PC#24 – Status & Hierarchy on the Camino

A pilgrim walking the Camino has no status.

It’s hard to know who’s a millionaire, who’s a CEO, who’s a production line worker and who owns the factory.

I met a bloke, I thought he was a roadie for a rock band. Or an ageing surfie on benefits. Turned out he was a Professor at USC.

I met another bloke. Young fella. I thought he was a student on vacation. Turned out he’d just sold his tech company for $80m.

I met another bloke. 40’s. Would have said he was a high school teacher, or a dentist. He came across as a bit of a smart ass. He was actually a judge in the European Court of Justice.

None of the markers that define a person’s status are evident on the Camino.

No fancy clothes. No car. No big office. No staff or coterie of assistants. No waterfront mansion. No jewellery, or at least very little. You don’t see women walking the Camino with diamond rings or pearl necklaces. No Dior, or Bulgari or Manolo Blahnik.

Instead there’s muddy boots, and tech clothing, and ponchos. Or Goretex jackets, if you want to go upmarket.

Even the walking poles don’t really indicate status. You might have the latest Leki poles, but they don’t give off any signals as to your Net Disposable Income.

Backpacks too. No status there.

Weight and space are factors. Not much room in the backpack for that fabulous Hugo Boss leather jacket. Plus it weighs 2kgs. Nor can you really justify that Chanel handbag. Might get dirty, darling.

Millionaires sleep in albergues costing €7 a night. Heads of huge corporations sit down beside pensioners at communal tables and eat pilgrim’s meals costing €10. They pay cash. They’ve left their Platinum American Express card at home. (Sorry Amex, I did leave home without it.)

Everyone is equal. And in that sense, the Camino is quite unique. I can’t think of any other place or situation in society where there’s no discernible status.

Except maybe jail.

And in death.

Also, there’s no rank. No hierarchy. There’s no Sergeant Pilgrim. There’s no Governor Pilgrim. Everyone is judged on who they are and how they act – not on their material goods or their station in life.

Anything that you’ve achieved in life is meaningless on the Camino. It has no value there.

Except if you’re a walker.

We tend to bestow hierarchy on those who have walked more Caminos than us, or have walked further than us.

We grant hierarchy to someone who’s walked from Le Puy, for instance. We grant hierarchy to someone who’s walked eight Caminos. But that hierarchy isn’t something that’s come with them from their everyday life.

We’re quick to strip that hierarchy from them however if we discover that pilgrim catching a train. Or getting their backpack shipped ahead.

It’s a natural human desire to seek definition amongst us.

But a pilgrim has no status.

And that’s one of the joys of walking the Camino.

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63 thoughts on “PC#24 – Status & Hierarchy on the Camino

  1. Bill for me the blessing was in the very fact that status counts for nought on the Camino. It is much rather what you do and say and who you are as a person. I think that it is this too that makes the Camino a Pilgrimage as it’s about people, not about status or possessions or education. You also see a reflection of yourself in the way other people treat you and react to you as you go along your Way.


    • Sandy, you’re right.

      It hadn’t occurred to me until only recently that the Camino strips away all those EXTERNAL things that define who we are – so we’re left to be defined by our behaviour. What we do, what we say.

      To some, that’s very confronting. Nothing to hide behind. No big desk to separate us from underlings. No big car where we can roll up the darkened windows.

      We are unadorned. Bare. It’s just us. Naked and raw.



      • Even on our short first stage, I loved that about the Camino and it is probably something that has stuck a bit . I am now more curious and open to more people of all ages and looks, not as judging and not as impressed by that “stuff”. You meet people and have something in common on the Camino, at home you wouldn’t have noticed each other, sad to say.

        Our first day out we crossed path’s with an old guy bent over and shuffling along, I wondered if he would make it over the mountain, I offered to share some lunch, he did not take it. He was quiet, didn’t interact much, even though we passed each other several times. Later into Pamplona we walked with him again and both stopped for a beerat the same spot. Finally we got his story. He had walked from Berlin!!!! OMG I was thinking that poor old man he will never make it. He was a delivery person at The University for something like 40 years and had finally retired. I have no doubt he made it! I totally respect that guy–he has Camino status!


      • Kat, that’s a great story! From Berlin!

