A reflection about friendships in the Camino

At point Robinson Lighthouse – Veranda 2019
~~A bunch of pilgrims trying to be more awesome~~


Dear Caminoheads,

I am not going to say anything new in this post to be honest with you, this blog is the vivid example of what friendships made in the Camino are: Mary Margaret&Phil&Kelly is just one of the examples, but I am sure each of us have our own.

I have a number of friendships made in the Camino, each of them very special. I find myself at times, trying to explain to others who have not gone to the Camino, even more don’t know about the Camino, how is that these people became so important to me, so close to my heart, and so close to my daily life. Maybe, I can say this because I also have a family that has nothing of conventional and different people from different places have taken over roles as fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, etc. But I believe there has to be something else, some sort of “global soul” or “clay DNA” that makes us all recognize each other as “a part of the other”, this term MWE =ME + WE that Dr. Siegel describes, this fact that each of us is oneself but a large part of who we are, is who we are because of the others.  There is also a line on the word “Friendship” by David Whyte that says “… through the eyes of another we receive a greater sense of our own personhood, one we can aspire to, the one in whom they have most faith.”

Since I have gone to the Camino for the first time, in 2011 (when I walked from Leon to Santiago), I have been increasing my knowledge of who I am. Maybe, for the first time in my life -with the exception of the man who became my husband- that I met people outside my circle or through others -like the friends of my husband, for example-. When I went to the Camino, all the people I met and the friendships we established, were “my own”. And believe me: at 36 years of age, it was a life changing experience: these people I met walking “liked me” for who they felt I was when we interacted. And I know that happened too because in the Camino, I had the opportunity to be vulnerable, and I was so tired (not for the walking but for the experiences that pushed me to the Camino) that it was almost impossible to keep my guard up, I had no left energies for that.

Phil was a fan of brainstorming about “what we have figured out” in this blog and in this experience of walking the Camino, and I have always thought about the goodness of people, the beauty in others’s hearts, and this experience that everything starts with a first step, but I believe this discovering of who we are through the eyes of the others is a whole another topic.

A few days ago, talking with my Camino friend from Boise, ID, she said to me that besides her daughter, the only other person with whom she could let her guard down completely was me.  Lately, I have felt so loved, so supported, so accompanied by the others, that to hear this statement on return has a value that I cannot expressed with words, this is why it is great to have you here reading, because I know you, fellow pilgrims, understand what I am talking about.


How did we get so lucky? Loves,



Checking out the roses.
(photo K Burke)


Dear Caminoheads,

Apologies for the lack of posting these past days; life has been eventful lately. There is a lot going on at work in general, lots going on in my own projects, and because that is not enough, I was offered to apply to a new position at work, actually I applied to two, so there have been lots of meetings to prepare for the selection process, in addition to my regular work, and in addition to getting things ready in advance because… I am leaving on vacation in less than 3 weeks… and for 3 weeks!!!!!


It sounds so odd… not to actually be on vacation, but having a plan, an international flight ticket, real luggage, etc… The last time I was out of the country was late October 2019 and it was just 3 days, visiting Brazilian friends before that, that year I had gone to Boston, Chicago, Boise, Vashon Island, and Warsaw…


I truly wonder how it would be to be in an airport and inside a plan after so long, but I am so excited that I feel it will be perfect!


There are some other things going on here: fixing things at home, organizing from booking a plumber to the reception of the groceries when they arrive, fixing the car,  and I have a full time job… oh, and I missed to say that my brother (who went to leave in the USA in April last year is here visiting.


More tomorrow, promised!

By for now, loves,



Today, some words about my uncle

We with him.


Dear Caminoheads,

9 years ago, on a day like today, one of my fathers (my uncle, who in fact was my real father) passed away literally in my arms. I realize that this line sounds very intriguing, but it is not, it is quite simple.

My uncle, Ruben, was the person who raised my brother and I since we were little. (His wife -my aunt- was my mother’s sister.) We went to live with my grandparents, and my uncle and aunt had their house in the back of the grandparent’s property. My grandmother died 6 years after my mother, and after she passed, we moved “full time” with my uncle and aunt.

My uncle and aunt had quite of a life story and love story: my grandfather was a milkman and was a friend with my uncle’s father, who was also a milkman. My uncle’s father passed away suddenly at around 50 years of age, and my uncle, with just 15 years old, being the oldest of the siblings, took over the milkman role his father had, and my grandfather knowing all of this, took him and cared for him as if he were his son.

