About erin moore

Erin Moore is an Associate Professor of Teaching in the USC Dornsife Department of Anthropology and a lawyer. She conducts research in Rajasthan, India on rural women and the law. For the last five years she has conducted an ethnographic field school on Spiritist healing in Brazil.

Some Favorite Quotes and Fotos from the Camino de Santiago, 2016

“On the Camino, we have a bed to sleep in, food to eat, water to drink, and a path to walk. Everything else is excess.”

(Quotes in this article were collected by the whole Problems without Passports group, Anthropology 301: The Global Performance of Healing.  This was medical anthropology class that walked 200 miles across northern Spain to collect healing stories, see previous blogs below).

First Supper in Madrid with Spain PWP 2016

First Supper in Madrid with Spain PWP 2016


“It’s the magic of the Camino,” two pilgrims told me, “When you are on the Camino, you leave behind your daily worries. You don’t know what time it is, what date it is. You aren’t planning every minute, every hour of your life. You slow down and you are a new person. You are different. You are better. That’s the magic of the Camino.”

“There are magic people and magic places everywhere, but on the Camino, people have time to be free and share their magic.”

Making Paella with Jara's family

Making Paella with Jara’s family

The trek begins in León

The trek begins in León

Camino friends

On the trail

“Don’t rush because your destination is your own self.”Friends

Spanish Lavender, Lupine and other wild flowers

“Miracles happen every day on the Camino,” she declared firmly. “Something comes whenever you need it, whether safety pins or someone whose shoulder you can cry on.” From this truth, she had realized, “whatever happens will happen. I do not have to worry so much about the past or the future.”

The walk

This Camino directional sign has been altered with skateboard and hairdo.

This Camino directional sign has been altered with skateboard and hairdo.

“I want to reflect on things in my past in order to move on to the next stage of my life. I want to keep walking the Camino, because I can.”


“There is no prize in Santiago for anyone. What you get at the end of the Camino is your own growth and experience.”


“Some people walk to get away from something. Some people walk to get something. We walk just to walk.”

Along the Camino there is Pilgrimage art: the Cathedrals and monuments of course, but also folk murals like this one.

Along the Camino there is Pilgrimage art: the Cathedrals and monuments of course, but also folk murals like this one.

“There is no prize for first nor last and no clock on the Camino.”

“On the Camino, you have nowhere to hide from yourself.”

“If I can do this, then I can do anything.”

“I like to be unconventional,” he asserted, “I call myself a globetrotter. But I am not a tourist. Tourists go places to see the sights. I go to see more of myself.”

(With PWP we did a bit of reflection, research and seeing the sights.)

Templar Castle Ponferrada (Templars protected the pilgrims)

Templar Castle Ponferrada (Templars protected the pilgrims)

Crayfish for dinner

Crayfish for dinner

Pulpo for lunch

Pulpo for lunch

Churros and Chocolate, anytime

Churros and Chocolate, anytime

“On the Camino, people are so kind, because they are given a chance to be. In daily life, everyone gets tunnel vision and is so stuck in their own routine.”

“Tourists complain; pilgrims say how can I help you.”

Meeting Friends in Ponferrada

Meeting Friends in Ponferrada



“I came to understand and embrace the beauty of life’s unpredictability.”

“In spirituality, you get your energy from what’s around you… the trees, the sun, the people. In religion, you get your energy from God.”


“… a pilgrimage is a physical journey that represents a non-physical goal.” (Following the Yellow Arrow)


“It was my way to reconquer my body.”

“I could not grieve all day, I guess. I was surrounded by Spain, the flowers, the forests, the mountains. Maybe God wanted me to see more.”

Heather and Gorse along the route

Heather and Gorse along the route

“I was feeling that I had been called to do it [walk the Camino], that I needed to do it.” Along the way from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, she had felt stunned by the power of the Camino. “I was completely exposed,” she revealed. “The Camino brings out all of your unresolved conflicts.”

“Things catch up to you on the Camino.”

“I grew stronger, more reflective, more humble, more self-aware, more appreciative than when I began as an adventure-seeking college student.” (Following the Yellow Arrow)

“They can only be that happy because they’ve been through the worst. You meet a lot of people like him here [on the Camino].”

Quips:  “Keep going, keep it simple,”        “No Spain without Pain.”

