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The brazilian part of the Way of Saint James

In December of 2017, a friend and I walked the Brazilian part of the Way of Saint James or Camino de Santiago, in the city of Florianópolis, State of Santa Catarina. For me, it was a great joy to be able, in my own country, to walk, one more time, this path of so much symbology, religiosity and faith.

You may ask: what do you mean, Carol? Camino de Santiago has its traces only on the European continent, right? No. This is very recent information. I explain:

Because of the growing presence of Brazilians on the Way of St. James, two Brazilian pilgrims idealized the project and pleaded a route in national territory to the competent religious authority of the city of Santiago de Compostela. In June of 2017, the brazilian path was opened in Floripa, how it is also called the city of Florianópolis. : D So, whoever wants, can walk the path in brazilian territory and complement the 100 km route in Spanish territory, starting in La Coruña to Santiago de Compostela, in order to get the Compostelana (certificate of pilgrimage).

Well, taking advantage of an old invitation from a friend to visit Floripa, we decided to reunite the ideas and walk the 21 km between the beach of Canasvieiras, in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus Sanctuary. During this path, what can be done in one day, we go through absolutely beautiful landscapes – amazing our eyes, hearts and minds.

Image extracted from the folder available on the internet about the Brazilian Way.

To formalize the act, it is recommended to obtain the credential of the pilgrim in the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe and, when passing by other three points, to get the stamps in the churches that accompany the journey. Following: Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (1st stamp) – St. Peter’s Church (2nd stamp) – Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes Church (3rd stamp) – and Sacred Heart of Jesus Sanctuary (4th stamp). That’s what we did.

All the way is signalized, but whoever wants to walk it, it is also advisable to take the folder with the information about the available path in the Parish of Our Lady of Guadalupe, starting point of the route or to print it beforehand on internet. It is dynamic and offers in detail how each step can be experienced, with observations, like the two options of the route.

I made the Way with a small backpack where I put inside water and nuts. I didn’t use sticks or hiking boots, but it is interesting to use them, especially if the pilgrim chooses to do the Morro do Rapa trail. We made it and WOW! What a view! I recommend it, but be careful, because it is rated on the difficult level of difficulty.

Another useful info: during the trip, you can find snack bars and eat/drink açaí, beer and empanadas. In the first establishment, I ate açaí with cereals. In the second, I ate empanadas and drank a cold beer. Pilgrimage is not synonymous of suffering, right !? 😉

More information / questions can be asked here in the comments below. I’ll be happy to reply them. :)

Other websites that have talked about the subject:

El país

Página do Caminho Brasileiro no facebook

Site da Associação Catarinense dos Amigos do Caminho de Compostela

Buen Camino! Bom Caminho!

Footprints on the Camino de Santiago

Early in the first steps of Saint Jean Pied de Port (France), where the French Way has began, I realized that I would find many details in reference to this millennial pilgrimage. No wonder, I started to photograph them.

One that struck me in particular was the floor adorned with the mark of the famous shell of the Way of Saint James by the French and Spanish cities.

Here I share my fun hobby adopted during those 31 days. :)

Meeting pilgrims friends

This time I would like to take a break of posting about impressions and stories of my Camino de Santiago, in order to share a bit the experience I had recently with two pilgrims friends in Denmark.

I already talked her names and how we have met on the post about “The friendship on Camino”. They are Jelena and Helle, two dear friends with whom I had empathy since the first contact.

I need to make something clearer: we didn’t have many days of contact during the Camino to Santiago, however we have always promised to ourselves we would see each other again, somewhere. Inspired by that wish, we decided to meet again, this time, in Denmark. We three, together! <3

Jelena would travel from Croatia and I would travel from Brazil. Actually, I managed to flight from Lisbon, where I would spend some days off, to Aarhus, the city next Malling, where Helle lives. We did it! Helle and Jelena picked me up at the airport. I wished have remembered to film the moment I left the door of international arrivals. It was beautiful! We hug each other and were surprised for being wearing “normal” clothes, different from the pilgrim’s looks we used to wear. It was an explosion of joy!

Alegria!

Joy!

Since the day first, we had moments of surprises. Helle and her family and neigbours were super hosts. We lived five incredible days, full of wine, amazing food and warm people surrounding us.

I will never forget the conversations about the “Camino Francês”; about the plans for a future “Camino Português”; for sharing about life in Croatia, Brazil and Denmark (weather, refugees, politics, football, …); the walking tour in Aarhus; the Christmas dinner (!), in which I gained a beautiful porcelain of Royal Copenhaguen (danish design very common among the young people interests) as a present of have found an almond inside the dessert which name I do not remember anymore; the inspirations from the danish “art of living”; the lessons of pronunciation about some words; the people… Everything was “hyggeligt” (danish word that means something is pleasant, beautiful).

