The start of the journey
People use to say and believe that the starting point of “El Camino de Santiago”, The Way of St. James, is when you decide to do it. In my case, although I’ve heard about it, and I saw it as an adventure that I would like to do, I was looking forward to do it in the short term.
But, life knows how to change your plans suddenly, and the past year, after a frightening experience with my mom, I felt the call.
In June of 2017, a silence cerebral tumor attacked and threatened my mom’s life. In a couple of hours, she went from being a healthy person, to be in a surgery room fighting for her life.
During the surgery long hours, I prayed and promised God that I will take her to the Vatican, if he let us enjoy her longer on this earth. Thank God, my mom recovered miraculously from the surgery.
The next months were full of medical tests, additional surgeries, and radiotherapy.
Throughout my mom’s recovery process, I felt I needed to go beyond, and offered God to do Camino de Santiago, with my mom as a way to thank him for her life and her recovery. There, my mom and I started our Camino.
When I started organizing the trip, and after reading several blog posts, and watching some hours of Youtube videos, I decided to do the French Way, in 12 stages from the town of Astorga. On this trip besides the Camino, I had to complete the promise to take my mom to The Vatican, and I also wanted to take her to other landmarks in Europe. This was going to be my mom’s first time ever in Europe.
I planned carefully two weeks in Spain. Three days at the beginning of the trip to recover from the jet lag, twelve days to walk El Camino, and one day in Santiago de Compostela at the end of the trip to rest and get to see Santiago.
Although I’ve read that El Camino was better without planning and without booking the hostels in advanced, I had to book them to be able to show the proofs in case the Spanish migration asked for it.
El Camino is different for each pilgrim. It depends a lot on your life circumstances, your attitude, flexibility and capacity to accept the challenges that you find on your way, and how you adjust your plans according to what shows up everyday.
In our case, el camino was full of up and downs, not just on the trail, but physically and emotionally.
When I did El camino I was pregnant with just a few weeks. My mom became a super hero and let her warrior spirit arise to support me and give me energy and hope to continue.
Physically, my mom was strong as an oak. Her feet and legs were sore as it should be after 12 days of hiking. In my case, besides the muscular soreness, I got the flu and a cold sore in my lip, my back was hurting and my energy was in low battery most of the time.
Emotionally, el camino was a rollercoaster. Both, my mom and I had our moments of euphoria, sadness, melancholy, guilt, anger, doubt, hope, and of course unconditional love.
There were two specials moments along the way that I would like to share.
An Angel to the rescue – Thanks Camino
For the stage between Foncebadon and Ponferrada, we were supposed to hike 14 miles (23 Km). But, around mid day I started feeling weak and extremely tired. After lunch we were going down hill, but I was so tired that I started stopping every 30 minutes. There was even a moment when we took a nap at the edge of the road.
That day, after 7 hours of hiking, and 5 nights in a row with little sleep, my body fall apart. I was exhausted, sick, cold and I didn’t want to carry my backpack further.
When we got Riego de Ambros, a little and beautiful town before Molinaseca, I stopped to rest just in front of a Guest House. Cause I was so tired, I decided to knock on the door to ask if they had an available room.
To my surprise, they had a room available, in fact nobody else was staying there that night, and the private room was just 30 Euros!. 10 Euros more to what I was paying in the hostels for pilgrims. So, we spent the night right there!
The night at “Casa Rural Las Hilanderas” was great. Pilar, the owner of the guesthouse was very friendly, as soon as we got there we felt like home and I was able to sleep all night long. She cooked a healthy dinner and breakfast for us, full of veggies and fruits that we were missing. After eating meat and fried potatoes almost everyday, her meals were a total blessing.
This was our first magic moment in the Camino. An angel to the rescue, who didn’t know us but helped us without any major interest. Thanks Camino!
Message from God
At the stage Sarria – Mercadoiro, my mom and I had a tough discussion. During the past few days we had been talking about aspects and hard moments of our lives that have impacted us and our familiy.
That day, there was a lot of tension accumulated between the two of us, and suddenly we exploded. She told that I wasn’t her psychologist, and I got really upset because I understood that comment as a direct attack to me.
Given the situation, I preferred to leave my mom behind, advance by myself, and started walking faster.
After an hour, I was about crossing a creek, when I heard a lot of noise coming from one side of the trail. I stopped to listen and pay attention to what was causing the noise. Immediately I saw a bird flying around one of the natural walls of the trail. Then, I came closer and saw one of the most beautiful things that I’ve saw in the whole trail.
There was a nest with 5 cute little birds that were asking for food. The bird that I’ve seen before, was the mother feeding them.
Just in that moment, my mom arrived and I show the nest and the little birds to her. Both, my mom and I got our hearts full of love and we were extremely happy looking at these cute babies.
And, do you know what happened then?
Since that moment, my mom and I forgot that were upset to each other, and we continued walking like nothing has happened. One next to the other, sharing the moment, and living El Camino de Santiago with lots of love.
For us, the moment with the little birds was unique. We felt that God was sending a message, telling us that life is beautiful, and that the love and connection between mother and daughter is one of a kind, and that we shouldn’t never be upset to each other.
What do you think about this experience in El Camino de Santiago, The Way of St. James? Would you like to do it someday?
If you already did it, we would love to hear your experience. Which challenges did you have? What were the specials and unforgettable momentos?
Don’t be shy, and leave your comments below. We would love to read you.