Sanjiva Wijesinha -writer and physician

Short stories, Travel and Health Information

Camino Stories: Keeping the Story Alive

With the Coronavirus still calling the shots these days, an efficacious vaccine a fair way off and international travel not what it used to be, many of us Camino aficianados are left wondering when – and if – the Camino as we knew it will be back to what it used to be.

I have been reassured this week by this message from my friend JohnniewalkerSantiago, who is currently walking the Way from Saint Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela.

As I write this, I quote his advice – which is that the Camino is as open and as safe as those who walk it make it.

“If you want to walk the Camino,” he says “provided your own country permits you to fly, you can get to Spain and Spain allows you to enter, and you take any quarantine issues into account – you will be welcome in Spain and on the Camino routes.”

Apart from wearing a face mask when entering a town or village and going into shops etc. there are no restrictions. . The hostels where he has been staying have been fully prepared, the many pilgrims he has spoken to so far have said that they too felt safe in the albergues they stayed in. Obviously, capacity has been reduced in albergues, hotels, bars and restaurants.

All this is very promising – and I would imagine that those who have postponed their Camino journeys during this Time of Corona will be able to undertake the pilgrimage in 2021.

Many of us have been trying to keep the Camino spirit alive during this time of lockdowns and isolation – by undertaking “Virtual Caminos”, by staying in touch with Camino friends or by reading one or more of the many books available about the Camino.

I myself have been fortunate in being part of the Camino Authors Collective, a group of Camino aficianados in various parts of the world, who have got together to “meet” once a month in the virtual space and listen to a famous Camino author talk about the book that he/she wrote. We have had participants from places as far apart as Ottawa and Virginia in North America and Brisbane and Perth in Australia (plus plenty of places in between!) having the opportunity to listen and put questions to these authors.

The last two meetings were most interesting. In July we heard famed film-maker and author Bill Bennett, speaking from his home in Mudgee, NSW Australia, about his book The Way My Way. I had the opportunity of interviewing Bill – and among the messages I learned fom Bill’s talk were

  • The power of the small step. A lot of small steps take you extraordinary distances – if you keep taking them.
  • The Camino teaches you Gratitude, Humility – and Appreciation for simple things
  • Trust your PGS – your Personal Guidance System

In August we had the opportunity to hear from Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck, the two childhood friends from Boise, Idaoh in the USA who made their Camino journey together and wrote the book “I’ll Push You’. Theirs was a most inspiring talk. They traversed the Camino together, from St Jean Pied de Port all the way to Santiago de Compostela – with Patrick pushing/pulling Justin in his wheelchair.

Interviewed by Russ Eanes and also answering questions from others who joined the Zoom meeting, Pat and Justin spoke about what prompted them to undertake this journey and the challenges as well as the uplifting experiences they encountered along the way. They highlighted the depth and breadth of Community one meets on the Camino, the opportunity to engage as fellow human beings with those we meet on this journey – and to realise how much we can accomplish if we set aside our differences and pitch in together! Their story not only resulted in a book but was also made into a movie with the same title.

We have had participants join us for our meetings, conducted via Zoom, from places as far apart as Ottawa and Virginia in North America and Brisbane and Perth in Australia (plus plenty of places in between!). The meetings are conducted, usually on the last weekend of each month, on Friday evenings in eastern North America (which is Saturday morning in eastern Australia). We are probing the possibility of staging these meetings – or even repeating some if the talks – at times that would suit participants in “the old world” on the other side of the globe!

The next meeting is scehduled for the last weekend in September – when husband and wife team DrElaine Orabona Foster and Joseph Foster will talk about their book In Movement there is Peace.

Check the Camino Authors Collective page for details of dates and times.

do join us!



This entry was posted on August 30, 2020 by in camino de santiago, Opinion, Pilgrimage and tagged , , , .

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