I prepared myself for this trip for months! The first time I heard about the Portuguese Way to Santiago de Compostela I was still at the university and my curiosity for the big and adventurous trips was growing up, “It’s magical.”, João said, and in that moment I decided I wanted to do it. I was also getting more and more interested about the art of walking, long walks. I felt it was the only way to calm down my soul and my heart, have time to look and see, think, talk, sing.
The Portuguese Way is a pilgrimage, and I felt the temptation to promise I was going to do it. But even though it’s a spiritual path in my life, I didn’t want to make it religious.
Some years passed and often this idea came to my mind, but I never looked much for information, and I was totally lost just a few weeks ago. Physically I was ready and we bought good material, because I had no boots, backpack, sleeping bag. Only one week before going I said “Maybe we should buy rain coats.”, followed by the thought “it’s not like it’s going to rain, or be cold, it’s Summer and I’ll use my bikini.” We bought good pretty coats thinking “If not for this trip, we’re going to used them some time soon, anyway.”
I never thought there was a chance of raining, I never thought of a storm, big enough to deserve a name like the american hurricanes, Henry. I went to do the way, o Camino, which meant walking 160km from Ponte de Lima, Portugal, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 15 to 40km a day and I’ve made most of it under the rain.
It’s weird but I don’t regret it. In the first day we were in Serra da Labruja, probably the hardest day of them all and the way turned into a river, and our boots in lakes. When we got to the hostel everything was wet and we spent the rest of the day trying to dry it all. What I was expecting to be my spiritual moment turned into a practical survival course. For the next days we were ready to everything, keep everything dry, just not ourselves.
The third day was the storm day. Before start walking we read the newspaper and it terrified me. I could picture trees falling over our heads in the forests of our way. To leave the cafe I was moved by the courage of all the pilgrims that did it that morning. I never walked so fast through so many kilometers. We got there way too early and while waiting for the hostel to open, we surrendered to a huge tortilla.
We felt exhausted from the walk, the wet body, the need to take care of everything again, but at the same time it was connecting people, the rain and the exhaustion, we put down our walls.
It was raining for two more days, luckily with less intensity. It was nice when it stopped and we could finally fully enjoy the wonderful places we were passing by. But looking back, it made me stronger, much more ready to new adventures. I learned so much about practical stuff, but also about my courage, my psychological resistance, and on how to keep my promise of being happy in the sun and in the rain.
Before I would avoid to walk two minutes to the market with rain, now I’ve made 20km only in one day under a storm, with home on my back.
My courage is also made of the millions of people that walked through those rocks, and all the ones who went out the rain to accomplish theirs dreams.