Sunday, April 2, 2017

I asked 44 pilgrims what they learned from walking the Camino de Santiago. Here's what they wrote:

For a month in the fall of 2014 I walked the camino francés of the Camino de Santiago—a pilgrimage across Spain.

Partway through the journey, I began keeping a running list in my mind of small lessons I was learning, which made their way onto a page in my journal and eventually became this reflection.

At some point along the journey, I decided at the end I'd ask other pilgrims what they had learned as well. After finishing, I bought a little notebook from a souvenir shop, grabbed a pen, and headed to the line of pilgrims waiting to get their certificate of completion in Santiago de Compostela. 

(This is the short version of how it went down, by the way. Here's where you can read a behind-the-scenes look at what was running through my head, and how the project almost didn't happen!)

Here's the template I wrote on the first page.

Clearly I was prepared to talk with English and Spanish speakers. Little did I know, I'd soon be whipping out those two semesters of college French (from 2010-11!) on the spot to communicate with French speakers as well.

Here are the responses I received (translations are done by me; transcription of the handwriting was aided by Gregorio and Damien, who answered my many Whatsapp messages of photos, asking "What's this word?" "What does this one say here?" etc.):

Rebecca (25)

I learned that it feels good to wake up early and do something productive!

Richard (72)
USA (Calif)

To wander in wonder is essential to living

Wil (66)
San Diego, CA

Important to do what God wants you to do; not what you want you to do -

also, we must discern our life priorities 1st then you can determine where you go with your life.

Dede (65)
San Diego, CA

The journey is intensely individual - one's aspirations and expectations evolve w/ the steps. God meets us where we are and leads us to someplace new. It is unexpected. Stories and meetings w/ other pilgrims reinforce the sense of a "time set apart."It is a rich experience and worth doing.

Nina (73)

Train harder. It's harder than it looks.

Anne Marie (63)

La patience

Yolande (60)

La récupération physique après les douleurs des articulations ou musculaires...
Echanger avec toutes les nationalities...
(The physical recovery after joint or muscular pains...
Exchanging with all of the nationalities...)

Mamie Annick (60)

L'endurance et la capacité de récupération

Jacqueline (71)

Découverte du paysage
Difficulté de communiquer quand tu connais aucune langue étrangère
(Discovering the landscape
The difficulty of communicating when you only know one foreign language)

Maria Carmen Campos Anaya (51)
Valencia - Spain

El camino te da fuerza te ayuda a superarte te ayuda a relacionarte mejor con los demás
y piensas que no hay nada imposible.
(The camino gives you strength, helps you better yourself, helps you relate better with others, and you think that nothing is impossible.)

Saline (55)

Un peu plus de tolérance et d'accueil pour l'autre.
(A little more tolerance and welcome for the other.)

Ed Emmenegger (66)
Middleton, WI USA

Never have I felt and experienced that we humans are one family, all brothers and sisters, as I have for 35 days on the Camino.

Azahara Carramiñana (32)
Alicante (Spain)
Camino del norte (desde Abadiz)

Sin esfuerzo no hay gloria.
(Without effort/sacrifice there isn't glory.)

Emilio Medina Haro (27)
Alicante (Spain)

Los caminos no tienen fin, tus pasos si...
(Paths have no end, your footsteps yes...)

Carlos (30)

Una dura lucha entre el ser y el pertenecer, el deseo y lo racional.
(A tough fight between being and belonging, desire and the rational.)

Javier Mulero (31)

Haz el camino que te dicte tu interior, no el que te dicten los demás.
(Take the path that your inside tells you to take, not the one everyone else tells you to.)

Berta Pujol (29)

En los caminos parece que hay obstáculos insuperables pero se superan.
En la vida los obstáculos te los pones tú y como en el camino, los puedes superar tú y sólo tú.
(In the paths it seems like there are unsurpassable obstacles but one surpasses them.
In life you make the obstacles yourself, and like on the Camino, you and only you can overcome them.)

Beatrix Mariano (65.5) 
North Wales (UK)

I have learnt that life is a camino and everything works out for the best if one just takes 1 step at a time and 1 day at a time - we create our own anxiety - but we don't need to...

