Carolena’s pilgrimage

If I’m not mistaken, it was the night of January the 13th when I saw ‘The Quest of the Sword’ on Paulo Coelho’s Blog. I was in disbelief… ‘The Quest of the Sword’ a Challenge by Paulo Coelho… I didn’t waste time reading on. A challenge that required to have read four of Paulo’s books, “The Pilgrimage” “By the Piedra River I Sat down and Wept” “Brida” and “The Devil and Miss Prym,” no problem so far, I’d read them all, and 12 tasks needed to be completed correctly and have photos as proofs in order to win one of Paulo Coelho’s Swords. Photos, this requires travelling, how exciting and how wonderful and what a genius idea. I read on, twelve tasks, Spain and France, walking through Paulo’s footsteps seeing all the places mentioned in the books that inspired him to write the stories, Wow… I wanted that Sword, the Sword that would make me worthy of a Warrior of the Light. But there was one problem that was stopping me, my financial situation. I knew it wasn’t the wisest idea, with the economy being the way it was and still is. Nevertheless, even if I wasn’t going to go, I wanted to solve the Enigma, I wanted to know exactly where all the twelve locations were so I started to delve into it, research it, dissect it, and the more I did, the more excited I became about it. Oh I wanted Paulo’s Sword so badly, I thought for sure I would do it at a later feasible time, perhaps in the summer, when I could walk the Camino instead of having to drive it and especially with the cold weather in the mountains of Spain and France, probably would be freezing cold and not the best time to go anyway. I decided that I was definitely going to do it at a later time. As I solved most of the 12 steps, I got struck by madness. I wanted that Sword with a passion and I thought, if I’m going to get it, I must go NOW. There is no point in waiting, a little cold never killed anyone, and besides, I still have the entire Atlantic Ocean to cross, and anyone who lives in Europe probably already started or would have a head start from me. Even if I didn’t get to win the sword, I might have the chance to see Paulo and that would make it all worth it. It didn’t take long to book a flight and rent a car. The car rental guy told me over the phone that I would need an International driver’s license otherwise they will not rent me a car. An international driver’s license? where in the world am I supposed to get that from? An automobile club he told me. The first thing I did after I hung up the phone was to call my automobile club, AAA . The lady over the phone said, “I’m sorry ma’am, it’s Saturday and all the offices are closed” Closed? No! Ok, Monday, how do I go about getting it Monday, I’m flying in the afternoon, I’ll have time in the morning.

To read the rest of her experience, please click here


  1. Haiku says:

    I’m revisiting this post after 4 months as a reminder. Four months ago I read Carolena’ journey and was so inspired. It changed my life and encouraged me to take a risk. I took that risk and 4 months later I am all the better for it. Just taking a moment of gratitude today to reflect on the lat 4 months and what inspired me to take that firt step. Thank you Carolena. May God bless you for sharing such a beautiful part of your soul’s journey.

  2. Thank you guys for your thoughts and stories!
    I too believe things happen for a reason Amara, reasons that at the time, we are not consciously aware of.
    With much Love and appreciation!

  3. Amara Noureddine says:

    i just want to share this story with you.

    When i was reading “the pilgrimage” and had only some pages left. I just forgot about the book for more than four days.

    Next week, i was sick and had to stay home, that day i remember the book and finished it that afternoon.
    The same day an old man died in my neighbour, my mother told me he was very sick for a few days. His house was in front of ours.

    When i finished the book, i was very touched by it and i had a strange feeling and didn’t understood why i wanted so badly to go to the roof. i did go to the roof to find a very strange scene.

    with all what “the pilgrimage” can drive in to you… it can be just something that i saw my way but i just couldn’t bear with this idea.

    there was the sun just behind my head and in front of me there was a tent that was built for the dead man (in morocco, and islamic countries, we bring people to read coran for the dead, the tent was built for that) and the sky was half blue clear and the other half cloudy.

    why did i put the book for more then foor days, though, i was fully in it?
    why that man died exactly that day?
    and why did i choose to stay at home and finish the book?

    coincidence or i was meant to see that scene at that moment to understand that all we have to do is to go for our goals no matter how we name them and do our best knowing that one day everything will end and that life can never be always clear blue or dark clouds.

