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(Un)Bound, Together: A Journey to the End of the Earth

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On the cusp of turning 50, and still rebounding from a dramatic and near-fatal tumble off a bridge, Amit Janco embarked on a walk across Spain, heading not only towards the end of the earth—but, hopefully, to regain a body freed of chronic pain. After the first week’s happy adventure with a mutt in tow and two donkeys hauling her belongings, all hopes of a peaceful promenade dissolved when Amit’s new schlepping companion gave her the cold shoulder.

With the company of a revolving cast of pilgrims and animals, Amit grappled with a sitting disability, ditched her hiking boots in favor of sandals, crossed paths with quirky characters, and discovered a human species unique to the Camino; the people she came to call Stagers. She developed an obsession with wild blackberries, fended off snoring pilgrims and was haunted by the story of a father who walked in mourning over his murdered daughter.

Desperate to distance herself from a tree-hugging pilgrim who had volunteered to carry her gear—but instead wreaked havoc on her serenity—Amit found herself unexpectedly wading through an interior landscape riddled with loose threads and long-buried secrets. But, thanks to the solace of nature, coupled with the comic relief and spiritual sustenance offered by a German social worker—who wove in and out of Amit’s weeks’-long hike—her burden was ultimately lightened.

(Un)Bound, Together: A Journey to the End of the Earth (and Beyond) is a testament to healing as a continual process along a path of unpredictable hurdles and revelations.

288 pages, Paperback

First published March 13, 2019

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Amit Janco

1 book

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3 (16%)
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Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews
2 reviews
April 17, 2019
I just finished reading this book by Amit Janco, and enjoyed it immensely. I found it very absorbing and read it in just a few intensive shots over consecutive afternoons. I won’t be surprised if this will go on to become a de rigueur piece for anyone planning or undertaking the Camino di Santiago, but it is much more than a travelogue. It is about healing, about invisible pain, and about varying kinds of relationships with our fellow human beings (and some animals too).
Profile Image for Liane Wakabayashi.
57 reviews6 followers
July 18, 2019
In (Un)Bound, Amit Janco takes us with her on a pilgrimage to Spain's historic Camino, a thousand kilometer journey punctuated by stopovers in historic towns and encounters with charming locals. Reading (Un)Bound, you’ll know what gear to bring, what to wear on your body and your feet, which hostels to seek out and which to avoid for the bed bugs. You’ll be well prepared for the trail angels who offer candy and open their homes to pilgrims. You’ll know which picturesque towns to stop in and rest and which desolate towns to avoid. And most of all, you'll be led by the hand and pen of a gifted wordsmith.

Janco is a master at scenic description and this makes (Un)bound a practical, informative Camino guidebook, like this one: "We walk down a freshly paved cobblestone path, facades of buildings painted in varying shades of pastel rising on either side, lined with microbalconies, ornate street lamps, and potted plants."

You’ll learn about blackberries. Rich ripe blackberries that become one of Amit’s greatest joys to forage for throughout her two month pilgrimage.


In an age when every image comes to us packaged in pixels, its a good-old fashioned treat to be offered in crisp, colorful language visual pictures of the Camino landscape and its people.

But there is a problem, as all compelling adventures must offer in order for the author to grow. And the reader too. Janco can’t carry her own gear. She has an invisible disability. After falling off a bridge in Cambodia and tumbling 10 meters, she miraculously survives but requires two years of intense rehabilitation until she could walk again--but not without pain. Carrying even a modest load is, we're told, excruciating. Which is why she eventually ends up with the Juan-do, a “Man of Few Words,” and Mani, who counterbalances Juan-do's silent treatment with hints of a more joyful friendship.

Interspersed with the easy to visualize journey without is a more difficult journey within: flashbacks to a superachieving, privileged, well-traveled, but often unhappy childhood. I'm not sure what to make of these flashbacks. Or what to make of her relationship with Juan-do. By Janco's own admission, it starts nowhere and goes nowhere. It's a bit baffling, come to think of it, why Juan-do occupied so much place in the story.

Janco took on herself an ambitious task trying to do two things at once--pack an informative travel story into a fairly distressed psychic landscape. This isn't the first time Janco has walked long distances and if her history as an avid walker is any indication, it won't be the last. I think we can look forward to more compelling reads. This talented writer has much to share of a life well-lived, well-traveled, and ever so courageous.
1 review
April 15, 2019
Far more than a “there I was with sore feet and a horizon “this is a story of how five seconds in Cambodia can turn “ones life” into pain fog, and questions but eventually leads to insight and revelation during the 500 mile Camino Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.3 Amit intricately details the physical journey itself-the roads, hostels, weather and fellow travellers but it’s her personal introspection that makes the book more than just a good read-each chapter she reveals a little more of herself and why that first step was taken. It deserves a place on your bookshelf.
June 17, 2019
(Un)bound Together review A story about one humans journey with adversity

