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perpendicularThis summer, the Camino de Santiago — a network of routes once used by European pilgrims — called to B. Moon Hajjar.

The routes, which wind through the northern part of Spain, date back to the Middle Ages, when Christians made the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to seek forgiveness from the Apostle St. James, whose remains are thought to be buried there. B., who would rather spend a vacation taking an adventure than relaxing, admits he wasn’t necessarily on the trail for a spiritual journey but he returned from the trip with insight into both himself and his industry.

During his weeks on the trail, B. detailed nearly every day of his journey starting at the very beginning: his flight to Europe, Bikram yoga classes and rest in preparation for the trip he now says he expected to be a “long walk in the park.”

Throughout the month-long journey from village to village, B. encountered day-to-day obstacles that he shared with his family and friends through his blog. The unexpected twists and turns in his trip included a blown-out shoe that needed to be replaced, a head cold that required large amounts of orange juice and “ankles that felt like Kathy Bates from Misery took a sledgehammer to them.”

What he didn’t detail online was the impact that the journey had on him professionally.

B. realized quickly after he set out on foot that he’d take home lessons he’d be able to apply to his work with KMA clients. The most striking for him was the sheer amount of space he encountered almost immediately. The differences between traveling by car and traveling by foot helped him see spatial perception in a different light.

“The perception of a mountain range, for instance, when driving in a car, is something that you can engage visually from a distance and be experiencing just minutes later,” B. said. “On foot, you see a mountain range in the near distance and you know that you will be climbing it in two to three days. This definitely plays on your psyche and alters your immediate perception as well as your near-future perception of time and space. The spatial relationship you have on foot with the vastness of nature is measured in days rather than minutes or even hours.”

B. ran into some predicaments along the way, including a bag he’d overpacked and eventually had to send ahead to Santiago to pick up once he arrived at the end of the trek. Other minor upsets, including blisters, sore knees and a restless night spent on the floor of a church attic, happened along the way as well but B. said all the obstacles were what he was looking for in the first place anyway.

"Not knowing what to expect is half of the fun,” B. said. “Adventure tourism is all about playing the hand you are dealt, so the only mindset you need to have is to be completely open to whatever may come your way.”

From an architecture standpoint, the same sentiment applies: the profession is about creating solutions to problems and overcoming obstacles to create a finished product. After a month on his feet, sleeping in hostels and finding ways around problems, B. can say he has plenty of experience in discovering solutions.
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