Camino directional and mile marker decorated with stones (prayers left behind), etc.

Camino directional and mile marker decorated with stones (prayers left behind), etc.

“No vino, no Camino.”

“Spirit is kinky.”

“Every Camino is different.”

“The Camino is sacred, because of all the pilgrims who have walked on it before us.”

Along the route there are donation-based stands (donativos) for water, fruit and sometimes trinkets. David calls his stand gratuito (free, no need to donate). David is dedicating his life to serving pilgrims, “con simplicidad y del corazón” (with simplicity and from the heart).

David answer's Yushi's questions.

David answer’s Yushi’s questions.

David’s donativo/gratuito stand with watermelon, peanut butter, etc. etc. The sign reads, “The key to life is being present.”

Feeding the donkey at the donkey donativo.

Feeding the donkey at the donkey donativo.



“The Camino gives you what you need, not what you want.”

Take Reality AS IT IS, from the wall of an Albergue

Take Reality AS IT IS, from the wall of an Albergue










Arriving in Santiago Barefoot like some ancient Pilgrims

Arriving in Santiago Barefoot like some ancient Pilgrims

Victory Siesta upon arrival in Santiago after 200 miles of walking.

Victory Siesta upon arrival in Santiago after 200 miles of walking.














  “The real Camino starts after you leave Santiago.”                  Buen Camino

A Camino Healing by Yushi Wang

Day 11 of walking from Villafranca de Bierzo into Vega de Valcarce. The class got started at various times and met up a few times along the way, as usual. This is the day we met many new friends who were also walking the Camino: Madeline and her eleven year old son, William, from Australia, Toseph from Bangladesh, Ben from Germany the guitalele player, and a touring shaman group from Canada.

Angela and Yushi (the author) beginning a day's hike

Angela and Yushi (the author) beginning a day’s hike

Naturally, I found Erin (our professor) speaking with the tour guide of the group. As I caught up to the duo, Erin introduced me to Ariana, a woman of about 67 sporting a bright teal shirt and a red bandana. Ariana told us openly about losing her husband to an illness and losing her job all before the age of 60. In the wake of his loss, she noticed a supernatural happening: a contact lens case on her bathroom counter that had been flipped upside down. “I knew it was my husband,” she told us. This led her to believe in something more than what the eye could see.

As we kept walking, Ariana told us about developing her healing powers. She said they were different from Reiki and promised to do a healing on me later. “I do not have the power to heal,” she told us, “I am only a channel for the spirits.” She gestured to the sky. We eventually split ways, as I met and talked with other members of Ariana’s tour group, Jana and Greg.

Fieldwork begins by walking and sharing stories

Fieldwork begins by walking and sharing stories

An hour or so later, I met Erin and Ariana at our designated hostel in Valcarce. Here, Ariana kept her promise to perform a healing on me. She generously allowed the entire class to watch. We sat on a patio behind the hostel on the rushing river. I sat facing the class, eyes partially closed, and Ariana stood behind me, making gestures like she was sweeping the air around my body and throwing it away behind me. Her hand then hovered a few inches from my stomach and moved up and down, never making contact.

This meditative experience continued in silence for about ten minutes until Ariana withdrew her hands and placed them in a cradling motion, rocking her arms back and forth. She then began to sing, slowly and melodically, in a language no one understood. Lastly, she kissed the back of my head and ended the healing.

Healing Work

Healing Work

“I sensed you hold sadness in your heart,” she told me, “and I rocked the childhood version of you; I sensed it needed nurturing.” The song she sang was one channeled from the spirits, one that did not belong to any language. She also informed me that she cut off the strings connecting my energy to energies that had found their way unto mine. The class asked some questions, and we thanked her for her time. With that, we parted ways with Ariana the healer.


“I Give Away Hugs,” by Angela Villamizar

Regalo abrazos” – “I give away hugs”. This bright yellow sign,

The man on the left had a yellow sign hanging from his backpack, "I give away hugs."

The man on the left had a yellow sign hanging from his backpack, “I give away hugs.”

strapped to the back of a large pack, captured my attention and that of many others. After a big hug, I found myself with a new friend. His mission on his second Camino is to bring joy to others. Although it sounds like such a simple task, he recognizes its necessity. Many peregrinos walk and think deeply about their lives, recount experiences with new friends, and attempt to find themselves during their trek. They search for a type of healing, a reconciling with the past and with uncontrollable experiences that have already occurred. An offering of a simple hug spreads smiles across so many faces. Strangers would run up to my friend, hugging him, everyone with joyful expressions.

