As I have walked two Caminos solo, guided groups along the Way and now live on the Portuguese Camino de Santiago, I like to think that I have become an experienced pilgrim.
Until I heard the story of Jose Antonio Garcia, a Spanish native who has walked an epic 107,000 km pilgrimage across every continent except Oceania.
That’s right. Over the last 11 years, Jose has dedicated himself to the simple life of a pilgrim. In his previous life, Jose was a sailor who spent most of his life at sea. He wasn’t a particularly religious man until a near-death experience in 1999 when his boat capsized at sea and he was the only survivor out of the 18 crew onboard. It was during the hours he spent out in open water that he began to pray to Virgin del Carmen, the patron saint of sailors. He made a promise that, if he were to survive, he would walk to all of the world’s holy shrines if she saved his life.
So severe were his injuries that he had to spend the next eight months in a hyperbaric chamber. He spent the next two years in a wheelchair, two more on crutches until he was able to walk again. He never forgot the promise he made and so his epic pilgrimage began.
Of course, he walked the Camino de Santiago and then onto Rome and various other sites around Europe. He then walked through Turkey into Asia, passing through Israel, Syria and India. His adventures took him through Siberia and Russia, where he crossed over into North America, down to Mexico and all around South America. During his time, he visited holy sites of most religions including Christianity, Buddhism and Islam.
His journey will come to an end this year. The promise to the Virgin del Carmen fulfilled, Jose is finally ready to return home.
I guess we can all understand why he is commonly referred to as “The Pilgrim.” I´m sure Jose´s legend will live on and inspire many people to embrace the life of a pilgrim, even for a short time.
If you plan to walk the Camino de Santiago, check out my book, A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino de Santiago. I share everything you need to know before you begin your Camino. Read at A Wild Woman’s Guide To The Camino De Santiago or click the link below.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.