What have we figured out?

Smelling the roses.
(photo K Burke)

Dear Caminoheads,


Ron and I have a passion in common: we like to follow the podcast called “On Being” by Krista Tippet. Krista is a very particular interviewer, some of the people I recommended her love her, and others cannot stand her. Very human, right? I am on the side of enjoying very much the conversations she manages to create with her guests. And lately, as we were arriving to the Oasis, I have been reflecting quite a bit on a question Phil has had us pondering for so long... What have we figured out?

Krista ends her conversations almost invariably with the question“What does it mean to you to be human?”  and while pondering about the arriving to the Oasis, our familiar arrival to Santiago, togethernessing in this blog, and other minor matters just like those ones (ha!), a conversation between Krista and Bruce Kramer -and educator, musician, who was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)- came to my mind. I listened to it on the Saturday of the Oasis, as I was driving to the city for an unexpected dental appointment (all is ok, although I am still a bit sore). I thought to share a few pieces with you…


“There was a place where you write that as an educator, you had learned the difference between opening to possibilities through questions and closing creativity with answers. And that then as ALS became part of your experience, the question you were — you started to be able to ask to turn that was, “How shall we grow into the demands of what is beyond us?” Which is a different question from, “How shall we fight this?”

We think we’re going to leave something of ourselves. But education is an act of faith. It’s faith in the fact that human beings have the capacity to grow and that as humans, we can become better. We can become more compassionate. We can become more understanding. And no matter what it is that afflicts us, that affliction can become a part of us that makes us better people.

And healing does not imply that your life is suddenly going to lose all of the struggle, all of the challenge. What it does instead is it strengthens us for what is next…”


Growing loves,


News from the Ranch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Busy Phil

I just want to get out a few words to you to show you that I am still kicking.  Our days have been packed including the four days of the Oasis.  But I had a dream yesterday morning that was notable.  The characters in this dream we’re actually in bed with me.  There is a first.   I was elbowing them to get some room.  Crazy.



Posted by Cris on behalf of Phil/Felipe/The Boss/The General

Psychoneuroendocrineimmunology (or PNEI)

Locals under Psychoneuroendocrineimmunology therapy.

Dear Caminoheads,

((Thank you, but it is not needed. Indeed, you do not need to make a donation for me for offering an unbeatable word for scrabble. It is just a corollary fact from today’s post.))


PNEI is the study of the interaction between psychological processes and the nervous, endocrine and immune systems of the human body. The main interests of PNEI are the interactions between the nervous and immune systems and the relationships between mental processes and health. And as we know, we are experts on this topic here at Caminoheads.


I love neuroscience, and the more I become aware of the way my brain works, the more I love neuroscience. Why? Because we have never been more aware that we create our own magic kingdom or our own hell by the way we think; and we have the power to do the same with those we interact with, because our words reflect what we think, so we can make someone’s day or we can let them down with just a few words. My field of work (in my other job, I mean, not my Caminoheads South American Bureau Chief job) is related to immunology, and while we know a lot about interleukins, cytokines, biomarkers, macrophages, glial cells, etc. we also deal a lot with what we call “placebo effect”. However, the more we reflect on placebo effect, the more it sounds like PNEI… Why? Because the way we think, the way we talk, the way we live, the way interact with others has a clear impact in our health and the health of those we interact with.


~~Maybe you are thinking that I am mixing my jobs and writing in the wrong place, but please stay with me! ~~


Have you found yourself saying that getting to know Phil changed your life? And what about getting to know Felipe? And for the pilgrims, what about having walked the Camino? And for those who read poetry, doesn’t poetry change you? I am sure your answers are all “YES!!!!!” And have you wondered how is that these things changed your life? Do the exercise. I bet that some of the answers may include being less fearful of illness, being more able to accompany others who are going through an illness, learning about the goodness in people, increasing your trust in the strangers, giving images to your inner world,…


From a biological point of view, these changes we have made are measurable: the area of our brains that process fear are smaller, we secrete less glucocorticosteroids and catecholamines (stress hormones) and as a result we have more serotonin (good humor hormone) and our metabolism has less inflammation. All of these translates into less fear, less stress, more good humor, less weight, lower blood pressure, healthier arteries, knees that hurt less, etc. Bottom line: we are healthier and happier, and probably as a result, we will live longer.