I met Amit 2 years after her unfortunate accident in Cambodia and got to know her courage and determination to heal. and saw her gradually come to terms with what had happened.
So, on hearing her ambitious vision to walk the Camino, I was struck by the enormous task this would be. Here we are 6 years later, her adventure on the Camino done, many experiences and lessons learnt in the process and now this wonderful book (Un)Bound Together giving a voice to her wonderful experience
I have read a few books about walking the Camino and found this one my favourite so far. It’s tightly written, bouncing from one experience to another, exploring many different levels of experience not just on the physical side either!
As I went from one short chapter to the next, I found I was continually transported into another world as I imagined my own responses to her journey. Through her narration I could savour all the nuances and exquisite details she wrote about. I loved experiencing the breakfasts and dinners, the wild blackberries and the figs, and see the glistening of nature surrounding her and even the albergues where she stayed. I even felt her body and her feet as she went from one step to another to arrive at her destination.
And to top it off, after this herculean effort, and her arrival at Santiago, Amit went one step further and gave herself another gift, which had a kind of sweetness to it.
If you want to be taken on a journey of delight, be in the face of extraordinary courage and perseverance– give yourself a treat and read this excellent story…I read it in one afternoon!
1 review
July 8, 2019
(Un) Bound,
Together
A Journey to the end of the earth
(and Beyond)

There are moments that change the trajectory of one’s life, some dramatic and others less so. Falling off a bridge in Cambodia was one such life threatening moment in Amit’s life. Another moment was a chance encounter with Sue Kenney, who inspired Amit to make the medieval pilgrimage, Camino Santiago de Compostelo
In this memoir Amit tells her account of walking the Camino. Setting out on an adventure of healing, wanderlust, discovery. Along the way meeting many fellow pilgrims and travelers all walking for a diverse number of personal reasons.
Walking as a meditation, walking as a prayer, walking to heal our wounds, walking to give thanks for being healed, walking to stay sane, and sometimes walking just for the sake of walking, putting one foot in front of the other to get to the albergue, many kilometers ahead when you are in pain, tired, and hungry.

Follow Amit as she walks step by step, picking wild blackberries at every opportunity, meal by meal, albergue by albergue, with the ever constant uncommunicative, incomprehensible, invaluable walking companion, Juan Do who carries her gear and frequently regenerates his spirit by hugging trees.
It’s a story of striving to overcome limitations and of learning to make peace with things as they are, not always as we would hope them to be.

Enjoy the book. Be inspired. Get a pack and head out.
Profile Image for Nick Nolan.
Author 16 books56 followers
February 15, 2021
Like a Merchant-Ivory film crossed with a National Geographic documentary, (Un)Bound, Together is the colorful and unflinching account of one scarred woman’s step-by-step journey toward healing.

Four years after a devastating fall from a rickety bridge in Cambodia, author Amit Janco attempts to rehabilitate her broken body by undertaking a pilgrimage along the more than 700 km Camino de Santiago in Spain. Janco deftly pulls the reader along on her colorful and grueling journey from beginning to end, where we share her meals, her joys and frustrations, and we become familiar with her cast of characters, especially her enigmatic guide Juan-Do.

Janco’s writing is at once colorful, exacting, dynamic, and poetic; her descriptions of rural life along the Camino – the pilgrims and hostel owners and flora she encounters, as well as her daily struggles to overcome fierce and nagging physical pain – gild her journey with vivid scents, sights, and sounds.

Also within (Un)Bound Together coexist several quiet, spiritual aspects: Juan-Do seemingly absorbs the light of Janco’s psyche while revealing himself as the Yin to her Yang. Seldom does Juan-Do exude even a perfunctory warmth or joy as he morphs into a Yungian shadow figure, perhaps representative of the grief Janco unveils within her childhood flashbacks of ostensible privilege polluted by the coldness and cruelty of a close family member.

(Un)bound Together is the haunting chronicle of one woman’s foray into the inextricable binding together of our bodies and souls, and how if we focus on one, the other is just over one’s shoulder…like the one-wheeled Carrix author Amit Janco trails behind her along the Camino de Santiago.

Five stars.
1 review
June 5, 2021
In short – this is a must read!

I was expecting a typical travelogue about author’s travels along the Camino Satiago. But it turned out to be much more. Much much more!

It starts with the story of her fateful fall off a collapsing bridge in Cambodia that nearly killed her. At first, it seemed that this alone was what ultimately led her four years later to seek physically and mental recovery through the 1,000km and two-month Camino Satiago journey.

But there was more, she was also seeking a way to deal with her early childhood trauma from an emotionally distant, abusive and dominating mother that led her into deep depression.

