Reflections from the Camino de Santiago


In September 2018, Sue and I joined five friends from the SF Bay Area and two friends from Barcelona on a pilgrimage through the ancient Camino de Santiago that would take us 83 miles over five days through the beautiful Galician countryside of Spain. What follows is the story of our journey brilliantly put to paper by one of our pilgrims as a reflection of our time together:

The Pilgrims on Day 1: Just before leaving Castroverde

The Pilgrims on Day 1: Just before leaving Castroverde

Ode to the Santiago Seven

by Suzanne Koonce

A trip to Spain, the Camino we planned to walk A time for reflection and maybe less talk? Scott and Sue would organize the adventure. With their dear friend Felix, an incredible guide for sure.

Soon it was seven who said yes, count us in! On September 8th, the pilgrimage was to begin. Sorry Sara couldn’t join us but Andreu agreed to help out. So with Scott, Sue, Bennie, Beth Suzanne, Linda and Les the adventure began - was there ever any doubt?

We had our scallops shells attached to our packs. And whatever else we carried on our backs. Starting in Castro Verde we spent night number one At Auberge Longarela Casa Rural.

Sunday morning our walk began With “Destination” our theme, as we walked and never ran.

Day two we focused on the yellow arrows guiding our way. Even though we’d miss one and get lost at least once each day. Where is life taking us, What path do we follow? Is the Lord leading us somewhere different tomorrow?

The early morning mist created a magical place. We’d start each day in silence, give each other some space. Later we’d walk a bit with someone, always ready to share stories and listening and showing we care.

Pulpo, tortilla española, Tapas and beer. At the end of each day there was always something to cheer.

Churros y chocolate Almond cake too! Not a meal did we miss. Gastronomically it was pure bliss!

Beth got “gored” by some horns Her own “Running of the bulls!“ Well, maybe just a cow saying ‘play by my rules’.

“To think we actually paid money to do this!” Les was heard to say. Of course, in jest, as his legs ached at the end of each day. Someone else said... can we stop at the next bar? A glass of wine or beer sounds good Especially after we’ve come this far.

Bennie, as she walked the miles with her beautiful smile, Possibly planning a Camino as her next mission trip all the while?

Andreu would get our bags and before driving to the next place Go for a run or bike ride, With a smile on his face. Watching he and Felix interact as son and father, Was priceless to observe - a relationship growing stronger.

The trees and creeks, rocks stacked on km markers along the way. Meeting fellow peregrinos each and every day. Sue very chic in her blue bonnet. Linda speaking French, communicate ...she was on it ! Beth taking time to stop along the way, Scott marching forward on the first day. We all found a rhythm as the days wore on And wished we had more time to rest in the sun.

Listening and observing on day number three. Walking 20 miles, our longest day it would be. Arriving in Lugo, had massages for our feet. Celebrating Suzanne’s birthday, so memorable, quite a treat.

A stone along the way was marked Aqui y ahora. Concentrated on that but also the future before us. What are the things in life that will last? Retirement, moving, career choices or simply changing course from the past.

Indulgence day Wednesday Not that we needed a reason! For cheese, wine and bread And whatever else was in season.

Of our children and grandchildren, so many stories to tell Of their challenges and accomplishments and ours as parents as well.

Where will life lead them? What examples are we? How can we guide them to be all they were meant to be?

Day four Felix encouraged us to seek renewal. Freedom to hope and wonder, contemplate the spiritual. Do we simplify our lives, Find the time and space to renew? Whether at Montserrat, Mercy Center or at Menlo, meditation can help us through.

Day five - the theme was backpack What do we carry? What can we get rid of? In lives at times so harried.

Dinner theme companions Whom do we choose To walk along side us. And give us a boost.

There were pilgrims on foot, bicycle and even pushing a stroller. In groups there were students and some were much older. All different kinds came to make their way Along the path to Santiago de Compostela at the end of the day.

Five days walking the Galician countryside, A vacation it would be Unless we are changed in some way. Then a real pilgrim we will be. Hopefully, through different eyes the world we shall see.

All in all 130 kilometers or so we did walk Then on to Finisterre, the “end of the world”. Special dinner the last night to celebrate, we had a ball, Salud to each other Buen Camino! one and all