Reviving paths of freedom

On June 19, 2021, several young people from the Colegio Mayor Mendaur, in Pamplona, undertook the trip to Lleida to cross the Pyrenees. We were 12 university students, from Bilbao, Madrid, Mallorca, Valencia, Malaga, Logroño, Barcelona, ​​Palencia and Pamplona. We decided to stay in Pallerols to live the experience to the fullest. The most daring slept in the “oven”, where Saint Josemaría spent the night.

We did three stages: the first from Peramola to La Ribalera, the second from Sallent to Riu de Cabó, and the third from Aravell to Riu de Civís. The last stage, until San Julià de Lòria, we could not do it due to bad weather. Despite the effort required to complete the stages, we managed to complete them without complications. Even so, on several occasions we relived the scenes of the original pass, in 1937, counting the falls due to the slopes and the less mountainous footwear that some had decided to wear. The result was no more than several stumbles and a minor scratch.

The more mountaineers enjoyed the landscapes in silence, while the others took advantage of the crossings to initiate various songs and to deal with deeper topics of conversation or to propose games and riddles. The atmosphere was quite friendly, and when someone made a pretense of complaining we ended up laughing, encouraging those less experienced in the art of walking.

At the end of each stage, in the gathering that followed dinner in Pallerols, we distributed what some called “Barbie points”, for those who had filed a complaint with phrases like “is there much to go?”, “I’m tired”, or “do we stop for a break?”. It was an opportunity to remember some of the hardest moments with humor. At one point, someone suggested that we also distribute “Vargas points”, in honor of Juan Jiménez Vargas, to reward the strongest, the one who had best kept up the pace without hesitation. The inspiration came from the times in which we read the original story, when we verified that Juan was the one who supported the group, without showing weakness at any time.

During the walks, when we reached a more prominent place, we would take the opportunity to read the sections of the “Camino de Liberación” book referring to that stage, to better imagine the situation of the former and to encourage ourselves thinking about the immense facilities that we had in comparison: without cold, walking during the day, wearing suitable footwear, resting every day in Pallerols, and without missing any food.

The last day, in which we could not walk due to bad weather, we took the opportunity to go to Andorra and pray in the church of Sant Julià de Lòria, where a bronze statue recalls the moment when Saint Josemaría was able to greet Jesus sacramented after have been unable to enter a church that had not been desecrated for more than 16 months.

We also take the opportunity to see a Spanish match in the Euro Cup there. On the way back to Pamplona, ​​we remember the best moments of the excursions, and I think we all had one thing clear in mind: it had been worth reliving up close, treading on their footsteps and learning from their stories, the days that They took Saint Josemaría and those young people like us through the Pyrenees.