Kindness of Strangers on Camino Primitivo

While walking along cow pastures and woody stands, I had not seen a soul for the past three hours. But I was accompanied by huge thunderclouds, hanging heavy with the rain that seemed destined to come. The low clouds refused to release, and I silently prayed for the showers that would dampen the oppressing heat and humidity that had been building all afternoon.

Combing the countryside on Camino Primitivo

I was walking the Camino Primitivo, an ancient pilgrimage path that connects Oviedo in Asturias to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. While trekking, I was also editing and updating a guide book for the route for a London publisher. I was not surprised how much the lists of restaurants and accommodations had changed since the last edition in 2011. With the growth of interest in walking the various Caminos that spider web through Europe, there was sure to be many changes and additions. But I was surprised by the amount of construction in the backwoods of northern Spain that was changing the actual route.

Course changes meant that I needed to document those route deviations in the guide book. I needed to stop, make notes and maybe retrace my steps to ensure accuracy. The frustrating search for San Salvador de Soutomerille, a small 9th C church, had me back-tracking through hot, farm fields. I finally decided that the ancient chapel must be on the alternative route that, although I was sure I had taken, I must not have followed. My 23-pound pack seemed twice as heavy as it did that morning when I left O Cadavo. I spent two extra hours and retraced three miles combing the remote countryside.

Alone in Northern Spain

That was the reason that by 4 pm I was walking alone. My pilgrim friends would have checked into Albergue Casa da Chanca, the place where we’d agreed to rest for the night, hours ago. I still slugged along under the sweaty heat of the pregnant clouds. I was climbing towards Lugo, which lies on a hill surrounded by three rivers. As I climbed, I got nearer and nearer to the clouds that were turning black. My prayers were about to be answered.

I set my pack down under the sheltering arms of an oak, opened my pack and as I reached to put on my raincoat, the skies opened. Hunching down, I fit my rainfly around my backpack as the rain pelted down. I was getting hammered and as I stood up to survey my situation in the thunderstorm, I knew I’d have to stay in place under the tree on this lonely farm road for a while. I could see a barn at the intersection ahead of me, but it looked deserted and locked. I thought of my friends sheltering in the albergue. I was looking forward to reconnecting with them for dinner; this surely put a kibosh on that.

For some reason, I looked back up the tree-lined road where I’d just come. Maybe I heard something that caused me to look. But there, up the lane, were two Spanish people walking their dog. The country couple huddled under a big umbrella, which maybe seemed so large because they were so short of stature. The man held the umbrella in one hand and his wife’s shoulder in the other. As the rain pelted sideways from the wind, he pointed the umbrella towards the gusts and steered his wife to another oak on my side of the road. Their Golden Retriever crouched at their ankles.

Appeared out of nowhere

After an afternoon without seeing anyone, they seemed like angels to me. They appeared out of nowhere, and I thought, “They’re old folks, walking their dog. Their home MUST be close by.” I waved a hand of welcome, and the woman waved back. We stood under our prospective trees for what seemed like 20 minutes. I had no idea how far I was from Lugo, but it was already after 5 pm, and I was giving up hope on meeting my fellow pilgrims for dinner. I felt sad that after such a frustrating day, I would miss the compassionate companionship of fellow walkers.

When the storm finally let up, the villagers began walking. I waited, and we trod through the light rain together. We only smiled and laughed since none of us had a handle on the other’s verbal language. After about a mile, and the third country intersection, the wife pointed to the right and said, “Camino.”

Through the twilight drizzle

I said, “No, yo voy a su casa. You quiero un taxi.” “No, I go to your house. I want a taxi.” They both smiled and motioned onward. And we kept walking and walking. So much for my theory that old people take short dog walks. Another twenty minutes, I could see a line of row houses through the twilight drizzle. We must be reaching the outskirts of Lugo. “Esta es la casa de mi amigo,” she smiled. “Llamará un taxi para ti.” “This is my friend’s house; she’ll call a taxi for you.”

