Struggling ON The Camino or In Life II:

I originally wrote this a few years ago for others who were struggling on the Camino. However, a few weeks from my own 69th Birthday, I am recovering from a second hip replacement in the past 15 months. The first in December 2022 and the second this past October. Up until the a few years ago I was walking heavy distances peaking out at 6,000 kilometers in a 12 month period from May, 2018 to May2019. As March approaches, I have been growing more nervous as I am hoping to renew a vigorous pilgrimage schedule by walking two of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimages totaling 224 kilometers followed by the 1,200 kilometer 88 Buddhist Temple Pilgrimage. Stumblin on this old post, I realized that now it was I who needed help. Seeing or remembering others who have had a much more challenging struggle than ourselves, inspires one to carry on. So with gratitude to these old friends met on the Camino I will just start walking one step at a time on March 18 and see what happens. For you give me optimism and most of all hope. To Dani, Alice, Alex, and Lynne. When the journey gets hardest, I will think of you and I know your examples will enable me to continue. 

Dani, the little 74 year old French woman nearing Santiago after walking all the way from LePuy en Velay in France.

Dani, a 74 year old French woman that could not weigh more than 70 lbs. (31 kilos). On a foggy, gray misty morning out of Barbadelo, Less than 100K from Santiago, I approached her from behind thinking she was a child and wondering why she was alone. Dani had lost her husband 2 years earlier and was walking for him. Here I am spontaneously picking her up and hugging her after she informed me she was walking solo and had started where I had, Le Puy en Velay, about 1,400 kilometers back in France.

Alain, approaching Cruz de Ferro under his own power.

Alain and Alice of Paris. Alain was a powerful man, a martial arts instructor who had been diagnosed with MS 6 years before and had required a wheelchair the previous two. He was walking The Camino to give his 2 year old something special to remember him by as he faced a rapid decline in health. And his companion Alice who did not know Alain before this but had helped him to raise funds for a special wheelchair, set up and maintained a blog for the trip and gave him 6 months of her life. I also found that while others focused so much on Alain, Alice was overlooked and yet she carried on selflessly.

Alice, who selflessly supported Alex and his quest to get to Santiago from Paris.

Last was Lynne Essex, a 58 year old Aussie woman whose path crossed mine in Muxia at the edge of the world. She had just completed a 780 kilometer (500mile) pilgrimage on Camino Francis while I had completed a 1,000K walk from Seville on Camino Via de la Plata. I was whining to her about my blister the size of a tennis ball on the bottom of my foot. She told me that she had Stage 4 Cervical Cancer. I spent some time with her that day and she was obviously in pain. She mentioned that she could only go about 15K per day on her Camino. I asked her what her doctor said about her going? She said, “He and others told me I was crazy”. She said this with a big happy grin and indicated the pain was getting worse but she was so glad to have been able to finish. A few weeks later I got a message from Lynne that the increasing pain was not the cancer, which was in remission, but a broken pelvis which she most likely had since before starting her Camino. (7 years later, Lynne is still going strong back home in Australia.)

With Lynne in Muxia. Her pilgrimage is one of the most inspiring ever.

When I am struggling in any way on my current 3000K Camino, I simply think of these 4 and their beautiful spirits and my aching, heavy feet and legs lighten and the next few miles are not nearly as difficult. Thank you to my four friends. Ultreia!

A prayer of recognition and compassion to those people that struggle with various illnesses that take them to the depths of despair that require medication to bring them out of it. Especially deceased relatives Bridget Enright Scanlan and Chris Conrad. And a thank you to Boudewijn van der Ark for helping me and others to better understand the incredibly difficult ongoing battle faced by people with illnesses that cause severe depression.

Share to Social Media

Happy to answer any questions and help in any way.