Camino Portuguese – Guest Post by Donna…

Donna did the tour with us.

She was a delight. A delight to walk with, a delight to talk to, always a delight. Whenever I photographed her I always captured a truly beautiful smile.


This was her first Camino, yet she’d done a lot of training, particularly hard hill and mountain training, and she breezed through what turned out to be a tough walk.

She sent me this guest post –

On the 17th June, 2013 my life changed forever.

I was sitting at my mechanics waiting for my car to be serviced when I stumbled across Bill’s blog. I read everything. Every blog entry. Every comment. That evening I sent Bill a message on the blog thanking him for his blog and inspiring words. I mentioned in my message that I intended to do the Camino in seven years time.

 A discussion ensued between myself, Bill and others suggesting that seven years was way too long to wait to do the Camino. Bill said I wouldn’t wait that long and if I’d been bitten by the Camino bug I would be there within a year. Honestly, I thought Bill was out of his mind.

Little did I know that by putting it out there I would be answered and I would be lucky enough to join Jen, Bill and others on the Portuguese Camino.

I didn’t want to go away and do the Camino because I didn’t think I could leave my children. Julie B wrote “

I hear what you are saying about waiting until the children are older and less in need of mother. Yet, when my kids were in High School, I had to travel often to take care of my dying dad. I had numerous “spiritual” experiences during that time because for the first time in my life I was only responsible for myself when I was traveling and staying in hotels. I literally could hear myself think and pray/meditate in solitude. I always came back with a heightened awareness and love for my family… was good to get away, not bad.”

Julie, such prophetic words. That is exactly what happened to me. For the first time I was responsible for myself and not for everyone else.

I never planned whom I would walk with on the Camino. Sometimes I was in a big group, sometimes with one friend and other times on my own.

When I was on my own I had hours and hours to think. Hours to ponder things. Hours just to occupy myself and not worry about anything other than “Am I still following the yellow arrows.” Walking on my own forced me to think about things I had perhaps been trying to avoid. It made me face issues that I had put to the back of my mind. It helped me to put things into perspective. It gives you processing time.

It also forced me out of my comfort zone and made me more self-reliant. There is something about getting lost in a foreign city where you have no language skills and you are trying to find your accommodation.

During the two weeks I had several spiritual experiences. These took me by surprise, as I don’t consider myself a religious person. I didn’t and still don’t really understand what they meant. It has given me a heightened sense of my own spirituality and it’s something I would like to explore more.

I had many conversations with lovely people that were part of our group and other pilgrims I met along The Way.  Each one of these people has touched me in one way or another.  I find that I am incorporating parts of the journey into my everyday life.  I’ll be doing something and I’ll think “Ah, that’s what Jen said.  Now I know what she meant.” 

I believe I have come back from the Camino happier and more able to deal with the stress of everyday life.  This cannot only be good for me but also for my children and others in my life.  I still have a lot to learn and a lot of lessons to apply.

Bill thank you for your blog.  You have been told by many others but it really does make a difference in people’s lives.

Jen and Bill thank you for organising the Portuguese Camino tour.  I will be forever grateful to you for doing this.  Without your tour I wouldn’t have gone this year.  Without your tour I wouldn’t have been able to make the changes in my life that I have.

A photo I took of Donna at the start of the Camino –


A photo I took of her at the end of the Camino –

Donna cropped

19 thoughts on “Camino Portuguese – Guest Post by Donna…

  1. Well Donna you’ve done it now and will never be the same, as witnessed by the difference in the 2 photos of you! What a beautiful and open smile 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Ingrid. Yes I love the Camino glow. Bill took some amazing photos of people to capture their happiness.


    • Wow, thanks Julie. I haven’t been called that before.
      The tour, the Camino, the friendships and the camaraderie have all made a huge difference in my life. I’m so glad I was able to make it happen. As Ingrid says I just need to hold onto it for as long as I can. Hopefully the Camino changes will never leave me.


  2. Great post Donna. Miss seeing you and your cheerful smile. But like Bill, I still maintain a contact with you from the opposite side of the world. Wonderful to have shared those two weeks with you.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Donna,
    Such a beautiful post!

    Yes the Camino does wonderful things for us, doesn’t it? So are you planning another? And when?

    Sure do wish you and I would have had a chance to walk together. Maybe next time, because you do know there will be a next time, somewhere may not be on Camino but there will be a next time.

    Thanks for your friendship and encouragement while on the tour. Oh, I did change my picture as you will notice.



    • Hi Arlene

      I did notice that you changed your photo. I love it. This one is really you.

      I wish we had walked together too. I think next time Bill does a tour he needs to make it more like speed dating. Instead of 7 minutes per person we get one day per person.

      I’d love to go back to the Camino. It’s all I think about. I don’t know which one or when but I’m sure you will still be walking them by the time I get around to it. Perhaps I will stay in your Casa. Maybe I could do one where I stay with Marie, Catarina and you. That would be awesome.

      And thank you for your friendship – before, during and after the tour. I treasure it. We will meet in person again, that I’m sure of.



  4. What a difference 2 weeks on the Camino makes!

    The photo in the purple shirt and blue scarf was taken on the 5th April, in Porto the day before we started walking I believe.

    The last photo with that radiant “post Camino glow” was taken on the 20th April in Santiago.

    I think this post could have been titled “The old Donna V the new Donna”.
    Or perhaps “The old Donna V the real Donna”!

    Buen Camino my friend!


    • Ah Greg – trust you to go into the meta-data!!! 🙂 Yes, I agree with you. I think the pictures really tell the story very powerfully. The last shot in fact is a shot I took of you both before you got into the cab to leave. I cropped you out mate, sorry!! I’ll post it separately, because you have a big smile too!!


  5. No secrets heh Bill ……….
    On the subject of meta-data – I think your ISO could have been set to 200 in that last photo instead of 400. Ha Ha Ha

    I’m so glad that you chose the photos you did to put in this post.

    Ironically perhaps, I said to Donna on one of the last days of the tour that you can see how much she has changed because her smile is so much more “real”.

    These two photos alone tell this story perfectly.


      • If I remember correctly, all the shots you took on the white port day were either missing the subjects heads or were of the gravel in front of your feet 🙂

        So many great memories Bill!

        When’s the book coming out???


      • I’m not sure if it’s inner peace or whiskey. I’m not feeling a whole lot of inner peace at the moment. I might try some whiskey and see if that brings it on.

        Liked by 2 people

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