Muchas gracias,” I cried. The door opened, and the wife explained in rapid Spanish as I slid, dripping, into the entryway. I was happy to have the introduction because the friend spoke no English and I couldn’t understand her Spanish. She left me standing on the linoleum at the door to go upstairs to get her millennial son to call a cab.

Rescued by Camino Angels

She returned to ask me a question, which I couldn’t understand. After repeating it three times, she gave up and went back upstairs to retrieve a huge, thick cotton towel. Toalla! Towel! That’s the word I didn’t recognize. Then she asked me if I needed a shirt – I could understand the word camisa. No, the towel would do, I somehow explained. I felt bad about all the water on the floor that was dripping off of me, my raincoat and my pack. But I helped her mop it up. The kindly mother made her son come down to explain that the taxi would be here soon. His English was about as good as my Spanish.

The taxi arrived and whisked me to Albergue Casa da Chanca. The ride was only five minutes long, and I realized how close I was to town when the thunderstorm had broken loose. Rodrigo and Ximena, my pilgrim family from Mexico, welcomed me warmly. They laughed at my stories of misfortune and Camino angels, and I had fifteen minutes to unpack and dry off before we went back out into the rain for a late dinner. There, over octopus and white wine, I repeated my story of the kindness of strangers to Lazlo and Peter, our Hungarian friends.

Stacey “Vagabonding Lulu” Wittig, an Arizona travel writer based in Flagstaff, has written three books about the Camino de Santiago. To learn more, go to Amazon at http://bit.ly/CaminoBook

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‘You’ll love this yarn – it’s honest and it’s revealing’ says Australian Talk Show Host

DAn Mullins head shot‘You’ll love this yarn – it’s honest and it’s revealing’ says Dan Mullins, Australian Talk Show Host about the interview he conducted with me last week. “Stacey and I talk about her journey, both spiritually and physically – in our hearts and on our feet.”

Click here to listen in on the conversation: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode/?id=106114

MyCamino-ThePodcastDan Mullins, a Sydney radio broadcaster, producer, and host of ‘My Camino – The Podcast,’ asks probing questions that have me revealing my innermost thoughts on pilgrimage and on my own spiritual experiences. He asks:

  • Why do people walk? What is it about walking?
  • You mentioned earlier the immense history of the Camino. When you walk, how conscious are you of Christ’s involvement and the Christian involvement in that history?
  • You talk in the guide about pilgrims carrying too much in their packs, and you say, ‘Generally we as humans carry too much stuff.’ How can a faith-based life ease that load?
  • So you are inviting pilgrims, Stacey, to explore themselves, to learn more about themselves and to find themselves. Is that a fair assessment?
  • You write about forgiveness and you say the Camino provides an opportunity for forgiveness. Can I ask you to elaborate on that just a little bit?

Click here to listen in on the conversation: https://player.whooshkaa.com/episode/?id=106114

Dan-Mullens-Sound-booth-crop

Dan Mullins, “My Camino-The Podcast” Talk Show Host

Camino books, Spiritual Camino, Camino guide, Camino devotional

 

Spiritual & Walking Guides releases new book: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port

Spiritual & Walking Guides just released its latest book: Spiritual & Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port. The Camino guide book is today’s most comprehensive spiritual guide for walking from Lourdes to St Jean de Pied Port in France. Order at Amazon by clicking here: http://amzn.to/2cTM0Xt

Many modern pilgrims desire to walk the primitive pilgrimage route from Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port, France, and beyond onto the Camino Frances. But, until now, few guides have been published in the English language for the Voie du Piémont Pyrénéen sections of the Camino walk.