        My goodness you meet some incredible people on the Camino. And yes, it certainly teaches you not to judge, or to approach people with pre-conceptions.



  2. How very right you are, Bill and it’s something I’ve studied throughout life, trying to not be someone who judges too much. Go the egalitarian Camino! Love your photo as a comment to the content!! Incidentally, I’d say, though that the Hash House Harriers (know them?) as a group are pretty laid back and not caring what you do, what your income is, only interested to know that you can keep up on the walk or run, and keep up an interesting conversation, and definitely don’t brag if you’ve run in an expensive pair of runners, or as a fine, you might be drinking out of them!!


  3. When I read your posts I want to go back too. I didn’t feel like that coming to Santiago in June. My feet painful and with several blisters….But I like talking to people from all over the world. And as you say we meet on an equal level. We are all one.


  4. Hi Bill
    I made a point of not asking what people do for a living. It didn’t seem to matter..and if anyone asked me, I said ‘this and that’. A few friends found it surprising that I could make good friendships with some people but not know what they do for a living.


    • Hi David, the wonderful thing about the Camino is that none of that matters. It’s about whether or not you have an energetic connection to that person or not.

      Me, I’m forever curious about people, and I like putting the composite parts together to get a full understanding of the person.

      To give you an example, I met this fellow who was in his 70s – we were climbing up O Cebreiro. He kicked in the after-burners and surged ahead. He c,imbed the mountain effortlessly.

      I was surprised and curious, because he presented as an old codger.

      Later, we met in a bar and I complimented him on his strong climb. I asked him what he did for a living, and he told me he’d spent most of his life as a telecommunications technician in Switzerland. His job involved climbing all over the Swiss Alps, fixing up radio towers.

      That for me filled in the missing links – it explained why he was such a fit and strong walker.

      As a writer and filmmaker, I find this kind of thing fascinating. Also, that whole episode taught me once again not to judge. I thought he was an old codger and he would struggle up the climb.

      How wrong was I!



  5. When I walked I also found very few people spoke about their careers. Truthfully it didn’t come up in conversation much – I found the most asked question was “Where are you from?”.

    Here in Arizona, I head up a local chapter of American Pilgrims and it is amazing to find out what our members do for a living. We have attorneys, film makers, authors, university professors, artists, etc. Surprisingly, or maybe not so, nobody wants mention of their careers, they simply introduce themselves by their name and when they walked or will be walking the Camino. I’m curious so I do some research to discover who they are and am always impressed with their humility.

    The Camino is a great equalizer and maybe that is part of the reason we are drawn so strongly towards all things Camino.


  6. This is an interesting post,Bill.I was going to reply as soon as it came out, but it was nearly time for Morning Prayer, and this is my first chance since then-which is good, because I wanted to think about it. I’ve been very encouraged seeing that people agree with you. One of the forums I go to left me feeling there could be a lot of critical-type classifications among Pilgrims, and it makes me uncomfortable. Id hoped the Camino would be truly democratic, but this forum was so focussed on doing it”right”, your own Camino ( provided you walk it my way, with the equipment I recommend; carrying the pack I recommend in the clothes I think are best), and giving out the message that if you have to take a bus or transport your bag or only walk the last 100, you can call yourself a pilgrim, but you’re not, really.Since I have no choice but to walk slowly, may be wearing my habit(most likely) and realistically might need to send my pack
    ahead once or twice, maybe part of my training for the Camino will be growing a very thick skin.
    (Apologies-Wordpress keeps munching my sentences).So I wonder if those who believe there is no status on the Camino feel that way because they are doing it all the “right way”,and don’t end up mixing with those who for whatever reason, have to do it differently.I would love to hear the experiences of both types of Pilgrim.Maybe I’m just feeling discouraged today. I hope so.

    skin.I.don’t want it to be that way, but I don’t want to fool myself, either.I wonder if those who do have the right things may be feeling there is no status on Camino because they fit in with all the ones doing it the right way.


    • See what I mean?This program eats words and spits them out wherever it wants to. Makes me look computer illiterate. Oh wait-I am computer illiterate. Never mind!