Enrique (51)
Valencia (Spain)

El diferente comportamiento de los personas dentro y fuera del Camino.
(The different behaviors of people on and off the Camino.)

John Howell (75)

People are touched by Christianity, a foundation of our culture.

Kelly (36)

To take care of myself + my own needs first so that I can help others, and be the "best" me I can be.

Juan Pablo (33)

Sacrificio. Valorar las cosas importantes de la vida y desechar las superfluas.
(Sacrifice. To value the important things in life and get rid of the superficial things.)

Enrique (33)

Conocimiento personal, búsqueda
(Personal knowledge, the search)

Jose (43) y Dyicui (34)

Durante el "camino"de co a mi compañera (y esposa) con quien lo he realizado

Lo repetire, si Dios quiere.

Salud a todos los cahihantes !

Dade las palhoas de j c (islas canarias)

Michlynn (51)

Humbled, gratitude. One love.

52 years Tomorrow!

I have learned to slow down & enjoy life - Never to focus on negative - let it go!

Florian (20)

if you stick to your intuition and practice acceptance everything happening has a new meaning

Miguel Granados Gonzalez (35)
Almeria (Spain)

En el camino he aprendido que el esfuerzo tiene recompensa y que una vez obtenida la recompensa se siente satisfacción por el esfuerzo realizado.
(On the Camino I learned that strength is rewarded and that once it's obtained one feels satisfaction for the strength fulfilled.)

Jose Antonio Moreno (35)

Del camino me llevo varias cosas:
1. Es más duro de lo que la gente cuenta. Será que la satisfacción lo puede todo.
2. La gente es más fuerte de lo que cree.
3. Da gusto poder hablar con la gente.

(From the Camino I'm taking away many things:
1. It's harder than people say it is. It will be that satisfaction can do it all.
2. People are stronger than they believe.
3. It's nice to talk with people.)

Jose Carlos Santos (36)
Valladolid (Spain)

Aprendes a superar las dificultades del camino, a superar tus limites, y sobre todo a disfrutar de cada momento que vives durante el camino, y las diferentes personas que conoces.
(You learn to overcome the difficulties of the Camino, to overcome your limits, and especially to enjoy every moment you live during the Camino, and the different people that you meet.)

Francis Gonzalez Ferrer (27)
Valladolid (Spain)

Por hacer el camino lo mejor ha sido reírme y conocer gente.
(In walking the Camino, the best has been laughing and meeting people.)

Sergio Rodríguez Sanjuan (52)
Barcelona (Spain)

Poner en práctica solidaridad y tolerancia con los demás.
(To put in practice solidarity and tolerance with others.)

Joan Oliveras Argelagues (68)
Cataluña (Spain)

Conocer a nueva gente, nuevos amigos, gastronomía y reflexion personal.
(Meeting new people, new friends, the food, and personal reflection.)

Tony (46) and Susan Allen (44), Martin Meguire (45), Siobhen P. (38)
Cork, Ireland

Amazing journey
Not taking things for granted
Importance of prayer

Felipe P. Rubio (61)
Madrid, Spain

- Experiencia personal: Es la de sobreponerte a las adversidades, 
- Una experiencia unica, gran compañerismo.
(- Personal experience: It's of overcoming adversity
- A unique experience, great camaraderie.)

Jan Dirk Leide (28)

I have learned that it is more value[able] to share your way and experiences.

Louise Vevidwone (63)

People on the Camino are each other's friends!

Juanma Culada (47)

Experiencia única por capacidad de sacrificio y resistencia anté las dificultades que el camino nos marca.
(Unique experience for the ability to sacrifice and resist against the difficulties that the Camino brings us.)


Con tesón y perseverancia se pueden cumplir los sueños.
(With tenacity and perseverance, you can reach your dreams.)

Anne (55) & Christophe (58)

Vivre en fraternité
Moins de clivage socio-culturel.
Nous nous sommes enrichis humainement.

(To live in fraternity,
less socio-cultural divide.
We are humanly enriched.)
• • •


  1. Replies
    1. Great, thanks! (Only took me 2.5 years to share their words...)

    2. that's even more awesome, rebecca. i'm glad you did it because there are very inspirational messages there. that notebook sure is a treasure. (:

    3. Thanks, Nícia! I'm glad you've found some inspiration from this notebook. :)