This is how he met my aunt, and after 8 years of dating, they married on a 7th of February on 1964. Fast forward to February 2013, I was in San Francisco, CA for work and got a phone call from my brother saying my uncle had fell and hit his head on the floor; he said he was ok and assisted near the beach where they lived.  He said I should not worry because likely it was nothing, “you know how he is”, he said… and yes, I knew: just 40 days before that day, he was working on the roof of one of his properties in the beach.

But I also have a brain that thinks in medical terms, and somehow I knew what had happened: he had a stroke, fell and hit his head on the floor. It seems his speech was affected. He then was moved to a hospital with more complexity (900 km from Buenos Aires), and I took a flight to return to from San Francisco to Argentina. I was there the following there 12 hours after landing.

I went to see him as soon as I got there, he was in IC unit and I was allowed to go in and see the CT scans: there was almost no brain in the images, it was all one big spot of bleeding, yet when he saw me, he asked of I had gone to the Golden Gate, and he even asked me what color was it. I never figured how he could do it, because he couldn’t speak well and his tall body was paralyzed on one side all along.

The thing is that he made it to the  7th of February 2013, and because I was the one staying with him overnight, I watched this scene: the nurse came like at 6 AM, measured his vitals, gave the medication and changed the saline bag. The saline bag had written in a sharpie “07 Feb 2013”, he saw it and with impeccable language told the nurses: “today marks 49 years since I marry”. The nurse looked at me, I nodded, and they brought him balloons and cake to share with my aunt.


How could he remember with such accuracy, no one knows. He died 3 days later, but they celebrated the anniversary.


I will leave the post here and write more soon.


Yes, hug your love ones, loves


On a 10th of February, in 2016…

Dear Caminoheads,

6 years ago, on a day like today, Phil got a news that made him super happy… (and so Annie!!) but I really really enjoyed reading what was all about before the film circulated into social media, and somehow took us to the man… the one and only Felipe…

So, I am posted below for us all to enjoy!

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we could document this” Loves,



Kelly getting water from the Year of our Lord 1917 fountain. It was the only day of rain that we had.
Kelly getting water from the Year of our Lord 1917 fountain. It was the only day of rain that we had.


Big News from the Southwest

Good morning! Annie, our intrepid producer (IP) of “Phil’s Camino” documentary announced yesterday that our film was accepted at the prestigious South by Soutwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas. This is great news for it was a biggie on her list of venues to show the film and to get it out for folks to see. So that is where the Grand Premire of “the little film that can” will be this spring. A big hurrah!

I know about nothing about this process of promoting a film but we are doing it and I am learning. Annie did a lot of work on the promotion of the Camino documentary “Walking the Camino” with Lydia B. Smith over the last few years. And she is game to ramrod this effort for my documentary. So, there are film festivals all over the country and we will be there at various ones. We will put up news of those or links to news as we go along.

Festivals that we talked about over the phone last evening were Seattle WA, Dubuque IA, John Hopkins in Maryland, Nashville TN. So in the coming months check with your local outfit and see if they are showing it this spring or summer. This whole thing has just started rolling so who knows what will happen. Hopefully it will make a big splash and do the basic job that it is supposed to do.

So Felipe, what is the basic idea of the film and what is the job that it is supposed to accomplish? Right, OK, let’s tackle that while the coffee is still hot. Maybe it would be good to look at the genesis of the whole thing. The first that I can remember there was a conversation between myself and Dr Zucker, my rehab doc at Swedish Cancer Center, and one of us said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could document this.” This being the upcoming trip to Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago which was had just opened up as a reality for us. It just seemed like a innocent thing to say, “Wouldn’t it be cool…”.

But that started the whole show right there. So the basic idea will have to be connected to that conversation and that sentiment. OK, it is the story of a cancer patient who used the opportunity of his disease to springboard into the understanding of life and love. Wow, I just came up with that! This is almost the kind of stuff that someone else should write about.

So what if we run with that for the moment, can we come up with an answer to the second question of what is the job the film is supposed to accomplish. In my view it should inspire, encourage and motivate a patient (hate that word) to get outside of his or her comfort zone and try things that maybe they were told they couldn’t do or shouldn’t even attempt. Maybe instead of walking across Spain they need to walk ten miles, or one mile or ten feet. And it is not about walking either, it is about reaching out in whatever manner. It’s a lot about getting outside the disease even though OK you still have the disease, I get that, I’m trying to live that.

Thanks for following me here. I don’t know if we got as concise as we should but we got a start on answering those questions. And additionally perhaps we can set up some system to better inform you about movie news. I would love to talk Annie into a short once a week post here to give us the latest and greatest. Well, time marches on and things unfold in the place and time that they should, thank you St James. And this seems like a most exciting spring coming up.

Love, Felipe.


