The best two weeks we could have ever have, I never really understood the AEGEE spirit until now.
It was the morning of the first day of the SU. Finally the Summer was here and the participants were arriving. You could not imagine how good it felt, after months of only talking through Facebook, to finally meet all of them. It was crazy, 40 people together for one adventure that was just beginning.
First, we spent a few days in León. Visiting the city and the cathedral, biking around and playing games. But the nights in our party place, “The Humedo”, were clearly the best! The motto of our SU, “Discover your dark side”, written on our t-shirts, made us have a group mindset while running around the crowded streets.
And then, we left our beloved main city, ready (or not) to walk the five days of El Camino.
I remember the first night before the whole walk started, being so excited, but tired. I was already thinking: We are not going to make it. And then we started walking. El Camino was different than how I thought it would be. In the morning the whole group started together and you could hear regular comments such us “I really enjoyed dinner” or “somebody was snoring all nigh”, but after a while the group spitted. Because of the different rhythms of walking each of us had and that was when the good part started, conversations got deeper as the landscape of Galicia turned greener.
Walking for hours with the same person allowed participants to open up with each other easily, friendships developed faster this way. And you could find yourself knowing the stories of the people you walked with.
It was also a self-discovering stage because you got to know yourself better too (more discovering your dark side) a meditation time and (why not?) a fun time: seeing everybody run to get their seals on their pilgrim’s passport, necessary to finish the Camino was hilarious. There were some bumps in the road of course, having a medicine student as a helper can be a blessing.
The last day of El Camino was one of the weirdest. As we started to walk, it started to rain, but also the road was muddy and full of water from the rain from the night. We thought the participants would not go through all of that happily… but we couldn’t be more wrong! Some of them started to sing, share drinks and food and also appreciate that walking was coming to an end and that our goal was closer than ever… and sooner than we realized we were there. Santiago, The Way of St. James was over.
And then the Galician night came, we had the most fun there, dressed in togas tasting typical Galician food and drinks. The cathedral was visible at every moment, both from our hostel and the party places, as a reminder of why we were there.
After Santiago, Portugal came. It was great getting to explore a different country with different people, streets and, above all, food.
I remember the streets of Porto as the best part of the trip. All of us were getting along very well by then, so it was great to see a new city with more than 30 friends. We learned so much, partied so much and also ate so much.
The last night… how did everything happen so fast? If you’ve ever been to such an event, I’m sure you know the feeling, part of you stays behind with the people you’ve met. It will be hard for all of us to be reunited again, but most of us will see each other again in Europe, cause it’s a small world.
Lastly, as an organiser myself, I want to thank all of the participants and helpers, it would have never been the same without you, but I would like to make a special mention to my fellow organisers. Since this was my first time organising such big event, but not theirs, I was scared and doubtful at first (only five boys and me organising?!), but from the first day it was amazing how nice they were and how much I learned from them. They all worked really hard so we could all have the best experience of our lives, which indeed it was.
It’s a rare and unique thing how, after only sharing lives for a few days, such an intercultural exchange, such huge learning process is possible, how people can start strong friendships or fall in love…but most important how we got to be like a family and really feel the AEGEE spirit. And we figured all of that on the last night.
In the end we truly found out what “Discover your dark side” really meant… Especially while trying to protect our flag!
Written by Laura Pérez, AEGEE-León