Posted by: knitknigel | June 12, 2009

¡Buen Camino!

The Camino called and I answered. Since the last time I walked the Camino de Santiago I have wanted to walk it again. Alone. Geordie and I walked it together in 2004 and we loved it even though I had major blisters, which I kept walking on thanks to the miracles of modern science and Ibuprofen! But the call to walk it alone was there. Geordie has walked parts of the Camino by himself at least three times, and I wanted that experience too, just me and the path.

And now I´ve done it – or at least part of it. What an amazing experience. The opportunity to spend time with oneself is a special experience. Hours walking with only passing Buen Caminos from the other people on the way. That translates as “Good Way” but in fact the idea is untranslatable. It only works in Spanish, I think. It expresses the camaraderie, the challenge, the dream of the camino – to walk a route that has been walked for centuries by millions of people, all walking toward the life ahead.

I felt the emotion as I began my first steps from St. Jean Pied de Port,

The beginning

The beginning

soon overwhelmed by the challenge of “Breakneck Hill” – the steep climb up to Refuge d’Orisson. There I met the first of the people with whom I would be walking over the next several weeks. People I would see again, five weeks later in Santiago de Compostela.

Along the way, I had the opportunity to meet people from all over the world – Korea, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark, France – the list goes on, but all of them were wonderful companions of an evening at the albergues as we ate, talked, and slept together in huge dorm rooms with snorers like me filling the air with night sounds. (I had great ear plugs so always slept well.)

Dinner with friends

Dinner with friends

I also was an attraction of my own accord. My socks and my knitting drew lots of interested people. I have a feeling I am in more photo pages than any other person on this particular camino. And everyone was so complimentary of my scallop shell socks – “un artista”, they said.

My sock on the Alto del Perdon

My sock on the Alto del Perdon

The finished sock - with scallop shell

The finished sock - with scallop shell

And I had conversations too about my fundraising plans. Everyone had a story to tell, about a mother, or an aunt or a friend of the family who had suffered with Alzheimers. These stories only confirmed for me the importance of supporting the research that health professionals are doing to discover ways of preventing the disease and the sufffering it causes. As well, the money supports people who provide help to caregivers, those loving people who give of themselves to give their loved family members the dignity they deserve as they live with the disease. And for me, it honours the members of my own family who have lived with the disease.

In the end, the Camino is a journey of self-support. I came to enjoy life on the road. I felt great joy when I arrived at a village where there was a café to speed one on of an early morning. I loved walking through the fields, the vineyards, the villages, the open road. I found myself singing and making up songs of my own. Not brilliant songs, but songs that lifted me up. As silly as it sounds, singing a song as I walked along kept me going, even when my feet were sore and my blisters aching.

I´m sure this song will go down in eternity – recording artists please request music.

“Happy as a lark, happy as a lark,
Happy as a lark in the morning,
Walking down the road, carryin´my load,
Happy as a lark in the morning!”

So the camino brought me joy. It brought me companions, it brought me love. To celebrate my arrival in Santiago, in the rain, with my compañeros was to celebrate life.

The arrival in Santiago

The arrival in Santiago

The Botafumeiro swings to celebrate the pilgrims

The Botafumeiro swings to celebrate the pilgrims

Thank you to everyone who shared the journey with me. Your cheer and support urged me on, your support of AlzheimersBC adds to the lives of others. Thanks especially to Geordie, my loving husband, who followed his own camino, who kept me going with our daily telephone calls, and who took care of me when my blisters insisted on overpowering my force of will.

Is there another camino? One of the first things Geordie said when we finally arrived in Santiago was that maybe this was our last walk. Two days later I mentioned that it might be interesting to walk the camino from Portugal and in an instant he was off on the idea, thinking about the route, considering a timeframe. He´s incorrigble, isn´t he? But, as he said very plainly – the next time we walk it together!

Everyone walks the camino everyday, I have come to realize. We build our memories as we walk in our daily lives, and we treasure them. We are the experiences we have had, and we are the fruit of the lives of those before us, and the seeds of hope of those ahead. My friends, you have been my journey, too. Thank you.

Gracias, y Buen Camino!

¡Ultreia, mis amigos, onward, my friends!


  1. My dear brother,

    I never knew you were so spiritual! What a beautiful piece of prose. I shall show it to a friend of mine who has a penchant for poetry and just maybe she will be able to add a couple of verses to your lovely refrain. Congratulations on your significant achievement and may your experience always be a reminder to others of the difference we can make in the lives of others if we just make the effort.

    With love and admiration,


  2. Nigel, what wonderful final words.
    Thanks for taking us along with you!
    Did you know that tomorrow – Sat the 13th of June is world-wide Knit in Public Day??
    I am sure you know.


  3. Congratulations on your achievement!
    The very wonderful photos along the way showed me a wider world where folks take the time to “smell the roses”.

  4. Congratulations from me as well. Your little song about larks, brought back childhood memories when I could see them rise from the fields, almost straight up, singing. Maybe the bird’s song took on extra meaning for a little girl due to the extra hard times. Renate

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