We thought we knew the origin of this project but, as time went by, we discovered it had been planned before our arrival...

For us, this project began with the death of our daughter Juana. A death that was unexpected, limitlessly painful and indescribable in words. At that time, my husband Diego and I, Silvina, lived in Brazil with our two daughters, Olivia and Juana, and I was pregnant of Felipe. With Juana’s farewell we lost our course. We did not know where we were standing in life anymore.

While going through the tough grieving process, with our hearts broken and an infinite amount of questions that could not be answered we felt guilty, lack of energy, read whatever we received, searched for the help of therapists of all kinds and beliefs, and resorted to anything that would help us keep going. Then, Diego read that it would be good to go on pilgrimage.

So, between research and conversations, he came up with the Caminho da Fé (The Walk of Faith), inspired by the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. This pilgrimage route begins in the north of the state of San Pablo, Brazil and ends at the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Aparecida (Our Lady of Aparecida). 320 kilometers of land... and sky.

In bad shape, with little energy and with the hope of finding something that would bring him back to life, Diego left. Diego felt Juana was with him at all times, sitting on his shoulders –her favorite way of travelling- and that gave him the strength he needed to finish the pilgrimage. This pilgrimage was a turning point for all our family. It was the moment when Diego stopped falling and understood that life could continue. We were not going to get Juana back but we could carry on living. He began thinking about life and hope once again. Our friends, those who went on the pilgrimage with him, also found special things: experience, feelings, comradeship, spirituality, and plenitude. Being between mountains, in contact with nature and enjoying the simplest things of life gives us peace, connects us with our inner being, and helps us find God.

For Diego, finding this route when he most needed it was a miracle. He asked himself why our country, Argentina, lacked of a pilgrimage road that could be walked all the year round, without a fixed starting date, without thousands of pilgrims walking at the same time. A road that could be travelled in silence, together with nature and those who we choose to share it with.

And, with this question, the Camino a Salta’s story begins… Making this dream come true seemed almost impossible. But we had faith; we wanted to create it in honor of Juana, to help many people and to help ourselves. Therefore, we started working. Where in Argentina could we create a road where nature would be inspiring? What road could lead pilgrims to a spiritual experience? While searching for this special place, Diego received a picture of the Immaculate Mother of The Divined Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. He immediately realized that she was leading the way and calling him. Once we had decided where the pilgrimage should end, we realized that the best starting point would be Jujuy. Everything made sense: Jujuy – Salta have the initials of Juana Salmoyraghi.

Throughout a year and a half we made several trips of two or three days. We managed to set the route, identify headquarters, set lunch and accommodation sites, and signal the route with yellow arrows and signs with the route’s logo. All the time, we received hints that reinforced the idea that we were on the right path. We were even honored with a meeting with Mrs. María Livia Galliano de Obeid who received our letter and decided to talk to us in person. She blessed us and the route which ends at the Sanctuary of the Immaculate Mother of The Divined Eucharistic Heart of Jesus.

Among all the signals we received, we would like to highlight the following:

  • The initial of the beginning and end of the route: Jujuy- Salta / Juana- Salmoyraghi.
  • Coming across the name of Juana on very large signs on the bus stop walls in San Antonio.
  • Finding Mrs. Hilda between mountains and fields, near Campo Alegre Dam, a place where we had nowhere to sleep and learning she was building some rooms for no reason. When we met her and told her about our idea, she looked at an image of Virgin Mary she has in her house and said: “So this was the reason why”! Undoubtedly, this had to be a site of our road!
  • Discovering a church was being built in Vaqueros in honor of Our Lady of Aparecida (Patroness of Brazil), who inspired us to start this project.
  • Meeting incredible people along the road; people who, with their open hearts, provided support at all times. We couldn’t have done all this without them: Manuel, Teófilo, Justiniano, Darío, Rafael, Mercedes, El Chiqui, El Oveja, Ada, Mario, Hilda, Raúl, Ana María, Guadalupe, Pati, Paula, El Tano, Luis, Sofía, José, Laura, Martín, Caro, Osvaldo, El Sapo, Martín R, Agus, Pato, María Adelaida, Marian, Shane, Luli, Willy, Mey, Mauri, Ine, Tata, Memeu, Tati, Chechu, and so many others. Also, all the incredible people who walked hand in hand with us on the opening pilgrimage (family and lifelong friends).
  • In several opportunities throughout this year and a half of work, we faced problems which were easily solved. We believe that we were mere instruments; that this project already existed and we were guided to perform it.

This story has no ending; each pilgrim will add their part. What a pilgrimage of several days provides cannot we expressed in words. Each one of you has to feel it because it is special, magical and very personal. We wish all pilgrims find what they came searching for.

With all our love, Silvina & Diego

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