This reunion, besides all the sensations mentioned previously, proved one more time to me how powerful is the wish of making something comes true. We believed we would meet again and we three made it happen.

Gratitude, Camino!

Jelena, eu e Helle

Jelena, me and Helle

Centro de Aarhus

Center of Aarhus

Pratos típicos da Ceia de Natal

Christmas Dinner.

Salivei! :p

Wow! :p

Comida tradicional dinamarquesa

Traditional danish food

Aqui com a Tina - também peregrina- e o Rasmus

Here with Tina – also pilgrim – and Rasmus :)

How to make a pilgrim happier…

Day after day, I was discovering that I really didn’t need much to be happy during the Camino de Santiago.

Carinha de feliz. :)

Happy face. :)

Here I share some of conclusions that some pilgrims and I took about what made us enjoy a state of pure happiness, objectivily speaking:

  • Having cleaned and dry clothes to wear;
  • Arriving in a hostel and find a bath with strong and hot water over our heads;
  • Also at the bathroom, find some place to put our necessaire and clothes next to the bath;
  • We liked a lot to see that in each bed we would have a plug or a individual light. So we could charge our phones and gadgets freely and write in our diaries (basically every pilgrim has a diary where he writes thoughts, inspirations…) without bother other people;
  • Wifi zone as bigger as possible (what a dream use our phones from our beds!).
No albergue em Pamplona

The hostel in Pamplona (there I left this book…in order to get a lighter backpack)

Roupas secando no varal

Clothes getting dry…

Tomada e luminária individual \o/

Plug and individual light \o/

Albergue em Sarria (a 100km de Santiago)

My hostel in Sarria (100 km to Santiago de Compostela)

Pilgrim menu

I must say before someone asks: I had not lose weight during the 31 days on the Camino de Santiago. Instead, I came back with two more kilos than when I had left Brazil.

In my opinion, I gained weight due to swelling caused by fluid retention – unfortunately I did not ingest the amount of water I should -, as well as the excess carbohydrate, mainly. I have never eaten so much sugar in life. It was sugar of chocolates and jellies, the grain of “bocadillos”, “tapas” and “magdalenas”, the potato of “tortillas”, the rice on the paella … But I do not complain. It was a choice I made to take advantage of the Way without worrying so much about the balanced diet I was doing for months.

Bocadillo and beer ;)

Bocadillo and beer ;)

 Apple pie <3

Apple pie <3

Paella <3 (cooked by a spanish man married with a brazilian woman)

Paella

So much love for Magdalenas. :p

So much love for Magdalenas. :p

Tortilla francesa (without potato)

Tortilla francesa (without potato)

Tapas :D

Tapas :D

First of all, a clarification: the Camino de Santiago is perfectly adaptable to every pilgrim, vegetarian, with limited ingestion of gluten and lactose, etc. Ones only need to have a little patience and willingness to eventually cook the own food in the kitchens of hostels (most of them available for free use) or when go to a restaurant ask for any adjustments to the ingredients.

Basically, my eating routine was to have breakfast, eat a snack at lunch and at night satisfied myself with the Pilgrim menu.

The breakfast offered in most cafes, bars or restaurants envolved “tostadas” (or toast) with butter and geleia, accompanied by coffee with milk and orange juice.

One of the breakfast I had (I hope my nutricionist doesn't read this post haha!)

One of the breakfast I had (I hope my nutricionist doesn’t read this post haha!)

The snack that I made reference alternated between a “bocadillo” of cheese and tomatoes or tuna and a tortilla (potato pie and egg), accompanied by coffee with milk or a “clara” – beer with lemon juice – (if the sun was strong enough).

Bocadillo of tuna and coffee and milk.

Bocadillo of tuna and coffee and milk.

Finally, the pilgrim’s menu for dinner … The Pilgrim menu is served in almost all bars and restaurants. It is composed of a starter course, a main course and a dessert, accompanied by wine will.

Salve, Baco! \o/

Salve, Baco! \o/

The starter course generally ranged from a cold salad and a soup. The main course offered options of red meat, chicken or fish, with a considerable portion of potato. Finally, the dessert comprised a portion of fruit salad, a fruit, a small yogurt, a flam, a Tarte de Santiago …

Starter course (cold salad)

Starter course (cold salad)

Main course (chicken)

Main course (chicken)

Flan

Flan

These and other options were available and the customer could choose among them, paying for everything between 8 and 10 euros, a fair price in my opinion.

Some hostels also offer a different kind of pilgrim menu. Twice I ate vegetarians menus. They were super tasty!

