The Camino Experience

Where eternity stands still. Contemplate your journey, the long road, the defining experience in your life that has brought sacrifice, search, wisdom, and transformation.

Roncesvalles beech forest (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was the beginning

At the beginning, the blessing the pilgrim received for their backpack and staff in Roncesvalles was personal. We were called by name, because there were only three of us being blessed. Blessed to hit the road without any mishaps and blessed to return from it in peace.

Interior Palloza O’Cebreiro (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was forbearance

At the beginning it was chaos. There were few places to stay, just a roof over your head, a floor, and a bag you had packed. Exhaustion led you to believe you were in the most comfortable of beds. Our bodies toughened up and our spirit strengthened.

To Cirauqui (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was undiscovered

In the beginning there was just the land and silence on a path with barely any pilgrims. It was uncertainty and unease in the face of the unknown. It was a weight on your back with your whole life packed into a backpack, venturing towards the unknown.

Portico of the Church of Santiago de Puente la Reina (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was a search

In the beginning all bushes, plants and trees were equal to our inexperienced eyes. We knew only how to look and not how to see. Our minds were preoccupied with finding our way and following the signs, which were few and far between.

Way to Navarrete (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was sacrifice

At the beginning it was painful. Our bodies were like machines. A thousand needles pricking your flesh. But there was no surrender. And every day our will triumphed and every day that passed meant you were a few miles closer to your goal, no matter how far it lingered.

Roman cart (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was discovery

On the journey, only the path is your companion. Step by step through Castilian hillsides and trails, through the silence, the sound of crickets and the reflection of the beating sun, with a thousand tales emerging from history that remind us of the people from the village.

Dawn on the way to Itero del Castillo (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was awareness

Along the journey, the Way teaches you to hear, but more importantly, how to listen. All it takes is tuning in to the soft murmur of the wind caressing the branches of a tree and the corn swaying in the field, the birds singing, and the sound of your footsteps.

At the top to reach El Acebo (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It was freedom

We would get up at the crack of dawn, while the stars were still hanging in the sky and started walking slowly, weighed down by our 25-pound backpacks. And yet we continued along the long, unexplored path.

Horizons towards Finisterre (2019)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is perception

The journey teaches you to look and to see and it fills you with sheer joy to see landscapes change before you: from the green of La Rioja, to the Castilian yellows and ochres, back to the green shades of Bierzo, and the skies and clouds of Galicia.

Portico of Glory, detail (1989)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is perfection

You are alone with your own thoughts wondering what mystical symphony the elders of glorious portico would play with their instruments. And they continue to play their enchanting music on the rock, thinking of pilgrims.

The arrival (2007)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is wisdom

In the end, you feel an emotion only you alone can experience, so strong you break down, weeping and trembling. The Way has left an indelible mark on you, as it has on the many others who have arrived at the same place as you, searching for their own truth.

The vacuum (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is transformation

In the end, you realize that the most important thing about the journey is that you traveled inwards and that what mattered was the journey, not the destination. And this is what will change your life.

Infinity (2014)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is elation

At the end the music accompanies us beyond our destination. We're aiming for Mar Tenebroso at the end of the earth, like the medieval pilgrims. Here the sea crashes against the cliffs, melting our spirit into an eternal symphony.

Departure from Santiago to Finisterre, a dream come true (2008)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is triumph

At the end, you have learnt to speak both the human and the divine, to travel the Way without haste, to listen to the silence, speak to locals, savor sunrises and sunsets, and feel your soul free and at one with nature, in the universe with God.

Ecstasy, near the end (1985)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

It is fulfilment

In the end, being a pilgrim on the Camino, whether to Santiago or anywhere else, means experiencing an inner transformation and digging deep to find inner strength. Although it may not feel like it, somewhere along the way on this great spiritual journey, something changes in your life.

Credits: Story

Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago  
www.caminosantiago.org
Pilar de Luis Domínguez
info@vieiragrino.com
Amparo Sánchez Ribes - Ángeles Fernández

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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