How does one actually get to drive more than 1000 kilometres to the Basque Country with a Czech atheist, only to then make a pilgrimage of hundreds of kilometres through northern Spain?
About a year ago, I was sitting on a bench in Wackernheim near Mainz at my former employer’s farm festival, talking to my former colleague Vasek from Šumperk in the Czech Republic. We enjoyed a few caipirinhas and more or less yelled at each other – to drown out the sounds of the band in which my former bosses noisily played guitar and drums.
My resignation had just come through, after I had been offered a new job in Frankfurt by a headhunter – nevertheless I was still invited to the party that took place in the courtyard of the former farm, which was jointly inhabited by the families of my bosses.
After I had worked intensively with Vasek on several projects – me as project manager, him as head of the development team – and we also met a few times at the company’s team days, he was interested in what I would do in my private life as well as my professional life. So I told him about my intention to make a pilgrimage on the Way of St. James.
How did this intention come about?
At the very beginning I thought that the Way of St. James would be a somewhat difficult trail somewhere in the mountains of Spain. The country itself had not interested me much as “Italiano in Spirito”, but that changed when I did the first projects for the Spanish car manufacturer SEAT.
Through my scout work I came to the Youtube channel of Sacki some time ago as preparation for a workshop on compass and map, which deals with bushcraft and outdoor. Here my passion for hiking revived. Via the search word “Wanderlust” I found the blog and channel of Dixi, a young woman from the USA, who, after the Apalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT), is now making the third big US long-distance hiking trail with the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). She has shown an incredible development in the course of her hikes, which always impressed me very much. This has inspired me to tackle this as well. So relatively quickly I came across the long-distance hiking trails of Europe and also the audio book by Hape Kerkeling.
But I was a little deterred by the fact that the Camino Frances is so crowded. So I came across the Camino de la Costa, on which my colleague Philipp from my new company walked and who of course sat in my office directly across my desk. He lent me his hiking guide and the matter was clear for me. And if the last spark of motivation would have been missing, Tobi from Treat of Freedom gave me “the rest” with his travel report about the Camino de la Costa on his Youtube channel.
Getting old is not for sissies. And I had another significat birthday coming up on my 50th. I could not imagine celebrating like my father in a community center with family and friends and a band. I wanted to give myself the time with myself and for the thoughts of a new phase in my life. So I wanted to celebrate my annual feast with nice people from different countries and generations, which the dear God would throw together for me on this day in some pilgrim hostel in Cantabria.
My colleague Vasek told me in the further course of the court festival in Wackernheim that he had also wanted to tackle the Way of St. James for a long time. So the rest of the evening was dominated by the first plans as the wine bliss increased. Contrary to expectations, the idea of pilgrimage together survived the morning hangover and we continued to plan together via Skype and WhatsApp for the journey, which started on September 8th at 6am.
Feel free to read more about it … Buen Camino!