Written by Phil/Felipe/The Boss/The General, re-posted by Cris

On a 3rd Feb 2015…

Dear Caminoheads,

Today, let’s read this post below Phil wrote… Littlest Volker’s grandpa wrote the below 7 years before she arrived… Don’t you think this is fantastic? Phil wrote about a “little guy”, a bright yellow sprout, was “blooming in the yard” of Raven Ranch… just as it happened on the 3rd of Feb 2022…

I was also thinking that Phil’s middle granddaughter was born on Phil’s birthday, I think 3 years ago…

Wow loves,




Look at that!
Look at that!

Yes, a crocus is blooming in the yard. A poet should be right on top of that. I just took a pic and I’m calling it good although I really really appreciate the little guy.

I had coffee with my old buddy Bill this late morning. We hadn’t had a chance to catch up since before Spain. He said that he really wanted to hear about it and I said great because I am running out of folks who want to listen. So, that went great. And that remainds me to tell you that I have a radio interview coming up on Northwest Catholic Radio. I don’t know exactly when it will air but that is in the works. It is a companion piece to their magazine story. So I guess I will have plenty of people to listen then.

Last night I got listening to music by the Gotan Project. Very interesting stuff to come across. Does anyone know about this group? Give me a comment if you do.

OK, my big news is the crocus blooming and what could be better really. I need to get my behind in gear and get out to Mabel and to prune some fruit trees. Work never quits around here. Early blooming love, Felipe.

Written by Phil/Felipe/The Boss/The General, posted by Cris

News from the Ranch!!!!!!!!!!!!! Baby Volker has arrived!!!!

The littlest Volker has arrived and is wrapped by footprints…


Dear Caminoheads,

The littlest of the Volkers has arrived to the world. She doesn’t know it yet (but hopefully she senses) that she is so loved by a whole community spread in so many different places of this world since her grandfather, our fellow pilgrim Phil, told us the news of her arrival. All of us have been waiting for her arrival to rejoice at the sense of new life and promise her presence will restore at the Raven Ranch.

If there is something we are all aware of is that she has been blessed for having been born in a family who excel at hospitality, who master the act of sheltering, and are expert weavers of meaningful paths and stories.

And if there is something we would like her and her family to know is that she has a place in our lives, as they all have, that we are so grateful for her timely and safe arrival, and that our hearts are pumping love directed to Raven Ranch to wrap Rebecca, Wiley, Henna, Henna’s family and her, directing East too to reach Auntie Tessia and family, and directing up to hug our dear friend -her grandpa- Phil.


Welcome to this walk in life littlest of the Volker!!!

Your Caminoheads neighbors



Organdi (by Jorge Drexler, listen here: https://youtu.be/lumQhjoiYls )

Gale project,
the main protagonist of all my screens.
I don’t know where you come from
but from now on,
I’m going wherever you go.


my absent heart weighs,
however inconsistent,
however fleeting it may be,
the most fleeting of your sadness.


Everything has been shocked.
There are things for which
one is never prepared.

The house started to shine
with this organdy love,
that is so delicate.


My dull heart
inevitably gives up,
it moves rhythmic to your swing,
it gets caught in
the perfumed weft of your nets.


I watch you sleep and I name you,
I look at you and I cannot give in my astonishment,
my breath spells you
for my heart to read you.

Attitude – A post and pictures by William, CCBC

Dear Caminoheads,

Today, I am sharing with you all a text and picts that William sent to us.

It seems, it is a tad “refreshing” where he is, compared with the weather in Buenos Aires these days (and let me tell you, this week, it has been “fresh” for the “walking on the sun” days that we had just the previous week.

William’s message is about attitude… If you haven’t yet paid attention to William’s life-style, let me tell you, if there were a Nobel Prize about “attitude”, William would be triple winner at least by now… if you don’t believe me, see his pictures.





There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. “Well,” she said, “I think I’ll braid my hair today.” So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and saw that she had only two hairs on her head. “Hmmm,” she said, “I think I’ll part my hair down the middle today.” So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and noticed that she had only one hair on her head. “Well,” she said, “Today I’m going to wear my hair in a ponytail.” So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror, and noticed that there wasn’t a single hair on her head. “YAY!” she exclaimed. “I don’t have to fix my hair today!”

This is a woman who understood the power of a good attitude.

Joyce Meyer, You Can Begin Again: No Matter What, It’s Never Too Late



Attitude is everything.

Be kinder than necessary,

for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,

Love generously,

Care deeply,

Speak kindly,

and pray continually.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass….

It’s about learning to dance in the rain.


Sent by William, CCBC; posted by Cris