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Since the Camino de Santiago…

San Francisco

A beautiful day in my hometown of San Francisco.

It was quite an odyssey (physically and mentally) to get back to California from Santiago.

From Santiago we flew to Madrid, then Barcelona, where we spent two nights and got to enjoy the fireworks and festivities during The Feast of Sant Joan (Summer Solstice).  From Barcelona, we traveled to Dusseldorf, Germany where we stayed the night.  From Dusseldorf, we went ten hours by plane to Miami, then took a bus, a train, and a shuttle to get to Fort Lauderdale airport where we caught a flight to Chicago where we stayed the night.  The next morning, we flew to San Francisco and arrived hours after the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA and Prop. 8.  Needless to say, San Francisco was a party!  And just two days before the Gay Pride Parade no less!  After four beautiful and memorable days in San Francisco with friends, we went to Southern California where we stayed with family.

It’s been difficult adjusting to being back in the United States after the Camino.  Not only do I miss walking, but I also miss the everyday simple interactions with people.  American life, especially in Southern California, now seems so stressful and fast!  Being back on the Los Angeles freeways has rattled me more than ever.  Trying to negotiate the purchase of a single item like shampoo is so overwhelming!  500 choices!  And wow–I never noticed it so much before–food is everywhere!

I’ve found myself getting easily stressed and irritable.  I have wondered if the Camino was all a dream.  It seems like it happened in a different life in a different world.  It has helped a lot to maintain small communications with Camino friends.  A simple email or text message reminds me that we all seem to be going through some degree of “shock”.  It’s to be expected.  It takes time to integrate the experience I suppose.

Jamie and I will be moving forward separately.  At least for the immediate future, we have different interests and goals and it seems to us that the best decision is to support each other in moving towards those goals, despite moving apart.  He is my best friend and a great traveling companion and I will miss him as I continue on my journey.

My wanderlust seems to be insatiable.  Upon my return to California, I booked another award ticket within a week.  This time I will be traveling to Jeju Island in South Korea to walk the Jeju Olle Trail, a 422-kilometer walk that was created by a woman who was inspired after walking the Camino de Santiago.  On the same ticket, I was able to negotiate a “stopover” in Europe on my way back to the United States.  So, in September I will be heading to Scotland and the tentative plan is to head to the high north for the Braemar Gathering (Highland Games) and to walk one of the many historic and scenic trails of Scotland.   I will return to the United States at the end of October.  After that, the traveling will continue but the destination is unknown for now.

I am looking forward to this new adventure, despite my fears, which are always there (I am scared EVERY time I travel to a new place).  I have never been to Asia so that will offer me new challenges.  I hope you’ll come along on the journey!


  1. What a relief to read your thoughts and comments. I took my journey in August/September 2015. Being a Catholic I have know about the Camino for closer to 20yrs and always promised myself I would take the journey one day which I did 2 yrs ago. I read several books about the Camino but I only found one that touched “what is a pilgrim”. To cut a long story short, there were highs a lows along the trail, some good some not so, but what I found frustrating was listening to other pilgrims and their reasons for taking the journey. Most had genuine reasons of sadness or sorrow and were looking for a salvation or even closure and many touched my heart, others were doing it for a challenge and even a holiday, well they are all entitled to choose freely why.
    I’m afraid this is where my frustration begins. I woke and started walking each morning before the sun rose and often walked late into the evening and I tried to observe the rules of being a good pilgrim on the trail. When I arrived in Santiago my first thought was to visit the Cathedral. I arrived in Santiago early so I sat for quite some time probably a couple of hours reflecting ibn the beauty of the Cathedral and completion of my pilgrimage. Then people and pilgrims started to arrive for the service which I found quite breath taking and I don’t know why I felt embarrassed and a bit of a fraud. I haven’t told anyone of this but people who read it will understand.
    I returned to England with as I thought a new belief, a new start but I felt emptiness and loss.
    These past 2 years has been really hard as I have constantly struggled to find myself. I’ve tried and succeeded to a degree to be a more caring, more understanding person which I feel good about myself and then I realised I hadn’t completed my pilgrimage.
    It was August of 2016 the anniversary of my pilgrimage that I knew what I had to do and to be honest it wasn’t very hard. I knew why I had struggled the past year. I needed to complete my journey by walking the Camino again and this time I knew why I needed to walk it. I left my heart and soul along the whole journey and I need to find it and take it to Santiago and take confession and communion.
    I know this time I will have a light heart and a belief why I’m there. I have also decided to walk it like a pilgrim camping under the stars at night eating along the trail and walking it in the height of the summer to make it harder so when I walk into Santiago I do so as a pilgrim. Buen Camino Pilgrims

    • Keith, Thank you for your honesty in sharing your experience. I wish you the best on your Camino. Buen Camino.

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