The Challenge

On 30 December 2009 I stood next to a Celtic monument, pondering over the decade about to come to an end. And I thought: to what extent has virtual reality replaced the taste for adventure?

At that moment I remembered my searching for my sword on the road that had changed my life , and how that pilgrimage had been important in turning me into the person I had always dreamed of becoming, living my personal legend. The moment had come to make the same challenge to someone else, and that is what I am doing here and now: pilgrim, go and search for your sword!

You can start anytime. I don’t know how many will heed my call. Perhaps many, perhaps nobody. In any case, the sword – that is NOT my sword received in “The Pilgrimage”, but a present given by a friend when I turned 60 – will be waiting in the manger until 31 December 2010. The sword has two distinguishing marks, and can only be identified by me or the Guardian.

If no-one fulfils the twelve tasks, in the first days of 2011 the prize in money mentioned below will be delivered to the Paulo Coelho Institute and then immediately donated to charity for the Lar Paulo de Tarso in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Should the sword be found, a donation of the same value as the prize will be made on the day that the winner receives his/her part. In order to find it, you will have to read four of my books: The Pilgrimage, By the Piedra River I Sat down and Wept, Brida and The Devil and Miss Prym. In this way the pilgrim will travel through places where I walked and which have left a mark on my life.

Although it is not difficult to get the information on the twelve steps on the Internet, I proposed the enigma in such a way that the pilgrim will have to take photos of the places marked.

In other words, the journey cannot be avoided.

I reckon that approximately 1,500 kilometers have to be covered, either by car or public transportation. It’s impossible to know how many days it will take, since real people have to be contacted, and these people may just not be in the place indicated – which means you will have to wait for them.

And of course there will be only one winner. Besides the sword and the adventure, this winner will be awarded a prize of US$ 10,000.

But everyone who takes part in this undertaking will end up benefitting from a beautiful experience.

The winner will be responsible for paying the taxes on the money prize.

In the case of any eventuality arising, participants can use the e-mail [email protected]. When I say “any eventuality”, I mean if one of the persons identified in the tasks has moved definitively. In this case the task will be changed, and the page updated. No e-mails will be answered.

In the hypothesis of the sword being found, this will be announced immediately, together with the photo of the winner.

As the poet Antonio Machado said: “Traveler, there is no path / the path is made by walking”.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW (The Enigma) and have a nice journey!

The Enigma

UPDATE 18/01: From 18/01 to 05/02 the person mentioned in the Fifth Test will not be there. He will become the Guardian. So you still can continue your journey, and eventually take the required photo after that date. The road does not need to be linear