Beyond the Desk: A Camino Journey Through a Marketer’s Eyes

By way of introduction, my name is Tanya Agarwal and I have been working as the Marketing Executive at Follow the Camino for a little over a year. One of the crucial aspects of my job requires me to understand the stories and experiences that unfold over the Camino de Santiago. It’s one thing to market a journey, but another to walk it. Recently, I walked the Camino de Santiago, and I returned with more than just memories; I brought back a new perspective on life. 

The Call to Adventure

In the corridors of the Follow the Camino offices, tales of winding paths, ancient footsteps, and life-altering journeys were my daily bread. As a marketing executive, my job was to weave these stories into invitations, beckoning travellers from all walks of life to embark on the Camino de Santiago. Yet, amidst crafting these narratives, a whisper within me grew into a roar—a yearning not just to tell the story, but to live it. The Camino called, not through a client’s testimonial or a glossy brochure, but through a voice that spoke of a deeper journey I had yet to take.

What started as a professional curiosity transformed into an undying urge for adventure.

Having studied the Camino for the last one year, hearing about the countless experiences and truly understanding the deep history – I knew I had to experience it for myself. 

How does one market an experience one hasn’t fully grasped? The answer, I discovered, was a challenge to step out from behind the promotional pamphlets and step onto the very trail I had so often described in eloquent but borrowed phrases. It was time to exchange my marketing hat for a pilgrim’s hat. Through this blog post, I invite you to walk with me through my reflections on the Camino, where every step tells a story, and every journey is unique. 

First Steps: Embarking on the Camino with Guidance and Smiles

The start of any journey holds the quiver of anticipation, the pulse of the unknown, and the thrill of stories yet to unfold. My own Camino journey commenced under the gentle Spanish sun, with a modest 14-kilometre hike that would lead me to the countryside to the quaint city of Arzua.

I was not alone as I took those initial steps; accompanying me was Umberto di Venosa, our esteemed CEO at Follow the Camino. Umberto, seasoned by the Camino N times over, embodied the spirit of the pilgrimage itself—a personal encyclopaedia of experiences and anecdotes. His presence turned the walk into more than just a passage through landscapes; it was a passage through the living history and soul of the Camino.

As we advanced, we found ourselves amid a flowing river of fellow pilgrims, each a book of stories, each a testament to the pull of this ancient route. The exchange of “Buen Camino”—the route’s blessing and greeting—became a rhythm that carried us forward, a shared language that kept our spirits high no matter the surroundings. 

A curious phenomenon began to manifest as I walked—the constant smile on my face, as persistent as the path under my feet. This smile was one that I hadn’t experienced before, mainly because my body was tiring, my legs were hurting and my mind was thinking. Amidst the exertion, against the gradient of high terrains, there it remained. There was a profound realisation in those moments: I was truly with myself, perhaps more than I had ever been within the confines of routine and walls.

The Day of Trials: Confronting the Camino’s Greatest Challenge

Day 2 greeted me not with a gentle kiss of sunshine, but with the worst possible weather – ahead me lay a storm that I had to battle through. The skies opened up as if to test the mettle of my determination, drenching the path to Amenal with a relentless downpour. The challenge was not merely the 25 kilometers that lay ahead—it was the cold, the wet, the lashings of a storm. 

The second day of my Camino brought with it a relentless storm, turning my 25-kilometer journey to Amenal into an ordeal of rain and resistance. My body, not used to such long walks, protested with every step. As the rain poured, doubts crept in, tempting me to give up. Each drop seemed to ask, “Why am I here?” 

Yet, even in the toughest moments, the Camino reminded me I wasn’t alone. Surrounded by others—families, solo travelers, people with their pets—I saw a community all pushing towards the same goal. Their determination inspired me. If they could keep going, so could I. Their company became a source of strength that helped me hold on when I wanted to let go. 

