In 2004 while living in Miami I was going through some difficult times, with personal and work problems being added on top of the great pain and anguish I had been feeling since the passing of my dear grandmother and also an aunt who had been a great friend the previous year. And if that wasn’t enough, my mother had been diagnosed with cancer in 2002. I felt as if my body trembled, I must confess that I even felt a little frightened. To me it all seemed very surreal. I was used to hearing the awful stories that happened to other people… strangers, you know? After the Camino, when people told me a story like that, I could really feel their pain, and from that point on these types of stories took on a different meaning for me. This is why I decided to write my now Camino Pilgrimage Story.
My own Camino Pilgrimage Story
It was then, in March 2004, while still living in Miami that I decided to come to Spain to do the Camino de Santiago – The Buen Camino Sarria to Santiago. By the way, that year was a Holy year. I had heard so much about the Camino that I was convinced it was exactly what I needed. I don’t know, I wanted to go on a quest, or at least to experience something different. I wanted to just walk, walk and walk, to get lost, to think, or better yet not think, and besides I like powerful experiences, challenges and that is how I viewed the Camino. It was perfect for me at the time because it required getting prepared, so I started reading a book about the Camino that made me more excited with each new page.
I began my preparation like the book said: walking two hours per day. This helped me out a lot as, apart from giving me something nice to think about, it also created a great feeling of optimism within me that I wasn’t getting from anything else at the time. It’s very important for me to always have optimism, right? I wouldn’t be able to face life if I lost sight of hope, desire and feelings of joy and pleasure.
The Camino de Santiago alone
I had planned to go on the journey with two friends whom I had met while living in Miami but, much to my surprise, I found out that they weren’t coming the night before we were supposed to leave. The truth is that, thanks to my adventurous spirit, I was so determined and looking forward to going on this trip that never once did I consider aborting the plan. I arrived in Madrid on April 3, 2004. That same day I met up with an old dear friend: Fernando (a true pilgrim), who planned out my route according to the days I was going to be there, and who also took the time to check my backpack, it was so funny, I’ll never forget that day, he got rid of 30% of the things I had packed. I argued with him through the process but later on I understood. It was my first Camino lesson. I was able to tell necessary things from superfluous ones.
The first day
Already on the first day of the walk I felt the weight of my backpack as I carried it through the stage. I wanted my things to get lost just so I wouldn’t have to carry them. I felt I couldn’t bear so much weight and I understood that I had to let go of many things. Now I knew why so many people referred to the Camino as “A parable of life”, the truth is that it’s a great schooling.
My Camino began on April 4. Also, in September 2004, I moved to Madrid, where I currently reside, with my two children. I dedicated this year to making sure that my children had the best adaptation process possible, it was my priority.
Overcoming a nightmare
On October 28 this year my mother passed away. Many tears, that’s all that I can say. It wasn’t a story anymore, it was happening to me. I think the experience of the Camino de Santiago helped me overcome the nightmare that was 2004. Now that I am writing all this down I can say this with more confidence, because I had many different experiences. My Camino Pilgrimage story started on the first day I got on the bus in Madrid to go to Villafranca del Bierzo, where my journey was to begin, I had so many expectations, I was so excited that it felt as if I was going in search of something, I longed for something and I was willing to go look for it. Only once did I question the fact that I was going alone. But my desire to escape all that, the need I felt to unburden myself of worries and troubles, gave me the courage I needed.
One can definitely not use the Camino to run away from one’s problems, they were there at every turn. The things that happened to me during the Camino were the same things that were happening in my life. There were rainy days and sunny days, exhausting days and days where I felt a deep relaxation. I was going through a very tempestuous time in my life and I realized that life pushes you to keep going forward, I couldn’t just stand there in the middle of the Camino getting wet, on the contrary, I had to pick up the pace to get to the end of the stage as quickly as possible. Success lies in perseverance.
Connections with other pilgrims
Then, during the Camino, the personal encounters you have with other pilgrims are a spectacular thing. It’s just that you connect with other people in a very special way, with a very unique abandon, that you can only experience on the Camino. You have to live it to understand it.
I think that the teachings of the Camino Pilgrimage cannot be seen until some time has passed. You start realizing many things. I think I have even learned to be objective about my own problems, something that is difficult even to mention. The effort I was making, the tiredness I felt, the surroundings, it all allowed me to reflect. I would ask myself millions of times “How much more can I take?”, “When will it be over?”, “How far do I want to go?”. While I was resting and also while I was walking. It was my personal camino pilgrimage. Of course, I was not thinking about the end result of my Camino. I realized that that inner strength that I felt, my willingness, my desire, were more important that physical preparation. And for this I found the best thing was my self-confidence.
I felt a profound sense of freedom and I still do every time I do it. Because you let go of everything, you abandon yourself, this is a word that often sounds harsh, even difficult sometimes. But what a marvelous feeling you get when you are free of wanting to control everything. One of the most significant experiences for me was on the last day when I finally arrived in Santiago de Compostela, because I HAD MADE IT!!!! And in one piece, no one could believe it hahahaha.That day happened to be Easter Saturday, and the Obradorio square, where the majestic Cathedral is located, was filled with people celebrating the Paschal Candle Mass.I went into the Cathedral with some other pilgrims and we found that it was in total darkness except for the sanctuary that houses the Apostle St. James, which had a small light illuminating it. There was a person handing out white candles to everyone. I cannot overstate how extremely exciting it all was. On that day they light the Paschal Vigil candle. A very special liturgy is celebrated with utmost solemnity. The Bishop entered the Cathedral carrying the huge Paschal candle, and it was the only light we could see. He was slowly walking down the central aisle allowing all of us present to light our candles with his. YOU WON’T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED! THE FIRST CANDLE THAT THE BISHOP LIT WAS MINE. THERE WERE OVER 20,000 PEOPLE IN ATTENDANCE. People would hug me as if to congratulate me, and all I could do was cry. I didn’t understand what it all meant at the time, all I could think about was my mother, and I told myself “She’s going to be cured”. It was all very emotional, we were already very happy from having arrived in Santiago, but then to witness such an incredibly beautiful Mass makes it difficult for me to even express what I was feeling. That was my inspiration, my personal Camino Pilgrimage story
The story of Marly Camino
Once I was settled back in Madrid in 2005, I began organizing groups to go on the Camino de Santiago in parallel with football and flamenco camps. This is where the idea of the best Camino tour company was hatched, which started with Marly Tours, because I feel the need to tell everyone I can to come and experience the Camino de Santiago, then it became Marly Camino. This is an experience, which leaves an imprint on your person, an imprint that is not easily forgotten. That’s why, through my Camino pilgrimage story, I want to share this experience with all those people who have ever felt the need to hit the road and for any number of reasons has not dared to. We offer all the necessary support so that you can experience the enriching, rewarding, life-changing and incomparable journey that you can only find on the Camino de Santiago.. I hope you enjoyed my story and feel welcome to ask me any questions that you may have.
Thank you for reading and .. Buen Camino!
Ligia – Marly Muci