Camino Portuguese Day 8 – Hanging with Steve…

I woke up this morning not wanting to walk.

Yesterday I felt like I could walk halfway across Spain. This morning I would have been quite happy taking the van.

But I can’t do that. Nor can I offload my backpack, which with water and iPad etc is coming in at about 10kgs.

I went down to breakfast and witnessed with mine own eyes something which had been rumoured about in hushed tones by the other pilgrims –

Caterina eats bananas with a knife and fork.

Caterina with banana.1

Caterina is embarrassed about this. Evidently on previous mornings she’s built a screen around her plate with napkins. This morning she tried to hide it from me, but I can be persistent.

Caterina with banana.2

I got the shots I needed to prove to the world that she does indeed eat bananas with a knife and fork.

I think she probably believes that anyone who eats a banana with their hands most probably has a prehensile tail as well. (As most Queenslanders do…)

Anyway, my spirits were momentarily lifted by this anomaly in Caterina – shortly after, I headed out with Steve.

walking with steve.1

Steve is a truly fascinating bloke.

Some of you might already have formed an opinion of Steve – but most probably that opinion is wrong.

Steve is 71, divorced just recently from his third wife, and has stated clearly that the only reason he’s come on this tour is to spend time with me.


Steve and I met through this blog. A friend of his last year had alerted him to the blog, and he joined as a follower on day 12 of my Camino. He then started his own blog – and I became a follower, because he and his previous wife began their Camino Frances a week after I finished mine.

While I walked he commented on my blog – while he walked I commented on his blog. And in the process, we became mates.

An unlikely mateship.

He’s Texan, a bodybuilder, almost churlish with his economy of words. His reading list is mainly books on Navy Seals – my reading list goes from Dickens to Salman Rushdie to Jo Nesbo.

He regards our differences these ways: Says Steve – I’m better looking, I’m smarter, I’m more affable, I’m definitely sexier, and I have pecs not boobies. Women love me, he says – and dogs too.

steve with dog.1Arlene says our differences are: Bill, you’re taller, you have hair, you have an accent (Australian), you both have terrific smiles – and it’s a draw when it comes down to who’s the more sexier…

(I think Arlene is being very kind to me…)

Anyway, Steve and I walked 23kms today and we talked most of the time. Here are some of the things I learned about Steve today –

  • By the age of 35 he was one of the largest independent crude oil traders in the world.
  • He had a personal net worth of $35m
  • He had a company that had an annual turnover of $4b. Yes, $4 billion dollars.
  • He was half owner in another company that had an annual turnover of $8b. Yes, $8 billion dollars.
  • His company was the largest supplier of jet fuel to British Airways.
  • He had 150 people on his payroll, in Houston, Denver, New Orleans, Bermuda, and London.
  • One day he went to lunch in New York. After lunch walking back to his hotel he passed a Rolls Royce dealership. On a whim he walked in – and walked out a short time later having bought two Rolls Royces – a new Cornishe Convertible for himself, and a 2nd hand Silver Shadow for his CFO.
  • At age 32 he got his pilots license. Within a few years he had both a commercial and instructors pilots rating. Ultimately he was a multi-engine instrument instructor.
  • He had three private jets – two of them were worth $8m. He had on staff three pilots, a mechanic, and a secretary that were devoted solely to his “air force.”
  • His office rent was $100,000 a month. $1.2m per year.
  • His watch (Corum) was worth $30,000 – it had four rows of diamonds surrounding a five dollar gold coin.
  • One year he got a tax refund from the IRS for $12m.
  • His house was worth $7m.
  • He had a $2m house in Aspen.
  • At one point the US Department of Energy alleged he owed them $108m in profits that they claimed were “ill gotten.”
  • At one point his companies and himself personally were $55m “upside down” – that is, he owed $55m to various creditors.
  • He could have, had he wished, squirrelled monies away in various offshore assets or banks and set himself up for life – but he regarded that as immoral.
  • In the big crash of 1985-86, he pretty much lost everything. he had investments in real estate that went sour, and the price of crude oil went through the floor.

All this I learned today while walking with Steve.

He loves dogs, and dogs love him.

steve with dog3.1He helps people with their backpacks.

steve with backpackHe walked over to kick away a screw that he saw on the road – he worried that it might puncture a tire.


You might think you know Steve, when he poses for photos – you might have formed an opinion about him, but you don’t really know him.

Steve on 70th

I certainly know more about him after our walk today…

He says that he’s happier now than he was back then, at the height of his wealth and power. He now lives within his needs, not his means.

And he now lives without expectation and judgement.

He has a pared down existential view of life – forged by his extraordinary backstory.

By the way, I wrote this blog with Steve’s full concurrence and approval. He vetted this post before I published it.

steve walking away

26 thoughts on “Camino Portuguese Day 8 – Hanging with Steve…

  1. Wow! No idea! Now, will Steve’s blog reveal what he learned about you today?
    Interesting to learn one’s history. Generally all pilgrims are usually the same status – Pilgrims. You never know if the guy walking next to you is a millionaire, a pauper, a film director, amateur photographer, or what.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Ah, proof that you never know a man — or a woman — until you walk a few miles with their hiking boots! An amazing backstory, and I am not a bit surprised that he is more content with his current life. Kudos, Steve, for finding yourself and being at home in your own skin. I have to ask, Bill, how does Caterina feel about her expose? Big smile. She is not alone. I slice my bananas on my plate, and then eat the pieces with a fork. Travel on, friends! Hugs around. Julie


    • Thanks Julie – yes, the person you’re walking with might just be a Norwegian Admiral of the naval command in Afghanistan, as Peter Landers discovered last year. You never know…!

      As for Caterina, she came down sick today. Glands up etc. I put that down to shame… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Bill and Steve, how absolutely wonderful that you’ve found each other at this, pilgrim, stage of your lives. Have either of you wondered how you might have thought of the other, when you were the pre-Camino Bill or the pre-crash Steve? I’d think it’d be interesting to look at that aspect of who you are and what your relationship might have been like 🙂 I have an Aussie friend who only ever wears shorts, has very rough hands from the work he prefers doing, loves his beer and footy and also happens to be a millionaire. I’ve learnt, and not just from knowing him, that you should never judge someone on what they present as their outside personae!

    I’d never considered cutting my bananas, but can sort of, from a tactile perception, understand that some people might not want to get their hands bananafied 🙂

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  4. It’s a very unlikely mateship, Britta. Steve is a very kind bloke – but where we differ is that he finds dogs more attractive than women. For me it’s the other way around… 🙂


    • Dogs are good judges of character. They run up to me and growl at you. Wonder what that means? Actually, now that you mention it, women do the same thing. Maybe,it is pecs versus boobies. Can’t imagine what you are thinking. Of course when you wrote this you were,probably drunk and in fantasy land. 🙂


  5. The unlikely mateships are often the best ones Bill. What an amazing life story Steve has. So great that he has come to this point in his life where he’s content with what he has. Thank you both for sharing Steve’s story today.
    Buen Camino everyone – Jenny


  6. Great blog Bill. Sounds like an awesome time. Hope you’re not causing anyone any grief over there…lol. 🙂


  7. It seems that Steve is happy with himself, a contented man with or without money. Bill you are a character and am enjoying your blog. The test for me when I meet Steve is whether or not I will growl like a dog or purr like a kitten, only time will tell. Keep on keeping on.

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