    With love & Respect


  4. Olta Ana says:

    Dear Carolena, as a Leo that I am I dear to say that I am so proud of You, a courageous fighter like you, who could made it to the end and that your wisdom helped U see which your real sword was. Congratulations!
    You took your start as you said. Now I wish you a great voyage till the end!

    Love & Respect

  5. Shrikant says:

    Carolena, I read every word of your wonderful journey. Took me over a day but it was well worth it, even wished that it could have been longer and more detailed!!!! I really admire your passion, grit and determination through the journey. To me what was more striking was the fact that you crossed the atlantic to undertake this journey. (even I am in the US and would never have even thought about venturing out, but that is what makes your story inspiring). Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us.

  6. Amara Noureddine says:

    I just want to tell you that i was really touched & inspired by your story. it took me 3 days to read it :) and it’s was pleasure.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    And be sure that what you brought back with you is more than any sword.

    With Love & Respect.

  7. jeeva says:

    I admire your courage, your bond with your innerself and your trust on the universe. You have made me think of my Pilgrimage, soon…..

  8. katie says:

    carolena, I enjoyed reading your story very much.
    things I will remember when deciding to do this trip:
    cold-fog-icy road. shiver.

    love the story with andres and his family. I think I would have decided that this is my sword and stopped my quest. always wanted to help a shepherd …
    the photo showing andres & the sheep in the dark. even in the back of the picture you can see sheep eyes like little lamps… funny. but you can see that there are many sheep.
    again: thank you for the many pictures. they fit so well to your narration.

  9. Thank you all so much for your words that encourage me.
    It wasn’t easy writing it, but I am So much stronger because of it.
    Thank you again dearest Paulo you are just Magic with everything that you write and do.

  10. Cathy Scott says:

    What an amazing journey and wonderful pictures! What courage you must have!

  11. ~liz Wessel says:

    Wow, what a fascinating journey and what bravery on your part to take off on your own for this pilgrimage. What an adventure and talk about going out to embrace and really live life! Fabuous photos! I enjoyed your final remarks and the sharing of your insights too. ~liz

  12. Haiku says:


    I admire your courage. Thanks for sharing your pilgrimage. Reading your journal entry reminds me of The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. Your search / quest gives inspiration that the true gem is not in the final destination but the journey itself.

    Well done and again, thanks for sharing. You inspire me!

  13. AllaSobirova says:

    Very fruitful conversation!I was praying with you guys too.It is very necessary for me too,because i got some problems with my husband and ask for God’s direction.

  14. Love and Blessings Carolena…I was mesmerized; enjoyed reading your adventure, thank you for sharing.

    Lots of Love and huge Hugs, ecstatic that you found your sword xoxo

  15. devy man says:

    thank you ! may god bless you all … amen *

    1. Devy man…. God bless you too! :)

  16. Maria says:

    Dear Carolena,
    I read your inspiring story from beginning to end and enjoyed every bit of it. I put myself in your shoes (at least in imagination)and realized how hard the Quest must be if you are a woman, all alone somewhere in the cold mountains.I would be scared to death!
    You deserve all the respect!
    Thank you for sharing and God bless you.

    1. Thank you Maria, interesting you said that, Paul Santiago’s Dream and I had a similar conversation at Acacio’s about it being harder for a woman.
      I think in ‘general’ that might be true because women haven’t had the freedom to venture out in the unknown into the night and darkness unaccompanied… Even though things are changing, it still holds true, a lot of women are not used to that.
      But I think what it comes down to is not male or female, but just human emotion, loneliness, tired, confused etc. Even the guys were sharing in these same feelings as me.

    2. Btw, thank you for reading from beginning to end, It’s so long I didn’t think anyone would.

  17. Meeting you was a highlight for me as well! :)
    Thank you, God bless your journey too!

  18. Thank you Jessica, yes that is why I wrote it, so those who didn’t or couldn’t go can experience it a little through my journey.

