Camino De Santiago
On the 11th of February, I was picked up at 3am to start my journey to Santiago. After arriving with minutes to spare before my flight, I made it onto the plane with nothing but a few items of clothes, some toiletries and a sleeping bag.
Rewinding to February, I had a meeting with a charity called Young Star Mentoring called Tony. He explained to me that he would be running a trip whereby young people from all walks of life would join him to complete a section of the Camino de Santiago. After quite a few last-minute changes, the team was set to go. We were to start in Leon and (hopefully) finish at the Compostela in Santiago, with only 15 days to complete the 322km trek.
We had stayed in a monastery in Leon for our first night and set off at about 6am to start our journey. To my dismay, about 100m down the road, I had somehow punctured the back wheel in my Mountain Trike wheelchair. Unfortunately, the shops did not open until 9:30/10 so we had to carry my chair for about 5km to the next town, for it to be fixed. Luckily though, the puncture was easy to solve and we head off straight afterwards.
For the next few weeks, we battled through wind and rain, as well as blaring sunshine to go on a journey that would really change our lives. We stayed in hostels that, if we had our own room, would be hundreds of pounds a night.
Throughout the journey, I met some truly amazing individuals from all across the globe. After talking with these people, I really feel as though I have a better understanding of how the word works and different cultures. The people really did make my trip.
Around day 7, I was rolling through treacherous terrain when the steering cable snapped on my wheelchair. I had no option but to stop at the next small town and just hope that someone would be able to help. Fortunately, the universe provided and a lovely group of cyclists with a support vehicle gave me a spare cable.
Every day was the same in terms of getting up and walking but the scenery was so variant. One day we were high in the mountains, unable to even capture the beauty with a camera and then the next day, we would be wondering through a forest.
Disability-wise, the terrain was extremely difficult to manage. Fortunately, I had purchased a Mountain Trike wheelchair, which was fantastic for off-road. Despite having a few falls in the chair, it really was a god-send. The albergue's (hostels) weren't accessible but luckily, I had my Iwalk with me to tackle showers and steep in/declines.
The morning of the last day, we awoke at 5am to ensure that we would have sufficient time in the city. By about 8am, we were passed the halfway mark and adamant that we would get there! With only 10km to go, my steering cable snapped again! I couldn't believe it! Luckily, I had a fantastic team behind me who were offering their support throughout and they steered my chair, while I pushed it with my arms.
The whole experience of 'walking' the Camino de Santiago is definitely one that I would recommend to other individuals. The team that I went with were extremely supportive and I am very grateful to their ability to carry my chair when I was unable to. Their perseverance through the 322km of tough terrain was fantastic to see and I really respect their attitude and patience.
As you can tell, I had an amazing experience overall. I cannot thank Tony and Young Star Mentoring enough for giving me the opportunity to experience something that I would have never thought possible otherwise.
If anybody is interested in walking the Camino, whether you're disabled or not, please get in contact as we may be arranging more trips in the future!