Meet Rui. Walking The Camino de Santiago Medieval Style.

Meet Rui who is walking the Camino de Santiago – medieval style.

I recently moved onto the Portuguese Camino de Santiago in the Rio Minho area. I love it! I spend my days wandering the countryside, sometimes on the Camino, sometimes off. It’s an absolute pleasure and blessing to live in the area and to meet pilgrims on the way to Santiago.

Yesterday, as I walked back from town, I stopped off to meditate in a pretty little eucalyptus woods which the Camino passes through.

As I came back to reality, Rui was approaching. Of course, I greeted him with a big, friendly Buen Camino and we walked a kilometre or two along the way together.

At 55, Rui has walked five different Caminos in total. It’s in his blood you could say. This time, he is walking the Portuguese Coastal Way and started in Lisbon, 500km away with his backpack, a tent and 20.00 euros in his pocket. Yes, my friends, he was walking the Camino the hard way. He wasn´t going to let anything stop him.

His journey has taken him up to Porto and along the Silver Coast until he turned inland at Caminha and bumped into me along the way.

He shared his Camino experience so far and I shared mine. We talked about women´s safety on the Camino and how it’s always a pleasure for him to walk with any lone females if they need a little help or support. He sees it as his duty as a man to make sure that they are safe if needed. Not that women can’t look after themselves, of course, and the Camino is a very safe place to be.

Most importantly, we talked about how the Camino provides, one of the most important, lessons and the greatest gift the Camino bestows upon a pilgrim which Rui experienced every day.

“The Camino Provides” is a popular saying among Camino Pilgrims. It’s trust. Trust that the Camino, as in life, will always give you what you need, even before you know you need it.

We also talked about the fundamental goodness of people, especially on the Camino How walking as a pilgrim who, in essence, is asking for alms in terms of food (he has shelter in terms of his tent) is gifted with little miracles in random acts of kindness from people along the way.

For this reason, it could be said that Rui is a true Camino Pilgrim. He is walking the Camino the old-fashioned medieval way. In times gone by, pilgrims were reliant on the help of villagers and people along the way for food and shelter which was happily given. Their scallop shell was used as a container for food and drink that was offered to them.

While pilgrim´s don’t tend to use their shells for this purpose these days, this tradition of pilgrim hospitality continues on, even if some don’t agree with it.

I gave Rui a little gift to help him on his way but he gave me so much more. He was one of the most genuine, open-hearted pilgrims I have ever met. A reminder of why the Camino de Santiago is such a wonderful experience. It was an honour to walk even a short distance with him.

So, if you met Rui or another pilgrim walking the road to Santiago the medieval way, don’t be shy in helping them or speaking with them. Whatever random gift of kindness that you bestow upon them will be returned ten-fold – not in good karma, but in companionship, tales, and sharing a moment or two with genuine, humble, and kind-hearted people.

Finally, thank you to Rui for sharing his tales, letting me take his picture, and share his story. The honour and pleasure was all mine.

Check out my e-book, A Wild Woman’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago for practical advice on preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago including snippets from my journey and stories from Camino pilgrims. Click the link to download your copy.

(c) Samantha Wilson 2019.  All Rights Reserved.

I’m a Camino de Santiago Guide who inspires people from all over the world to live a more adventurous life.
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