His desire to spread joy, though, comes from a place of profound pain. His original plan was to walk the Camino with his brother-in-law. However, this past April, his brother-in-law passed away from cancer. The devastation of his death only further motivated my friend to continue with their plan, except he now carries two Credentials (pilgrim passports)-

Pilgrims receive stamps from hostels, churches and restaurants to trace their paths and as proof of their journeys.

Pilgrims receive stamps in their Credentials from hostels, churches and restaurants to trace their paths and as proof of their journeys.

one for himself, and one for his brother-in-law. He recognizes that his journey affects more than just him; his journey includes those around him, as well as his brother-in-law. He aligns himself with history by doing the Camino for someone else, and he embodies the principle of the Camino as stated on the American Credential- “Make others feel welcome”.

His simple act of showing kindness and sharing communion with others reflects the idea of “wounded healers.” This idea theorizes that we are all wounded, and that our wounds, shared in community, allow us to heal each other and ourselves. In his actions, he shows that healing can come from within, but it asks us to find community with other people through our acceptance of their and our own pain.

Healing Journeys by Kealia Hudson

Twelve days into our 350 kilometer journey, I had yet to meet a pilgrim who was walking for explicitly religious reasons. Most pilgrims I met cited adventure, curiosity, or fun as their reasons for walking. But this past Sunday, I discovered that for many pilgrims the Catholic tradition of the Camino de Santiago remains pertinent.

After descending a steep dirt hill that afternoon, I came upon Professor Moore sitting among a group of about a dozen men. She introduced us; they were a group of parishioners from South Africa led by Father Joseph, a Deliverance priest originally from Ireland. Father Joseph had a reputation for taking groups on pilgrimage each year, so these men traveled from all over South Africa to walk the 100 kilometers from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela with him.

The author, left, joins the men from South Africa (note the matching blue Camino jackets) to pray the rosary.

The author, left, joins the men from South Africa (note the matching blue Camino jackets) to pray the rosary.


I had injured my knee a few days before. Upon seeing my limp, the men were concerned and immediately offered treatment advice and backpack-carrying services.  This was their first day and they were fresh-faced and energetic. They were so kind that I’m sure they would have eagerly offered to carry my pack even if they were on their hundredth. I initially turned them down, thanking them for the offer.  Eventually, I gave in and handed my pack to a man named Derek who was quite adamant that carrying my pack on his front side would help “balance” him.

thumbnail_DerekThe men asked if I wanted to join them as they said the rosary, and with that we began our afternoon of walking together. I hung near the back of the group in awe. For someone whose only prior experience with Catholicism was flipping through the first few pages of a hotel room Bible, the experience was intense. The men seamlessly transitioned from prayer to prayer and from hymn to hymn over the course of several hours, never losing steam.

We eventually stopped for some water—which, the men joked, was holy—and snacks. As we relaxed, a man in his 40s who I will call Carl asked if he could share his story with me. Until about ten years ago, he had a serious drug addiction. His friends pushed him to join Narcotics Anonymous, a spiritual program for people with substance abuse problems. His life changed when he discovered Catholicism. Of his struggle he said, “God revealed himself through the devil.”


Praying for me.

Praying for me.

Before we began walking again, the men asked for my permission to pray over me. Though a bit uneasy about the idea, I did not want to miss this experience. Carl and Derek sat on either side of me and Father Joseph sat in front, holding my hands. Derek placed a Benedictine cross in my left hand. Their prayer focused on forgiveness; they asked me to name everyone toward whom I held resentment, then prayed for them, for me, and lastly, for my knee. The powerful experience lasted about five minutes.


After breaking, I began walking only with Carl. He told me his story in greater depth and strongly encouraged that I read the Bible and that I accept God into my life. Once we caught up with the other parishioners, he jokingly declared, “We have a convert!”


While not converted, I have tremendous respect for the men and for their passion for their faith. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to spend that afternoon with them on the first day of their journey.