I asked to someone who was present at The Oasis how it was, and this person said: “Rejuvenating”. Phil says that walking is “healing”. Here, we say that blogging is “Togethernessing”…


Psychoneuroendocrineimmunology Loves,


Your friends were once strangers

The Elk Hotel offering shelter; pict by Tammy Dunaway


Then in Galicia, it was a breath of warmth

from a kitchen door, palatial with light

and a daughter’s smile, the family behind,

asking you in, as if to say, of all shelter,

traveler, you’ll ever find on the road,

even with those you know,

the stranger’s love is best of all.


REFUGE’ From ‘Pilgrim: Poems by David Whyte’

Spreading the word into social media

Twins (Pict by Ryck T)

Dear Caminoheads,

I will probably write a more decent post tomorrow or during the weekend, and I will get back on the comments and the emails too, thank you all for writing and specially commenting in the blog, as Phil said, that is how the blog breaths! (This week has been a bit bumpy down here.)

Nevertheless we have short sweet news to share… The Caminoheads community is expanding into social media. We know that Phil has shared with us his concerns earlier last year, prompting us all to watch the movie “A social dilema”, but surely our content will contribute to goodness…

Ryck proposed the opening of a facebook group for the post Oasis, which is called “The Oasis 2021”; and the Caminoheads blog is in Instagram under the name “Caminoheads” (we started the instagram as a mitigation for connection when the blog went down, but it might be good to keep it considering it might be engaging and the content will be the same).

They have place for all. And both are Covid safe. Show up!

Social closeness loves,


On to Finisterre?

Walking shoes waiting to walk forward. Pict by Karen, our England BC right now walking in Spain.

Dear Caminoheads,


So, what’s next? These days feel like the days after getting to Santiago and partying there, don’t they? Now, we have to make a decision, and for us, it seems right to keep walking… Maybe on to Finisterre, or Muxia, or maybe back to St. Jean, or maybe back home, but if there is something known to us is that we have to keep going, but keep going by walking.


I know we might be tempted to think we are done because we arrived, but as pilgrims, we know that the Camino starts once you get to Santiago. And it seems that this is a well expanded metaphor: this time, our Camino starts once we have gotten to the Oasis. Now, what is next?


The answer is not “let’s wait to see what future brings”. Remember, we are pilgrims. We have to leave a trail, a path. Even not present at the Oasis, I know what is my path forward, and would love to hear what or which is yours…


So, for you, what is next?


Walking on loves,




News from the Ranch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Unbesmirched fingernails. Picture by Jim M.


The pilgrims have all departed after the great get together, the 2021 Oasis.  I had sixty bandanas and they are all gone.   And I made it!!   Just as there were serious questions about how the Oasis would fit with the Covid situation we also wondered about my health at this point.  That was a big wonder but I’m here!

Thank you for all your work on this,



Posted by Cris on behalf of Felipe, Phil, The General, The Boss.

Lost for words…

The most beautiful picture of the Oasis (taken without permission from Rebecca’s facebook… hope it is ok!!)

Dear Caminoheads,

The Oasis has come and gone… well, I don’t think it is gone, the event has finished but the experience continues because it is not different than the Camino… I am lost for words. I haven’t been there, and I do not know more than those of you who have not been able to attend, yet I sense what happened there and to find my words is difficult. Lucky me and lucky us, we have other wonderful human beings who were there and shared what they saw and experienced…


Read this from Nancy…

“Oh yes, a corn feast was had. The General and a few of us walked to the cornfield to pick the evenings rations. 30 ears we needed, he said!

