Riffing on Post Camino Blues

Riffing on Post Camino Blues

Camino podcaster Brendan Bolton asked recently: “When you hear the phrase ‘Post Camino Blues’ what is the first thing that comes to mind for you?

The way I see it, it’s kind of a late night Tapas bar staring into your vino tinto listening to a lone musician singing a mournful twelve-bar, thing, with a flattened 7th chord that tugs at the heartstrings when the stars refuse to shine. 

Vino tinto in Portomarin - post Camino blues

Sure there’s the downsizing, the simplifying of life, the meaningful discussions with friends over cafe con leche. There’s the getting back in contact with your Camino family – those people you’ve met some nameless place where you don’t know their surname, and never found out what they did for a living, but you know how they feel about the meaning of life – and they had a dog. Named Joe.

It’s the clouds in the sky and the dew-covered spiderwebs lacing the bracken and the sun rising over the ripening Tempranillo grapes before harvest. And the concrete boccadillo with the ham and the cheese, and God knows, there’s the snorers in the dormitory. And olives. Lots of olives.

It’s another hill to climb and the rocks and the mud and the beautiful lizard sunbaking without a care in the world. And the butterflies. And the sunflowers past their prime – aren’t we all – and the water fountain that’s been there since St Francis of Assisi walked past nine-hundred years ago. It was that sweet and tasted like vino from the shell.

San Anton monastery

It’s the chickens in the church and the statue of Madonna in the cave behind the monastery and the endless bridge where challenged knights would fall. Where soft autumn breezes gently move majestic trees. And thanking the Almighty for the toilet in the bar of the village where the orange juice was fresh and the coffee served with pinchos on the side.

It’s the way the mountains float like islands in a sea of cloud while the vultures circle over head and in your conscience. It’s the rock you placed upon your sorrows at the cross and the robin just ahead and that selfless hug from the stranger that rained tears upon your soul.

It’s the sunrise on the wheatfields as you cross the broad Meseta and the bell atop the tower in the churchyard that you climbed. A bell that tolls just once because a pilgrim passed. That way.

It’s an inslada mixta and a lentils kind of day when everything that happens has a reason. There’s a place to find your dreams – a Roman bridge across the stream. And the rhythmic mental tapping of your poles upon your keyboard as you try to catch a thought about a squirrel in the tree.

It’s resuming training walks because… you never know… there might be a discount flight to Europe… and the arrow shapes in the leaves and on the road, and the random shell connections that linger in the moonlight gently beckoning and reminding us that maybe, just maybe, the Camino isn’t finished with us – yet…

boot on Camino marker
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  1. Hi Jerry
    Thanks for the poem, it brought so much back for me. I walked the Camino Frances in 2017 with a guitar and Hey the stars shine all the time, sometimes we just can’t see them.

    1. Je l’ai parcouru en 1997.
      Je pourrais faire exactement les mêmes commentaire si j’avais le talent poetique de Jerry Everard que je remercie d’avoir réveillé en moi des souvenirs que je pensais enfuis avec le temps.
      Le Camino est inoubliable…
      Merci Jerry.

  2. OH, so nicely summarized!
    I’m reading this, serving my sixth time as hospitalera, after walking every year for the last seven years.
    I don’t think I’ll ever be done with Camino. I don’t call it “blues”, now it’s my biggest passion.

    1. Thanks Marianne – how wonderful to give back to the Camino as a hospitalera! And I agree that perhaps ‘blues’ is not the best description. I think here I was using the term more in its musical sense than its psychological one. After completing my second one this year, I am content with my Camino experience, and I actively look for ways to be a pilgrim in daily life. But I do enjoy the people and the physicality of the Camino and for that reason can easily see myself walking others. I reflect often on the experience and still learn from it – daily 🙂

      Jerry Everard
  3. Jeez Jerry, you nearly had us in tears. Well written. To me it is the missing of the distant friends of your walking tribe, and the other perigrinos who briefly intersect your life, and have a bigger impact than the brief time shared with them.

    1. Thanks Lindy – Congratulations on your Camino – and yes it takes a while to process – the Camino is a bit epic in so many ways, and provides a space for us to see how our lives could be. I find that just by trying to think “how would a pilgrim handle this?” to be a great guide for me.

      Jerry Everard

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