This post was written by our wonderful team member Gabriela Quiroz.
This morning, I met an Australian woman at the bus station. Her eyes swelled with tears when I asked her if she was walking The Camino alone. She replied “This is a path you must travel alone.” I knew she wasn’t talking about the actual road.
I’m not physically walking the Camino of Santiago, I’m busing through it, going from town to town, meeting with the team every few days. I’m a production office/DIT station on the move.
During my time in the different towns, I meet wonderful people; the big smiling lady at the bakery, the friendly hostel manager, the nuns that hang out at the icecream place, the woodcarving artisan at the end of the street. But most importantly, I meet pilgrims from all over the world, some of them have to stay behind due to a physical injury, others, are just taking a pause or have just arrived.
A man shared his story with the team yesterday. He told us he had reached the point in his life where death felt closer than ever before. He wasn’t afraid of death itself, he was afraid of not having done enough while living. “Many men at my age,” he said, “ dump their wives, buy a new car, and get a young girlfriend. I thought that walking El Camino would be cheaper.”
What I see, from the pilgrims I have met, and what makes this trail different from the other trails in the world, is that this is the Camino of the broken. Here, most of people aren’t necessarily looking to achieve physical fitness or receive the favor of some saint. These people walking The Camino, most of them over 40, carry a heavier weight than that of their backpacks; they carry years of heartache, disappointment, and loss; sharp clawed demons that have been holding on to their backs for too long.
I feel humbled by meeting people twice or three times my age who have so much to share. It is their openness what has made me rise to the challenge to walk this path as well. So, here I go, walking my own Camino, my heart as raw as theirs. Broken but filled with hope. The heavy burdens that weight us down will succumb in this road because the road is long and the weight has to fall. Demons buried under the rocks, we will come out the other side traveling light; transformed.