    • Oh Sister! Please don’t let those comments on other forums discourage you. I walked the Camino Frances last year and I hurt my knees the second day out going down the mountain into Roncesvalles. I was one of those “not a true pilgrim” because the only way I could continue was to send my pack on most days and to sometimes take a bus or taxis. I struggled to walk about 200kms of the camino and got as far as Fromista then took the bus to Leon and met up with my friend that I had come with then took the train to Santiago for a few days and on to Finisterre and Muxia by bus. I say this because no one ever made me feel like I was not a pilgrim and if they thought it they certainly never said it to my face.

      Everyone when they are walking are walking their own camino and for the most part they don’t have time to ponder how other pilgrims are doing their camino other than to be concerned if they think someone needs help.

      I also don’t think that anyone is very concerned about the clothes other pilgrims are wearing. It is “to each their own” on the camino We are all just struggling to put one foot in front of the other and ultimately to make it to Santiago to care about such frivolous things. I do think though when people get back home they get back into their stressful, how to get ahead worlds and that’s when they start to comment on who was a true pilgrim.

      I hope this makes sense 🙂 I have been following Bill’s blog but also following his conversations with you and have been brought to tears many times because you Sister have hit the nail on the head for me and you haven’t even walked the camino yet 🙂 Anyway what I mean to say is I hope this makes sense because I have wanted to reply to one of your or Bill’s comments before but didn’t because I knew that once I started writing I wouldn’t be able to stop. Just like now 🙂

      So please don’t let anyone discourage you from walking the camino, I think you have already started walking it.

      Love and Light,
      Emily (a fellow Ontarian)


      • Emily, I am so sorry your Camino didn’t work out as you had planned, but it sounds to me like you met good people and had a very special experience in spite of your setback.That’s very encouraging, and thank you for taking the time to share it with me.What part of Ontario are you from?


    • Sister –

      I love reading your posts here – You are a treat! You have made many observations (as have Bill & others here) that have helped me immensely with “bringing my Camino home”.

      Do not be discouraged, the Camino will provide and wiser people have noted that your Camino begins when you start planning it. (Mine was pretty much an accidental occurrence so it took me a bit longer to get my head into the experience.)

      It is quite a democratic experience and one does have control over the company one keeps. I found that the “un-democratic” element starts to creep in after the Meseta where one can often find themselves being pulled into the discussion of “Who is a ‘true’ pilgrim?”

      It was not an everyday affair but always a ‘no-win’ proposition for me. I had started in SJPP so for many that qualified me as a ‘true’ pilgrim. I would then point out some of the others that I had met – all had over 800 kilometers on their clock before ever reaching SJPP and said “Not as true as those folks!” (No brownie points there.)

      On the other hand, my wife and sisters had walked the route from Barbadelo (km 108) and had quite a much greater experience upon reaching the Cathedral than I. (Relating this to the ‘true pilgrim’ discussion group on my walk west from SdC got me no brownie points either.) BTW, I finally “got it” on my return to SdC after Muxia and Finisterre – definitely a slow learner here.

      If there is a “right way” to do the Camino then we would all have a rule book of wisdom handed down from the ages. Aside from “packing light” and dressing in layers with worn-in footwear, I really doubt that there is much else to counsel. (Though, if your habit is less than 12 inches from the ground, you might want to hem it up a bit for the trip to minimize cleaning requirements and slip/fall hazards.. The Camino is even more remarkably chaste than it is democratic so Mother Superior should not have an issue!)

      Guaranteed that I did many aspects of my Camino wrong – but I received what I most needed. I will go back one of these days to pick up the rest. (And, most assuredly, I’ll still do something “wrong”.)

      Buen Camino, Sister!



      • Brendan, what a wonderfully frank post-thank you. I don’t mind one way or another whether I’ll be considered a true pilgrim or not, by others. I always hope that experiences like pilgrimage are classless because of the nature of the shared destination. Hoping doesn’t necessarily make it so! I’m prepared to handle however it turns out- as long as I know what to realistically expect.Tell me the facts, and Ill do my best to make anything work out.
        As for my habit, which is floor length, I think I’ll end up making a special one for the Camino that falls mid calf. I don’t want to be tripping over a hem on top of all the other challeges! I’m fairly sure Mother Superior will understand the practicality of that!


