This has been my first Way. I had known of the Way since 1998, when I learned of its existence in the cathedral of Reims (Champaigne). There I saw a bronze sculpture on the ground with a shell, I asked her mother what it was and she explained that it was an indication for pilgrims to follow who were making their way to Santiago. Upon returning to Australia after those holidays in France, I began to pay attention to the news about the Way that frequently appeared in the press …
In the years that followed I barely had time to travel, but a few years ago I changed my life: I went to live in the country and created a bed and breakfast. In this new life I met the Camino. This happened one night in my bed and breakfast, while I was quietly drinking a glass of
wine and watched the movie ‘The Way.’ This was 2016 and then I remembered that encounter with the Camino in France. From that moment on, I began to read books on the subject and to think seriously about the possibility of doing the Camino. Finally, last August I decided that I would do it.
I decided that I wanted to go to small hotels, room sharing is possible but not with many people- as they could snore … And so I found a company in Australia that organizes trips that allow you to share accommodation with a small group, 16 people- people, moreover, who throughout the day are willing to be alone and walk independently.
I also wanted to walk from Saint-Jean-Pie-de-Port, that’s why I prepared for a year, lost weight, walked a lot … and maybe that’s why in my group I was the only one who kept losing weight on the Camino. The result was that I had no problems or pain, some small problem in the toes but everything was fine. I also walked with a light backpack and wore hiking shoes, rather than boots. In total I spent 38 days walking, including four days of rest, which meant walking between 22 and 30 kilometers a day.
I wanted to do it because I am curious. I am also Catholic and I was interested in that aspect of the Way. Along the way I found that I cared less about sealing my credential than going to church and praying. Something called me that and I found great peace. I think that my Way has been in some sense a spiritual pilgrimage, I have gone through a spiritual experience. Although when I decided to do the Way, I didn’t know why. I just knew that I had to do it.
The group was very active, from three in the afternoon we visited many places and could also read and prepare for what would follow … I think that Australians have a great curiosity, we wanted to visit everything … and luckily, thanks to the organization, we could do it because we our lodgings were guaranteed.
Something that impressed me is that on the Camino you can trust people, have confidence in strangers. I never felt bad about walking with strangers nearby, although I also discovered that I liked to walk alone. I also learned things about my work. I think I will run my business differently : to simplify things- foodwise and in wine-drinking, what glass to use etc … so as to be able to live and be more relaxed. I also want to continue training as a “hospitalist” in Australia and I would like to come to the Pilgrim’s Office as a volunteer.
Of course I think of returning to the Camino, I would like to do the Portuguese Way in 2020 and maybe work a bit as a volunteer in Porto or Lisbon or when I finish in Santiago. The truth is that, little by little, I would like to travel all the routes. I might very well do the Portuguese Way with a friend.
My Way was carefully planned and prepared for, but it was worth it. Now it is part of my life, in reality the Way is life, the Way is life because what matters is the Way-the journey- not the destination, And this is the important thing. I want to continue learning, following other roads … that’s why I think it has become part of my life and that’s why I also want my work to change and become simpler, more fun and more moveable … I want my life to come closer to what has been My experience of the Way.
I could summarize my experience by saying that it has been important to feel confident towards others, having walked a lot and with so many different people, having had time for reflection and being by myself and, above all, feeling how everything changes a lot and even the distances are no longer important when it is the journey that matters, not the destination.