Walk of a Lifetime: La Jolla Rotary couple to complete 1,000-mile pilgrimage
By Ashley Mackin
A journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step, literally, for La Jolla Golden Triangle Rotary members Bonnie and Krishna Arora. The couple will complete a 1,000-mile pilgrimage in Europe, known as the Camino de Santiago, in the coming weeks.
Having broken up the pilgrimage over the last eight years, they will depart for France where they will finish the final 175 miles on April 17. They will walk approximately 15 miles per day for about two weeks.
“We start walking on April 20 … We get very emotional because we’ve been doing this piece by piece for 10 years and it’s kind of putting closure to our walk,” Bonnie Arora said.
In addition to completing a longtime goal, this final trek also serves as a fundraiser for the Golden Triangle Rotary Club.
The complete Camino de Santiago spans from Le Puy en Velay in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, with stops in between. The Aroras walked the longest leg, from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela (both in Spain) three times.
The first time, they were part of a group that walked 124 miles of it and drove the rest, Bonnie Arora said. “We got home and felt guilty that we didn’t do the whole thing so we went back,” she laughed.
The second time, in 2005, they did the whole 500 miles in 35 days. “When we are walking, everything slows down, and (we) think about the moment. The mind starts changing, you realize you don’t need material things; you just need to be able to keep going,” she said.
The third time they walked the Spanish route, it had a deep spiritual connection. Krishna Arora explained their son is a doctor in the army and was sent to Iraq in 2007. Praying for his safety, they said upon their son’s return, they would go to Santiago de Compostela to give thanks in person.
“So in 2008 we went back and we walked the last 100 miles to visit in person and give our thanks,” he said.
In 2011, they walked the 165 miles from le Puy en Velay to Figeac. In 2012, they walked from Figeac to Condom, all regions in France. The final piece completes the 1,000-mile journey from Condom to Roncesvalles.
Now retired, Krishna Arora said they agreed to attempt this pilgrimage during their working years. With Krishna being of the Hindu faith and Bonnie being Catholic, they decided to complete pilgrimages that reflect those two faiths. During their Hindu pilgrimage in 2004, they walked the four corners of India. The Camino is their Catholic pilgrimage.
“You will come with a thousand and one reasons not to go but if it is meant to be, you will go,” Krishna Arora said. “I feel very strongly about it. Something keeps attracting us to the Camino. It takes the first few days to get into the rhythm, but once you are in rhythm there is no force in the world that will stop you from walking.”
He added that the walk has been a spiritual adventure that helped mold them into who they are today.
A big part of that, and an unexpected side effect of this walk, is their desire to be of service, “so that’s why it ended up becoming a fundraiser to support our rotary,” Bonnie Arora said. Krishna Arora added, “We are totally dedicated to doing charity work that has more or less become our full time job.”
Some of their service work includes helping to build a footbridge in the Andes in an effort to return a favor. After walking through India, they now help 50 children in the slum areas of India improve their education and learn English. Now, the donations collected in honor of the pilgrimage will go to Rotary service programs.
As for what’s next for the couple, neither seem to be sure. Bonnie Arora said with each trip, a new idea for a service project or something new comes to mind and takes their life in a new direction.
Krishna Arora said he couldn’t be sure because their lives have changed so much and that he doesn’t know how their lives will change again.
“Even at this age, our lives continue to evolve so we really don’t know how life is going to evolve over the next 10-15 years,” he said. “It has evolved to this and it still continues to evolve, and we really don’t know what lies ahead. The journey so far has been excellent; it has been very rewarding and deeply satisfying to our souls.”
On the web
■ kandbscamino.blogspot.com The Aroras blog details about their adventures, offer training advice, local hiking spots, photos and updates.
■ lajollagtrotary.org Donations in honor of the pilgrimage can be made by miles, by day or a flat amount.
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