    • Sister. I am reminded of a documentary that CNBC did on the mortgage melt down of several years back, and towards the end of the documentary, the moderator met with Allen Greenspan, former head of the Federal Reserve and asked if he thought new regulations could prevent a future occurrence of a similar situation. Greenspan, very astutely answered that you can’t regulate human nature. To think that all pilgrims believe that all pilgrims are created equal is quite Pollyanna. People are people, wherever they are. Just look at all the discussion that has taken place on this blog about what constitutes a true pilgrim. I think all of us are of similar beliefs that just showing up entitles you to the title of pilgrim whether first time or tenth time, 800 kilometers or 100 kilometers, somber or giggly, young or old, shipping packs or carrying packs, hotels or albergues or, God help us, doing part of it via taxi, bus, or train. In the true spirit of the Camino, it is not up to any of us to judge the merits of another’s Camino, but certainly there are people who do so. I understand there was a big thread on the Camino Forum on that exact subject, though I have no interest in reading it. Now, having said the above, my personal experience is that no one I met had any semblance of an elitist attitude. I am grateful for that. But even if they had, it was not my job to correct them or tell them what they should be thinking. Everyone is free to be or act like whatever they choose. It is not up to me to convince any one to do or be anything. It is simply my right to choose to be around them or not to be. But, again, fortunately I had no experience with that on the Camino. I enjoyed everyone I meet. Steve


      • Exactly. Like you I think everybody is entitled to their opinion as long as they don’t try to impose it on someone else, or pretend they feel differently depending on who they are with at the time.God made us unique because He wanted us that way- and I don’t want to live in a world of identical automatons. Vive la difference!But be true to yourself, whoever that is.


      • Hi Steve –

        That was mainly my experience too.

        However I did meet a few pilgrims who had their noses up in the air.

        That was their thing.

        If everyone who walked the Camino had no lessons to learn, then what would be its use?



    • hi Sister – take a look at an earlier post I made on April 22, titled The True Pilgrim.

      Here is a link to the post – https://pgstheway.com/2013/04/22/day-12-the-true-pilgrim/

      And here is an excerpt from the book I’m currently writing. It’s a section on what is a true pilgrim (in draft form!) –

      What is a true pilgrim? I wondered.

      If you stay in Paradors and get your bags shipped ahead each day, does that immediately exclude you from the rarefied ranks of True Pilgrims? What about if you take a taxi? As soon as the meter starts to tick over, have you blown your pilgrimage?

      And if you do the Camino in stages, are you automatically excluded? Or do you need to have crossed the Pyrenees to be a True Pilgrim? If not, then what’s the minimum distance? 500kms? 400kms? You can get a Compostela having walked just 100kms. Is this the minimum distance required to catapult you up into heaven?

      A couple of days earlier, while I was hobbling around an albergue in obvious pain, a woman pilgrim came up to me and said: If you finish, you’ll go to the highest place in heaven, because you’re suffering more than any of us.

      That got me wondering if heaven was like the Trump Towers. Were there Presidential Suites for those that have suffered the most? Reserved for the Nelson Mandelas, the Mother Thereas, and the wives of Tom Cruise?

      And were there suites lower down reserved for the likes of Bono and Bill Gates? Would they get rooms with a cloud view? And would they be on a higher or lower floor than Rupert Murdoch?

      I then started to muse if there comparative pilgrims. Were there degrees of True Pilgrim?

      For instance, is the person who carries a heavy cross on his back and crawls on his knees all the way from his front door in St. Petersburg to Santiago – is that person more a pilgrim than someone who gets off a bus and walks the last 100kms with a tour group?

      What about the person who rides a mule, as against the one who rides a mountain bike? What about someone who walks the whole way listening to rap music on their iPod, as against someone who walks with a vow of silence, or saying their rosary the whole way? Which was more a pilgrim?

      Hundreds of years ago, wealthy merchants, heads of state, government officials and church leaders would travel the Camino on horses, in carriages, some would even be carried by bearers, and they would stay in castles and palaces on their way to Santiago.

      Were they any less a true pilgrim than the commoner who walked the whole way and slept under the stars?

      I found on the Camino that some were quick to judge others whom they deemed less of a pilgrim than them. These were the ones that caught buses or taxis. The ones that had their packs shipped ahead. The ones that only walked short distances each day. The ones that came onto the Camino with only 200kms to go, or less.

      These were judged to be tourist-pilgrims, or tourigrinos. Not the real perigrinos.

