Camino Portugués 2004

A short description of the Camino de Santiago I made during the summer of 2004.

For some reason, during the summer of 2004, I took a knapsack and started to walk the Caminho Portugués, from Ponte de Lima to Santiago de Compostela. I was walking alone, without knowing anyone, with the only task of walking for some days.

I already had traveled a lot, and also alone. I had already been three times in Latin America, I had been desperate in the “immigration lounge” of Miami Airport, I had been walking around in Lisbon and London without knowing anyone there… I was not afraid of travelling alone, and even less inside my own country. What was making things different was going somewhere where nobody was waiting for me, and I didn’t even know where I was going to sleep the first night. Not a big deal, but for me it was kind of an exotic experience. Actually, the experience turned out to be a lot of things at the same time.

On one hand, it was some kind of “trip project” I had never imagined how many things you need to take into account before you start walking: The shoes, the knapsack, the special socks to avoid to get blisters, the weight, which shouldn’t exceed 10% of your own body (I’m lucky to weigh between 80 and 90 kilos)…

It was also some kind of “phisical test”. I’m not any sportman, and the Portuguese Way is not a marathon either: But walking 20 daily km carrying some weight is something of a walk, and it was interesting to find out that I was able to do it without too much effort.

Of course, it was an experience of being alone… Especially the first days, in Portugal, I had the chance of confronting myself. Climbing the Serra de Labruja under rain and lightning, for instance, was an example of “mind cleaning”.

… and an experience of being with people: As the days and kilometres were passing, some friendships were forged, friendships that have proved to resist the time and distance. I left alone, but I arrived accompanied.

It looks funny to find so much richness and so many things, at the phisical, cultural, spiritual and, on top of every thing, human level. An experience impossible to repeat, which left lifelong impressions on me.