Camino Talks: The Camino de Santiago with kids

Written by Wanda

More and more families with children are choosing the Way of Saint James as their holiday destination. They are looking to spend quality time and reconnect with their loved ones in a natural environment, full of history and culture.

In this episode of our talk series, Wanda did a Camino Talks with Jorge Jesus who has been on the Camino de Santiago more than 4 times and on one of those occasions with his children.

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00:00:00.000] – Wanda
Hello everyone, my name is Wanda Cardenes from Follow the Camino and today I am meeting Jorge Jesus who has been on the Camino de Santiago more than 4 times, and on one of those occasions with his children, and today he is going to tell us more about this incredible experience on the Camino de Santiago. Thank you very much for joining us, Jorge.

00:00:23,500] – Jorge
Thank you very much Wanda, it’s a pleasure to be able to share this with you.
00:00:28,550] – Wanda

I’d like to start by asking you – why the Way of Saint James? What was the motivation that has driven you to do the Way of Saint James more than 4 times already?

00:00:41,800] – Jorge
I have discovered in my life that the Way of Saint James has been a tool for searching, for inner searching. I have travelled something in my life. I have been to almost 30 countries and I can tell you that one of the most incredible journeys is the Way of Saint James. Because in reality, it has been, as I mentioned before, a tool that has allowed me to enter into those aspects of myself in which it is necessary to stop time. In which it is necessary to undress a little in order to explore oneself. So, that has been the clear reason, always with different nuances because as you have said I have walked 4 times, and always it has been different because things go changing, but in the end, it is still the same purpose – the encounter with oneself.

00:01:47.550] – Wanda

Very interesting.

And compared to other types of holidays what do you consider special about the Way of Saint James that makes people go and repeat it over and over again?

00:02:05.500] – Jorge
I believe that the Way has the magic of a great energy, it is a great vibration that is fed by all those who are tuned to the intention of the search. And that creates as a great effect, the Way of Saint James is, as you said, a retreat, a retreat but that takes on different dimensions and nuances. Because on the one hand is the encounter with the so-called nature, although we are also nature, so let’s say contact with the elements. And at the same time is the connection with people who at that time decide to also open themselves to those elements, and that tune. And that meeting of souls with different experiences, with different stories, with different motivations, produces a magical effect. I have always started the Way, except for the last time, but at least the first three times I was looking for something and I ended up realizing that what I found was what I really needed, not what I was looking for. So I think that it is always a big surprise to find something that you do not expect but that is what life really has for you.

00:03:33.000] – Wanda
I know that the third time you did the Camino de Santiago you went with your daughter and then returned a fourth time with all your children.

Tell me about your experience, what motivated you to share this wonderful experience with your children.

00:03:48,600] – Jorge
Well, I think it was the intention to be able to share the most valuable experiences I have had in my own life. I have always considered spiritual formation and being able to bring about that awakening in the conscience of my children as one of my great purposes as a father, in fact, it is one of my great purposes in life.

So, then, with my daughter, who I have spoken to about these issues since she was very young. In fact, when she was about 5 or 6 years old her mother and did a couple of days of the Camino between Roncesvalles and the following stages to show what would come.

Then, I walked with her for about 15 days the first time, and it was an experience of sharing what I felt was essential more deeply. It was an experience that impacted her because almost 5 years later she decided to do it with a friend, and I met her later with my other two children. My other two children at the time were seven and nine years old. Imagine the experience they had during those days. The youngest, the smallest pilgrims, it was certainly a very strong physical experience, but at the same time, the opportunity to share that vision of the world and that way of understanding our own purpose in life with their dad.

00:05:48.950] – Wanda
Right, many of our clients talk about how beneficial the Camino is for bonding with your loved ones, for reconnecting.

Do you feel that this experience with your children has improved your relationship with them?

00:06:10,900] – Jorge
I’ve travelled a lot, as I was saying, well, a lot inside me, with family and close references, and that has meant being away from the children for a long time. So for me, it is very important that the time I spend with them is quality time. Quality time that has an impact, that stays forever. Walking with them during those days, it has led us to deepen our relationship. It has brought us closer together emotionally and it has also allowed me to have those spaces in which I can work with them on those things that are complicated for them.