The starter course (vegetarian menu)

The starter course (vegetarian menu)

Lasagne with vegetables

Lasagna with vegetables

Dessert: tarte of nuts

Dessert: tarte of nuts

Others hostels, in turn, offered the dinner in exchange for donations. In one of these, in Acacio Brazilian hostel in Viloria de Rioja, I ate lentils, making me remember the good old beans of brazilian daily lunch.

Unlikely the predictions of my friends who had said I would return thiner, the Camino proved to be a big surprise.

Cheers! ;D

Cheers! ;D

The blisters

I remember the arrival in Estella was the most striking. My feet were burning in the final stretch of this day, the fifth on the way to Santiago. 
The first blisters surfaced in full force. Small, medium, large. I swear I never gave much value to my feet like that day.

Arriving at the hostel, some Spanish men, looking to my sad face, offered help. His nicknames are Paco and Paco. Funny, no!? They were walking together. There were old friends.

They taught me to smear the feet of Vasilina before putting on socks, and offered me the first Compeed. Compeed is a protection in plastic material stronger than band-aid and acts like a second skin when the natural one is already worn. I had tried to find in pharmacies in Brazil, but I had difficulty.

We put the Compeed in place the newly created blister, but not before popping it. The detail is that we should have it pop it out first of all and desinfected. I found this out only a few days later on when my feet were already covered up blisters (and Compeed) without any improvement.

 Blisters and Compeed

Blisters and Compeed

A few days with those plastic material covering my feet left me even more impatient. In Azofra, feeling a lot of pain and despair, I decided to take them all, after leaving the sauce feet in warm water for a few minutes.

Before long, the blisters left foot began to drain pus and this same foot be swollen to the point of my Havainas no longer serve.

:/

:/

With Jelena’s support, I was persuaded to stop for a day, rest and treat the blisters. We went out together to look for a hotel, the only one in town. Subsequently, she started the journey by herself.

  

Rest in the hotel

Rest in the hotel

I located a pharmacy in Azofra and took all the medication I had brought from Brazil, so someone finally told me how I should treat those blisters. The pharmaceutical guided me saying I should desinfect the blisters with “merthiolate” and then pierce them with a needle so that the water inside would leave, and finally reapplying “merthiolate”. For those blisters that were already infected, she recommended me put antibacterial pomade and, after all, cover with a “gaze” adhesive for sensitive skin, and after pass vaseline on the foot and then wear the socks. Uff!

I took a day-off and the day after happened the resumption: i started again and the walking was incredibly magical. The blisters were still present, as many still appear after, but my mood was totally diferent. I started to get along much better with them and overcome every day my physical and mental limits.

Starting again.

Starting again.

“The world is an egg”

This expression is often used in Teresina to say that some place is small, where everyone knows each other.

You could think how i dare to say “the world is an egg.” It’s all right! I am using a language reinforcement… So I should correct and say that “The Camino is an egg.”  😉 Let me explain. 

I was going down the Mount of Forgiveness or “Monte del Perdon” when I looked a pilgrim family composed of father and two adults (a man and a woman). This family walked closer when they saw me with one Brazil’s identification. Immediately we introduced ourselves saying our names and the place/city we came from. More brazilians on the Way…the family is brazilian as well. \o/ 

Monte del Perdon

Monte del Perdon

To my surprise, the son who is named Daniel, said he is a doctor and lives in Ribeirão Preto. Without delay, I said to him that my sister also lives in that city, in order to specialize herself in pediatrics. Then he said he is also a doctor, a pediatric orthopedist, including he teachs medical residents. Oops! We started to connect the ideas.

To everyone’s surprise, at the end of this first contact, we discovered that Daniel was a teacher of my sister two months before. We started to laugh considering the coincidence: in the Spanish soil, during the Camino de Santiago, we found a connection that put us together.

“The Way is or is not an egg?”;)

The friendship on the Way

“The Way is made by people.” I wrote this in some of the first posts on my social medias. I would say the contact with other pilgrims impact directly the self-expectations and maturation revealed during this journey.

It is an inexplicable exchange!

People come and go. Some of them stay more time. Everybody with a story to share, no matter if during a dinner at the table in a restaurant or walking for the kilometers that separate a city from another. 

That is why I say with great conviction that someone only remain alone on the Way if that is his/her desire. Despite have arrived there by myself, I only remained alone in long stretches because I wished it. I wanted to enjoy every minute to hear the voice of my thoughts, to meditate to the sound of birds, waterfall, or even the phone’s playlist. I had more difficulty to “find” myself with a company by my side, because I felt a certain “obligation” to speak.

