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…..it 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 –