Most delicious.

The gathering was pilgrims from hither and yon who broke bread and gave thanks and enjoyed meeting new friends and catching up with old ones. Wonderful afternoon into evening.
Blessings abounded.”


Or this from Ron…

“As one who is privileged to be here with Phil and the team savoring the refreshing Oasis I want to say that Catherine captured it very well. The hearts and minds of all have been stimulated and we are thankful for Phil’s influence on our lives.” 


Look at the picture, taken without permission!!! from Rebecca’s facebook… Look at it again.


I don’t think there is much more I can add.

Holding hands, blessing abounded and gratitude for Phil’s influence on our lives Loves,


Celebrating life at the Oasis

A picture of a celebration.


Dear Caminoheads,

The Oasis looked as if it would be a moment in time more than a place in space… in our minds, at times it seemed as if we were all walking encompassed to a timer, more than to a celebration; but one more time, this favorite line of mine from BJ Miller proved to be right: “Let be death what takes us, not lack of imagination”.


The Oasis has taken its own shape, I believe. I am clearly the less qualified to say this as there is no other Caminohead who is further away in physical distance terms than me: Google says there are 6918 miles from Buenos Aires to Vashon Island and 4 hours timezone difference-, but I got some lines from Catherine about yesterday that to me describe a celebration:


“Last evening and well into the night there was an ever growing sense of love and joy abiding, and spreading, and spreading outward, and outward. Like the way the stars seem to blink on one by one as the sky darkens. Maybe that’s what being there in spirit really means – entering into the mystery of love, love bigger than anyone of us.”


And Catherine’s words go pretty well with her dear friend’s words, John’s (John O’Donohue, friend of Catherine), wrote this blessing “For a Celebration”. I like to read this blessing in the day of my birthday, as most of the times is that moment when we give ourselves the opportunity to do all the blessing says (although we should do it more often!) I think it is proper to read them today too, because the blessing is for the celebration of life. And at the Oasis, that is what is happening: Life is being celebrated. And Fr. David kindly sprinkled another layer of celebration saying mass at the ranch at 11 AM this morning.


Now is the time to free the heart,
Let all intentions and worries stop,
Free the joy inside the self,
Awaken to the wonder of your life.

Open your eyes and see the friends,
Whose hearts recognize your face as kin,
Those whose kindness watchful and near,
Encouraging you to live everything here.

See the gifts the years have given,
Things your effort could never earn,
The health to enjoy who you want to be
And the mind to mirror mystery.


John O’Donohue – Blessing For a Celebration


Celebratory loves,


Arrival to the Oasis

Welcome to the Oasis 2021

Dear Caminoheads,

We all have arrived to the Oasis! And when I say “we all”, it really is the case. What a marvelous thing!

It has been a long walk. Along these past couple months, some of us have been painting and placing yellow arrows hoping we could arrive to the Oasis safely (and when arrived, there would be water!!!) General Volker has sadly had the hardest part: giving the instructions to his vassals and trusting we would do our best without his consistent hands-on oversight. We had some enemies in the middle of the walk that we hadn’t expected: the blog went down, COVID-19 delta variant surge everywhere, and some other bed-bugs that are not worth of words. But we made it. Blistered, tired and injured, but here we are.


Remember the happiness of the arrival to Santiago? That is how we have felt since yesterday. That pure joy of having arrived.


Now, there are no more yellow arrows showing the path forward. What we do and the path to take moving forward is up to each of us. There is the hope that we have learnt something along the way and this is our first rehearsal to put them in practice. We have talked extensively in this blog what the Camino has taught us and “what we have figured out”, this is the time and the place to show them all.


Like in The Way, we haven’t chosen a life, we live this one. We have to make sure we make the most of it. Embody kindness and goodness. Be safe and make sure the others are safe (we are still in a pandemic). Sprinkle around Camino Dust. Have fun.


From the busyness of the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, I will be with you in spirit.

We have arrived Loves,