In Camino, I had many opportunities to meet people of different ages, from different nationalities. I made friends, people with I could open my heart and soul. That task was not hard, because the simple fact that we were all pilgrims there we already identified on us some common particular characteristics. Being a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago has peculiarities. That’s why I remember not infrequently have heard of people in Brazil: “you are crazy! Why are you making such an adventury like that? You would be much better enjoying the beach sitting in the tent sipping a cold beer… “

The fact is that despite the difficult times that surely all pilgrims face on the road, so many countless joy happen generally in contact with other people.

I created a special contact with Jelena (Croatia), who I had already commented here in this blog. We had a strong empathy since the beginning. However, we didn’t walk together the most of time. Generally, we left the hostels together and met again in the cities of destinations. On one such occasion, in Pamplona, we had such an explicit reaction of love and happiness that I deduced that woman would become a great friend, in whom I could trust. She would be my “guardian angel”. <3

Jelena <3

Jelena <3

Other ones with whom I had the pleasure of live closer some days were Andrea and Renato, both Brazilians. It was from them that I learned how going beyond the physical limits is always possible if by your side there are people who drive you to it. We walked the three together in only one memorable day impressive 41 (forty-one!) Kilometers. <3

Andrea :D

Andrea :D

I heard beautiful stories from Chris (USA), who inspired me to be a better person. It was with her that I passed the night and ate in a natural draft hostel, vegetarian,  after getting lost and had walked six (6) kilometers more, of the 30 or so that we had already done. We were in each other’s company. <3

Chris and Renato :D

Chris and Renato :D

With Helle, from Denmark, I learnt a lot of joy for living. Helle taught me that sometimes we need to be flexible in order to achieve certain goals. Her mark is cheerfulness. When I have your age, I want to be like you, Helle!

Helle (with green scarf) :)

Helle (with green scarf) :)

I could write pages and pages about the dear friends of the Way. There were so many and so special. I keep all in my best memories and on the notes of my yellow Moleskine. <3

Twenty-seven years, but eighty knees

That was the conclusion I reached at the end of the second day of hiking. Honestly, I thought this day would be peaceful compared to the previous day. I was wrong!

The Roncesvalles route to Zubiri proved that would be wet and full of muddy. I remember a thin drizzle set the tone of my walk. I was pretty attentive and careful in order to not slip and fall in the midst of large stones.

 

Tradicional pic in Roncesvalles.

Tradicional pic in Roncesvalles.

Despite the apparent discouraging scenario, tulips that adorned the houses of the eighteenth century buildings in Burguete filled my eyes with beauty. For the first time I saw tulips planted in soil, such as the common roses in Brazilian gardens. They were small, big, full of colours… I was surprised because the apparent fragility of their petals could well live with that soil and that weather. They resisted as if on purpose to be appreciated by the pilgrims who pass by there.

 Beautiful tulips.

Beautiful tulips.

From the small tulips to towering trees, everything stimulated the contact with the beautiful nature promoting the perfect setting for the reverie of thoughts. I just wanted to calm down and my wish came true.

The path to Zubiri was just descent. My knees no longer showed me they wouldn’t work how I expected. I had to slowed down. Do you know when you walk as if you were choosing where to step? Well, I did it for almost one hour.

The pilgrims that I had passed at some point, began to reach me, one by one. But not only them. Also the own Spanish families that enjoyed the Sunday leisure to practice outdoor activities took advantage from me.

They were adults, children and elderly, all of them walked as if nothing was out of control, meanwhile for me, everything, absolutely everything, was uncontrolled.

Suddenly, a lady with 65 or 70 years passed me. When I saw that scene and I realized that no matter if you have 27 years, if your knees do not respond. I laughed inside and the tears wanted to vent.

That was exactly what happened. Every time I tried to find firmness, a tear falled on the floor. It continued happening until a Swiss pilgrim, whose name I did not record, stopped and asked if I was okay. At first, I said yes. But of course I was not and then he insisted on the question. I decided to put the feeling of self-sufficiency “inside of my backpack” and revealed that I was not well, because my knees hurt a lot.

Without delay, he drew from his pocket a remedy for pain, those that dissolve in the mouth without water, and offered one of his sticks in addition to mine. Besides he still walked with me until the arrival in Zubiri.

Marks of the Camino.

Marks of the Camino.

The Way began to show up acts of solidarity and kindness which continue until the end of the day (take a look on the pics above), until the end of the journey, making it one of the most striking memories of this pilgrim.

Tea and pomade I recieved from two pilgrims in Zubiri's hostel.

Tea and pomade I recieved from two pilgrims in Zubiri’s hostel (They noticed I felt cold and my keens continued hurt).

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