A Merry Christmas friends and fellow Pilgrims. A Christmas (Camino) small miracle from 2019:
A few days before Christmas, Mika of Japan and I were walking in the Annapurna region of Nepal from Tadapani to Chomrong, on the Annapurna Sancturary Trek. We made it early and had lunch at a tea house enjoying the spectacular backdrop of steep lush, green fields with the white capped Himalayas in the background.
The owner was not friendly though and Mika said she wanted to leave. I was surprised, but her intuition is almost always correct. So without further thought, we braved a steep 1 hour descent to the slightly warmer Jhinu on the Modi Khola River where there was a hot spring. As we walked I was thinking how there were no displays of Christmas which of course is logical in a country of mostly Buddhists and Hindus and about 1.4% Christians. But while I missed my kids, family, and friends it was hard to feel sad in a place of such spectacular scenery and friendly gentle people.
Near the bottom in Jhinu we saw a young guy with lots of hair in front of a tea house who kindly directed us to the path down to the hot spring. First we got a room at a Tea House then walked 20 minutes to the river. The young man was one of just a few in the bath. We joined him and soon found out he is a fellow Chicagoan. We talked of a few things including the Camino as he noticed my blue cloth yellow arrow and shell wristband. After an hour or so of friendly conversation, Mika and I exited the pool to leave and I turned back and asked his name. “Jack Rigali” he said. Holy Moly. He is my cousin Netty Rigali’s nephew. I remembered Netty suggesting to him and me for a few years that we should talk together about the Camino de Santiago but it never happened until today.
Jack joined us for drinks that night and we talked for a few hours about the Camino and several possible routes for him this spring.
And 2 days later he joined us for a very fun Christmas dinner on December 23 with another guest, Japanese Buddhist Monk, Dai Nishikawa, from the World Peace Pagoda in the mountains above Pokhara.
I have no doubt this was a small Christmas/Camino miracle where the power of Netty’s thoughts and the magic of the Camino brought us together for me to provide Jack with some focus for his first Camino and for both of us to connect with family on the other side of the globe from Chicago.