• Ryan Newman

La Serenata

Updated: May 10, 2018

Day 25 (Villafranca del Bierzo to Las Herrerias)

Distance: 13.61 miles (21.9KM)

Steps: 32,500

Time: 4 hours, 35 minutes

Total Distance To-Date: 385.79 Miles (620.87KM)

“Wake up Sweet love of my life, Wake up, If your asleep. Listen to my voice vibrating under your window, With this song I come to offer you my soul. Forgive me If I interrupt your sleep. I could no longer wait. And tonight I come to say that I love you. Forgive me If I interrupt your sleep. I could no longer wait. And tonight I come to say that I love you.I love you, I adore you my love. “ —Wake Up by Luis Luna (A popular la serenata song)

As we near Santiago, there are many new pilgrims who have joined the route. Due to time constraints, many people can’t walk 4-5 weeks on the Camino. To earn a “compostela” one needs to walk a minimum of 100KM or cycle at least 200KM. The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on

completing the Way.

I had some new and amazing walking companions today. A few days ago, I met a radiologist from Australian named James. Today, we walked a large portion of the journey together. He and others hadn’t seen me for a few days. He mentioned there was a “rumor” on the Camino that I flew home to Hawai’i due to the volcano incident. I assured him (and others) that my family lived on another island and there was no need for me to return home. I think it is kinda funny that there are “rumor mills” even on the Camino. James and I had a great discussion about our favorite and least favorite sections and towns on the Camino.

The first half of today was one of my favorite sections to walk. The morning began with a very significant climb—ironically the route was optional. The other route was a slow, steady rise and a shorter distance but it was along a very busy four lane highway. The extra climbing and kilometers paid dividends. There was an hour-long section that was simply enchanting—a beautiful valley amid a mountain top with lush trees and colorful bushes. It was Camino heaven!

On the second half of today’s walk, I met and talked with Daniela and Ana from Mexico City. Now in their rarly thirties, they have been best friends since Junior High. Daniela is a lawyer who has studied in the US and Germany and has traveled extensively. Her father runs a very successful cardboard box company in Mexico City. He is retiring and wants Daniela to take over the family business. Her Camino is allowing her time to discern.

Ana is a social worker who works with refuges and migrants through a Jesuit organization. She too has studied and travelled abroad extensively. Ana is also hoping the Camino offers some vocational discernment.

I was so impressed by both Daniela and Ana. They are fluent in four languages, have a great friendship, both spoke very highly of their families, are passionate about their careers, committed to their faith, and want to make a difference in the world. The world needs more Danielas and Anas.

Daniela shared a great story—definitely a Camino-takeaway. Her parents did the Camino last fall together from Sarria. They have been married 35 years. Daniela said when her parents returned from the Camino “they were like teenagers in love again. They are always holding hands, hugging, and kissing each other.” After returning from the Camino, her father even organized a “la serenata.”

What is a la serenta?

Traditionally, the boyfriend waits patiently for the sun to go down. Then in the town’s plaza he hires a group of mariachis or a trio of singers with guitars, and goes to his girlfriend’s house. There, on the street, under his loved one’s window, they all start to sing the most romantic and heartfelt songs. The purpose of the serenata is to wakeup the girlfriend, with songs that will touch her heart.

The girl wakes up, but lets the musicians play two or three songs before looking out of her window, while her boyfriend anxiously awaits. At last the girl appears on her balcony, or window, which signifies that she is pleased, and approves of her boyfriend’s serenade.

Daniela’‘s father serenaded his wife of 35 years thanks in part to the Camino. In my line of work, we say: “That will preach!”

Lesson of the Day: Love is strengthened and even awakened by the journey.

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