João Perre Viana is the mastermind behind the Walking Mentorship program, an innovative one-week experience that helps people face their personal and professional challenges while taking a 120-kilometer (74.5-mile) hike along the Camino de Santiago.
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"The purpose of this methodology is to help gain perspective on what is important (both personally and professionally), update our reality maps, and create an action plan for the future," Viana says.
On Sunday, August 28, Viana embarked on his latest hike. Over the course of the week, he journaled about the journey he and his participants were on. We're publishing those journal entries. Read the rest of the series: part 0, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. - Ed. Note.
One one hand, it is hard to believe that we are already on the sixth day of our journey. On the other, when I close my eyes and think about the intensity of every experience, laugh, pain, and blister we have shared, I can feel a bond only accessible to people who have spent a great deal of time together – people who dare to open their hearts to friendship.
Miracles seem to happen everyday – if you're paying attention to them. At least, that's the way I think every morning when I wake up.
Today, we saw an even bigger miracle than usual when our injured companion overcome their "elephant foot" and, defying the laws of human limits, walked side by side with the rest of us, looking healthier and healthier as the kilometers passed underneath our boots.
I am tempted to say that the special hospitality and the deep love and respect provided by Andrea and Cristina, the Italian couple that runs Casa Leiras, were directly responsible for our companion's recovery. In the past, I have witnessed similar happenings in the same place.
When medicine is short, love seems to do the rest – and yes, we did also drink an amazing limoncello that might have helped.
Throughout most of our morning journey, the route ran through a spectacular forest. We continued through two little villages, Castro and A Carballeira, until we saw the magnificent Pico Sacro, the massive needle-shaped mountain we first saw two days ago. We then began our descent to the Ulla river.
Entering the municipality of Vedra, we crossed at A Ponte Ulla. Once we crossed the Ulla, we took a nice break at the restaurant of Senõra Ilda, who is a good friend of The Walking Mentorship. After that, we started our incredible 300-meter ascent to Outeiro, which gave us a beautiful view of the river and a brutal temperature of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
After six days on the road, however, our bodies had adapted to very different rhythms and routines. For some of us, moments like this ascent urge us to push ourselves, to try longer distances in the future and keep developing our walking philosophies.
In the afternoon, we took a longer break than usual so that we could reflect on our growth and start to think about our individual strategies going forward. We built the first drafts of our "strategic architectures," which give us more defined pictures of the better selves we wished to be in the future.
In the evening, we visited one of the characters of this route and another good friend of the program, Don Manolo. He is the owner of the Pazo de Galegos hotel, a true gem that is only accessible to those who know where to find it. If our legs and souls were already in heaven thanks to the hike, now it was our stomachs' turn. It is hard to select the best part of our meal – was it the ham, the empanada, the pimientos de Padron, the lemon and salty shrimp, or the bull stake? Maybe it was the house wine or the strawberries with cream ... very hard to say.
Our journey is approaching Santiago. There are only 16 kilometers to go. At the same time, we are approaching better understandings of what we want to change and improve in our lives.
As the mentor of this one-of-a-kind group, I've started feeling that my task is almost accomplished. I know that this will not be an easy night for me to sleep. The certainty that I will never live this wonderful week with these marvelous people again makes me a bit sad.
But the certainty that we lived all of this together has helped me dry my internal tears.
Tomorrow, we will walk a little more.
Ultreia et Suseia,
Photos of Day 6:
João Perre Viana founded the Walking Mentorship program.