December 2019 I experienced a bit of a Christmas (Camino) small miracle:
A few days before Christmas Mika and I were walking in the Annapurna region of Nepal from Tadapani to Chommrong.
We made it early and had lunch at a tea house but the vibes were bad. Without much thought, feeling cold we took a steep descent down the mountain to Jhinu on the Modi Khola River where there is 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 miss my kids, family, and friends it is hard to feel sad in a place of such spectacular scenery and friendly gentle people.
Near the bottom in Jhinu we see a young guy with lots of hair in front of a tea house who kindly directs us to the path down to the hot spring. First we got a room at a Tea House then walked down 20 minutes to the river. The young man is one of just a few in the bath. We join him and soon find out he is a fellow Chicagoan. We talk of a few things including the Camino as he notices my cloth yellow arrow and shell wrist band. After an hour or so of friendly talk we exit the pool to leave and I ask him his name. “Jack Rigali” he says. He is my cousin Netty Santacrose Rigali’s nephew. Netty had been suggesting to him for a few years that he should talk with me about the Camino de Santiago with me and with me to talk with him but it never happened until now until this unlikeliest of places.
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 thought and the magic of the Camino brought us together for me to provide Jack with some focus for his first Camino.
So Netty thank you for a beautiful Christmas where two Chicagoans on the other side of the world were able to celebrate with family.