The last day pretty much consisted of walking endlessly along the streets of Rome. The main street to be correct. There were only fifteen kilometres left but it felt like a lifetime. I didn’t actually take photos because I was trying not to be run over by cars and to not get lost. Apparently, within the district of Rome, the destination of this pilgrimage, the eternal holy city, there are no signs for pilgrims anymore. Well, there are some, every once in a while. Very helpful. You got to fight your own way through the urban jungle. Which we did, not without getting separated though. At Monte Mario, a nature reserve, i.e. park, we find each other again and enjoy a final break with the first view onto Rome.
The internet is being stupid, so I cannot upload more photos. I’ll do so tomorrow morning.
Anyway, when we are finally reaching St. Peter’s Square, it starts raining. What craziness. It’s like the perfect welcome to the end of a long journey. We can’t help but to laugh. We make our way around the square passing the dome, to find the Swiss guards shielding the Vatican from stupid tourists and other evil. We are allowed to pass, having to leave our knifes with a police officer. Inside, where hardly any tourist gets, we receive our credentials. They are beautiful. The whole things is totally incredible. They even want to take a photo of us inside the walls in front of the building. Must remember to check the Vatican website… Then about thirty cardinals make their way out of the Vatican, taking selfies on their smart phones and photos of us. Therefore we dare to ask some of them for a picture with is too. As I said, all of this was so surreal. Totally awesome, no question. But… Did this really happen? To me? It’s unimaginable! Unthinkable! Unbelievable! I’m sure it will take a while for this to settle and to reach a certain level of reality in my mind. I did it! I walked to Rome. I loved it, I hated it, I was full of joy, in so much pain, in high spirit and ready to give up so many times. Like a roller coaster, up and down and all around. And somehow, during this ride, I reached my destination.
This is a great and an important experience. You learn so much about yourself, about the strength within you that you never knew of. In everyday life, not many times are you challenged to grow above yourself. Here, you do so every day. You can’t walk on when you reach your bed in the evening. Yet, every morning, you get out of this, more or less comfortable, bed and put on your shoes. Your pack your bag and start walking. Again. And again.
Thinking about walking 1200 kilometres, it seems impossible. But you need to learn to only look at today’s goal, the very thing right now. If all you do is live the moment, you can reach every destination, every goal. And, for myself, I learned that it’s ok not to succeed. I want to, don’t get me wrong. But I have come to allow myself to try without having to be successful. Which actually helps, because it does take away some of your fear. And once you’re on the road, you basically keep running anyway. Of you don’t make it to the destination, well, try again, if you think you can do it afterall. Or do something else, if you’re willing to accept that this simply wasn’t meant for you. In my opinion, both options are valid.
This time, I did it. But I had a second motif to succeed! As you know, I walked to Rome in order to raise money for humanitarian aid in the near east, where people, at the moment, do not have the choice of doing something else if life doesn’t ease them. I took you with me on this journey to share my joy and my pain. Taking this hardship onto myself is all I could do at the moment. If you think this is worth something, it would be absolutely fabulous if you could donate some money for my cause. If you don’t have much, give one cent per kilometre. That adds up to 12 euros. If you can spare a little more, feel free to do so. Check the “How to donate” tab for more information. If you need a tax receipt, feel free to contact me (in advance!).
Thank you all for being part of my journey, for listening to my short stories, my joyful expressions and my whiny complaints. Thank you for walking with me and giving me strength. We all need support from others every once in a while.
Love from Rome,