Spiritual and Walking Guide front-coverThe three-in-one book incorporates daily devotionals, Bible verses and way guides that will help prepare your heart for a closer walk with God.
Included in the book: 
• Maps for wayfinding
• Daily scripture readings – no need to carry a heavy Bible
• Meditations that help you hear God’s direction for your life
• Questions for reflection to make the most of your pilgrimage
• Details about where to sleep, daily distances walked and essential websites
• Insider travel tips
• How to procure a Pilgrim Credential
Here then is a guide ideally suited to you, the pilgrim, who is seeking both spiritual and terrestrial direction while walking the Camino route from Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port in France.With space to journal thoughts and revelations about your Lourdes pilgrimage, you’ll hold onto this book as a keepsake f
or many years to come.
About the Author
Stacey Wittig is a Spirit-led Christian, who was transformed by the Camino de Santiago experience and now writes about hiking and pilgrimage.
About Spiritual & Walking Guide: Lourdes to St Jean Pied de Port:
List Price: $24.99
5″ x 8″ (12.7 x 20.32 cm)
Full Color on White paper
106 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1537021508
ISBN-10: 1537021508
BISAC: Travel / Special Interest / Religious
Order on Amazon by clicking here: http://amzn.to/2cTM0Xt

‘The author is a trustworthy guide,’ says Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition review

Presbyterian-Outlook-2016_Page_1“The author is a trustworthy guide,” announced the review of Spiritual and Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago on the El Camino by Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition released this month. Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition included ‘Spiritual & Walking Guide’ on page seventeen of their annual spring book review publication. The book recommendations and reviews are compiled by Roy W. Howard, Outlook book editor.

“The author has walked the Camino de Santiago several times and provides a devotional guide for pilgrims walking the portion from Leon, Spain, to Santiago de Compostela,” states Howard.

Link to Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition

Presbyterian-Outlook-Spiritual-Walking-Guide

To learn more about the Camino devotional written by Stacey Wittig, go to Amazon.com. The Camino guide includes scriptures for The Way, recommendations for places to sleep, questions for reflection and pages to journal thoughts.

Presbyterian-Outlook-2016_Page_4

The Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition review reads:

Spiritual and Walking Guide:

Leon to Santiago on the El Camino

Stacey Wittig

Spiritual Walking Guides, 104 pages

The author has walked the Camino de Santiago several times and provides a devotional guide for pilgrims walking the portion from Leon, Spain, to Santiago de Compostela. The guide includes daily Scripture readings, mediations and questions for personal reflection. There are details about where to sleep and how to navigate your way without maps. The author is a trustworthy guide.

‘Spiritual & Walking Guide’ to be included in Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition

PresybterianOutlookSpiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago is to be included in Presbyterian Outlook’s Spring Books Edition. We received that news today from their book editor. Look for the review next month at http://pres-outlook.org/category/faith-culture/reviews/book-reviews. The spiritual and walking guide book for people walking the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route through northern Spain is available in paperback and e-book at Amazon.com.

The daily devotional and walking guide helps Camino pilgrims to:

  • prepare their hearts for the pilgrimage,
  • meditate on Bible scriptures appropriate for the terrain,
  • find their way, and
  • debrief after the walk and assimilate what they’ve found on The Way into their lives back home.

To learn more about the Camino devotional written by Stacey Wittig, go to Amazon.com. The Camino guide includes scriptures for The Way, recommendations for places to sleep, questions for reflection and pages to journal thoughts.

From the Presbyterian Outlook website:

The Presbyterian Outlook is an independent biweekly magazine on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Our mission is to equip, nurture and inspire church leaders within the Reformed tradition to be faithful servants in a dynamic, changing and challenging time. For nearly 200 years we have been a trusted source of news, commentary and resources.

Best Camino Christmas Gift Ever: 3 Reasons Why

Camino-Christmas-TreeLooking for the perfect Christmas gift for your Camino pilgrim? Whether your pilgrim has already walked the Camino de Santiago through northern Spain or is planning on doing so, this book makes for the perfect holiday present. Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago is a daily devotional for pilgrims trekking along the ancient way.

Three Reasons Why this Camino book is the Best Camino Christmas Gift Ever:

The gift of this book expresses your thoughtfulness of acknowledging and honoring their Camino adventure. The daily guide includes short stories found along the way and scripture verses that go along with them.

