An interview with 16-year-old pilgrim Raúl Díaz

An interview with 16-year-old pilgrim Raúl Díaz

In the month of August, FRH followed the adventures of Raúl Díaz and his father Armando as they walked the famous pilgrimage trail of St James Way (Camino de Santiago). For a week this 16-year-old from Spain shared his pilgrim’s diary with our network. One month after that experience came to an end we talked to Raúl to remember the best moments of the journey and give some recommendations to other young people who want to embark on an adventure like this.

It has been already one month since you finished the trail with your father. What moment of the pilgrimage do you still remember the most?

The best thing for me was the arrival, not because of the ending, but because it is the most beautiful thing, obviously. All the pilgrims are there together, all relieved in a certain way, and it’s cool to know that you’ve made it.

Your arrival coincided with the European Youth Pilgrimage (EYP), which brought together thousands of young people In Santiago de Compostela.

Yes, there were still a lot of groups of people arriving, so it was really nice to see.

What was the hardest thing for you?

Overall, I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was quite good. There were days when the stages were longer, but never too long. On the way we were always stopping, eating and refreshing ourselves, etc.

Were there young people your age making the pilgrimage?

Yes, there were many. Especially within the groups and associations walking the pilgrimage, there were quite a few children, even though the groups were very varied.

Was your pilgrimage experience up to your expectations before going?

In part yes and in part no. When we arrived in Santiago I knew that there were going to be a lot of people, but just as we arrived a new group of pilgrims arrived, very large, with drums, flags… I didn’t expect that.

What did your family and friends tell you back home?

Most of them told me: “Congratulations, you are already a pilgrim”.

What advice would you give to other pilgrims of your age?

I would advise them to do it, even if they don’t like walking – I don’t really like walking -, because just to be with your family or to do something new, you should do it. And also because at the end, when you get there, you feel good that you did it.

Wait, you don’t like walking? What an effort you made then…

No, I don’t really like walking. But if we do this again next year, my father told me to do it by bike, because I like wheels better. But it’s also good to do it walking, to know what it’s like.

Wow, do you feel up to cycling?

Yes, no problema.

You know we also talked in FRH with a young guy from Barcelona who cycled art of the pilgrimage. Maybe you can see his advice.

Yes. For example, what I saw a lot on the road was people who went without a backpack, who hired vans to carry their backpacks, and they only carried a small one. I prefer to carry the backpack because you have with you everything you need for the Camino. Otherwise, you lose a bit of the essence. On the second day of the Camino, my shoulders ached a lot from carrying the backpack, because it weighed 8 kg. But after a while it stops weighing, your shoulders don’t hurt anymore, you get used to it. So I don’t know, it seems more natural to me to do it carrying the backpack yourself. It is more authentic.

So you don’t agree with some of the tourist experiences of walking the pilgrimage route?

Of course not. For example, we had a knife and a board in our rucksack. So we could go wherever we wanted, make a sandwich, or for example, if I wanted to swim in the river, I had all my clothes there to change, the towel, etc. It gives you more freedom.

Before we finish, what would you say to encourage young people to walk a pilgrimage?

I would tell them to book at least a week like I did, and forget about everything. Go for a walk, have a good time, spend time with your friends or family and enjoy it. Because in the end you will realise that you’re not wasting your time doing it, because it’s something nice and it’s not boring if you go with someone.

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