00:06:59.700] – Jorge
We have been able to work through the darkness, the darkness in each one of us that was there since we were children because we are absorbing it from mom and dad and everything that is around us. Upon realizing these issues as an adult, Wanda, I have realized that the most valuable thing I can do as a dad is to help my children have tools to be able to go through their own darkness. So we have used the Camino as an opportunity to go through their own difficult moments, their own moments of anger, their own moments of sadness, their own fears. And it was framed in a context where there is wind, there is rain, there is “I’m tired”, there is “I don’t want to”. In other words, in the end, as in life, difficult circumstances, whether physical or mental, expose what we still have to work on the inside.

00:08:04.700] – Wanda
Wow, that’s deep! And speaking of those moments of “oh I can’t”, “I’m tired”!

How did you prepare to do the Camino de Santiago, physically?

00:08:18.000] – Jorge
Look, I’ll be honest with you, we did very little preparation, really. In fact, I would not recommend it, but I do have to confess that none of the times I have done the Camino has prepared me. In fact, the first time I did it for myself it was very difficult the first few days, as it is for many pilgrims, because I was not even used to carrying a backpack.

This last trip I did not plan to take the children, or not both of them. I thought I would take the little girl who is nine, or was nine at this time, Maya. And finally, the little boy said: “you won’t let me”. So maybe the one who needed a little more preparation was the little one, because the little girl has always been very sporty and has a physical constitution that is appropriate for these things.

But in the end, both of them turned out to have the ability. And it was difficult, it’s very difficult, I think it’s difficult to prepare a child for an experience like that, it’s very difficult because for an adult it’s difficult. So I think you have to be more prepared, psychologically, to be able to support them, to be able to go at their pace, to know how to stop when you have to stop and even rest, to stop walking one day, for example, when it’s necessary.

We didn’t prepare ourselves much, Wanda. I suggest that the parents who want to walk with their children do walks in the parks with their sports shoes, preferably with the backpack as well a few days before. I did it for a couple of days, maybe three days before and that was a big risk actually. And there were times when yes, the kids got blocked, that is, they said I don’t walk anymore. So, the emotional lift and the support and love, in this case from their father and their older sister, and between them (because they gave each other a lot of encouragement too), was fundamental to going forward in those difficult moments.

But I can tell you one thing, those difficult moments also come for adults. I mean, what happens is that with a child everything is always more fragile, but we prepared ourselves very little, honestly.

00:11:10,500] – Wanda
Yes, and well, you who have already had the experience of going to the Camino de Santiago with your children,

what recommendation would you give to those parents who would like to do the Camino, but who see it as a bit difficult? Would you recommend it?

00:11:30.300] – Jorge
Yes, of course, it is magnificent quality time, it is a time that allows children, and also to have the experience of meeting other pilgrims especially adults, but it is extremely formative. It is an experience that lasts forever. I would recommend it, well, in the case of my children who are 7 to 9 years old – I would recommend not spending two weeks. That would be a good recommendation. 10 days is a good number, but two weeks tops because it can be difficult for them to go any longer than that. I preferred to cut the experience short, even though they were very enthusiastic about wanting to keep walking, I preferred to cut it short there and then resume when they are older. But I definitely recommend it. For them, it has remained one of the most incredible experiences of their lives. Now they have little memory of the difficult moments, physically. Look we had a very special experience with them, but one that stands out was a moment when we were in a hostel with other pilgrims and there was a kind of moment of intentions and where each one expressed – it was in Bercianos this, in the hostel of Bercianos – where each one expressed what they felt. And so there were many people who expressed experiences of pain, loss of loved ones and children were there listening to all that. And for them, it was very nice to be able to say something to these people, and that other people could feel the strength of these children, it was like, it’s magic I tell you, it’s that tuning of vibrations that produces a great vibration. I definitely recommend it, Wanda.

00:13:36.100] – Wanda
Very good, and now I would like to know a little bit more about

what those most memorable moments of your experience that you will never forget were.

00:13:52.200] – Jorge
Look, I think the sunrises, in general, I mean, to see the sunrise, to see the night rise, on the Camino, and with the children – incredible – with the lamps, the fireflies – that’s incredible. To see other pilgrims this far away with their lanterns. That I think is a super amazing experience for any child. I have this very clear.

The days when it rained too, and that I enjoyed with them that sensation of getting wet, for example, without a doubt the difficult moments in which there were incredible words, in which, then, my children manifested with words or attitudes teachings for me for a lifetime, that is, for me, it was also enriching.

The love of being with them over those days, of taking care of them, of helping to bathe them, of cleaning them, of healing their feet. Preparing them to eat and sleep, that continuous tenderness made those 15 days felt like three months.

