Camino de Santiago | Vietnam & Angkor Wat

The Camino is Hard

Barry and I entered the old city of Santiago de Compostela around 9:30 on Monday morning! With clear blue skies, a strong breeze, and temperatures in the 50s, we joined other pilgrims walking into the square. People were jumping jubilantly, congratulating one another, taking photos. Throughout the day we hugged people we had walked with along the way and texted with others expecting to arrive in the next day or so. We were swept up in the presence of joy.

Some pilgrims clearly nursed injuries even as they celebrated. We were fortunate. Our bodies were tired and achy, but no worse for the wear. Even so, as we reflected on the 39 days we spent walking across northern Spain, we concluded that walking the Camino is hard. Completing it required both a physical and emotional tenacity that asked us to dig deep.

But that’s not the whole story. The Camino also nurtures the spirit, and we walked into Santiago with our hearts full.

This sense of uplift sneaked up on us a bit. Grounded by the slow-but-sure progress of walking and the sheer beauty of our surroundings, we experienced the cumulative effect of kindness and generosity that is so prevalent on the Camino.

The warmth and caring of the pilgrim community toward one another, the support of hospitaleros at albergues, and the dozens upon dozens of people in the towns and villages we walked through who went out of their way to help us in ways large and small – all of this adds to our sentiment that we were bolstered by a spirit of kindness and deep generosity on the Camino.

Barry’s Reflections

At the end of our second week of walking, we stayed at the camp-like albergue in Guemes, which has earned a well-deserved reputation for the spirit of hospitable kindness generated by its founder, Father Ernesto.

I overheard a pilgrim saying the Camino had taught her to be more flexible — to take things as they come without rigid expectations. I wondered what lessons the Camino taught me.

It was two days later that I realized the Camino was teaching me the importance of cultivating and maintaining a spirit of gratitude.

During that day’s walk, I focused on things I was grateful for. Here is a partial list:

• The family, co-workers and friends who had supported me and Sharon in planning our Camino and who were taking on extra burdens on our behalf while we’ve been away.

• The people who have left encouraging comments on our blog posts.

• The many, many, many people in Spain who have shown kindnesses — from letting us know when we had strayed from the Camino to smiling at our mangled attempts to communicate en español to the B&B owner who tracked us down more than an hour after we departed to reunite us with some painted rocks that had dropped from our bags and that he correctly surmised held deep sentimental value to us.

• The many fellow peregrinos who shared advice, wisdom and friendship along the Way.

• Our good fortune to have the good health and means and support at hone to be able to take this journey of a lifetime.

• The family friends who introduced us to the Camino and urged us to take the journey.

• The many people whose books, podcasts, forum posts, apps, Facebook posts, lodging reviews, personal advice, etc. prepared us and helped us make decisions.

• The people in our lives whose spirit of kindness, generosity and helpfulness have served as examples.

• The spirit of kindness and generosity — and lack of cynicism — that pervades the Camino.

• The unhurried lifestyle and trusting dispositions we constantly encountered in northern Spain.

People say your real Camino starts when you arrive in Santiago de Compostela and carry on with daily living. My fervent wish is to maintain the spirit of gratefulness, kindness and generosity nurtured by the Camino.

And in the end …

As our Camino adventure comes to a close, Barry and I feel lifted by gratitude.

And gratitude brings joy.

And joy heals the heart.

Cathedral of Santiago

Around Santiago

Recent posts


  1. Debra Mowery

    Wow…what beauty! What dedication you and Barry have shown! Congrats on making it! And thank you for taking me along for the ride. HUGS!

  2. Larry Rankin

    Sharon and Barry you have inspired me with my spiritual journey. Thantyk you and look forward to hearing more of your Camino


    I loved the time I got to spend with both of you! You were an encouragement to many, including me!

  4. Victoria de Lissovoy

    Thank you for your sharing this life adventure in your pictures and words that convey all of its meaning for you. I can strongly relate having trekked around Africa for 6 months many years ago. I can imagine the wonderful memories that will fill your hearts always. You did it!

  5. Sara Kennedy

    Congratulations to you both, especially for the reminder to all of at home to be thankful for kindnesses that come our way, and which we can pass along to others.

  6. Cindy

    Congratulations! It’s been amazing to “share” in your journey through your words and pictures, and now, these reflections. Thank you.

  7. Eyal

    Congratulations! What an amazing and inspiring experience. I also really enjoyed following along with you on your blog. Thank you for all the great stories, photos, and personal reflections. Wishing you a safe journey home. Best, Eyal

  8. Amy

    Thank you for sharing your journey so generously. The images and words are beautiful and inspiring – such a lovely way to honor the adventure. Congrats and welcome home!

Leave a Reply