Monthly Archives: July 2016

Climbing the Pyrenees

Climbing an amount of mountains between France and Spain was not the easiest and peaceful experience of my life. On the contrary. I suffered with the cold, the rain and the snow. I felt helpless in the midst of that ferocious nature. For the first time I asked myself what I was doing there …

But before I get to that point, some considerations. Still in the hostel in SJPP, the brazilian pilgrim Fernando said to me: “Carol, your backpack is too heavy. It’s better you take some things off, otherwise you can not climb the Pyrenees. ” The first shock … It seemed that my experience with detachment starts before walking. 

My backpack

My backpack

I went back to my room and analyzed what I would remove from the backpack … without much time to reflect, I took the bag of cashew nuts, protein bars and sachets of carbohydrates, a perfume in plastic packaging, my Bible – who had won from my aunt Jo on my 15th birthday (!) … it was one of those thin sheets that when compressed is well heavy. In fact, I was aware that my Bible wouldn’t help me accomplish the Way of Santiago, but much more my connection with God. I detached! After that I distributed the food with other pilgrims and left my Bible in the hostel books session.

In SJPP, in front of Beilari Hostel

In SJPP, in front of Beilari Hostel.

Still in Beilari, I heard some pilgrims that were discussing about take the Route of Napoleon (most common) or the Route of Valcarlos (some covered) to reach Roncesvalles. They would sleep in Orisson or follow up until Roncesvalles on the same day. Immediately, i realized I did not know what about they were talking… i didn’t know nothing about those routes… Well, at least I didn’t memorize so many details during the Camino’s preparation.

Orisson is a small place with hostel and restaurant located in the ascent to the Pyrenees. Many pilgrims choose to stop there and the next day go up the Pyrenees. When they asked me where I was going, I answered that I would go until Roncesvalles. LOL. In the end, I was grateful for not having known that alternative path in time to climb the Pyrenees in one day, because I could test my limits and see how strong I can be when required to that.

The fact is take a little break in Orisson made me happy. Before arriving at the only hostel / local restaurant, I found Jelena, a Croatian woman, who would become my guardian angel on the Way <3, and rediscovered Renato, from Brazil, that would be a great support and that would embrace me upon arriving in Santiago, and Finja, a Germain woman, who had been at the hostel than me the day before.

 

I, Renato, Finja (black t-shirt), Jelena (pink coat) and I

I, Renato, Finja (black t-shirt), Jelena (pink coat) and I

You know the initial excitement that makes you realize the unimaginable !? That’s how I describe my first day on the Way. Writing from the comfort of my home today, I think and rethink how I was able to do that, especially considering the lack of phisical preparation …

The distance/path between SJPP to Roncesvalles, for almost unanimity of pilgrims is the most difficult at the entire Camino. The pilgrim walks 27.1 km of which 22 km are pure ascent. I climbed from 200m altitude in SJPP to 1430m altitude in Col Lepoeder, then went down to 950m above sea level in Roncesvalles.

I remember that it was raining at the peak. It was snowing and the visibility was bad. The company of Jelena was super important because we could talk and forget some of the tension of the moment.

 

Jelena and I crossing the Pyrenees.

Jelena and I crossing the Pyrenees.

In the downhill stretch, my knees reminded me of the chondromalacia patella hereditary desease I have. I cried! I cried because the pain and with the excitement for spotting the day be taken by a beautiful blue that contrasted with green and brown trees and leaves. I remembered those people who are most dear to my heart

Focus, faith and strength

Focus, faith and strength

In Roncesvalles, I spent the night in a great new location hostel with impressive infrastructure. I slept in a separate cabin, with more than two plugs just for me. LOL. That would be one of the best hostels all over the road.

  Hostel details in Roncesvalles.Hostel details in Roncesvalles.

My space :p

My space :p

Still trying to get the pilgrims’ habits, I noticed how much I would need to be practical and objective to go to shared bathrooms, to leave my stuff organized and to use the toilet. In general, the pilgrims take only one bath a day, which is when they reach at the destination city. My conclusion is this happen due to the fact that the feet need to be very dry in the morning in order to be prepared to face the day walk. Eventual humidity combined with the foot of friction, with the socks and the boot can generate blisters. Other than that, the mornings were always very cold…

The fact is that I went with the flow … I can say that I took 31 baths during the 31 days on the Camino de Santiago (!) LoL. By the way, this was the second exercise of detachment that the Camino imposed me. The “tupiniquins” (brazilian indians) habits of hygiene and cleaning  were reserved for when I returned to Brazil … = p

The journey to Saint Jean Pied de Port (SJPP)

It was not easy to arrive in Saint Jean, where actually started my Way. I mean, actually, because there are those people who say that you begin to walk to Santiago de Compostela when you decide to do so. Things the Camino de Santiago …

Stamp credential in SJPP

Stamp credential in SJPP

I knew I had two options to get to SJPP: arriving by plane to Madrid or Paris. I decided to go to Madrid, because the logistics, somehow seemed better, especially after watching an online “class” about the Way.