Time expands when we have the capacity to live every moment. You know, don’t you? And, well, when I have lived it alone, let’s see, many experiences, but at this moment I remember one of them. We were walking, [myself and] a guy who is now one of my best friends that I met on the Camino.

We were walking at a rate of about 25 to 30 kilometres a day, we were walking a lot, that day we met Alan. Alan, a person who was probably in his eighties, had been walking at a slow, slow pace, and when we approached him thinking that he had been walking for a few days, he told us that he had been walking for months.

00:15:59,500] – Jorge
We asked him where he was coming from and he said he was from Australia, that he had made the journey or had travelled roads in his life, and I remember it was very funny because he told us about many countries.

I was walking with a guy, my friend, who is a British Airways flight attendant, who has travelled to 70 countries, and this man knew 100 countries, so he is the reference of the trip. But in addition to the journey on foot. A man that had travelled the mines in the former Soviet Union, a man who had walked in Asian countries. And all the countries he knew referred to him for a few beers, that is, he remembered the names of the beers, And that day, Wanda, he had a hurt ankle and was very slow, and we decided to walk with Paul.

When we finished accompanying him to the hostel where he was arriving and we made sure he was okay, he invited us to a beer for a change, and drinking the beer he told us: you know what guys, in the several months that I’ve been walking it’s the first time that someone has walked with me the whole way because I’m going too slow, I want to invite you to a beer. We will never forget that day of Paul, and I started to think that maybe, Paul one day, I said to myself, where will his family be his children, maybe Paul one day will leave this plane walking and that is one of the experiences that I will never forget.

00:17:48.100] – Wanda
Wow, that’s deep!

00:17:48,200] – Jorge
Yes, very special, and let me tell you that there is another experience which I remember with special affection. Suddenly seeing the starry sky, seeing the Milky Way, and thinking about my father, who, by the way, left us almost 2 months ago, dad also passed away. And I remember a lot that night, feeling Dad in the stars, in the constellations. He was an astronomer and, well, it’s like now that he left I know that when I return to the Way, I will know again that he is accompanying me with the stars, in the way of the stars.

00:18:36.600] – Wanda
Wow, that’s very deep and spiritual, and I think that’s one of the reasons why people come back again and again to the Camino de Santiago.

00:18:49.150] – Wanda
And, well, to finish Jorge, I would like to ask you:

Will you go back on the Camino? Is there a new route of the Camino in sight, perhaps a new one? I know you’ve been on the French Way, the Aragonese Way, tell me.

00:19:09.700] – Jorge
Yes, of course, I do, Wanda, as many times as it takes. Moreover, I realize that the Way of Saint James is the continuation of the everyday route. In fact, it is a great road that we consciously started shortly after we realized that we are in this world of children and that will continue until the last day that we are here on this earth. It will continue here on earth for it is an infinite path.

You know I thought that, and my daughter told me recently: “daddy when you die, what will we do with your ashes?”, I said I don’t know maybe a mountain and she said, what if we take them to the Way of Saint James I said, I love that. So, imagine with that I answer you a lot. Probably, my ashes or part of my ashes will rest along the Way of Saint James one day.

00:20:07.600] – Wanda
Jorge that’s a hard question and I love that you can express it in such a natural way, because in the end that’s how it should be – we all get there at some point in life. Well, thank you very much for this very special interview, for sharing your experience with us. I am sure that people who do not know the Camino after listening to you will be encouraged to see it.

00:20:38.530] – Jorge
Yes, Wanda, I thank you very much and, yes, it is one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever had in my life. It is one of my experiences because it is richer in terms of realizing so many things and I think that as I return to the Way, I will do it more quietly. One of the great mystics of the Church of Christians, St. John of the Cross, says that the conditions of the Flying Bird are 5 that it flies the highest, one, that it does not suffer from company even though it is of its own nature. That it sings softly. That it puts its beak in the air. And I believe that as I return to the Way it will always be like that, singing softly, watching, being attentive if for the day when it is my turn to leave. I see now that you are talking about death, I see it as part of the Way, part of a beautiful path, and how much more so when such beautiful beings await us, who are there, moving a little ahead of us on the Milky Way. Thank you very much, Wanda, for your time, thank you very much for your person and your vibration.

00:22:11.000] – Wanda
Thank you very much, Jorge.

About Camino Talks
Camino Talks is a collection of interviews about the famous Camino de Santiago. We talk to the people that make it so special and share their stories with you. By Follow the Camino
29th June 2020

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