There’s nowhere to turn when the storm picks up. The sea rages with ferocious intent as crested sails struggle to withstand the tumult. Waves crash against the brow as if to test our defiance. Out here in the wildness of the ocean, we find ourselves tossed about by forces we are powerless to control. It can be quite scary staring into the unknown. You’ve got to trust your gut, your inner compass, and stay true to your course. Don’t look back. To retreat now would weaken your hold on everything you’ve lived for. Sometimes you’ve just got to hang in there and do what it takes to ride this one out. Dare to dance that tide – you’ll be glad you did!
Waterford Camino Tours is that small raft at sea wading its way through the tempest. It has not been easy. We’ve had to dig deep over the past few months, maybe a little deeper than the world can see. You might think; ‘Ah sure they’ll be grand. It’s all in the outdoor. There’ll be back on their feet in no time.’ If only it was that simple! It will be a while before the international tourism market opens up so the domestic Irish market is key to our survival. Most of our bookings come from pooling together individual inquiries from around the country and creating a group out of them. We both feel it is better to play it safe for now and opt to only work with small ‘pods’ of people who would normally be in each other’s company – family groups, clubs, friends – rather than mix and match as we would have done in the past. We’ve had groups of varying sizes at intervals since June each bringing their own unique kind of magic, each reassuring us without even knowing it that all will be well. Blanchardstown, Ballymoney, Celbridge… we’ve had some great days. Peace of mind is everything. We will rise again!
The focus quickly shifted to assessing how we best navigate these waters so that we emerge strong on the other side. We had to read the signs and be ready to adapt. First things first, we had each other to share the voyage with no matter what was going on around us. We had time to chat, to laugh, to process, to push ourselves beyond our normal boundaries… together. This is the basis to all that we do. Everything about our Waterford Camino Tours has evolved out of the chats we’ve had on our very own Caminos around Tramore. We adjusted our sails slightly, checked our coordinates and revised our route accordingly. Doors are starting to open for us in ways that may not otherwise have happened. You’ve got to keep believing especially when you are tested most.
It pays to anchor in at the isle for a while when the way ahead seems blurred. Here by the water’s edge, time stands still as we rest beneath the warm rays of the setting sun. In the quiet, you hear faint murmurings of those who have sailed this way before. Silence stirs us to see beyond what exists to what is possible. Given that fewer now will be travelling to Spain to do the Camino de Santiago, could this be an opportune time to roll out a signature Irish Camino Experience? We spent two months over the summer doing our research into St. Declan’s Way, walking it with friends and putting together a unique week-long Camino offering that we would roll out from Spring 2021. It is great to have Our Lady’s Hospice and The Marie Keating Foundation signed up to follow this Camino with us next year. Light shines brightest against a darkened backdrop. We sense we are not alone!
Once you sail beyond your normal frontiers, you’ll find a peace the world does not always offer. The euphoria you feel will leave you wanting more. We were privileged to host a group from Prospect Holiday and Leisure Park near my hometown of Gorey at the weekend. Camino is all about the people you get to share the path with. They reminded us of the importance of finding a balance in life. They laughed and they sang yet were always ready to slow right down and soak in the peace and the beauty of the places we passed along the way. Above all they had a kindness in them. They looked out for each other often in quiet unspoken ways that few would see. Solidarity in its truest form is never for show. Their spiritual impulse ripples out far and wide. The universe is their guide.
We all have a value on friends now more than ever before. There are many out there missing the social connections that were such an important part of their lives; their choirs, live concerts, clubs, college life, their trips away… facets of social engagement that we’ll never take for granted again. These past few months have brought us back to where we belong. We had lost our way a little methinks. Digital advancements have consumed us to the point that we think we cannot live without them. We’ve drifted into the slipstream of what others expect from us rather than living to be the best version of ourselves regardless of what the world thinks. The tide is starting to turn. We’re starting to check in on each other in ways we may not have done before. We need community. We cannot do this on our own.
Once you channel good people into one common purpose anything is possible. With the help of a few friends, we’ve been able to reach out to people who would normally have come to our Taizé evening of music and reflection in the Edmund Rice Chapel. We felt many of those cocooned at home were feeling the isolation and missing our monthly gatherings. There’s a decency in people that knows no bounds. Peace Choir soloists and musicians made themselves available to record, Suzie and Brian from Hi-Lite Television Productions dropped everything to capture the unique ambience of the chapel, and our sound engineer Dan Murphy travelled up from Cork to help get each of the 16 musical pieces down in one night. It came together… not quite sure how but it did. A friend in Wales, Iain Tweedale, was able to edit everything into one Virtual Taizé and it has taken on a life of its own. We now have followers from India, Australia, the States, the Philippines who tune in every first Friday. If it brings a little hope to just one person, it’s been worth it. It all started with a simple idea. One tiny spark can make all the difference!
The voyage of life will test you from time to time. You need the right people around you to drive you on when your energies begin to wane. Be there for them in equal measure. Your attitude will shape the way ahead more than you know. Stay positive and see in this moment the promise of what is yet to come. Hoist those sails into the skies above and allow the winds to carry you the rest of the way.
We’ve exciting new plans for the months and years ahead that you can follow on www.waterfordcamino.com If you wish to join us, simply email Phil and Elaine at email@example.com letting us know your group size (Ideally between 8 and 24 persons), your preferred dates and the Waterford Camino option that best suits you and leave the rest to us.
Let the journey begin…