The decision to get out of your house and walk hundreds of kilometres to do the "Caminho", is like a seed, it can germinate… It’s like travelling to the moon and contemplating the Earth. When we get away from home and examine our lives from a distance, we see things in a different perspective and we realise what is really important in our lives. It’s possible that this is the biggest challenge of your life, so be well-prepared! When you decide to go on a pilgrimage, you are getting out of your comfortable and safety zone and opening yourself to what the "Caminho" has to offer. You can learn how to do a pilgrimage in two ways: “With pain or with love”. The school of the "Caminho" teaches with “pain” and leaves its unforgettable lessons imprinted on your body. This site was created to help you prepare your "Caminho" with “love”, gathering thousands of kilometres of joys, setbacks and shared experiences from other pilgrims. The more committed you are to your preparation, the easier it will be to accept the "Caminho", because you know that you have done everything in your power to do a Good Way (Bom Caminho).
"Where there is a will there is a way.”"
All those that are on a journey to a Holy Place on foot, by bicycle, donkey or horse, with a humble and open heart, are pilgrims because they are going to a Sanctuary. If they were going to a mountain, they would be climbers, to the bottom of the sea, divers. With or without faith, something draws the pilgrims to the Sanctuaries.
The origin of the word “Pilgrim”, derives from the joining of two Latin words “Per” = through and “egre” = field/land, “One that goes through the fields”. "Pilgrim" also means foreigner, a person that goes beyond his border. (Example: the Mayflower Pilgrims)
The “Caminhos” identified here are routes that go through the fields, marked by volunteers that believe in the importance of pilgrims’ reciprocity.
When looking for “Caminhos” towards Fátima and Santiago, you will find other routes, created for tourists and lacking the Spirit of the Pilgrim, aimed for turigrinos” (= tourist + pilgrim) going round leading them through the shopping shrines, disregarding the physical effort of the journey.
On the “Caminhos” page of this site, you will find detailed information, such as maps, guides and GPS tracks.
"A lot can be done by those who want to..."
PLANING THE CAMINHO
A normal walking day with a backpack is about 25 km, that is equal to approximately 50.000 steps.
While on a pilgrimage, you have to learn how to divide: the long routes into short stages and the short stages into steps, what you need for the day with what is essential, the food, your encouragement and strength with the weak.
At first sight, the “caminho” is too long but, if you divide it into slices, it is easier to “eat…”
RECIPE FOR A ”BOM CAMINHO”
Plan your pilgrimage (maximum of 35km per day) and find out where the 1st arrow of your “caminho” is. (+info)
Get acquainted with the arrows of your “caminho” (+info)
Practise walking gradually, with your backpack, with the final weight.
Get in touch with the "albergues" (for sleeping plans) and prepare alternative sleeping places. (+info)
Don’t leave it for the last minute, before setting off, to ask for the pilgrim passport (+info)
Check the weather forecast for the next day. Avoid walking under high temperatures. Choose to start walking earlier.
Without water you cannot walk.
Without food you have no energy to move forward…
If you no longer see the arrows, return to the place where you last saw one and search, carefully, for the next arrow. Don’t make up “caminhos”.
In Portugal, if you ask for information regarding the Ways of Fátima, usually you will be directed to a national road (avoid it).
“Gently, gently goes far.”
To know your walking pace, you just have to listen to your breathing. You should be able to speak without gasping while you walk.
The ideal walking stage: start at sunrise, end at lunch time, wash your clothes, take a shower, have lunch, take a nap, get to know the area, prepare for the next day, have dinner and go to bed.
If you consider giving up… sleep on it. The following day you decide.
Besides the physical “Caminho”, consider preparing and making an Inner “Caminho” (Spiritual journey).
Pay attention to the confusing routes created by the Portuguese Tourist Office (Route Carmelita and Caminho do Centenário). Read carefully the information on this subject, so that you don’t get lost in tourist rounds (+info).
(Stanislaw J. Lec)
"He who limps is still walking."
When the urge to go on a pilgrimage arises, our thoughts change completely. From then on, we have the “pilgrim’s fire” controlling our decisions. Just as with real fire, we must be able to control it, so that we don’t get burned. The pilgrim’s fire helps us to carry on when we want to give up, to survive, to go higher and further. The mission of this website is to help you to choose and prepare your “caminho” without getting burnt in the typical traps; the dangerous national roads, the touristic routes, the decisions and planning beyond your capabilities and the wrong choice of gear.
À primeira vista, talvez pareça um pouco exagerado esta história do "fogo peregrino", para que entendas melhor do que falamos, deixamos-te alguns relatos de primeiras peregrinações. (+info)
Those that want to walk will find the way, those that don't will find problems.
Living with a backpack on our back, is a reflection of our lives. If we carry too many things, life doesn’t move forward… if we go too lightly, we go further, but we will be cold at night. The secret is to find the balance between the two. Examine, in detail, the list of equipment that we provide. They are the result of the experience of many pilgrims. It is very important to learn to listen to the signs your body gives you so that you are able to adjust the equipment to suit you. (+info)
(Portuguese popular proverb)
"Light weight becomes heavy after a long distance..."
BEYOND & UPWARDS
When it rains, all pilgrims get equally wet… On the “Caminho” all pilgrims are the same. There is no age or social status, just the reflection of the load of our lives on our body and the “Caminho”.
With the experience of new “Caminhos”, we learn to be humble with our strength, to get up, trying not to fall as often, to wait for the others, to turn weakness into strength and to open our “caminho” to other people.
Your preparation for the pilgrimage is going to help you determine your physical condition. Practising walking, with the rucksack on your back, allows you to understand how fit you are to be able to help others.
