I think the Camino calls you, if you have to do it, I’m sure you’ll end up doing it. I felt that I was being called by several signs of different events: the first was that I read that someone from Romania did the Camino, then I discovered Paolo Coelho’s books, which a friend from Hungary gave me. He had lived there. So I began to dream more and more strongly, until the best adventure of my life came true. I wanted to do something special, looking for new experiences in my life. And I remember that on the first day of Camino I felt strange with my backpack and I did not understand why I had to cross those mountains under the rain and through the fog. My feet started hurting and even though I was not wearing high heels as in the story of the Wizard of Oz, I felt like Dorothy who set out in search of the Emerald City, a city that in my case was Santiago de Compostela.
For me everything was a great challenge, because although I led a comfortable life, I did not hike and I went everywhere by car. When I started the Camino I did not stop until the end. It was not easy, my legs felt heavy and the backpack was a burden, and I was afraid to walk alone through the woods and the undergrowth. In the difficult moments I felt that I was under divine protection because I always found what I needed: a cream, a painkiller, water, a pilgrim’s advice … or simply there were moments when it seemed to me that someone was holding my backpack and something was pushing me to go forward without yielding to physical fatigue.
I overcame the limitations and the fear, I escaped from the comfort zone and I realized that the road ran with my head. The path is a personal experience, the path of reunion with oneself, although you do it alone, you never feel alone. You live in contact with nature, discover the dawn again, enjoy the song of the birds and the sound of the water, you can think quietly and you have time to put in order the ideas, at the same time you talk to the locals who are very friendly and hospitable. Once you take the spirit of the Way and experience the solidarity of people from all over the world who are travelling with you to the same place, nothing stops you and you do not want this pilgrimage to end. You get to know a world that is very different from the one we live in modern consumer society. On the Camino does not matter so much who you are, or where you come from, or what is your social class or how much money you have. Here you find friends at every step of the way, people from all over the world, each with his own life, his experience and the reasons that have led him to make this path, but we all agree on the need to reach the end and finish what we have started.
On this trip you learn to live in the present. If you are in a hurry, you learn to settle for what each day has to offer you and you wait impatiently for the next day, which does not look like any other day. You do not know how many kilometers you will walk, whom you will meet, where you are going to sleep. The scenery changes a lot, from the mountains to the hills, the plain, the forests, picturesque villages. The weather also changes a lot: it has rained, it has been windy, I have had to put up with unbearable heat, it has been cold and foggy. Every experience is lived to the full, everything is alive, you feel that you are really living, in almost 40 days I have experienced what seemed like about 40 years.
And the moment of arrival at the Cathedral of Santiago is something ineffable and very exciting. The Mass of the pilgrim of the Cathedral impressed me greatly, and the embrace of the Apostle Saint James – as a symbol of the end of the journey – was in fact a new beginning for me, the beginning of a new life in which the Way would occupy a special place .
In the end you fall in love with this pilgrimage, the Camino becomes your best friend, the friend who has welcomed you with open arms, has guided you and healed you, has opened your soul layer by layer, has cleansed it. He has cared for it, caressed it and wrapped it there with love, forgiveness, acceptance, understanding, wisdom, empathy.
The return to daily routine was quite difficult and I missed the Camino a lot. Recalling the experiences and feelings awakened by the spirit of the Camino, I published a book about my experience in this magical way, whose title is “Camino de Santiago, a dream come true”, and together with other pilgrims in love with this pilgrimage, we have founded the first Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago in Romania, and thus I get connected to the path that changed my life for the better and taught me that nothing impossible exists.