The Camino As a “Still Life” Portrait of Our Evolving World

Our first "walk on" in 2010.
Our first “walk on” in 2010.

As you already know, Geof and I left Canada four years ago to walk the Camino Portuguese. We had no intention of undertaking anything other than a very long walk – 880 km. We returned to Portugal three months after our arrival back in Canada to respond to a life changing “call” that had presented no other option than to respond. We did so by returning to Canada in possession of a Portuguese ruin, an abandoned 11 acre farm and a vision.

It took over three years to clear the land and transition the ruin to a robust 16 bed Albergue and Cafe on the Camino de Santiago – 11 km south of Tui Spain – the 100 km mark to Santiago. While I donned an apron for the first time in my life, Geof became the master of the omelette. Jessica cooked up a storm every night and in the morning we changed beds, cleaned bathrooms and readied bunk rooms for the next night. Throughout the day, we made coffee, served lunch, hand drew Camino stamps, refreshed weary pilgrims with a wide assortment of drinks and conversed with as many as we could. To everyone who entered, we were simply the Canadian hospitaliers, (along with the intrepid Wellington Boot) who had experienced the good fortune of realizing a dream.

With that said, I have spent my life as an anthropologist, studying and practicing the art and science of evolutionary culture in an ever-changing world. Geof had been a renowned international TV journalist and producer.  We had spent our lives witnessing and commenting on human behaviour as it unfolded in front of us amidst revolutionary dynamics and waning systems. We had not dedicated our lives to these careers to simply abandon them when the call of the Camino came. We knew that we had discovered the most brilliant place to silently and unobtrusively observe the canvas of human dynamics that walked into our lives every day. It was too good an opportunity to deny.

For this reason, we are dedicating the next several blogs to the prevalent observations we have made, in this, our first season.

We welcome your comments and feedback so as to ignite a deeper and wider conversation of the world as we know it.



What A Season It Has Been!

Well here we are, 5 1/2 months since our soft launch opening and what an incredible time we have had! We have hosted over 630 pilgrims overnight, 1,000 for coffee and lunch stops and have personally drawn more than 2000 stamps in peregrino credentials. The countries represented around our evening dining room table have included Germany, Poland, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, England, Latvia, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Switzerland, France, Philippines, Czech Republic, Holland, Canada, USA, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Venezuela, Norway, Lithuania, Austria, Belgium, Taiwan, and of course, Spain and Portugal. The spirit of the Camino has deeply affected us through the sharing of thousands of conversations as to the nature of the  pilgrim experience, the motivation for the walk, the friendships that have emerged, and the awakenings that are emerging. The age range has been between 7 years of age and 87!

Word of mouth in regards to the Quinta Estrada Romana – our official name that means “Farm on the Roman Way”, has traveled up and down the Portuguese and French Caminos, bringing to us many walkers who had heard of “The Canadians”. We have come to truly realize the nature of community that exists throughout these paths.

We have learned a great deal – which we will share in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned!IMG_1807 IMG_1758