Age is what we make of it: if we raise obstacles in our “Caminho”, we can be considered old when we are 18. If we know how to adjust our pace to our capabilities, we only get old on the day we depart for our final pilgrimage.
Having faith and believing, helps with the Inner Caminho (Spiritual Journey). There is no map showing you the way to the Inner Caminho, nor are there any pilgrim’s know-how (skill). It’s a personal walk that may take years to start and seldom finishes. The Inner Caminho is a very intimate and delicate matter. We recommend all pilgrims to be vigilant, to pay attention to the signs of the Inner Caminho.
Prayers are a way of advancing on the Inner Caminho, a form of meditation, that helps you concentrate (focus) on your thoughts. When we succeed in finding inner peace, praying can be a deeply moving experience. We can pray alongside other pilgrims, but we must not impose our prayers to those who are not seeking an Inner Caminho. “There are no shortcuts to spiritual maturity. It takes time to be holy.” (Erwin W. Lutzer). In this site’s library you can find documentation if you want to explore the matter further. (+info)
Religious promises are a personal matter. The more we talk about this topic with others, the more burdensome becomes the fulfilment of this mission. The “promise” should be considered an intimate matter, to avoid raising expectations for family and friends: “Have you gone?”, “Couldn’t you do it?”, “Are you going on holiday for that reason?”, “You are weak, I got there faster.” Prepare your pilgrimage discreetly, make your “Caminho” and try to fulfil your promise. Once you get back home, you can share your experience as a pilgrim. If you are not able to fulfil your promise, there is no problem. It is a sign that you have to be better prepared to make the “Caminho” again.
Miracles of Fátima: start by giving yourself the importance you deserve for the fact that you managed to walk the Caminho, that you’re alive and healthy. Pay attention to the small miracles around you. If you are interested to deepen this topic a little more, please search this site’s Library. (+info)
We can say, a thousand times, that we are good, but that will not make us good people. “Facta non verba” – Deeds not words. Practice kindness, be generous, help and allow yourself to be helped, keep the “Caminho” clean. Be a pilgrim and take the “Spirit of the Pilgrim” into your life.
Nossa Senhora do Rosário de Fátima
Santiago de Compostela
(José Tolentino Mendonça)
"Faith is not a podium: it's a road."
A BETTER PILGRIMAGE
It’s common that, with first pilgrimages, we walk a bit blind, not observing what is around us: “Our Lady of Fátima, could be on top of one of the trees along the “Caminho”, and you would walk past Her without noticing…” Try practicing these guidelines, your “Caminho” will be better.
WAKE UP EARLY
Watch the sunrise on the “Caminho”. You start the day early, with more energy and plenty of time ahead of you… (+info about sunrise)
KEEP YOUR SMILE
The curve of a smile, straightens many paths… Strive to maintain a positive attitude, to face the challenges of the “Caminho”.
Whenever possible, stay hydrated and eat. Restoring energies helps to see the “Caminho” with different eyes.
INHALE THE "CAMINHO"
Close your eyes and breathe in: the morning dew, the plants, the fruit, the food, what you are drinking, the wind, the rain, the clouds, the stones, the animals, the temples, other pilgrims. Register all the olfactory memories of the “Caminho” in your diary.
Include a mat in your gear and rest wherever the body and landscape asks you to. Making short stops along the way has great benefits.
THE GREEN WORLD
Get to know the mountains and the plains, the rivers, trees, bushes, flowers, insects, fish and birds. Listen to their song… Pay attention!
FRUIT ON THE "CAMINHO"
Depending on the season of the year and the attention of the pilgrims, different fruits can be found along the “Caminho”: mulberries, oranges, apples, figs, medronhos (fruit of the strawberry tree), pine nuts, grapes… Just taste, ask for permission and share your fruit with other pilgrims. Take the peel, husks and shells with you and put them in the next waste container. A peel is biodegradable, a hundred are bio-unpleasant.
HELP AND SHARE
Helping, sharing, accepting help, are actions that can make a difference between getting up or giving up. Change the old saying “every man for himself” to
“save whoever you can”, be a really good human being.
Take some time to learn about the local culture. Listen to the music, gaze at the architecture, taste the food, notice the pottery… You are going to fill the “cultural” backpack with good memories.
Gratitude is the prime objective that holds together the “Pilgrim’s Spirit”. Be thankful for the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage. Be thankful to strangers. Be thankful to those you love. Be thankful to God. Be thankful for the water and food. Be thankful for the bed. Be thankful for the light. Be thankful for the arrows. Be thankful to those who accompany you. Be thankful to be alive… “Gratitude” = give thanks.
Learn to listen to your body and know your limitations. Your will may be infinite, but your capabilities are limited. Sooner or later we all fall. As you get to know yourself better, you will learn to get up and fall less often.
On the “Caminho” you will find many different ways of going on a pilgrimage, with differences in culture, language, food, way of dressing, walking, origin, purpose, physical condition, age… It is in the difference that lies the opportunity of getting to know other ways of seeing the world. Open your heart. Learn, walk and socialize… then you can appreciate the differences.
Pay attention to the small miracles on the “Caminho”: water and food, the arrival, the weather, resilience, friendship, sharing… For the most attentive and grateful, the small miracles transform our “Caminho” (our life) into a great miracle filled with light.
LOOK AFTER THE "CAMINHO"
Anyone can look after the “Caminho”, stepping on or tearing up the weeds that hide the arrows…
CHECK THE WEATHER
Weeks, days and hours before your pilgrimage, check the weather. Choose the right clothes for the weather conditions that you will be facing. Be aware of your positive and negative thermal limits, and your ability to absorb solar radiation.
THUNDER = STOP
"Thoughts come clearly
while one walks."