The Camino has the ability to bring people together when they need to be brought together. Sometimes this may be for just a few minutes or it could be for days like in 2008 when I walked with Denis and Anette for 11 days. Often we don’t realise at the time why we’ve had contact with a particuar person and it’s not until much later that the reason becomes apparent. Sometimes the coming together is only for one person to learn from the contact, sometimes it’s for both.

Today as I was walking just below a ridge line with the most panoramic view of the greenest valley below me, and the city of Llanes and the ocean beyond, I heard someone walking up behind me. I recognised him as a pilgrim from the breakfast
table at the albergue in Guemes on July 11. I had not seen him since then. After
we greeted each other the first thing he said was that not five minutes before he had been thinking of me and what I had achieved in walking from Rome and that it was the frst time he had thought about me since Guemes. And there I was on the road
in front of him. The Camino is like this.

We chatted on the road into the city and later after dinner. There is an Australian connection here: he lived in Haberfield in Sydney in 1983 when his father was being supervised at a Sydney hospital by the late Sydney brain surgeon Dr Christopher
O’Brien. Small world, or is it?

Christopher, the Austrian pilgrim who is studying anthropology and law in Vienna, was very complimentary about my achievement. Which brings me to this topic of
how to deal with the comments made by pilgrims. This has only become an issue since I have been in Spain. When it became aparent to me that people’s responses were extremely complimentary I decided that I would not volunteer that I had walked from Rome, nor would I ask a pilgrim where they started their walk in the expectation that they would direct a similar question to me. I thought there was too much ego involved either way. But I do get asked and I do say from Rome. The responses
have been quite amazing for me. Some look at me open mouthed. Some say, “From Rome?” as if to say, “Did I hear you correctly?” Invariably the responses have been
very complimentary. The most common comment is, “That’s amazing!”. Yet I don’t think of it that way. In saying this I’m not wanting to sound ovely self-deprecating. I think Sir Edmund Hillary climbing Mt. Everest in 1953 with the limited equipment and support he had, as amazing. What I’ve done has been done by thousands upon thousands of pilgrims over the centuries, and I’m happy to be included in their number.

What I hope to achieve by what I’ve done (or should say, what I’m doing because my walk is not yet complete) is to inspire people to follow their heart and do something for themselves that maybe once they thought they were incapable of doing. I particularly would like to inspire those who have a cancer diagnosis, but not limited to that group, to overcome their fears of taking responsibility for their healing. I believe that walking the Camino is a part of the responsibility I have acepted for my own healing.

Meeting Christopher today has provided me with the opportunity to say something about pilgrims’ responses which has been on my mind for a few days.

Essentially proves how to write a medical research paper that a song doesn’t need to be good to be awesome