This has been her first Way. She already knew about the Camino de Santiago through films and a documentary she had seen, but it was a friend – with whom she eventually came to Spain – who was responsible for suggesting the Camino as a real possibility to plan and prepare for. She asked: do you want to do the Camino? Her friend wanted to do it for particular religious reasons, but she did not. It is not that she has no religious or spiritual side but she is not a practicing Christian and what really appealed to her about the Camino was its adventurous aspects.
Later her mother came down with cancer. Although Laura lives in the United States, her parents live in Mexico, in a town and a region with Santiago as its patron saint. With her mother’s illness, she recalled how her mother had once walked to the church of Santiago on the Saint´s day to ask the Apostle for help with the birth of her son, since she was pregnant and had health problems. Everything went well, her brother was born healthy and was baptized Santiago. From these memories she ended up giving her Way a meaning similar to what her mother had done, that is, of asking the Apostle for something. In this case to ask for her mother’s health to be restored to her.
The two friends chose to travel the Portuguese Way owing to the limited time they had at their disposal. Her friend, especially, did not have sufficient time to travel the entire French Way, but only the Portuguese one, starting from Lisbon.
They began on June 7 in Lisbon. ‘I was well informed and physically prepared.’ At first they walked together and in a very organized way, but after a week they began to let each other follow her own rhythm, and so they separated and walked with other people. She walked a lot with a Rumanian woman, an experienced pilgrim who always asked her why she needed to plan so much and encouraged her to leave the phone alone, and forget the map … She had spent a lot of time trying to organize her Way, but her new acquaintance helped her change a lot.
She realized that on the Camino each one ends up searching and finding what he/she needs. So the friend with whom she left the United States wanted to find people, to be with the others, while she discovered that she preferred a bit of silence, and she found the tranquility she was seeking when walking with this Romanian woman for two weeks. She walked with her new friend but, above all, shared silence with her, it was like an apprenticeship, then they separated and then she already knew that she was ready to walk alone. For the last 12 days of the Camino walked alone and in silence, and she loved it.
As for her initial friend with whom she had begun the Camino, they met up again in Santiago. There was no problem between them, because they had simply discovered that each had her own way experiencing the Camino.
Thanks to having made her own Way, she believes that what she achieved was to find, in some way, his own being. She communed with herself, during the mornings she could reflect on her life, on all the details that she never had time to dwell on before, and she realized how much time is often wasted in dwelling on things that do not matter. Things changed for her on the Camino, at the end and now on her arrival in Compostela she usually prays, thanks God in the morning, and feels that she is living in the present, which is to say ‘in the moment’. To reach this state, learning the Camino was essential: learning to stop hurrying, to stop organizing and anticipating, and enjoy the moment. In the end, the important thing was to walk and not always to be thinking about arriving.
The Camino has been a life lesson for her. Immediately she forgot the physical suffering of the beginning and began to live that lesson of life. On the one hand she gave great value to simple and easy things, but she has also learnt to trust that difficulties can be overcome and that in the end everything will come out alright. She learned this last thing in a very practical way: she lost her wallet, with all her documentation and credit cards. She did in fact finally recover it, but during the time when she thought she would never find it again, she realized that in any case there would be a solution.
The experience has been very positive, both for her and for her friend. The two began with a lot of physical problems: allergy, fever … But in the end everything was so good that they even forgot to mention them until now, because everything was so fantastic. Now they are in Santiago together again and have decided to continue for a few more days. They will soon be off to Fisterra-Muxía, they want to complete their Camino there.