After falling in love with Andrea, the latter #MileStoneExperience I wrote about, we had one year long distance relation, somewhere between Poland, Portugal and Italy. The long distance relation sucks and for me the only way to survive it was to set a deadline. Our was exactly one year, after which I would move to Italy. But we decided to start our life together walking Camino de Santiago, this time the North route, starting from Bilbao, Spain. So, we met at Bilbao airport, ready to hit the road. For me it was the third Camino, for Andrea the first, he was not used to this kind of experience (one of his first questions was about hotels, while I didn't take into consideration anything more than tent and pilgrim's albergues ;) ).
That was probably the most difficult Camino I've ever done. You know, for one year we met just for a few days a month and it was always a big celebration, a bed of roses, and you see only the bright side of the other person, no drawbacks. And well, there are. And they hit you hard in the face if you jump from long distance relation to being 24/7 together in harsh conditions of constant walking, heavy backpack, hot weather, limited space, etc. We fought every single day, I cried a lot, sometimes really thinking to turn somewhere, disappear and never come back. Yet, we entered Santiago hand in hand, knowing that as we went through this, we can go through anything. Together.
What helped us a lot, and became a crucial part of all our endeavours, were the Spirit Cards of Camino - a stack of cards prepared for pilgrims by L'Esprit du Chemin albergue. Every card contains an inspiring quotation, a task to do during the day and few questions regarding one particular topic. Topics vary from the reason to start the journey, through your dreams and values, till the meaning of home, symbols and many others, but they were all important, making you think and answer very meaningful questions. We were asking them to each other, first giving some space (i mean kms) to think them through, and then share what's deeply inside us. From the very beginning we decided to go deep and stay honest and that became a very natural thing for us which lasts till today.
We used to come back to Camino cards every year, during next Caminos, while preparing for a marathon or while traveling. We kept checking what changed in us and between us, which values shifted, which answers stayed the same.
Two years ago we lost the cards which we received from Jaap, a dear friend met during my first Camino. We discovered they are no longer available online anymore and we tried to find them for a long while till we finally decided to write to those who created them, hoping that maybe, just maybe, they still have a pdf version and will share it with us. We got not only cards, but also a very beautiful letter from them, telling their magic story. Thank you a lot for your love and for the emotions we felt this morning, when we realized your answer is waiting for us. And yes, this year we will come back to Camino cards again. Even if we won't be able to walk the Camino itself.
PS. If you wish to get the Camino cards in pdf, comment the post or send us a private message. :)