She very cleverly weaves the personal story of her childhood into the main story and even wrote it in the third person, so at first the reader is not sure who she is talking about. Then there is the sudden realization that it is her.

Her description of the journey is both colorful and poetic. You share her experiences with the people she meets and places she sees. And there are her travel companions: a dog, two donkeys, and a distant and unapproachable porter that carried her things because her injuries prevented her from doing so. The porter turns out to be a metaphor for her equally distant and unapproachable mother.

But, in the end, it is a story about overcoming and conquering one’s disabilities – physical and mental. And gaining spiritual enlightenment. It gives us all a strong inspirational message that when you feel that you are at the end of the road – or end of your rope – then you should go on.
1 review
October 18, 2019
Paced like a walk through repeating settings of darkness and light, this enormously personal account of a life lived bravely and adventurously, is no walk in the park. Little is held back from readers by author as she deals with pains she perceives to be invisible to the rest of the world.

Amit Janco tapes her trail out of massive physical injury by subjecting herself to the rigors of the Compostela as fall is turning to winter. But as she plods along with an unlikely squire at her side, puzzle pieces of a difficult childhood are pulled out of the pockets of a metaphoric (mine) heavy cloak on her tiny shoulders.

This is a pilgrim's tale of unlikely elements... Janco is Jewish, the Camino is a Christian path, she accepts the random little kindnesses and friendships of the road and its denizens, yet she simply cannot communicate with the man who has volunteered to carry her pack for her. Little by little, all is revealed and the simple wisdom that was with her all along, echoes in her mind with clarity.

Might be a great gift for that special friend who is on a journey of their own.
1 review
June 1, 2019
I was lucky enough to get a copy hot off the press and was waiting with much anticipation to embark on what I knew would be a great read. On a personal level, I found that the theme involving how many of us may or may not have a hidden "disability" of our own is something that the book has inspired me to discuss with more and more people in my life, and the random strangers that I may encounter. This hit home on a personal level as a stutterer and in the relationships I have with veterans and active duty military people in my life. One can never know what the people we know and encounter may have been through which can be life changing experiences, until it become apparent or is discussed openly. Amit makes a point of baring her soul here in this book and it should inspire us all to open up, vent, listen and show some empathy to help us all in what ever healing process we may need to venture into. Sequel please!!!!
Profile Image for joanna.
80 reviews2 followers
March 17, 2022
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The courage and determination it took to not only walk the Camino de Santiago after a horrific accident but to write about it is astounding. It is an intensely personal account of bravery and inspiration with plenty of humor sprinkled throughout. I really appreciated the flashbacks into the author's childhood which helped explained her character and motivation. I highlighted countless one-line snippets and paragraphs -

"I could use a dose of nature and nurture."

"May your dreams be larger than your fears."

"... dedicating a given day's walk to someone who has inspired or moved me. On each of those days, a mental image of that person keeps me anchored to motivation, mindfulness, and meditative walking."

I highly recommend this gem for anyone preparing for the Camino or other pilgrimage.
1 review
October 20, 2019
Unbound Together was a marvelous book, targeting a wide range of the reader’s emtions… exploring moments of suffering, hardship, relationships, and hilarity. Instead of experiencing the walk across the Camino through the eyes of Amit, you are right there walking beside her, smelling the fresh air and imagining the beautiful landscapes. Beautifully written and brutally honest, it’s an inspiring read for couch potatoes such as myself….it's time to buy a backpack and sensible shoes! I hope this is the first of many books by a talented story teller
October 20, 2019
A tale of the innocence of childhood, the trauma of the past, the struggles of the present, all intertwined with a vision for a new future. A tale of struggle, of healing, of hope. At times serious, at times emotional and at times funny. But mostly extremely well written and entertaining. A captivating read. A journey of discovery from which we can all reflect on our blessings and learn to choose a better path forward.
Profile Image for Katarina.
4 reviews
September 10, 2020
I met Amit few years before her unfortunate accident in Cambodia and saw her few years after the accident. Her courage and determination to heal is still an inspiration for me. Her story takes us thru darkness and light. Very intimate memoir, full of courage, suffering and hope. You will be walking the Camino not only thru her eyes but walking beside her. Beautifully written.
July 2, 2019
I loved this book! It is a beautifully written and extremely moving memoir - much more than a memoir of walking the Camino de Santiago. It is a deeply personal and incredibly moving account of a terrible accident, hidden disability, recovery and healing. I highly recommend it.
1 review
May 13, 2019
I was captivated by the quality of the writing and the profound honesty of the writing. A book that will be enjoyed by adventurers, travellers, seekers of truth.... put it on your must read list!
Profile Image for Sonia Hazan.
1 review
October 16, 2019
Enjoyed every word and every adventure! A very good read! Never give up...is one take away lesson...
Displaying 1 - 16 of 16 reviews

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