Raimundo had a dream from a very young age: he was always excited to do the Camino de Santiago, but life’s circumstances did not allow him to bring his project to fruition… until now. At the age of sixty-five and recently retired, it was the perfect time to make a lifelong dream come true. But being a foresighted and sensible person, in all aspects, he wanted to have a medical check-up before leaving, for safety more than anything else; his health was good, but better confirm it. So, he made an appointment with his doctor, who ordered a full check-up. Bad news. When he received the reports from the laboratory, the analysis showed heart disease, an injury that so far had not shown external signs. The doctor, knowing the patient’s intentions, recommended that he not undertake such an undertaking;
-If you want to visit Santiago de Compostela, do it by train; go there, visit the Saint, stroll through the city, but without getting tired. A five-hundred-mile walk in your state could be … What a chore! All his illusion truncated by a medical report; a simple role had embittered his existence. And now that? To go to Santiago, or not to go? And why not? He could do it calmly, now he had all the time available. There was no rush.
-What the hell! Go ahead, whatever happens!
Rayford made the decision to fulfill his dream, and he would do it properly; from the beginning, from Roncesvalles; strolling quietly; stopping what is necessary to enjoy the scenic beauties and the magnificent Romanesque monuments that are found throughout the journey. He began to prepare the luggage, a backpack with the essentials. He planned the trip: bus tickets, maps of the Camino, location of shelters … And one day the first of June he set off.
Roncesvalles. The arrival in the beautiful Pyrenean city took place in the middle of the afternoon, still with natural light. After settling into the hotel, he went out for a short walk before dinner. He wanted to go to bed early, because it was his intention to get up early the next day; leave early to take advantage of the day, and it was necessary to rest well (especially considering his new medical situation). And after a frugal dinner, he marched to the room.
Second of June; first stage. Comfortable stage, since leaving Roncesvalles a road runs down the port. The slow walk allowed him to enjoy the extraordinary landscape common to the entire Pyrenean mountain range. Stopping when he got tired, he took the opportunity to cool his throat, while choosing the best frames to immortalize the trip in a good collection of photographs that would allow him to remember the wonderful experience that was just beginning. And in this way the kilometers were covered.
A few days later, the routine continued to be repeated: early departure from a shelter on the road and restarting the march, heading for the next road.
That morning, as he walked slowly, he suddenly felt bad. A dizziness invaded him, while a strong pain that oppressed his left arm was moving towards his chest. Fell to the ground. Other pilgrims who also made the Jacobean route ran to help him; They called an ambulance, and in no more than fifteen minutes the assistance arrived from the still nearby city of Puente la Reina.
The pilgrim opened his eyes. He was lying on the edge of the sidewalk. He sat up slightly, remaining seated, and scanned the surroundings. The surrounding landscape seemed much more beautiful; its color was strangely beautiful and there were new scents. He remembered that he had collapsed, even having heard a siren; but none of it mattered anymore, for the chest pain had disappeared; he was perfectly fine, so he decided to continue the journey.
He had not walked two hundred meters when he saw another pilgrim arrive. It was the prototypical medieval rosemary: long sackcloth, fedora, crook in hand and a scallop shell hanging from the neck.
-Good morning, brother walker. Where are you going? –The colorful character questioned.
“I’m walking the Camino,” Rayford replied. And you? I see you coming back… Did you finish your pilgrimage well?
“The pilgrimage of the human being never ends, dear friend,” replied the traveler, with a somewhat mysterious air.
-I suppose it’s over –Raimundo said- when you get to Santiago …
-Then you have already finished it, because you just got to it.