Camino de Santiago 2018

The morning of July 26th will be remembered as the beginning of an enriching, unforgettable and an authentic faith experien-ce. After a Maradonian bus trip, 57 impatient pilgrims, between the ages of 10 and 80 years old, began the pilgrimage, overwhel-med with joy after the morning mass when we placed our trust in God. On paper, a journey of 136Kms awaited us, but in reality, we ended up walking 165kms.

From July 27th to August 2nd, we faced with enthusiasm six wonderful stages: Xunqueira de Ambia-Ourense; Ourense – Cea; Cea- Castro – Dozón; Silleda – Bo-queixon; Boqueixon-Santiago de Compostela.In each stage, we were confronted by genuine Gali-cian scenery, indigenous luxuriant forests, green meadows, beautiful rivers, pretty bridges, mediaeval quaint villages, hermitages, hó-rreos (typical Galician raised gra-naries), and stately country houses decorated with rose and hydran-gea gardens. The landscape sur-prised us at every step in which it was impossible not to discover the presence of God.

At the first sign of daybreak, the alarm clock would wake us up; it was time to set 57 pilgrims on their way, (not an easy task). After our daily prayer and necessary breakfast, we tested our enduran-ce with leg breaking climbs with shortness of breath, and sha-rp descents in which we were afraid of rolling down. With our companions we shared songs, secrets, tales, laughs, chats, jokes, prayers … as well as tiredness and fatigue. We got to know our companions day to day and the honest camaraderie made the Camino more bearable. Group harmony reigned stage by stage. Even the weather became complicit with us, Southern Pilgrims, regaling us cool mornings, gentle breezes, and light rain.

We walked in groups, the Cross always at the head, always the Cross. Each day we would make three stops; to eat, to rest, and to gather our strength until we finally arrived at our hostel. Our daily hostel routine consisted of; finding a place for our mats

and mattrasses, organizing backpacks, getting showered, char-ging mobiles, stamping credentials, healing wounds and easing pains from the Camino, thanks to the help of our dear doctors and impromptu nurses; the very special moment of the day was the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The night prayer was always preceded by the well-deserved rest, after a delicious authentic Galician dinner. All around us, we felt the presence of God, but most especially at the im-pressive Romanic Monastery of Oseira, Santa Maria La Real (XII century), where we attended Sunday Mass, monks chanting all through the beautiful ser vi-ce; or the unsurpassable San­tiago Cathedral, where at the High Altar, the Holy Eucharist was concelebrated by Fathers Rafael and Frederick together with the help of our dear semi-narians Edwin and Aurelius and the senior altar boys: Pedro and David.

The most unforgettable mo-ment of the Pilgrimage was the arrival at Santiago de Compos­tela. All 57 pilgrims started sin-ging, dancing, shouting “vivas”, hitting our pilgrims’ staff loudly on the floor, raising our hands all the way to the Obradoiro Square. Once at the square, the recently restored Cathedral Por-tico welcomed us and Saint James was waiting for us inside. We prayed at his tomb and we were able to give thanks for graces and blessings received. The well-deserved Compostelana (Pil-grims’ Passport) was issued to all. At the Cathedral we thanked our Lord, Our Lady and the Apostle James for the opportunity of living the Camino. No doubt, I would like to repeat the Camino in the future, and want to thank all of those who in one way or another made this possible. Last but not least, I would like to encourage all who have not yet done the Camino to do it one day. It is a magnificent way of finding God, finding our neighbor and an authentic faith experience. BUEN CAMINO!

PILAR RAMÍREZ BALBOTEO

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