IF the challenge of hiking hundreds of kilometres in a foreign country and confronting your personal inhibitions appeals, Judi O’Brien and Geraldine Williams can help make it a reality.
The Warrnambool women are keen to form a network of people who have either completed or want to tackle a Spanish Camino (pilgrimage) through some of the world’s most beautiful and challenging countryside.
Both embarked on the journeys separately as a personal challenge and discovered inner strengths and new enthusiasm.
Ms Williams said her family thought she was mad when she announced her plan to do one of the famous pilgrimages, which finish at the shrine of the apostle St James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, north-west Spain.
Unfortunately she contracted pneumonia and had to withdraw after completing 500 kilometres in more than two weeks over the Pyrenees.
But she’s saving money for a return visit to complete the final 245km.
“It breaks you open as a person,” she said. “You get a lot of time to think and reflect.
“It takes the fear away from your life.
“I reckon I could tackle anything now.”
Ms O’Brien has completed two of the pilgrimages, with one of 1000km last year.
She aims to do a third, this time along the northern coastal route, and may team up with Ms Williams.
“It’s something I’d wanted to do for many years,” Ms O’Brien said. “It’s an escape from everyday life, an enriching time.”
The pair said pilgrims they met along the way came for various reasons, ranging from spiritual reflection to tourism. “We’d love to hear from others who have been and provide some advice to others who are thinking of doing it,” they said.
Ms Williams can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and Ms O’Brien on 0407 334 119.