“There is no ‘wrong’ way on the Camino” by Anushka Das

walking the camino

The Camino can be along narrow dirt paths, country roads or a busy highway.

I had definitely chosen the wrong route. I stared in dismay at what seemed like miles of highway ahead of me and remembered my professor telling our class that our Camino would only occasionally involve walking along the road. As I frantically wondered how I would contact my classmates to tell them of my mistake, I came across an elderly couple I had met a few days before, and the two introduced me to their companion, Bernhard.


After asking me about my class and learning of my task to gather healing stories, Bernhard quickly ushered me ahead of the couple to tell me his reason for walking the Camino. “I want you to write about my story,” he eagerly stated, and I could not help but smile at his jolliness and look forward to what he would say.



The author with Bernhard.

A man of 43, Bernhard had worked as a manager at a factory that manufactured LED lights for 20 years but had lost himself in his work. He had few activities outside of his career that he genuinely enjoyed, and the lack of such flow had brought back the depression that he had thought was in the past. When his own thoughts became unbearable, Bernhard visited his doctor, who offered him few options. After a few more months of attempting to cope on his own, he learned of the Camino, returned to his doctor’s office, and stated his wish to die on the Camino de Santiago.


I was stunned. I would never have imagined that a man so jovial could have wished for something so devastating. Seeing my perplexed face, Bernhard stopped his story to reassure me, “Everything is wonderful, Nush, despite the past. Smile like before please.” He went on to say that he had been institutionalized for 6 weeks and out of that experience, he had emerged feeling blessed and happy, for he had realized others had problems much worse than he did. With a much lighter heart, he had decided to embark on the Camino as a test of his own mental hardiness.

Bernhard talked to many people on his way, enjoying the effortless and entertaining walking companionship of several men and women who exchanged stories with him. At other times, he journeyed alone, thinking of how he hoped to change his life and wondering whether he had really gotten better or not.

His first test was when he stood on a cliff and looked out into a foggy unknown. His second test for himself was to stand on the tall wall of a church.  At each of these, Bernhard stood for several minutes and contemplated his own death. Yet, he ultimately chose to live. Triumphantly, he stated how those experiences demonstrated to him that he was better, that the Camino and the people on it were slowly healing him.

To express his gratefulness towards the Camino, Bernhard continues to share his story with the pilgrims whom he meets, hoping to show them that they are not alone and that everything will be okay.

We spent the rest of our walk together discussing our families and our daily lives. As we were saying goodbye, I told him I had accidentally taken the wrong path, but I was so glad to have done so because I had met him. He laughed, “Nush, there is no ‘wrong’ way on the Camino, only different ones.” After a dramatic pause, he added, “The Camino makes no accidents. We met for a reason.”


As he walked away from me, I thought about his words. In his eyes, the Camino seemed to have a powerful magic, healing people and bringing them together. Although I still wasn’t quite sure where I stood on that topic myself, meeting him made me want to believe that there was something more.

Camino Love by Mindy Xu

I had actually heard of Jean multiple times before I met him. I suppose his unusual lifestyle had made him somewhat of a celebrity on the Camino.

“There’s a man here – I forget his name – he lives entirely out of a backpack,” an Englishman had informed me, “and he has for 15 years. I admire the courage. Wouldn’t recommend it though.”

“The man’s crazy,” another pilgrim concluded, “he sold everything he ever had. Zero security.”


Mindy (left) and Jean on the trail.

In my mind, he was like some kind of mystic legend, traveling around the world, alone and uninhibited. He didn’t need anyone or any sort of structure. Nothing could tie him down. So it was funny that when I was finally face to face with the gray-haired man in his seventies, with a small frame and a wide smile, I didn’t even realize who he was.

He approached me casually, teasing about the ribbons on the backs of my shoes, “So then is it your job to sweep up the Camino path and keep it clean? Or are those symbolic?”

“Neither,” I laughed, “they’re actually just labels, so they don’t get mixed up with the others”


Author's shoes (left). The green and polka dot bows keep shoes from being confused with other shoes in the racks outside dorms.

Author’s shoes (left). The green and polka dot bows keep shoes from being confused with other shoes in the racks outside dorms.

“Ah,” he said, “Smart girl”. He turned to the woman behind him and laughed. She smiled at me.

