Álvaro has an intellectual disability, but that did not stop him from walking the Camino de Santiago after it reopened after the pandemic.
He did it with his father, Ildefonso, and his friend Paco. They traveled the entire Iberian Peninsula by car and stopped at Sarria, 62 miles before the end.
They say it was quite an experience. The three walked, prayed and made plans for the future: to invite the pope to lunch.
Álvaro: Pope Francis...
Ildefonso: What are you going to say to Pope Francis? What will he do? ... To have lunch. Where?
Álvaro: At my house.
They shared their adventure on social media and their videos were a resounding media success. In fact, they took the opportunity to launch a fundraising campaign for a charitable organization in their city of Malaga.
In the last stage of the Camino, their nerves began to rise to the surface.
Ildefonso: Well we are finishing it... we only have a little bit left.
Álvaro: (screams with joy)
Ildefonso: Just over a mile left.
Woman: We're here!
They could not embrace the image of the Apostle Santiago, as is tradition. Anti-Covid-19 measures greatly limited the capacity of the cathedral. However, the setback was taken with sportsmanship.
Ildefonso: 'We are now going to take a shower and do another part of the pilgrimage, which is filling ourselves with octopus. Are you going to eat a lot of octopus?'
The Camino de Santiago was a deep faith experience for them. For Ildefonso, it gave him the opportunity to share the joy of his son and get to know him better.
For Álvaro, doing the Camino de Santiago was a dream to fulfill. Now it's time to go for the next one: to meet the pope.
They have already done so, at least, in writing.
Pope Francis himself wrote this letter to him a few days after Álvaro finished his pilgrimage. In it, he thanked the teenager for the joy and hope he spread through his trip. He said Álvaro has shown us that one should not be afraid as God does not abandon people.