Posts Tagged With: Camino friends

A Mindful and Blustery Day


This morning in Castenada, it was pouring. At the bar where I had desayuno, the TV news showed flooded streets in Santiago. It’s supposed to be the first big storm of autumn. So I hung out for an extra hour at the bar in hopes that there would be a break in the storm.

Right then I saw on the Spanish news that there’d been another mass shooting at a school in Nevada. The bar person asked if I was American, and shook her head. It was one of those moments when you see your own country from an outside perspective.

That’s when Walter walked in. He sat down at my table and we began talking. He’s from Tasmania, and has traveled all over the world. He’s about my age. There were the usual questions, “when and where did you start the Camino?” and then he told me how his friend in Tasmania had just been diagnosed with cancer, and began to cry.

We bonded over how the Camino has made us cry every day, for seemingly no reason.

Sometimes at random moments it’s clear to me that we’re walking a path that people have walked for 1,000 years. People have suffered and loved and left something of themselves along the Way. And I can feel their vibrations sometimes, it’s a mysterious thing. And also, the Camino brings you to heartbreakingly beautiful places you would never see otherwise. And you meet people from all over the world.

I think all the exercise and the new people you meet break down your defences, too. The whole experience is cathartic.

The sun broke through briefly around 9:30, and we began to walk. He’d told me he had diabetes, and then said he also had cystic fibrosis, and was very long-lived for having the disease. He periodically had to stop and cough, which was difficult to witness.

We ended up walking most of the day together.

It was a mindful day for me, where I wanted to walk alone some of the time and process where I am at this point on the pilgrimage.

In many ways, he was just the right companion. The fact that he was walking the Camino was inspiring, and he had many life insights from his living with CF and doing amazing things like climbing mountains in Borneo, being a guide in Australia, long-distance biking.

Somehow there were enough periods of sun that I didn’t get too wet, and there also were times of blasting wind, thunder, and downpours. I put my rain gear on and off about 15 times during the day.

The Camino led us mostly through a canopy of ancient trees that met over the top of the trail, provided shelter. It was like a long, long nave in a way.

A couple of times we looked back and saw clusters of big box stores and the highway–but on the Camino we were in a protected, timeless tunnel of green.

Walter continued on past the Albergue I’d reserved. I hope to see him in Santiago.

Tonight I’m staying at an Albergue/hotel combination and I’m sharing a room with a Hungarian woman. It reminds me of my week sharing rooms with Monika.

My hair is like a fright wig, I’m sick of my clothes, and I’m treasuring this night of sitting in the bar trading pilgrim tales with Irish folk, and South Africans.

A good day. I’m glad I have one more day to walk slowly and take my time. I’m not quite ready for this epic journey by foot to end.









Categories: Camino, Conversations on the Camino, October 2013, Spiritual Growth, Spirituality, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A time to walk and a time to heal

Yesterday I took a taxi to the Universidad de Leon Hospital and limped into the ER to have a medical professional look at my foot. It was a fascinating window into the Spanish medical system. They don’t take your blood pressure or weigh you or make you fill out any forms. They have a “concierge” guy at the door of the ER who directs you where to go, and a very no nonsense triage guy. It’s so much quieter than an American ER, no TV or paging, and the lighting was subdued, not hospital bright.

I can’t believe I did it all in Spanish! Because no one at the hospital spoke English. The female doctor spoke a little. Had an X-ray done, and also tried to pay. I’m supposed to give the documentation to Kaiser.

Her diagnosis was Plantar Fasciatis. She said I should not try to continue the Camino.

The treatment is RICE: rest, ice, elevation, compression and anti-inflammatory drugs.

My Camino friends from Chicago arrived at the hotel in the afternoon, and we sat in their room and I heard about their days of walking and how tired they were. As we talked, I realized that, for me, walking the Camino was over. I could follow along by bus, but that wasn’t really a pilgrimage. I found so much joy in the walking, and talking on the path, and watching for the yellow arrows, and coming into tiny villages—the whole experience.

It made me sad to come to grips with my situation, even though I knew I wasn’t alone. Many people in our “class of Orisson” were going home with injuries.

So I went upstairs and prayed about what to do, and cried. I had to have a destination for the morning. Astorga or Santiago by bus? Madrid and then SFO? Hang out somewhere for 3 weeks? I talked to Hale on Skype. Coming home seemed like the right decision. I called Delta on Skype and was able to change my ticket.

I met Gina and Caroline in the bar and we talked like Camino friends talk, honestly and with love. They are gifts of the Camino; I’ve learned so much from both of them.

We met in the morning for the awesome Parador hotel breakfast buffet. I decided to give Gina my Camelbak and my copy of the Brierley guidebook for the rest of the journey. The Camino has made me more generous. It feels good to know she has them as she moves into Galicia. We posed at the statue outside the Parador, and then it was time for my taxi to the train station.