      I thought that was crazy. By even judging, it makes the judge less a pilgrim. True pilgrims don’t judge. They accept. And they love. They don’t put themselves above anyone else by regarding that person as somehow lesser.

      Anyone who walks the Camino, no matter how far, no matter what they’re carrying or not carrying, whether or not they take a bus, a taxi, a train or a private jet, in my view is a pilgrim. Whether they’re “true” is not the point.

      I know of some people who’ve walked the Camino with the sole intention of having a cheap vacation – and by the time they’ve got to Santiago they’ve become genuine pilgrims.

      Some have gone back and walked it again, not for a second vacation, but to do a proper pilgrimage.

      The dictionary definition of a pilgrim is: A traveler from afar who is on a journey to a holy place.

      It doesn’t say anything about Paradors. It doesn’t say anything about taxis or backpacks. So according to that definition, anyone who is on a journey to Santiago, a holy place, is a pilgrim.



      • Bill, I just went back and read your blog regarding a “true pilgrim”. That was my first contact with you and vice versa, so Happy Anniversary, Honey”. I hope a true pilgrim is not defined by the amount of words he can eloquently throw at a topic, because if so, I am so far down your totem pole that I can’t even see you. You do have a great command of the English language, but I always hang on every word. I made my little summary reply, but in the end, we are saying exactly the same thing. If you show up, you are a pilgrim, and it is not for me to sort others out and it is none of my business what they may think of me. I just want to accept them and love them where they are. Steve

        PS: You are up early.


        • ha ha – yep, I am up early.

          I got up early to get a head start on my book, but I find myself replying to posts on this damn blog!!

          🙂 🙂

          Don’t know about eloquence – but you say things simply Steve, and from that enormous heart of yours, and that’s what impacts on people who read what you post.



      • Hi Sister,
        Don’t worry about my camino not turning out the way I planned lol

        It turned out exactly the way it was supposed to!

        I may not have walked it all but I walked what I needed to and I got to the places I needed to be. God works in mysterious ways! As does the camino. One day I will have to write you and Bill about it. I really used my intuition and it took me for quite a ride!

        I live in Toronto. I think you live just a few hours from me.

        I apologize if I replied to Sister’s response in the wrong place, I am a bit computer illiterate as well 😦



        • Emily, what a terrific attitude! In practical terms, I live just a bit down the road from you. I like that thought!


      • I remember that earlier post, Bill, Honey, especially the photo of the pilgrim with a long stretch of road behind him.At the time I thought it was a wonderful representation of the one-ness of pilgrim and path.The way you describe the Camino is wonderful and certainly the ideal, but I know there are pligrims out there who walk with their own kind of ranking system. As an earlier poster said,it was around the Meseta (the great Leveller?) That he began to hear discrepancies between the ideal and the reality, in some peoples eyes. That’s ok.Its a shame, but its ok. It doesn’t intimidate me. I just dont want to begin my Camino wearing rose coloured glasses..


      • Sister – rose coloured glasses – hmmmm

        There are always going to be people who judge, and criticise and hold others in disregard.

        They are learning their own lessons, is all I can say.

        But here’s the thing – and I said this to someone on a forum who complained that his iPhone had been stolen. He’d left it on charge in an albergue then gone out to have dinner.

        What I said to him is – Don’t fall under the misconception that because you’re on a pilgrimage, surrounded by so-called pilgrims, that you somehow have spiritual immunity from the vagaries of life, and the frailties of others.

        Just because you are walking the Camino, you are not “white-lighted” from the exigencies of theft, personal abuse, even violence.

        It’s the same with judgement. There will always be people who judge. They are on their own journey – and perhaps later they will think back on what they’ve said to others, and regret having been so judgemental.

        In other words, you are absolutely right to not look at the Camino with rose coloured glasses. It is a microcosm of life, with all its incumbent trials and tribulations.



  7. I haven’t had time to read all the comments this time,,,,but I’m wondering….is it hierarchy or honour? To me, hierarchy has a sound of class structure – I do not consider a far-walker to be “up” a class, but I willingly offer them added honour. Unlike others, I do not respect less if someone needed to take a bus, but I do understand that for some it’s anathema. I don’t, however, think anyone puts the bus-takers in a lower class. Or do they?
    Just thinking through my fingers.