  19. THELMA says:

    Thank you dear Carolena, for sharing your Enigma/Quest. You are a Warrior, a real Lioness, a powerful … Witch! ;-] Remember when we were ‘talking’ once, I told you not to say the word “Witch” but that I would prefer .. Fairy .. You did not like me saying that!! Reading your story I smiled because you had faced the same ‘dilemma’ when you were searching for the Cathars’ Witch. The people told you to call her with another ‘name’, because people do not understand! ;-]
    Your photos are wonderful and your narrative very vivid.
    You had already mentioned in facebook that you had found your Sword and I was wondering.. Is it the minute that we understand the meaning of LIFE? I assume that the answers are in our Soul; We just have to open our ‘inner’ senses and find HIM.
    Regarding the Sword, I believe that the Sword/Ithaca has given you the beautiful Journey.. and of course, our Paulo Coelho.
    Thelma xxx

    1. You make me laugh Mama Thelma! :D yes I guess you were right! ;) It’s funny because Andres and his sister kept saying don’t say Bruja, of course I got it the first time they said it, but I used the word to describe my frustration in not finding her and they wouldn’t get that, they kept saying NO! NO Bruja, Curandera… it was funny!
      Yes, it’s difficult to describe because it’s a change in internal energy. You just have to take the Pilgrimage I guess ;)

  20. Heart says:

    What a pilgrimage, and what a fantastic story in words and pictures you are sharing with us. I am so impressed with your courage to set out on the quest alone. Definitely a memory for life!

    1. Absolutely, thank you Heart.

  21. TYL says:

    Thanks for sharing, Love

    1. Thank you for reading. :)

  22. Jojo says:

    Beautiful pictures. Will take the time to go through it all. Thanks Paolo for sharing those moments, be it Camilla or Carolena, and maybe others to come. A friend of mine, artist here in Quebec, with me make some night conference about Compostelle. He shares his experience. Now, Carolena you share yours … and I will live mine in the summer of 2011 … this is my intention. Melk gave me a taste of what an adventure can bring, encounters can bring and walking on the path of such strong energy. Again, thank you and I keep in my favorites your text Carolena.

    Love, Jojo.

    1. Thanks Jojo,
      You will have a wonderful time. I’d give you some tips but part of an adventure is being in situations not prepared for and finding a solution. You never know where it will take you. :)

  23. katie says:

    great pictures.
    my first trip through your story was just looking at the pictures.they already tell a lot.
    will enjoy the text this weekend.
    thanks for the story :o)

    1. Thank you Katie. Pictures do tell a thousand words! :)

  24. marie-christine says:

    Thank you for your story Carolena.
    I like the picture with the light behind you.

    1. Thank you MC. It’s my Halo ;)

  25. Catherine says:

    Carolena – I love you writing and can’t wait to read the second section… but am rushing out now.
    So amazed you took the plunge and went – inspired!

    1. Thanks Catherine!

  26. Alexandra says:

    Is Carolena Sabah?
    I admire your courage. About paths, I saw a good movie, and there the master said to student: You learn the path, but than you go on your own path.
    Maybew once I will do a pilgrimage, I just love all the stories about …
    Warm embrace

    1. Yes it’s me Alexandra! :) If you do the pilgrimage, you will come out rich with experiences and you will be a different person because of it. On my last day in Santiago, I met a guy, Albert from Germany, he had done that Camino as well as others many many times, he was basically living on the camino because he couldn’t return to the Matrix. He was Alive, living an adventure, with many many stories to share.

  27. Dear Carolena was a beautifuls moment. Thank you for your words that spoken of me loably words. I hope you learm many more and you now are a Alquimist because you change your felings.
    Was a hurt travel but now I think for you is beautiful to remain.
    Carolena I wait fine someday perhaps when you make th Path to Santiago de Compostela and Emilio and me wait for you in End of Path.
    Kisses for you from my hearth and I like very much that you liked my meal, I make with all my love and in this moment you need take force.
    I see you soon and you make a good job.

    1. Thank you Rosa, it’s a memory for life! If I ever make the Pilgrimage, I will definitely see you!
      Many blessings!

  28. Paulo Coelho says:

    Dearest Carolena, you made quite an interesting journey! But just to clarify: this was not MY sword. It was a gift that I got in my 60th birthday.
    And even if you took some roads that were not part of the Enigma, I hope you had fun and your life is richer now.
    As for people who did not follow the Enigma, you can get all the information in
    and on the winner

    1. Yes yes, of course I was aware of that but still You were giving it away. There were times when it was very tough and there were times when I had fun, and yes, I am rich with experience!

      Thank you very much for posting it on your blog, it’s an honor!
      With love,

    2. It’s time to pray? 1 more minute1?
      I’ll be saying my prayers!
      God bless all of us and the world!