The Camino is a journey where one gets exposed to a certain way of life: a community, if you will, who thrives on togetherness and compassion. It was a mind opening experience and those who did the Camino experience the same. Something changes and every single person I met want to do another Camino. I am going to do the same: probably the Shikoku pilgrimage in Japan and possibly more in India. I would come back and do the Camino Portuguese here in Spain. All in due time.
The Camino teaches you a lot. It taught me humility, honesty and humanity. I will detail my learnings another time. What makes the community special are the people you meet along the way: Some stay only for a brief moment, some stay for the rest of your life. I want to highlight three stories, which I hope, highlights the breadth and depth of people on the Camino.
I met people from all over the world, from all age groups and from all sorts of walks of life. Each one had his own motivation. Each one had her own pace. Each one had his own path. And along the way, we shared our stories. These are the three I would like to highlight (Names have changed as I havent asked their permission to highlight their stories).
1. For most of the journey, we formed a group. We met at night for dinner and shared jokes over a drink. Among these folks was a young man from Philippines. Juan is one of the nicest human being I have ever met. He took care of everyone. He joked a lot. He showed immense compassion for all. He studied in the US and was heading back to Philippines and wanted to do the Camino before that. And on the last day, at the pilgrim’s mass at Santiago, we heard prayers from a priest from Asia who addressed the crowd. It was Juan. It blew our minds. Here was a Catholic priest among us, who was one of us, yet who had chosen a very different path in his youth. We didnt know till the final moment. It was a very defining moment for most of us in our journeys.
2. A woman from Germany, Anna, was carrying her sister’s ashes on the Camino. She wanted to lay the ashes at Finesterria. At that moment, she would call her parents and then they would light a candle at the same time. We spoke a lot during the journey about philosophy, compassion and humanity. Three days before she reached Santiago, her mother died. She stayed on (after speaking to her family) and last when I spoke to her, she was going to finish up as earlier planned.
3. There was a lady from Japan: possibly 70 years old who walked the Camino – I met her briefly on the last day. She did the same journey as me and was walking more to Finesterria. She hadnt told her family in Japan (they would have stopped her) that she was coming for the Camino. She had only mentioned it to two people incase of emergencies. She had also done the Shikoku pilgrimage. She has now inspired me to consider the same. She taught me that no matter how old you are and who you are, if you want to give something a go, just go for it. She is a brave woman and not the only one you meet on the Camino.
Over the next few weeks, I will share more on the Camino Frances journey, starting with learnings in the next update.