A little over a year ago Arturo decided that he wanted to do the Camino de Santiago and that nothing would stop him from undertaking this journey! It was Nacho’s story, which had so enthused Arturo. Nacho, supported by the BBVA’s Solidarity Non-Stop had completed several stages of the Camino over several days on one of our Foundation’s adapted bikes.
He began to express his fervent wish to attempt the Camino to everyone: relatives, caregivers and even our president Anne Marie whenever he saw her. And since there is nothing more contagious than a young person’s dream, soon Irene and Ishmael also signed up for the challenge, and the “experienced” Nacho did not want to be left behind. Moved by this dream, we began to consider the feasibility of completing some stages of the Camino de Santiago with our children. The challenge was very great given the conditions of the boys (some need to be tube-fed, others need oxygen assistance and all have a dependency greater than 75%), but nothing stopped us and we programmed our Camino on adapted wheels for mid-September.
A few weeks before the adventure, we worked intensely with two experts in the field, Javier Pitillas, head of DisCamino, and Arma Kleinepier, a specialist in bicycle routes, both gave us the ability to face this challenge. Lisette and Marino also offered us their help. They not only transported our brand new bicycles, the crane, the stretcher, etc. from Alicante in their van from Anneke residence hall, but they completed the entire Camino by our side, offering essential logistic help.
Time passed very quickly and before we knew it, it was the day of departure. Nacho and his mother Maria left from Madrid; while Arturo, Ismael and Irene left together with the rest of the team from Alicante by plane towards their dream. Although this was already a real challenge, everything went smoothly and at the scheduled time we were all in the hostel of Briallos de la Xunta to start the adventure.
At 07:30 on Friday 20, the alarm went off and we were ready to begin the first stage from Vigo to Pontevedra. All the dreams and preparations of the past few months became real: it was truly wonderful, 19 people sharing this awesome and unforgettable experience.
The first stage was a success (despite some small mishap with the batteries of our adapted bikes) and the next day we woke up wishing to continue our Camino. The rain fell heavily and Nacho preferred to stay in and recharge his batteries for the final stage. But nothing was going to stop Arturo after so many months of waiting and he convinced his mother and the rest of the team to continue with the plan and to reach Valga. They succeeded, with special thanks to Irene’s continuous smile!
We spent our nights at the hostel at Briallos. Upon returning to Briallos, after our long day, our young people were wet but profoundly happy. We are truly grateful to the staff at Briallos for their hospitality and affection. When we arrived that evening wet, but profoundly happy, we celebrated with a fun and delicious dinner prepared by Carmen and Charo.
The next morning the sun returned to Galicia to accompany us on our Camino. After a route without major setbacks, in the streets of the Galician capital, people welcomed us with applause, smiles and shouts of encouragement. The arrival at the Plaza del Obradoiro was undoubtedly a magical moment for everyone, our young people shouted with joy and there were emotional embraces. We had fulfilled Arturo’s dream, our dream!
We will always treasure our many memories. Memories of the rich Galician foods and our kitchen robot winding its way through their kitchen enabling our children to eat as if they were at home. There is always much laughter when we recall the best moments of the day, the torrential rain and the reminder that the sun always rises and warms. We treasure our nights of camping on mattresses on the floor and the smiles and applause of people as they watched us pass. But above all we will never forget our kids’ profound emotions and indeed all of us when we reached our goal.
We would like to extend a very special thanks to all the people and establishments that have welcomed us with open arms and who have helped us in this adventure:
Albergue de Briallos, Javier Pitillas, Discamino, Arma Kleinepier, Pousada Real, BBVA AM Solidarios Non Stop, RotaryClub Alicante, Anneke Residence, Verum Natura, Cafeteria Albergue Briallos, Carmen Arzua, Pili Navia Luna, Lois González (Bobath physio), etc …