    • Hi Rachael – we’re probably saying the same thing. But the point I’m trying to make is that there is a natural human inclination to instil a sense of order or hierarchy into the world we inhabit. So if the hierarchy isn’t “imported” through rank that’s been previously bestowed, then we find a way of bestowing it ourselves. And we’re quick to withdraw that hierarchy should that person do something that, in our view, diminishes or tarnishes that original honorarium.



    • Yes!,yes!yes! That’s perfect and I couldn’t agree more. Those who have had the more challenging time, or walked farther do merit honour, absolutely. But not an elevated spot in the hierarchy. Thank you for saying that so beautifully.


      • Catching up on reading today! Loving this conversation, my Camino friends. Bill, you say something extremely important about human nature. We are programmed to categorize, rank, and simplify what we see and hear so that we can quickly make some sense of our universe. (I think of my one-year-old twin granddaughters who are getting really good at stacking blocks and “sorting” their toys.)

        So, it takes a lot of effort to overcome that in our daily lives with all of the trappings we surround ourselves with. Yet, even stripping down to the basics on the Camino, our minds still try to “stack the blocks” so to speak. The big thing I hear from many here, however, is that even with things stripped down, sorting and ranking fails. I wonder if the number one lesson of all time is that the Camino isn’t humility. 😉

        PS: I am afraid I am not one to judge others as much as I judge myself. I NEED to read all of this, because like Sister Clare, I will probably need to avail myself various forms of help along the way and I am judging myself in my preparation. Logically, I know I am going to have to have plans B, C, D, and E to make it the 800 km! Emotionally, I am afraid my harshest judgment will be on myself. (What? Julie, are you kidding me? You couldn’t climb that elevation? You had to send your pack ahead?) Learning from reading and knowing all of you. Thank you all for your wisdom. ❤

        PSS: Sister Clare, I am from Michigan! Another neighbor! Maybe we call all do lunch sometime!


        • Wouldn’t that be fantastic?I get to New York City twice a year. Anyone near there?
          Count me in!


      • Actually Bill as much as I love your posting, the “yes!”yes”!yes!” Was directed to Rachel.


  8. Dear Sister, the magic of the Camino is that there truly is no right or wrong way of doing it. It is what is in your heart that makes you a pilgrim. Like Emily, I too experienced serious injury and my ideal of what is a “true pilgrim” was severely put to test. In the end, I wasn’t any more or less of a pilgrim by taking the bus for 50 km (a 2 days walk) and staying in a hotel for 4 days in Leon to rest my leg and that from then on I no longer could carry my total backpack on the advise of a doctor and hence used taxi transfers. I have to tell you, that walk to the bus station to purchase a ticket and to get on that bus was the most humbling day. I hurt not just physically, but mentally and I felt beaten. What joy I felt to then walk again, only to re-injure just before O’Cebreiro a day that was devastating. I could not stop crying and nothing anyone could say to me made me come out of that grey hole I found myself in. Again I needed transportation to Samos and there I spend the most spiritual, soul healing and peaceful 2 days. I found the strength to accept my “failings of not being that perfect, true pilgrim” , but know that in my heart I was a pilgrim and that was my Camino and felt blessed. I continued with the help of some very special pilgrims and reached Santiago on October 20th, the day I turned 60 and 2 weeks later, back in Canada, they put a cast on my leg. I had walked 300 kms with a broken leg. Did I feel vindication for my lack of trust and skewed idea of what a true pilgrim is, no, because there was no need for it. I knew in Samos that I was, a child of the universe, walking with God in the true spirit and grace of a peregrina.

    Light and Love Ingrid


    • Boy, Ingrid, you really sent through the refiners fire on yout Camino!It really goes to show there are as many different experiences as there are Pilgrims.Walking with a broken leg puts you in that honour spot, no doubt about it.You were a true pilgrim from the word go!Thanks for sharing your extraordinary story. It makes fussing about which socks youre wearing look kind of small, doesn’t it!


      • Sister, socks are VERY important too… giggling and considering some of the conversation the boys had about your shortened habit… if you do, find some that besides being functional also a bit funky… you will be a magnet for the youngsters. When I walked, I enjoyed the most inspirational conversations with the younger crowd. I found them to be walking largely to find more meaning for their future, some at crossroads, some very successful that had ditched everything at home and hoping to find clarity. I always came away with this huge feeling of hope, for them, for me, for the human race. So get yourself some funky socks!

