-Camino reflection. I'm glad I waited until after my pilgrimage to read "TWMD," because it was an excellent and uniquely humorous account that brought me right back to the Camino.
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.