Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The journey continues!

St Jean Pied du Port - September 2013

It is now just over two months since I arrived in Santiago for the second time. When I decided to walk the Camino for the first time I could never have thought that I would be back just over a year later, this time leading a group of pilgrims on a journey that would touch my heart in a truly special way.

I remember the contrasting thoughts that went through my head the first time I walked all the way from St Jean Pied du Port. When the blisters on my feet turned every step into a painful challenge, I couldn't imagine myself ever repeating the experience. Yet, the very next day when I walked through the most beautiful places you could imagine, I knew that, God willing, I would return.

Little did I know that the plan for my life included not just returning to the Camino on my own, but with a group of people, all filled with expectations and exhilaration. So it happened then, that on the 9th of September this year, I led a merry band of pilgrims across the Pyrenees on a journey that would last us three weeks, taking us across the countryside of Spain and ending in Santiago de Compostela on the 29th of September.

Once again the journey was special beyond words. We encountered angels along the way, we made new friends and we included strangers at many a dinner table, thus experiencing the true meaning of compassion and friendship. We were able to laugh and cry with fellow pilgrims and most of all, we were able to celebrate life in a way that is not always possible when we are caught up in our busy routines back home. 

I continue to marvel at how God works in our lives. The many years of working as a tour guide in my own country equipped me in many ways to undertake this very special task. My solo walk of five weeks a year ago ensured that I was familiar with life as a pilgrim and as we walked from town to town I felt as if I had been there the day before. Finding actual stones on the ground that I had photographed the year before made me feel as if I truly belonged on those ancient paths, it was as if I had a built-in compass leading me along the way!

I will never forget the many special moments that I was privileged to spend with the members of this little group of pilgrims who came from all over the world. Walking into Santiago as a group, many of us in tears and hugging each one of them in the square in front of the majestic cathedral that marks the end of the journey for many people, was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

When I started blogging about the Camino many months before, I said that from the moment I heard of this journey, I knew I was going to do it. Little did I know what an integral part of my life it would become. Back home I am now responsible for putting together the 'Amigos' magazine, the publication produced by the Confraternity of St James in South Africa three times a year. My involvement ensures that I remain in touch with what happens on the Camino, I stay updated with developments at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago and as a bonus my network of Camino friends continues to grow.

It is a pleasure to publish their stories and share their enthusiasm - the Camino connection is as strong back home as it is when we meet fellow pilgrims on the road in Spain! I am grateful for our Confraternity, being involved in this way means that I have the opportunity to interact with people who share my passion for the Camino and in turn I am able to pass on my knowledge to those who are planning to walk for the first time.

Here is a link to the official website:

Next year in May I am planning to walk from Seville to Santiago de Compostela. I would like to continue to raise awareness for the MSA community and this walk will be dedicated to exactly that. My friend Sonja, who has suffered from this illness since 2010, remains a shining light to all who know her and I am truly grateful to God for the angels he has brought into her life through our Camino connections.

You can follow Sonja's journey on her own blog:

Whenever I spend time visiting a church or attend a service on the Camino I envisage walking with a small group of pilgrims who would be walking the Camino purely as a pilgrimage, dedicating their time to meditating on the word of God. My last two experiences on the Camino provided many of these moments and walking with members of the group this September confirmed to me that this is what the Camino is really about for me. 

So in conclusion then - I know that my next journey has to be a solo walk and so it will be. As for my dream of taking a group on a pilgrimage with a very specific focus - that of drawing nearer to God and meditating on his Word, who knows? What often starts off as a whisper in my ear has the tendency to increase in volume until the only thing that is left for me to do is to respond. 


  1. Thank you for sharing Emilene. x

    1. It's a pleasure Karin! Won't it be amazing if you can pack your bag one year and join me on the road in Spain? You're the most amazing friend, Sonja is indeed blessed to have you in her life! Know that you are seen... xxx

  2. You were a wonderful Group Leader and those special peregrinos will have memories to last them forever!

    1. Thank you Sil! This opportunity has showed me a different side of the Camino and I'll always be thankful to you for that. xxx

  3. Dear Emilene, my life has been blessed beyond measure through you, the Camino, and the friends you made along The Way. I am humbled to read that you will once again create awareness for MSA next year. Thank you friend. God bless.

    1. I feel as if I am equally blessed Sonja. Your spirit touches strangers who have never even met you - how can we not join in your journey? I continue to be amazed at how the Camino continues to work in people's lives, long after one arrives back home. in fact, I feel as if the real work/blessings only starts then! I cannot wait to see what next year holds for us. One thing I am sure of though - the angels will continue to gather around you and I will continue to pray that the road will be light and easy for you! Blessings to you my friend!

  4. Dear Emilene, my life has been blessed beyond measure through you, the Camino, and the friends you've made along The Way. I am humbled to read that you will do so again next year. Thank you. God bless.


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