El Camino de Santiago–The Way of St James–is one of the most ancient walking routes in the world and still today people come from all over to engage in this pilgrimage for many different reasons with religious, spiritual or sport among the top 3. The Way as it is often referred actually takes 40 days from start in the French Pyrenees to finish in Santiago de Compostela in Spain but you can do it over 40 years if you want to. You can walk, cycle or ride your horse! Or you can do the final section of it like the 14 of us STAT girls did and get your “Pilgrim Passport” stamped by walking at least 110 kilometers. Sounds ambitious for a week but not with my Peregrinos. Every day on the trail was filled with camaraderie and a plethora of emotions. From our opening ceremony where we broke all the rules to dancing on tables at lunch and belly laughing into the night over snoring roomies, we experienced the best of Galician hospitality. Oh the places we stayed! They were as authentic as the rhyme goes “Capilla, palomar, cipres…Pazo es!” which means Chapel, cypress and a dovecot…a country house you’ve got!” They all felt like mythical secret hideaways. We even drank the coolaid … the excellent Riberiro and Albarino wines of the area and ate a rich supply of fish including the famous pulpo gallego otherwise known as octopus. We particularly loved our daily portions of salad con tuna and yummy lentil soup with stops every couple of hours for cafe con leche in quaint little villages. This unique experience of traversing Galicia on the Camino Frances following the yellow brick road… I mean arrow… through undulating landscape of green hills grazed by cattle, native forests of oak and chestnut, insane calle lilies,wisteria,and crosses lining the fences, Eucalyptus trees and fertile river valleys could only be surpassed by the beautiful people we met along the way and the incredible chemistry we had for one another. Our 83-year-old Cynthia who has walked the Camino at least 10 times in her life (that she can remember) was our daily inspirational reminder to be grateful. And our beautiful widowed couple we met who were getting married at the Cathedral at the end of their 40 day walk reinforced us that love conquers all. Whether we walked alone in silence or together, there are as many questions as there are pilgrims about lives, loves, faith, jobs, relationships and even the meaning of life and our existence. Walking this trail brought many emotions to the surface and enabled quiet reflection for each of us. But when we came together at the end of the day after a nice hot (mostly) shower, it was quite a love fest. The bonding on this journey was beyond special as we laughed and learned from each other about love and support. Especially that there are no accidents in life except for those who take life for granted. Not us. It’s a gift. Just like the gift we gave those beautiful folks we met at the assisted living facility and the Down syndrome people who walked the last part of the Camino with us into Santiago. What a pleasure to connect with those doing wonderful things in this special corner of Spain for others. Arriving into Santiago de Compostela after a week of walking was magical and just in time for the Pilgrim’s Mass (as a jew) was perfection. Even more perfect was the Parador Nacional de los Reyes Catolicos, the 15th century hotel combining history, art and tradition that we stayed on the square for our last evening together. It is considered the oldest hotel in the world and still greeting pilgrims today. A special shout out to our guide Mike, who made our journey look effortless while sharing his immense knowledge and British sense of humor with 14 crazy ladies. I will remember this journey forever and will call upon these cherished memories to bring a smile to my face with gratitude to all of you for a Buen Camino.