My journey was the following (be careful not to be tired Haha!): I flew from Brasilia to Rio de Janeiro; after Rio to Paris and finally from Paris to Madrid. In Madrid, I took a train to Pamplona and, following a van / taxi to Saint Jean Pied de Port. I left Brasilia at 11 am on 21 April and arrived in SJPP at 20h, on 22 April. Uff!

In Paris airport

In Paris airport

I bought by myself and booked all this step-by-step through the internet. There was not much time before the date of travel, then I tried to buy and book everything in two or three days.

I flew from Brasilia to Madrid with Airfrance because the schedules offered were the best for me. Arriving in Madrid, I took a bus, which leaves the airport to ATOCHA train station. (I found the bus the most practical because I had not long available time to understand the logistics of the Madrid subway. It was about 3 hours until the departure of the train to Pamplona).

Madri's view from the bus

Madri’s view from the bus

I bought the train ticket still in Brazil by Raileurope, over the own company website in Portuguese. I considered the time I would arrive in Madrid and chosed the time to leave Pamplona, ​​giving a margin of safety for any delay.

Canola's camp view from the train

Canola’s camp view from the train

I arrived early at the train station in time to talk to a Spanish woman, named Lucy, who had come to share the plug I was using and confirm the train platform I should take. I told her that was about to start the Camino de Santiago the next day since SJPP and she kindly gave me her phone number in case I needed some help. She said that she would catch the same train and I could accompany her to avoid any unforeseen.

I arrived in Pamplona duly announced schedule, 18h and a fraction. At the train station in Pamplona, ​​Peter, the taxi driver, with whom I had kept in touch via the contact number provided by the Association of Friends of the Camino de Santiago in Brazil – which I had previsouly associated myself-, was already waiting for me.

Pamplona's train station

Pamplona’s train station

Pedro took me to SJPP and during the path of about two hours, we could talk a little. I questioned him where were the pilgrims because I didn’t visualize any of them from the van window. He calmly replied that at that time almost everyone was resting after a tiring day. I also asked about the Pyrenees (mountains that form the natural border between France and Spain), which, enigmatically he said I’d see the day after…

I reached SJPP, around 20h, straight to the hostel Beilari (www.beilari.info), the hostel that Peter had helped me book. I had not made any hostel reservation. At the place, I was very well received by all who were there. It was dinner time (soup, tortilla and lemon pie for dessert)! I didn’t know that with those people I would keep a strong connection for more than 30 days of walking.

Beilari Hostel in SJPP

Beilari Hostel in SJPP

The portents of a magical journey

Even before leaving Brasilia, I experienced two episods that signalized me that special situations would be the tonic for my way to Santiago de Compostela.

The first happned when i cut my hair. After much thought, I decided to take my curly hair back (rs.) before the trip. So two hours before the scheduled time to be in the Juscelino Kubitschek Airport, I went to the hairdresser here in Aguas Claras, and I said I was ready to cut my hair. I showed the cut model that I thought would look cool, hear your suggestions and Voila! My wish was fulfilled. At that time, I concluded that sooner than i had imagined, I would allow to let go of my “old version”.

Bye, bye!

Bye, bye!

The second point, which I consider “out of orbit,”it happened when I had to ask a stranger to do me a favor. Let me explain.

As cartesian I am, I programmed everything I should do during the days before and on the very day of the trip. Until then, everything was under my control. I wanted to send a book to my cousin Jessica in Teresina and I thought to do this by the post office located at the airport. However I only realized that would not be possible because the post office’s agency was closed. The reason was a holiday. Gosh! I was frustrated … I just had a small bag because my backpack had been checked, Besides, It was not resistant. I thought that i should put the book on garbage…otherwise I should take it with me to Spain and at that point, I could not add a grass. Behold, I came the insight to ask a stranger who worked at the airport, to go to the post office the next day. But who?

Walking from one side to the other I did not realize anyone that looked availabe to receive my proposal … I walked, following my way, because the board already was coming, when I saw the lady Najla, who works at the metal detector from the airport. I had no doubt. I would ask this favor / kindness to her.

It sounded kind of funny when I explained the whole situation and asked her to post that package to me the next day. She certainly was not used to a request like that. At first, she surprised herself, but welcomed to my argument. She called her boss and told him what was happening. Again, I had to use my rhetoric (rs.). The fact is that they agreed with my request. To this end, my package passed the metal detector and they put it on the security room. Meanwhile, I gave the order value to the owner Najla and promised to pray for her during the Way. We exchanged phone numbers.

Already in Saint Jean Pied de Port, I received a WhatsApp’s message from Najla, with proof of the post operation and wishing me a good trip. Any doubt that Mrs. Najla was often remembered for me by those lands !? The Camino de Santiago has started showing its face and I, of course, was very, very glad.