        🙂 Ingrid


    • Oh Ingrid, thank you for sharing your story!! See my posts about about my personal fear of not being perfect. Many times we expect so much more of ourselves than we do others.

      I am going to rephrase your comment and commit it to memory:

      “I KNOW I am a child of the universe, walking with God in the true spirit and grace of a peregrina.”

      I can only imagine walking my Camino with that as my mantra!

      Thank you so much!


  9. Thank you to all of you. I’m in conversation with a couple who are walking in September and since they’re of a ‘certain’ age they’ve been agonizing whether they can make it? can they walk all the way? can they carry their stuff all the way? yadi yadi ya … I’ve been trying to reassure them not to worry, that it’s THEIR journey, etc – and have now forwarded this post to them, knowing that all the answers are here from both people who’ve done the walk and others still to come. Like I said: THANKS!


    • Cool! I have seen people walk the Camino that I thought probably wouldn’t be able to walk up to the corner store. Boy was I wrong.

      The Camino instils an energy that makes it possible.

      It is a magic place.


      • I kind of reacted about your comment about ‘walking to the corner store’ – ha!
        That was actually what got my then retired old body (66) off to the camino. My son had made the comment: “Mom, there must be more to life for you than your daily walk to the supermarket and back!”

        – So I upped and went! Started out from Roncesvalles with my pack, rather unfit and a bit overweight – and as a personal challenge to myself to get out of my comfort zone – had no expections and was ready to abort at any time – but contrary to my own expections and those of my sons, I walked all the way to Astorga (480 km) – and ended up feeling that I was a pilgrim. And Bill, as you know: this is no walk in the park – it was tough sometimes – but always helped along by the ‘kindness of strangers’ – who became your fellow pilgrims and friends.

        Thanks for your wonderful blog. ( I have been following you from very early on). Kindest, annelise (Denmark) – still feeling a pilgrim at heart


        • Hey Annelise – you showed ’em!

          That’s fabulous you did nearly 500kms! And across the Meseta too!

          Good for you!

          It’s funny, before I left I read a lot of blogs and forums etc and no one really talked about how damn hard it was. It was like there was this conspiracy of silence!

          And then while I was walking I saw all these people around me suffering, and doing it hard. Some of them very fit, some experienced walkers.

          So your achievement can’t be under-estimated. It’s massive!

          Are you going to do it again?



          • Thanks Bill – I have been considering it and wanting to do it ever since. One impediment is that the year after my camino I had a bad fall and had a shoulder replacement/implant. So I am not quite sure whether I would now be able to get up to an upper berth if needed. However, I am at present considering to walk from Madrid to Sahagun (The Madrid route) and then if that goes well, maybe continue to Santiago from Sahagun. But for me, it is the way and not the destination which counts.

            Kindest, annelise


          • Hi Annelise, I’m sure that asking for a lower bunk because of a past injury wouldn’t be a problem for most hospitaleros.

            And I’m sure pilgrims would swap with you too, if you asked. As you know, people on the Camino can be incredibly kind.

            That route though – from Madrid – would be pretty amazing!



  10. I’m glad to hear, Bill, that some of the old Spirit of the Camino is still there, contrary to what one hears on forums sometimes, although I have noticed that it’s suffered some inevitable wear and tear in the past 20 years, particularly in the commercialisation…

    Oh, and I doubt that all of those millionnaires, juges, university professors and what not would have been happy sleeping as rough as we had to sometimes in ’93 or ’94 ; though I also don’t doubt that several among them would have done so quite cheerfully.


    • Hi Julian, I wonder if these things are seasonal. In other words, does the Camino attract another type of pilgrim depending upon the time of year.

      You are very fortunate to have experienced the Camino way back then. Did you take any photos? It would be fascinating to see.


      • Could be, Bill, and I did notice in 2005 that it was also somewhat locational, with some parts of the Camino filled to the brim with “tourigrinos”, and others seemingly entirely free of them …


        • Wow! I love the way they’re holding up signs saying where they are from-and the women in their dresses.I wonder if they wore them hiking. I don’t think there were a lot of European women wearing trousers in the fifties. Thank you very much for sharing such a wonderful photo!


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