Interview with Telmo: “The best way to prepare yourself is by not preparing yourself”

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Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The goal of pilgrims from all over the world. I got to know Telmo after having run into him a couple of times during my walk through Portugal’s countryside and we ended up sharing a couple of days on the roads. Telmo had so many stories to tell, this is one of them.

I started the Camino in Lisbon, around two weeks before we met. By then, I had prepared for a few weeks. I looked for tips online, asked friends for advice, everything was ordered in an Excel sheet. However, I did not follow it once. Everything felt like good surprises on this journey.

The walk to Spain was a bridge between the life as a student and starting a job. Somehow, it was a way of feeling grateful for the good things that have been happening to me. While walking, I had time to think a lot, so in a way, it also served as a meditation process.

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I did this alone, which wasn’t necessarily a choice. Firstly, it started as a plan by two friends, then four. But sometimes if you don’t do the thing you want to do by yourself, you won’t do it at all. I’m glad I did, otherwise, I would still be waiting for them. The people that I met while walking and the sharing of experiences became a great part instead. Everyone was a new opportunity to learn something from, to start thinking differently. Imagine meeting people who started the same journey as you, but from other cities and for other reasons. I learned about different points of views from people of various ages, countries, and even religions.

I learned something about myself too – that I have this adventure spirit in me that I didn’t find before. The funny thing is that I kind of got addicted to it, a surprise for me and for everyone who knows me.

The day I reached Santiago de Compostela was one of my hardest days. The backpack was really heavy and I was quite tired and a bit upset due to lack of sleep and hunger. However, when I got there, I felt energetic again. Everything was OK and I was happy. Next time, because there will be one, I will walk the French way or the northern way, possibly both! And I won’t plan a thing, just start the journey. Alone or with someone.

My most important advice? Don’t worry about anything. As you walk the Camino, the Camino walks through you – I believe some author wrote this sometime, somewhere. But the truth is that you will change along the way, and the best way to prepare yourself is by not preparing yourself.

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