Maxim Behar and Veneta Pissarska share their adventures on the Camino Way in "Graffiti on the Air" on BNR-Horizont Radio
Host: In our "Traveling Without a Suitcase" column, I now welcome Veneta Pissarska and Maxim Behar. The occasion for their visit is a special journey, a journey perhaps of the soul rather than of the physique. This is their book "The Camino Way. Quick, Easy and for Fun". Welcome to “Graffiti in the Air”.
Maxim: Good evening.
Veneta: Good evening.
Host: So, fill us in on this adventure of yours.
Veneta: This adventure is not from yesterday. It has been lived, planned, thought about for 15-20 years coming in ebbs and flows. Eventually Covid came and locked us in, and we had to do something at the first opening, and it was the most logical step then. So, we headed to this some call it "sacred road" others call it "a reflection of the milky way on earth" and so we decided to take this journey.
Host: Whose idea, was it? You or Maxim.
Veneta: Well, it was mutual.
Maxim: It was not Veneta's idea, because we have been talking about this topic for 5-6 years. However, the title of the book "Quick, Easy and Fun" is mine. One night when Veneta put a program on the table for 130-140 kilometers in 10 days and I decided that it could be done so quickly. It's not physical exertion that's the problem. I really wish that through this book the readers and people we know and don't know can overcome this stress that you walk a lot, you will get very tired, you will get calluses. However, much more important is the inner adventure and the appreciation when you come home from this wonderful journey you make for yourself and see the world differently.
Host: Many people on Graffiti in the Air have told us about this adventure. They tell us that some people go on it and other people come back, and I wondered if they were exaggerating. How was it with you?
Veneta: I don't know if there's that much difference between one and the other, but certainly the time we spent together, the people we met, the way you talk to these people. Nobody there asks you what you do, what you do, what our professions are. There the introductions go to where you're from, why you're here, what made you come here, what's your Camino, thanks for sharing my Camino. Rather in that spirit and yes somewhat coming back changed. I personally came back extremely refreshed and felt like I was looking at the world differently.
Host: Veneta in an interview you share that during this journey you have realized that it is not the goal that is important, but the process. This has helped you have an even more intense sense of the happiness of the moment.
Veneta: Well yes exactly. Because the world we live in is so fast-paced and results-oriented. We look at what we're going to contribute, we're going to give, we measure and weigh everything. And somehow the very going of the way we ignore it. And this adventure has brought us back to the actual walking of the journey, the sharing of the journey, the sharing between us and the sharing with people you meet by chance or not so chance.
Host: Let's just say to our listeners that you are very well-known people in your profession. You are a businessperson, a well-established business lady. Maxim we know him in the PR field and are an author of books. When you were there did you forget who you were?
Maxim: Actually, when we were there, we were who we are. That was the pleasure of the journey we had. We're all the same out there and it doesn't matter if somebody's a millionaire or somebody's a cab driver. We're all there on the Camino, we're all the same. Nobody cared what you did for a living. They asked us what country we were from every 10-15 minutes to find out who was from where. But most importantly we were talking to people without knowing who we were, and we didn't know who they were. We were super candid and shared wonderful things together. I'll go back to the last question. No human change can happen overnight. Changes come with overcoming obstacles and doing interesting things. The Camino Trail was one of those obstacles, and I embraced it as a challenge we had to do.
Host: I remember that some of the people who have visited us talking about the Camino, for them the biggest problem was for example frantic pain, calluses or how to manage to put the maximum number of things in your backpack that do not weigh and do not forget important ones. Were there little things that at one point gave you trouble?
Veneta: I think that's why we decided to write this book and that's why we named it "Quick, Easy and Fun". Kind of a rebuttal to this notion that the Camino at all costs must be difficult, painful, must involve some kind of suffering. But that's not the most important thing you should take away from this Camino. I think it takes you in a completely different direction.
Maxim: We made mistakes of course. One of them was that we went with a lot of baggage. In the book we tell how the airline lost our luggage and we arrived there without any luggage. With a small bag with our laptops. We had the option to wait a few days until our luggage arrived or leave immediately. I was wearing a jacket and city shoes, Veneta was also city dressed. And that hesitation lasted a minute or two and we decided to hit the road. We stopped at a supermarket, bought two toothbrushes, a toothpaste and shampoo. By the end we made do with these things, and they were enough. At one point we asked ourselves why we are carrying these big carriers full of cosmetics. Of the two suitcases we were carrying one remained unopened until the end. And we concluded that you can really backpack this whole way. You don't need anything there except underwear, a toothbrush, shampoo and soap, a mandatory external phone battery because you take a lot of pictures. We didn't take calls until as we were walking at night, we returned a call.
Host: After this trip, don't become a minimalist. Didn't you throw away everything from home?
Veneta: Not everything, but there were these urges of purging.
Maxim: We saw life from the other side, indeed one can live with very little if one's heart is full and one has someone by one's side with whom to share not only the Camino, to share difficulties and joys.
Host: I don't believe you were reading during the Camino.
Veneta: I have no recollection of having read. We were listening to music. We read things related to the towns we passed through, cathedrals, historical sites.
Host: What music were you listening to?
Maxim: I made a playlist for the Camino, but practically hardly listened to it because we talked the whole way. We leave early for work, run all day, and come home tired at night. We have an ouzo or a glass of wine to relax and rest. And now we've discovered that we've been together for 24 hours and there are many topics we haven't talked about before. And so, the music stayed away. The most important thing is that we had a good time. That's the most important thing in anything you do, especially if it's a challenge.
Host: You say that the most valuable thing is meeting people, communicating. That communication that we lost during the pandemic. Do we have a chance now to get back to enjoying social life?
Veneta: I think people are rediscovering the need to communicate with each other. Maybe we just did a purge of our contacts, and we selected them out. What's left are probably the most important and essential people in our environment that we communicate with. And I think that's how I would continue to select the people I communicate with. I think that was a very significant point.
Maxim: You know the pandemic didn't affect relationships between people that much. Rather, it made them more precise. But at the end of the day, we have social media, and it's known what a proponent I am of social media. Because first and foremost they are knowledge. We thought until we traveled that we could have something like that in Bulgaria. And there are probably roads like that in Bulgaria that are very interesting. Some people call them eco trails. But the word Camino itself, the greeting Boen Camino itself, the centuries of history and the people who walk this road and you meet them. The hostels we stayed in, the monasteries along the way are all part of that experience. In Bulgaria it's called a walk or hike, and there it's called the Camino.
Host: Well, Maxim Behar as a PR specialist can justify in a PR way and make such a route known.
Maxim: PR is not enough. There should be small country inns or hotels, and bars to make the road well maintained. This thing will happen one day. And I would be very happy to see the Bulgarian Camino and people who will pass it. Now we're looking forward to having readers find out what happened and if some of them want to get their book autographed, we'd love to see them.
Host: How to end this conversation. I give you the opportunity.
Veneta: Along the way we've seen a lot of thoughts and quotes from the Bible. But one thing stuck in my mind as we approached Santiago it started to rain, and we took shelter under a shelter to throw our raincoats over us and move on. And then I see a phrase on the wall "The end is always good, if it's not good then it's not the end". That to me is the phrase left in my mind from the Camino.
Maxim: It is written in the book. It is very wise indeed. A couple of people have told me that it's something John Lennon said. I haven't read it by him. But it's nice that in the end everything will be good and if it's not good yet then the end hasn't come.
Host: Thank you for featuring Veneta Pissarska and Maxim Behar authors of the book "The Camino Way. Quick, Easy and for Fun".