As I sit in my home and dream of walking The Way I flicked on to YouTube to discover a recent documentary – “Pilgrims’. It transported me back to my time walking the Camino. This documentary provides a deep insight into the motives and discoveries of pilgrims and is presented by the Brazilian filmmaker Alexandre Amaral. (youtube.com/watch?v=XZEHgMLn6M0) As I watch it my soul aches to be back walking the Camino but for the time being I know that it is just not possible. Will I ever get the chance to return? Only time will tell. At 70 I know my clock is ticking but my hope above all hopes is to return.
Alexandre tells us that, aged 5 years, his father walked the Camino and told him what a remarkable experience it had been. So as a young adult he found his way to Spain to find out “Who these pilgrims are?” and “Why do they walk?” He meets many pilgrims endeavouring to discover their stories – David (UK), Michael (Germany), Miriam (France), Robert and Larree (NZ), Forte (Australia) and many many more. Along the way he examines their motives and delves into their souls. He looks at their challenges, inspirations, discoveries, solitude, the internal journeys, their doubts, the coincidences, the separations and the lessons learned. Along The Way they discover the wonderful freedom, spirituality, kindness, sharing, dreaming, love and grace that the Camino provides pilgrims on their journey.
The pilgrims open their souls to Alexandre just as so many do as they walk and talk to their fellow pilgrims. Overcoming the initial struggle they slowly fall into the peace and rhythm of the Camino. Many think that ‘I’ll never do this again’ but they learn that once you have travelled the Camino it inexplicably lures you back. The pilgrims tell us about the pain, the tests , the bad days, the good days, the companionship, the happiness, the solitude that the Camino offers them. Some share their doubts and fears.
David (UK), describes himself as a ‘Camino addict’ and has returned for the past 13 years to provide pilgrims with first aid in their early days on the Camino. Miriam (France) took a year off work and rejoices in meeting kind people every day as she walks. Jorge (Mexico) advises that ‘if you wait until everything is perfect to walk The Way’ you will never go. Robert and Larree (New Zealand) enjoy walking together in silence – they see their pilgrimage as a great test of the strength of their relationship. Local South Australian musician Forte, a self-proclaimed ‘couch potato’ who didn’t like walking, is transformed by his journey and then entertains us with his own composition, ‘Buen Camino’, the title track for the documentary.
As Alexandre tells the story he transports pilgrims back to the Camino. In every scene you reflect on your time on the Camino and all your memories good and not so good flood back. The urge to return is undeniable. For those who are yet to undertake their pilgrimage Alexandre entices them to come, to take the time, to experience all that the Camino has to offer and to return home changed forever. His final word – ‘Kia Kaha Amigos’ (Stay Strong Friends). I will have to stay strong until the time comes for my return to the Camino. In the meantime, Pilgrim, enjoy this documentary as you will find it a great watch.