I was sick and spent a lot of time in the hospital. From my bed I could see a mountain in front of the window and I used to imagine myself barefoot on it, there, touching the ground with my feet. I knew that the Camino de Santiago existed because in my adolescence I had read the book by Paolo Coelho, at first I believed it was a literary story … Then I knew it was not and, when I healed, what I felt led me to think about doing it.
The motivation of my first Camino was that: when I left the hospital I needed a relationship with nature, I felt the desire for a search for nature. It was a time when I had no faith, I was a young woman who had suffered a hard illness and somehow was angry, however, as soon as I had left I found all the answers and the faith returned.
But at first what led me to the Camino was a desire to resume life, something physical, a desire to show me that the body could, that my body, although ill, could walk, arrive. I remember that when I finished a stage I felt pride, I said to myself: I have succeeded.
Six years ago that happened and it is still not easy for me to say what I found on the Camino. Yes I can say that I learned to be small, I got a little smaller. Before I got sick I felt powerful, young, with studies, with work … but on the Camino you see that you are small, that you are a small part of the immense world that is on the Camino.
On the Path you understand that your strength is only a small part of the strength that you can find in others. You are comparing yourself, but not in the sense of competing but rather of learning, you learn from others, you learn what they can teach you.
You also learn not to be in a hurry to reach the goal, to resize, to see life as the Way. For example, after the Camino you can do something new with the problems: you have a problem and you divide it into stages, because you know that if you look at the entire Camino, the 800 kilometers, it seems huge, but if you divide it into stages, in small fragments You see that it is possible and you accept that there may be happy days and others that are more difficult, fast stages and others that are slow. The Camino helps you to relativize.
The same can be done with the Coronavirus crisis, it seems a very long stage that does not end, like when you walk on the plateau, you want it to end, for the sun to stop, to sit at the end of the stage with a friend for a beer, but you know that the stage is long that you have to follow …
I found my husband on the Camino, more than my husband is the pilgrim, the friend I knew. There is something that goes beyond marriage between us, due to the fact that before being my husband he was my travel companion, my special travel companion. Before husband and wife, we have been pilgrims.
It happened in Astorga, I met him in a chapel, we had to sleep in the chapel of a hostel because there was no more room. I had been injured and I was late, he was even more, it was July 27, a local holiday. I was not happy to sleep like this, but they told me that the city was complete and I accepted it. At first I did not like the idea of being with him, I did not trust … I invited him to eat with me and with my Italian friends because I wanted to meet him. He had walked 50 kilometers, so he snored all night and I couldn’t sleep. I remember that the next day the stage never ended, because I had not slept at all … Then he and I separated, but later we were reunited.
Meeting again along the Camino, in the end we decided to finish it together, because we thought there was something that had made us find it. That same year, I met Fray Paco in Santiago, in the convent of San Francisco, that meeting was also decisive. I remember that he gave me the stone that he always gives to the pilgrims, I was very afraid to return to my routine and his prayer was very important to me because he ended up saying: now the path of life begins, to make this experience a treasure and carry it with you. Then I lost contact with him, but two years ago I decided to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land … and I found that he was our guide!
At home I continued to work, afraid of the disease, which I had not completely gotten out of, but after a year I decided to come to Spain to visit that friend of the Camino. Finally we decided to get married, two years after our meeting, on July 25, 2016. As a honeymoon, we decided to do the Camino from Saint-Jean-Pie-de-Port, I wanted to live that experience, because of my Illness on my first Camino I had decided to start in León and wanted to do it from the Pyrenees.
The Camino after our marriage was also special. We became friends with many people, with extraordinary people, like a Korean friend with whom we still have contact. Then, in 2017 we did the Portuguese Way from Porto, the Coast Way and the spiritual variant, it was a different Way, we had less relationship with other pilgrims, it was diverse … It was a trip more in contact with nature than with other pilgrims. I remember a night when we slept in a hostel on a cliff, I remember the sound of the waves against the rocks, I love the sea, but the ocean is scary, you face your smallness with that fury of the waves. And this year we have made the Primitive Way, we also wanted to go to O Cebreiro with Father Paco, but we do not know when it will be possible.
What I believe is that the essence of the Camino will never be lost, although tourism increases, there will always be pilgrims. And about my relationship with my husband, we were joined by the Camino and the “santiagués”, because he did not speak Italian and I did not speak Spanish, although also the music, the silence shared by walking … we shared many silences.