I’m in Madrid now. I will keep posting my reflections on my experience of the Camino as I move forward, as well as more photos.

I know that it will continue to teach me and inform my ministry.

Today in Madrid I looked up at the cathedral and saw a statue on the roof of St. James with his staff and shell. Later, I had tapas at an outdoor cafe and noticed that we were on Calle Santiago. He is looking out for me, I think.




Categories: Camino, June 2013, Leon, Spirituality | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Day #15

The Camino turns every town into your college campus; you walk into the central square and you see people you know. It’s the most wonderful feeling.

And there are always surprises. Today I walked around Burgos (slowly, because of my sore ankle) and as I descended the staircase by the Cathedral, I saw Taylor sitting in a cafe.

Taylor was the first person I met on the Camino, climbing up out of San Jean, in France. He is about Colby’s age, wears a straw cowboy hat, and has a prayer shawl, made by his mother, that he uses as a pillow. Sweet guy. I assumed he was way ahead of me with the other 20-somethings. He said he was slowing down to enjoy each place.

We compared notes about where we’d been, and he consulted his staff with the name of every night’s stop carved into it. That was new since I’d last seen him. It’s tempting to buy one of those wooden staves, but I love my trekking poles.

We caught up a bit more and then, instead of plopping down next to him at the table, I sensed that we both wanted to be alone, and said “Buen Camino”, knowing that we will most probably see each other again up ahead.


Categories: Camino, June 2013 | Tags: , , | 10 Comments


My Camino friend Monika finishes her Camino tomorrow and goes back to her work as a surgical nurse in the Cardiac unit at the University hospital in Vienna.

We met back at Orisson on June 5th, so I have known her two weeks. We’ve traveled together for the last week, walking for hours and sharing cheap hotel rooms and claiming neighboring bunks in albergues. I feel like I’ve known her for years.

That’s the way the Camino works. Like college or meeting fellow new parents, you bond with people quickly over a common challenging experience.

We’ve met the Camino in all its richness –cranking up hills, going down muddy ravines, searching for a yellow arrow when the path was unclear. And we’ve shared cafe con leches at all the village bars, explored every village church, and then headed back on the Camino, one step in front of the other. Along the Way, we’ve shared our life stories, bit by bit. We have had so much fun, being silly. I’ve laughed till my stomach hurt.

Monika has done the Camino before, and so, is knowledgable about the route ahead. But she is open to new adventures everyday.

She is a Wise Woman. She always says, “It will be ok,” and “we will see what happens.” Walking through the fields and forests of Spain she’s given me lessons in botany and bird watching. I love the way she draws diagrams in the dirt of the Camino with the point of her trekking pole to make a translation clearer.

Being a nurse, she’s very practical and decisive. Our differences in culture and language make it easier to say, “I’m doing this tonight,” and we do our own thing for the evening.

This morning we both had good news from home, and we celebrated together with a leisurely rainy day lunch.

Our lives at home are very different, but we are friends on the Camino, and, I hope, just plain friends.


Categories: Camino, June 2013 | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Reflections from Day#6

Today was day six of the pilgrimage. It feels like much longer, in a positive way: the experience has been so rich. I have entered a new community, of pilgrims, and a new country with its language and culture. It’s been physically challenging, and spiritually rich.

Yesterday we walked 24 kilometers in the mud, mostly, after an adrenaline filled day walking in the rain leaving Pamplona. I walked both days with Caroline from Chicago. She is having her pack transported each day, and walking with her daypack. She has a slow and steady pace, and we stopped to smell the beautiful roses along the way. Her friend from Chicago, Gina, is an athlete, and walks very fast. I kept to her pace between Roncevalles and Zubiri. They are both wonderful women and I’ve shared 2 hotel rooms with them, and had such a fun time. Yesterday, I hit some physical wall: felt weepy in the afternoon, and realized that I had not drunk enough water, and my camelback was dry. We didn’t have snacks with us. My legs were rashy. Basically didn’t feel too good after the first 15 kilometers. An older German lady was walking behind us and said, “are you ok?” I said, “I’m not sure,” and she opened her pack and gave me some of her water. Then she said, “I am a healer, come here.” She put her hands near me and told me to visualize my feet and legs becoming better. We conversed a little–I don’t speak German and she doesn’t speak much English–but we understood each other in the way that Pilgrims seem to along the Camino. Caroline took a photo of the two of us.


Categories: June 2013 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment





Categories: June 2013 | Tags: , , | 1 Comment


Rainy walk out of Pamplona. Now I’m a real Peregrina! Let go of my fear of getting wet. Boots have walked through streams. Having coffee in cute village with Gina and Caroline from Chicago.



Categories: June 2013 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: