The books and my friends

“Las tres bodas de Manolitais an immense, intense and stratified work that relates comprehensively the social life of postwar Madrid and helps us understand the thought of the vanquished.”

Dear Caminoheads,

Sunday in this latitude has been wet since it started and it continues to rain. It was sort of the perfect day to do nothing, or actually to do something: to rest.

And rest included lots of newspaper reading, mostly newspapers from Spain that published many articles about Almudena Grandes’s death. Probably you have never heard about this woman, she was a Spanish writer with an exquisite prose, a sharp mind, a huge love for words, who was a historian and a geographer, but also has the gift to translate feelings and experiences in words like no other, and had also a strong personality with very clear ideas about politics (she was a “roja”) and citizenship.

Her books tell Spanish history and the story of the women as the war, the famine, the dictatorship of Franco were taking place. As you know, my country has been “made” by the Spanish and Italians mainly (we also had large immigration from Jewish, Armenian, Polish, etc.) and many of our ancestors came to my country from the Spain that Almudena described in her books. One journalist wrote today that she was “the memory of the memory”, and that makes a lot of sense.

I know that some of Almudena’s books are translated into English, but I am hesitant to recommend them to you because I do understand that they might make sense to me because my country, culture and ancestors are so close to that Spain, but I am sure that her prose would captivate you too.

I got to know Almudena because of “L”, a work colleague that turned a good friend of mine, she handed me the first book I read of Almudena. But she is not the only friend I have who I get to know because of books. I became friends with “E” by googling a poem and E happened to post in his blog; after a couple comments exchanged, we became friends. “W” is another of my books friend, he is actually an oncologist dedicated to science, but it wasn’t the work we were doing together what made us friends, but our love for books… I think our conversations have always started with a “How are you doing? What are you reading these days…?” And these are just three, I have other books-made friends!

I once listened to a psychiatrist say that the biggest error in a life is to underestimate the power and impact that art -be it music, painting, sculpture, poetry, prose, films, etc. has in the human journey, in moving from one place to another, from darkness to light, from the brain to the heart, from the inside to the outside… There is a transformation that happens with some of the books we read (and surely with other arts), I know this is true for me… And I know it is true for Almudena’s books… and for Phil’s writing here too…


Always with a book in hands Loves,



Health report update: feeling much better, still some coughing and tiredness, but definitely way better than these past days. Thank you all for your wishes and messages! <3

In the doors of Advent

Leaves leave the tree when it is time.

Dear Caminoheads,

I don’t know about you, but to me, it feels impossible to think that tomorrow would start the 4 weeks count-down to Christmas. How comes…? Just a bit ago Phil was talking about getting ready to the Oasis, then just another bit ago many of you were posting the pictures of the Oasis, another bit ago we were waving safe travels to Phil, and a tiny bit ago was Thanksgiving… it is not possible that the sum of the “bits” added to six months at least… don’t you think?


Maybe this is the best reminder to not leave things for “_____” (to fill in with “next summer”, “when I lose weight”, “when I have time”, etc.) because the next moment is coming up so soon that it is not an excuse not to do it now… I am sure we all find ourselves pushing things for a later moment when probably it would be a better approach to do them now… but “pushing things for later” is kind of a routinely sports in this modern world when our days seem all packed…


Another thought I have had around this topic has to be with items of clothing… In my family, and I know it is true for many, there was this concept of “clothes to go out” and “clothes to stay at home” (“ropa de entrecasa”). Under this concept, you would never be well dressed at home, any item that was nice or well cared, would be used to go out. But this simple maths was losing the variables: you would grow up, or gain weight or lose weight, the fashion would change, the number of days you would stay at home was greater by far than the opportunities to go out.


The pandemic has made me think that the “live in the present moment” is not just about being attentive to my breathing, but much more about the “sports” I practice routinely, the choices I make daily with the clothes I wear and the “getting things done” once I have clear what action they need from me. I am not saying that this decreases the speed the earth turns around the sun but I have the hope that the 28 days of advent will go by slower.


Low speed loves,



Health report: Feeling much much better, less coughing, no sneezing, but  my voice sounds like my school male mates when they were changing theirs during puberty!!!!

Should we add “Kindness” to the trio?

To the Volker’s – Blessed love to one of my favorite Vashon families and all over this beautiful life. Thanks for always being lovely. Your neighbor , Spencer.

~~~A note from a grateful neighbour to a kind family~~~



Dear Caminoheads,

I hope that everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving has had a peaceful and fulfilling celebration. Those who not, maybe, yesterday was a good day to think on gratitude, gratefulness, thanksgiving and other words. Today I thought of this poem that I read many times and once listened the author explaining how she wrote it and under which circumstances… and I thought that kindness should be added to the G&G&T combo…

Try yourself… replace the word “kindness” in this poem by “gratitude” for example… I think the feeling it creates is similar to the overflowing vessel we were talking about yesterday…


Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.


“Kindness” by Naomi Shihab Nye


Important words to consider Loves,



*Health report*: I am on the mend! Feeling better, the coughing has improved, and while my body aches and my eyes seem to have caught a conjunctivitis, today is Friday and tomorrow and Sunday I foresee lots of siesta time!



Gratitude, Gratefulness and Thanksgiving

Turkey humor

Dear Caminoheads,

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who celebrate this holiday! We do not celebrate Thanksgiving here, although a few years ago, when my Camino friend from Idaho was here visiting, we tried to do a Thanksgiving dinner for her… and my nephew who back then was 7, was in charge of explaining to her that we were not eating turkey but a chicken (just in case she thought the turkeys in this third world country were suffering malnutrition!)


I am feeling terrible today, the sneezing transformed into a dry cough, and now my head, neck, ears, throat, all are aching… but work was very quiet and I am already tucked in bed.


I am sharing below a few paragraphs from the transcript of a conversation between Br. David Steindl-Rast and Krista Tippet from the radio show “On Being”… I really like this idea of having different words to express our feelings… it seems to be always the case that when we have a name for things, things become real… let’s give these words a try…


“The reason why I use the words “gratitude” and “gratefulness” and “thanksgiving” in the way in which I use them is that we really need different terms for our experience. And we all know from experience that moments in which this gratitude wells up in our hearts are experienced, first, as if something were filling up within us, filling with joy, really, but not yet articulate. And then it comes to a point where the heart overflows, and we sing, and we thank somebody; and for that, I like a different term, and then I call that “thanksgiving.” And the two of them are two aspects, or two phases, actually, of the process that is gratitude, so that’s why I’m using it in this way.


And this idea of a vessel that is still inarticulate until it overflows, that is also very helpful in another way. It’s like the bowl of a fountain when it fills up, and it’s very quiet and still. And then when it overflows, it starts to make noise, and it sparkles, and it ripples down. And that is really when the joy comes to itself, so to say; when it is articulate.


And for us, for many people in our culture, the heart fills up with joy, with gratefulness, and just at the moment when it wants to overflow, and really, the joy comes to itself — at that moment, advertisement comes in and says, “No, no, there’s a better model, and there’s a newer model, and your neighbor has a bigger one.” And so instead of overflowing, we make the bowl bigger and bigger and bigger, and it never overflows. It never gives us this joy.


It’s affluent, this affluence inside that means it always flows in, it doesn’t overflow. It flows in and in and in and in and chokes us, eventually. And we don’t have to deprive ourselves of anything, but we can learn that the real joy comes with quality, not with quantity. And that’s an important distinction.”


There is no need for a bigger vessel loves,


Smoke signals

Burning an item of clothing that took me to Finisterre, Finisterre 2014

Dear Caminoheads,

Apologies for the sudden disappearance and lack of news this past week. I guess Phil had some sort of secret that did not share with me about how he did to write every single day no matter what was going on… Last week, my days were full, my hands were full and my mindheartsoul were full too.

The week involved driving on my own almost 1400 km in 2 days, daily twice a day visits to someone who didn’t recognize me, a lot of sweets and pastries eating, shared dinners with people I love every day, the re-encounter with one of my friends from childhood, and regular 9 hours working days. I must say that on and all, it was a good balance of hardship and support.

I came back on Saturday night, after driving for almost 9 hours, and on Monday, I started with some sort of symptoms that suggested a cold, but yesterday fever was added and I could hardly sleep not because of the fever but because of the panic of having spread the virus to others. Today I got a swab prescribed and fortunately, it was negative for covid. Probably this is a cold caused by the air conditioner in the car, the fact of having been isolating for too long avoiding any contact with the most inoffensive microbe and exhaustion.

This trip was a very meaningful one. In a way, another Camino moment, a trip that has a before and an after. And a trip that has left me with a lot to unpack. But right now, the coughing and sneezing are taking the priority for attention, so I am going to sleep and will come back here in the next days. All I wanted is to let you know that the Caminoheads blog is still alive and kicking, but the writer has been too full.


Balanced loves,




Gratitude, by William our CCBC

There are a Multitude of experiences from this Life Journey that I am grateful for.


None the least of these is my privilege to have connected with Phil Volker, Rebecca Graves and Family.


A number of years ago I emailed Phil for the first time to introduce myself.


I mentioned that I was a Stranger to him although in my way of thinking a Stranger is simply a friend you haven’t met yet.


Phil’s response was  “Come Walk With Me”.


This invitation resonated deeply within me.


It took several years before I was able to fulfil this invite.


On August the 20th of 2019 I started out on my 3 day driving/camping trip.


Raven Ranch for the “Veranda Gathering” was my planned destination.




Thank You Phil and Rebecca and Family.

Camino Loves.

Your C.C.B.C.


A prayer for us pilgrims

My poor Camino map that I carried and then Catherine carried across.
(photo P Volker)


Dear Caminoheads,

Today, I will just post this prayer below. I find it incredibly simple… made by words that together “sing our life”… Hope you find it touching too.


Corrymela collection of prayers, ‘God of the Fallen Grain’ written by Alex Wimberly, is available for pre-order at



Pilgrims Loves,


Humanizing the man

Time to smell the roses!


Dear Caminoheads,

I am taking the freedom here to post the comment that Steve-O posted for us in yesterday’s post… such a good food for the thought. And it is very well in sync with the topics we have been talking about resulting from the Tower of Babel thing, I believe…

We all have in common our human nature, and then, some of us are luckier than others with the families, societies, cultures, economy, politics, nature, environment, etc., that we are born and or immersed in and in most of the cases, we don’t have a choice over them. But, there is a third layer that is attention, that is the way we interact with the internal world that comes with being human and the environment (this external world). The result of what we do with all of that makes the “life story” we live and in every aspect: each of us walked the same Camino de Santiago, and while that part of the experience is shared, the way we lived that experience is unique for each of us. Diseases are born under this same structure, and the prognosis they have also!

Phil found his unique way to live his life story, pay attention, smelling the roses often, having a routine, reading lots… And we have been lucky for having with Phil in our environments and being influenced, shaped as the rocks in the tumbler – becoming MWE-, transformed by this fact too.

Enough of me! Time for Steve-O’ s comment (Thank You Steve-O!!!)


Human loves (THAT. That. Matters),





That’s really perfect, Cris. Serendipity happens, and to those who look it becomes, like all miraculous things, more common, more visible, right?
Maybe I should write more ‘comments’ about my last two nights with Phil. Yup, in the Elk Hotel where we’d spent a good amount of time in MON * over the years. We talked two ways on two nights. And there was a coherence to the two conversations –though to all appearances and sounds and words and pace and syntax and content they appeared nothing alike. But…
They Were.
I am cautious about making Phil an icon or figurehad or one whom around which could develop a cultish honoring, a cultish adoration, and therefore a dehumanization the man. He was not a saint. He was a guy, a guy open about his transformational experience and it’s subsequent outworking.
Figuring It Out Together.
We. He said WE, and it was new to me. A new idea, a new meshing of words I’d not heard together, a new concept, a new understanding, and a transformational experience for me.
Collaboration in all things, with all people, about all we seek to understand, or that the Other seeks to understand even more than we might, but
WE figure it out.

That. Matters.
That is at the core.
That is a Thing, and a rare thing in its open hearted, earnest, unadorned, unquestioned, even innocent authenticity.

That imperfect, aware of his flawed humanness, willing to open up with another, explore together guy –that guy that was my friend; that was Phil.
Just like all of us, I think. But Phil was generally payin way more attention– in the big picture and in the moment.



4 years ago… “Pilgrims all over”

This is kind of a cool shot. Talking pilgrimage out in front of the icon.


Dear Caminoheads,

I thought of Phil quite a bit today, for different reasons. One of them, obviously, had to do with the Camino, but another one, had to do with our talks, for example. So, I went to the blog thinking: what did Phil write about on a day like today, on the year I met him?… Marvelous answer… almost as if he would had been talking about Towers of Babel (or the Camino!)

Love from all over,



Hi, just have a few moments to be with you. Has been busy here at Camino de Felipe. I got Steve Watkins to his airport hotel Saturday evening after a great visit. Then Sunday afternoon Michele from Seattle brought five folks out to walk and tapa. That went well as the weather cooperated mostly and we had a nice walk. Then this morning I was Skyping with Catalina’s class at the Jesuit Seminary at Santa Clara.

I am about talked out but it all was fun. What do I do with half my time but talk about pilgrim stuff. Yea, the next best thing to actually doing it is talking about it, right?

It just must be a rich topic since we spend so much time with it. This must serve to clarify our own thinking. We hear our own thoughts and we listen to that and we refine our talk to be more on message and more streamlined. We listen to other’s ideas and interpretations and gain from that. Maybe we never heard things expressed in that manner before. It’s all good for working things out.

Then we need alone time or down time to process. I had the walk this morning for an hour alone to do just that. So, off to work now. Never a dull moment here in these parts. Miss you, love you, Felipe.




Written by Phil/Felipe/The General/The boss; reposted by Cris

A couple questions and a view

Dear Caminoheads,

All of you know that I love Yoyo Ma, right? If not, I am here confessing my love. Yoyo Ma is one of those humans who is an ambassador for all that is good in this world. And he is not only the cello player we all know, he is also an anthropologist graduated with honors in Harvard, and like many fans of this blog including Phil, he was a lover of Mr. Rogers, and repeatedly said that one of the things he is proudest of is having been in Mr. Rogers’s neighborhood.


I saw this video in Instagram today, and the view is breathtaking for sure, but the caption made me think on the Camino… and on Phil’s Camino at Raven Ranch…

“Who walked the same land as you 10 years ago? 100 years ago? 1000 years ago? 10,000 years ago? 100,000 years ago? 1 million years ago?”


Have you thought about it? Loves,