In 2016 Sylvia decided to separate from her husband. They had been together for 25 years but they were not happy and at that moment she decided that it was not possible to continue like this and she left her husband. Her husband was a very demanding and intolerant man who had not talked to her for a long time, did not recognize her, asked for everything but gave nothing in return.
They both have a son who, when they separated, was already 21 years old. As a child her son had many learning problems and she made great efforts to help him move forward. She took care of his treatments, his therapies … They were very difficult years, she was working, while at the same time she worked hard so that her son could get on at school.
During those years but she was still living with an ever more closed and intolerant husband. At a certain point she remembers that she attendeded a physiotherapist. The one day she received the news that this person had died. He was young, only 47 years old, and he had died suddenly. That news affected her a great deal, and she remembers that she got into bed and could not get up. It was a decisive moment that changed her life, she says “the bells rang”. She knew that what affected her so much was the realization that life went on and she could not continue living as she lived, somehow inside she was dead.
At that time, she confronted her husband, asked for explanations for his behavior towards her and announced that she was leaving him. Her son was already independent and she felt very proud of having helped him do so. And so she left and now has a life of her own, works and goes on. But the years that followed her decision were difficult, her problems became even more complicated. She knew that her best friend had started a relationship with her husband and that was very hard for her to accept.
When she separated and started a new life, she decided that she wanted to do something new, something that she would never have done and that would not remind her of her husband at all. The first thing that happened was looking for a holiday destination on Google … She liked Spain and knew a little about the country, but not the north, except for Asturias, where she had gone hiking once and she had loved it. She began to do research in order to visit the north of Spain and that is how she came across the Camino de Santiago, on Google, with the Camino del Norte. It was perfect for her.
She started a project: she got informed, she got a credential, and then she flew to Bilbao and started walking. For two weeks she was very lonely, but in reality she wanted to be alone. There were other pilgrims but she believes that they understood that she wanted to be alone and respected her need. Yes, at night, in the shelters, she spoke with others. The third week was different, she began to walk with other people. She arrived in Santiago and returned to Germany with incredible photos of her trip but without realizing what her Camino had meant for her. She only discovered this she when she returned to Germany, where everyone told her that she was changed, radiant, smiling … Then she thought that maybe it was an effect of the Way, of having travelled to wonderful places, of having been alone, of having talked to so many strangers … It had been a wonderful vacation.
In autumn her company always asks its employees to advise them about the vacations that are left within the year. This time, she thought she would return to Santiago … She returned to the Camino, walking from Avilés to Santiago. Once again she spent much of her time alone, she arrived alone and she started off alone, but whenever she wanted to, she found company and everything went well. She remembers that once she had not managed find a bed at the end of her stage, she had sat down in a bar and then something happened … The woman who worked in the kitchen took her in her car to a shelter 15 kilometers away! She remembers developing a special feeling for the Way. During the last days she walked a lot with a woman. After five days her companion told her that she was a psychiatrist, but that did not change anything for Sylvia, she knew that for her the therapy was the Camino, nobody can know or imagine how good it felt when she arrived in Santiago.
She returned to Germany from that second camino in October and began to go on the Internet, to participate in groups of pilgrims … and she found new friends, all them pilgrims. They were people with whom she connected, they had many things in common. She began to meet them, to attend conferences, to go for walks, they met before Christmas … They all had their own stories, all of them different, but the friendship between pilgrims worked.
In May 2018 she returned to the Camino again, starting from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and walking to Burgos. And she returned again in September, when she travelled the Portuguese Coastal route. She still had a few days of holiday left and she finally decided to dare a new experience: to walk at Christmas.
The project arose from a meeting at the end of her Camino de la Costa. It was a very lonely Road, most of the pilgrims that she met ended up changing to the Central, leaving it for lack of time … At the end of this route she decided to go to visit a German pilgrim whom she knew thanks to the Internet. This pilgrim had crossed Europe and even places in Africa on foot. She had kept up with him on Facebook, maintained the connection while he was traveling the Portuguese Way and knew that he was living for a while in Fisterra. When she arrived in Santiago she decided to visit him. They had coffee together, they talked and he explained his ideas and his projects … Since then they have been in contact and he was the one who told her that he would do the Camino at Christmas, in a group … She could not walk but she did come to Santiago to welcome them on the 30th and she celebrated the New Year with the group. It was great, and afterwards she spent a wonderful week in Fisterra, walking on the beach and talking about ideas connected with the Way.
Her life is now linked to the Way, she is happy to have found it. In Germany too she has found a world, where she remains in contact with the Way and many pilgrims. She will return next year, maybe in June she will continue his French Way starting from Burgos … and she wants to walk with his son in the autumn, she thinks they will have three weeks to walk together, maybe from Ponferrada to Santiago or to Fisterra. She has really found a life. Faced with what many people think of the network, she has found many people through Facebook, they are not virtual relationships, they are people whom she has really met, she shares her life with many of them. The world of social networks does not have to be negative, it depends on how you use them.