Camino, here I go!

Camino, here I go!

The insight

Camino's symbol

Camino’s symbol

It’s funny how walking the Camino de Santiago or outside it, the question I heard more was what made me decide to do that millennial pilgrimage. Natural curiosity, since a lot of people can not imagine spending an average of eight hours of your day walking during thirty days, more or less. Definitely, this is not a common plan, especially if you live in Brazil, a country whose Sunday leisure options are significantly linked to barbecue, drink and football.

In fact, my first contact with the Camino de Santiago was anything but ordinary. And I am even grateful to this because my experience was even more curious and full of energy and positivity. it was a “teocidence”.

Going through a time of making difficult decision, i used to pray with great faith, asking Lord to make me realize something, giving me some inspiration, taking me to understand and being aware of everything that was happening.

Behold, in mid-October 2014, I had contact with a story of Claudia magazine, which was an analysis of the book “What I Know for Sure”, the American talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. At a certain stretch, Oprah commented the procedure to take decisions and the quote from W. H. Murray mountaineer:

“While you are not committed to anything, will hesitate, want to give up, and always will be ineffective. In all initiative gestures (and creation) lies a basic truth that when ignored, interrupted numerous plans and magnificent ideas: the moment you definitely commit to something, Providence also comes into play. Several things happen to help you, things that would never have occurred otherwise. A whole sequence of events starts from that decision, and you see benefit from all kinds of unexpected incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man with even dare to dream. I learned to have a profound respect for the following Goethe’s verse: ‘If you can do something, or dream you can, begin to do so. Boldness brings inspiration, strength and magic with you. ‘ “

As usual, I took note of this passage in a book of inspiration I bring with me.

On the next magazine’s page contained an article entitled “Destinations for the soul.” One of the five destinations listed was Santiago de Compostela. That was the first time I took notice of the existence of the Camino de Santiago. The article called it “classic category ‘power with trips to transform’ ‘and narrated the story of a person who had to let go the idea of ​​the former business leader to embrace the actor profession. At the end, the magazine indicated the site of the Brethren and Friends of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (www.santiago.org.br) for more information.

I remember that, without delay, I turned on the laptop and typed the site. I was eager to find out more information about the Camino de Santiago. It seemed something was calling me to it. Well. Starting with the homepage, I read everything carefully and curiosity. Before coming to the end, but, behold, I read again the philosopher Goethe verses just had read in Oprah’s book. Be astonished!

For me, it was as if God was speaking to me. I did not know whether I laughted or cried. It was my signal. The signal I was asking for. It was as if He said, “Daughter, take a decision that sends your heart, everything will be well.” I believed it and I actually realized that the decisions came from my heart.

Gratitude

A few months later, now living and working in Brasilia, I knew that in the year 2016, exceptionally, I would have two months of vacations, since the first year I would work uninterruptedly. I had no doubt. I swore and I decided that on my first vacation I would do the Camino de Santiago.

I started researching more and more informations. I bought the Daniel Agrela’s book ( “The Traveller’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago – a life in 30 days”). I watched movie (The Way, translated into Portuguese, “In search of a way “) and documentaries (the Road to Santiago, a Camino de Santiago).

It turns out that life does not always follow a linear path. The year 2016 came and with it some questions. Should I really do the Camino? Alone? When exactly?

Among all those questions I effectively decided to mid-March that I would come out of Brazil on April 21 and return on May 26, during the Tiradentes and Corpus Christi national holidays.  At that time, I could make the Camino in 33 days, as the guide of Agrela suggested.

I talked to my boss, which was super understanding and allowed me two days off, plus 30 days holiday. Without further delay, I booked. The other co-workers soon got into the preparation. When I bought the appropriate boots, I shared the moment. The first reaction of some of them was even funny, “Carol, then will you really do it? Look! You do not need to walk 33 days. If you realize that it is already good, goes to Barcelona, ​​to Madrid, to Switzerland … “. We laughed a lot.

Black or Brown?

Black or Brown?

Useful accessories

Useful accessories

The fact is that, from the moment I committed to this project, I dedicated myself and tried to chase the lost time without the physical preparation. I had 40 days to do so. So I warned my instructor who recommended a resistance training. Also I communicated to my nutritionist, who prepared a different menu. The walks in the park have become more frequent.

Over the day, close friends, although physically distant, began to involve more and more … I noticed a lot of them were supporting me. Many hiked with me, “either through objects, letter, heart”…

Go hiking in Água Mineral with Fernando and Flávio

Go hiking in Água Mineral with friends Fernando and Flávio

If someone asked me if I was really aware of all that I would live during the Camino de Santiago, I would answer without hesitation “no”. I was not aware, and I think now it helped that everything happened the way it happened, as you will see in the following posts.