Interview with Guilherme Ribeiro about my Life on the Camino de Santiago
1 – Why do you love the Camino so much and love promoting the Camino?
I love walking. Since I was young I used to go on long circular walks in the English countryside usually ending in a Public House for lunch. So I was easily drawn to the Camino with so much walking involved.
When you add its history, culture,the landscapes and its sheer beauty,and its religious aspects I can’t get enough of it. Also I’m a Catholic so I can relate to paying homage to the Apostle Saint James. Together with all the benefits of walking like being outdoors,the adventure, the gastronomy, the ease of following the routes,but that you never feel completely alone at the end of the day.
Yes I do also love promoting the Camino, especially Galicia as it gives me immense satisfaction and pride. When I gave up my job in Bristol and moved to Galicia 10 years ago I decided to start my own business promoting tourism. Originally with My Guide Galicia but in 2017 I started English Resource Centre which brought together all I had built up before. I loved exploring Galicia and writing and taking videos of my experiences. Then 7 years ago I met the “Dios” (the God) of all the Portuguese Ways, Luis Freixo who inspired me so I decided to start concentrating on the Caminos including the Portuguese Coastal Way. I started collaborating with CaminoWays.Com doing videos for them then finding new routes and finally as a Guide.
I love helping people and showing them around and telling them about what Galicia has to offer including our gastronomy. And encouraging them to try new routes.
Over the years I have made many amazing friends who like me depend on the Camino to make a living including owners of Casa Rurales, Hotels, restaurants, bars,the Pilgrim Office, Churches, Museums, bodegas, fellow Guides, travel agencies etc.
The more time I’m devoted to promoting the Camino the better for my work situation and I like the variety of work.
2 – Can you explain to us your work on the Camino?
It started with doing videos of virtually every stage of every Camino in Spain. So I spent a few years on my own travelling all over Spain. Many of these videos are on the YouTube channel of CaminoWays.com.
Then one day I said to the owner of Camino Ways that they should promote the Portuguese Coastal Way. He got me to cycle the route, write a Guide to it and I used Luis Freixo’s maps to help with that and I did videos too. A year later Roland called me to say that the Portuguese Coastal Way was their second most popular camino after the French Way. This was before the times it even had any signage! Then when they had their first Group they asked me to Guide for them. I guided a lot of their Groups on other Caminos like the French Way, from Ourense and from Santiago to Muxia. Then I started collaborating with a lot of other agencies like Ultreya Tours, EATourSpecialist, Mystic Tours etc as there’s been such incredible growth. I also took groups on gastronomic tours and tours of wineries. Then came the crisis. I hope to continue with this work now that I live in the heart of the Ribeiro wine producing region near Ribadavia.
I also write content about the Caminos including new routes like the Camino del Invierno and from Braga to Santiago The Ways of Geira Arrieiros and Camino Miñoto Ribeiro.
3- Can you share with us the story where you met your partner?
Easter Sunday morning at dawnbreak in 2017. I was doing one of the final videos for Camino Ways from Sarria to Santiago. I arrived in Santiago the night before and I slept in the Monastery of San Martiño de Pinario. I got up at first light to take shots of Cathedral and Plaza Obradoiro. While there alone I heard her first talking to a couple so we started to talk and she asked me what I was doing. She had just finished her Camino too and she asked if she could watch what I was doing. I said I would show her some romantic places! It was Alameda Park followed by San Domingos de Bonaval Park and the rest is history!
4 – Can you share with us some special moments that you lived while walking?
There’s so many amazing memories. Meeting Luis Freixo for the first time at Albergue Aguncheiro in Mougas. I was having a coffee and he was approaching with a couple in wheelchairs who were going the Camino from Porto. I asked him what he was doing and the rest is history we became firm friends. Since then I’ve walked with him, his wife Christine and his groups and we always enjoyed stopping to have a tapa with a wine !
Being alone in the ruins of the old roman city of Cáparra in Extremadura on the Ruta de la Plata. The same on the Northern Way at the geyser Bufones de Arenillas. Braga Cathedral choir stalls. Walking the Camino del Invierno as there was so many highlights like Las Medulas,staying in Albergue O Barco de Valdeorras alone, seeing bear poo near Quiroga then the stage from there to Monforte de Lemos,Santiago Church just before Pobra do Brollon, Codos de Belesar, Monte Faro…
The food and drink, as I’m a Blogger for Galicia Gastro. I can strongly recommend a stop in A Cabana Apulia, Casa Alongos in Melide, Bar Pepe Padron, Bar O Recanto near Rodeiro ,A Horta D’Obradoiro Santiago, the meal at O Churrasco de Juanito Ponte Ulla. I was in Juanito with an Irish Group. They had the menu del dia for 10€ but were knocking back bottles of the house albariño like there was no tomorrow. I tried to say to the waiter they had reached their limit but he kept obliging and said it was part of the menu. The group loved the churassco and the head told me to get the bill. When he got it and it was 100€ in total for the 10 of us he nearly fell of his chair. He was so shocked he left a 50€ tip which led to the whole kitchen and owners of the restaurant to come out and greet us to say a big thank-you. To see everyone so happy was priceless yet another Camino moment.
So yes my groups…helping injured pilgrims..seeing familiar faces on the way like Juan and Angel at the Pilgrims Office..being bit by a dog 5 hours into Camino de Invierno…calling for ambulance after woman was stung by asian wasp. The Irish writer that kept phoning me on a guided trip to ask me where he was and that I should know as I was the Guide….sleeping in San Francisco Convent or Monastery of San Martiño de Pinario… Being in the company of Gonzalo on the guide tour of his own manor house, Pazo de Faramello.
5 – Why is Camino so important to you and so many others like me?
It’s where I learnt that there are no limitations as to what you can achieve in life if you change your mindset so it has taught me one of life’s lessons. I can walk 40 km in a day if I want too. I can go off the Camino if I want too. I don’t have to follow the yellow arrows all of the time. It’s for each pilgrim to do the Camino in their manner. The camino is a place where you can learn to adopt a positive attitude and not be judgemental.
There’s the religious and spiritual reasons as I’m Catholic and love being able to connect with God and fellow pilgrims. Then there’s the routes themselves, the heritage, the landscape beauty, the wildlife, the gastronomy…time outdoors to clear the mind… I like to think that God chose me to be here doing what I like to do most!
There the cultural reasons as the French, Northern and Primitive Ways have UNESCO World Heritage Status. I also can earn a living on the Camino too! Or at least get by..
6- What was your biggest inspiration on the Camino?
7 – What is the most amazing thing about the Camino?
The yellow arrows. The credential. The freedom. The outdoors. The food. The weather. That it runs through Galicia my favourite region in Spain.That it arrives at Cathedral of Santiago next to Obradoiro Square in the heart of Old Town. That it carries on to Muixia.
8- What can you tell to someone who has never walked the Camino?
That they should do it at least once in your lifetime. But many get addicted and just have to come back time and time again.
That some of the answers for those searching for meaning in their life will be revealed on the camino if they can commit to it. That it makes you a better person.
If you want a good time doing something different from the normal routine then go for it. There’s no need to suffer doing it !!
Thank you. It was a pleasure. Bo Nadal y feliz aninovo.
View Interview on Pasos del Camino