  1. Affordable. The book is available for your budget, whether it be the paperback version or the even more reasonably priced e-version made for Kindle or other electronic devices on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book sellers throughout the world.
  2. Gift wrap? No problem, order the paperback book at Amazon and select the gift wrap option, and your Camino gift will be sent already wrapped in festive paper and ribbon to surprise your pilgrim friend or relative. No muss, no fuss.
  3. The Reason for the Season. Giving a book chock full of Christian scriptures included because they are metaphors for our walk with Christ reminds us of the Reason for the Season: the entry of Jesus Christ into our world. The best gift ever.

“Day by day, step by step the author takes us on the coveted journey that millions of people have walked, ridden donkeys and horses, or been carried to this most famous Christian pilgrimage site after Jerusalem and Rome. The time you take to reach the goal is up to you. Stacey Wittig just makes the process a whole lot easier with practical lodging suggestions, packing tips and walking times as well as some spiritual advice and meditations. This book is a complete “how to” guide taking you from your front door to your final step.” –Linda Kissam, Goodreads Review

Why wait? Order the book now at Amazon.

Stacey Wittig is an author based near Flagstaff, Arizona. She wrote Spiritual & Walking Guide: Leon to Santiago after hiking the Camino in 2005. She has since returned three additional times and plans to walk a section in France in 2016.

American Pilgrims on Camino adds ‘Spiritual and Walking Guide’ to Book List

The latest addition to the American Pilgrims on the Camino book list is Stacey Wittig’s Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago. American Pilgrims on Camino (APOC), a non-profit organization, provides information to pilgrims that includes links to online resources, book lists, CD and music lists and Camino essays. The APOC Camino reading list includes a wealth of books for pilgrims interested in walking El Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route in northern Spain.APOC-Camino-reading-list-Wittig

The mission of American Pilgrims on the Camino is to foster the enduring tradition of the Camino by supporting its infrastructure, by gathering pilgrims together, and by providing information and encouragement to past and future pilgrims. Their high-traffic website states:

The modern literature on the Camino and on pilgrimage encompasses not only many walker’s guides, but also cultural handbooks on art and architecture, personal narratives and reflections, novels and more.

The easy-to-use Camino book list is divided into the following categories:

  • Guide Books (in English)
  • Guide Books (Other than English)
  • Personal Accounts and Reflections
  • Fiction
  • Culture and History
  • Other Printed Material

Listed in the “Guide Books (In English)” category, Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago is included with other well-known Camino books such as John Brierley’s Pilgrim’s guides and maps to the Camino de Santiago and the Camino portugués, and Bethan Davies’ and Ben Cole’s Walking the Camino de Santiago.

“When I first walked El Camino in 2005, I used Bethan Davies’ guide,” explained Camino author Stacey Wittig. “So I am intimately familiar with her work. Back then, I originally looked for a route guide that also included Bible scriptures and daily devotionals. I didn’t want to carry a heavy Bible, a daily devotional and a route guide. I hoped that such a book would also include space to journal my own thoughts. Since I couldn’t find that sort of thing, I felt inspired to compile a guide that would lead readers spiritually as well as physically through the landscape. This inspirational Camino guide includes scriptures for The Way of St. James. It has been described as ‘The Way devotional.’

“I am very honored that American Pilgrims on the Camino includes my book on their Camino reading list,” continued the writing pilgrim. The Camino devotional is now listed on the reading lists of three of the world’s top Camino de Santiago websites.APOC-Camino-Book-List-Wittig

The APOC listing describes the book:

Author Stacey Wittig has written a spiritual guide for walking from León, Spain, to Santiago. What about pilgrimage helps you let go of fears and find peace that passes understanding? How can you be still and hear God’s voice as you trek the ancient pilgrimage route? How will you prepare your heart for a closer walk with God on the Camino? Find answers to these and other questions in this daily devotional and walking guide. Included in this book are daily scripture readings, meditations and questions for reflection to make the most of your pilgrimage and on the more practical side, details about where to sleep, daily distances walked and essential websites, insider travel tips, how to obtain a credential, how to follow the route without maps. The book contains space to journal thoughts and revelations.

Order Spiritual and Walking Guide: León to Santiago now on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Slo6Rq