The journey got even harder after lunch. I was ready to call it quits, but I didn’t have to face the struggle by myself. My manager, Andre, walked beside me, offering words of motivation. We talked about everything and anything. His support made the difficult path a bit easier to walk. 

Then, the weather took a turn. The sun broke through the clouds, drying the rain and warming the air. That simple shift changed everything. The sunlight seemed to give us all new energy. Finally arriving in Amenal, the relief was immense. I realised then that the sense of accomplishment was worth every difficult step. Despite the struggle, the answer to “Why do people do this?” became clear—not in words, but in the profound peace of overcoming a challenge I once thought was beyond me.

In the final stretch, with just two kilometers remaining, the Camino presented a parting gift that seemed to capture the essence of the entire journey—a double rainbow arched gracefully across the sky. This vibrant spectacle, so rare and awe-inspiring, felt like nature’s own benediction upon our endeavors. It was as if the heavens themselves were acknowledging our perseverance and the myriad of steps that had carried us over hills, through valleys, and against the elements.

The Birthday Pilgrimage: Final 15km into Santiago

The culmination of my Camino journey was scripted like a personal epic—my final trek into Santiago de Compostela coincided with the dawn of my birthday. With a mere 15 kilometers left underfoot, this stretch was more than just the concluding chapter of a physical journey; it was a walk into a new year of my life. 

The air on my final day to Santiago was engulfed with an electric charge. Familiar faces, those companions in the shared pilgrimage of previous days, now carried a spark in their eyes—a spark ignited by the knowledge that our collective quest was drawing to a close. There was a palpable sense of urgency, our steps quickening even in the face of exhaustion. It was as if the closer we got to our destination, the more the fatigue fell away, replaced by an ineffable joy and anticipation.

As Santiago’s spires came into view, the emotional impact was palpable. The reality of reaching the end began to sink in, and with it, a profound sense of achievement. This was no ordinary birthday celebration; it was a rebirth, the kind that only the Camino can bestow upon those who walk its path.Entering the city, the energy was palpable, an amalgamation of joy, relief, and a shared sense of accomplishment among the pilgrims around me. 

Reaching the cathedral in Santiago, where the journey ends for so many, the bells were ringing, marking the arrival of pilgrims like myself. Standing there, I took a deep breath, letting the moment settle in. This wasn’t just the end of my Camino walk; it felt like the start of something new. On my birthday, this place felt even more special. I was stepping into another year of my life in such a historic and meaningful spot. 

Suddenly, emotions swelled up inside me. Before I even realized what was happening, a tear rolled down my cheek. But this tear wasn’t from sadness; it was from the deep well of joy that had been filling up with every mile I walked. I let that tear of happiness trace its path down my face, a silent testament to the journey, the struggles, and the sheer beauty of arriving at this point. It was a simple, pure moment where I felt connected to the past, present, and future all at once.

Walking the Camino de Santiago is more than a trek; it’s a metaphor for life itself

With every challenging ascent, every sharp turn, we learn a little more about ourselves and the resilience that lies within. We discover that our bodies are capable of going distances we never thought possible, that our spirits are buoyed by the strength of those walking alongside us, and that sometimes, the hardest paths lead to the most rewarding destinations. 

On my birthday, as I stood in the shadow of the cathedral, I realised that the true gift wasn’t the completion of the trail, but the journey itself and the transformations it wrought within me. The tears of joy I shed were not just for the end, but for the entire beautiful and unforgettable Camino experience. 

So, to anyone considering this pilgrimage, I say this: Your Camino will be uniquely yours, filled with its own challenges and delights. But one thing is certain—you will emerge changed. And as for me, Tanya Agarwal, the marketing executive, the pilgrim, the birthday girl—I will carry the Camino in my heart, forever grateful for the steps that led me to that sacred place where, under the tolling of the cathedral’s bells, I found a piece of myself that I didn’t know was missing. 

Buen Camino to all who walk this path, and may your journey be as life-affirming as mine.


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