“Hi I’m Michelle. And this is Jean.” Michelle was tall with blonde curly hair and kind eyes. She looked young for her age, probably in her fifties. She was the mother of three grown children.

“I’m Mindy. Nice to meet you.” I shook both their hands, “Where are you two from? Did you come together?”

“I was born in Quebec,” Jean responded, “and Michelle here is from Indianapolis. And no, we met at the airport in Paris.”

I spent the next 6 hours with the two of them, learning that Jean had traveled to an impressive 40 countries after selling a successful company and all his property. I also listened to Michelle’s retelling of the messy divorce from which she was hoping to heal. This day of the Camino was the famous trek to the Cruz de Ferro, an iron cross where pilgrims traditionally bring and leave a rock from home, a symbol of leaving our burdens behind.


Cruz de Ferro, where pilgrims leave their troubles (and stones) behind.

Michelle left her rock, she stood and stared at the cross somberly. Jean however didn’t leave anything. I asked him about this later.

“Well as you know the rock is supposed to be from home,” he answered.

“What do you mean?”

“Well,” he said cautiously, looking over his shoulder to Michelle who had now fallen so behind she was out of sight.” Sometimes in your life you meet a woman like that. And it changes everything. I thought I wasn’t looking to settle down.  Now I want to spend my life with her.” I watched as he picked up heart- shaped rocks and placed them in the middle of our path, telling me he was hoping she’d see them.

Suddenly Jean, the man who couldn’t be tied down, changed drastically before my eyes. He started rambling about how they met, how compatible they were, how he was entranced by her after 15 minutes. It was fate that he found her again on the road, he assured me. They had been walking together for 10 days now.

I do not know what became of Michelle and Jean. But no matter his answer, Jean will always stand out in my memory as the man who embodies the conflicting human needs for freedom and for structure. He had a wanderlust that prompted him to give up everything, going to an extreme that I could never imagine for myself. No stability, no support from family or friends for 15 years. He expressed being tired of routine and social constraints in a way I’ve heard so many describe before him. But he pushed it to an extreme that was unprecedented. He was at once relatable and inconceivable. A paradox.

But even Jean eventually wanted to go back to some sense of structure, of settling down, allowing routine back into his unpredictable life.

“I guess even I can’t wander forever,” he admitted to me as we continued to walk. “I’ve been on a pilgrimage for so many years. I think I’m finally ready for it to end.”



El Rufugio by Yushi Wang

Day 9 of walking from Vega de Valcarce into O Cebreiro… Our class of 7, plus our professor, have made it this far on the Camino, albeit with a few blisters, one bad knee, two horrible cases of allergies, and aching feet all around.



Inside El Refugio

This uphill day begins in a beautiful forest with a dense canopy of leaves and ends on the top of a mountain overlooking Galicia: land of Celtic roots, bagpipes, and fresh seafood. At the top of the forest segment, you’ll find a clearing with a small tienda. You may be tempted to drop by for a classic tortilla de patata, but hold out and veer left for arguably one of the best experiences the Camino has to offer: El Refugio.

Author (left) with classmates

Author (left) with classmates Kea, Paxton and Bobby



Gnesha guards the picnic table outside.

Here, vegetarians and meat eaters alike can enjoy a savory bowl of zucchini soup, a well-seasoned hummus crepe, or a cup of freshly squeezed watermelon juice. Before you get too distracted by the nutritious meal that awaits you, be sure to walk around the outside of El Refugio. Admire the lovely statue of Ganesh, the beautiful quote by Rumi, and most importantly, the garden that supplies your food, right across the dirt road.

When I went inside, I met Amaryllis, a woman from Belgium in her mid-20s sporting red spectacles, and Paola, a woman in her mid-30s from London with a pixie cut.

Paola handed me some baby carrots from the garden and Amaryllis gave me a green juice to try. As I talked to them, I learned that before it became a restaurant, El Refugio was an animal barn, and the loft area was inhabited by a priest who held a school for children in the area. When the students grew up and stopped coming, the priest sold the place to a German man who converted the barn into a vegetarian friendly restaurant. He has since passed it on to his son, who runs the place with his girlfriend and baby boy. You might find them in the garden greenhouse among the mint leaves, garlic, pepper, and sage.

Paola came to El Refugio in July of 2015. After her experience on the Camino in 2013, she found nothing made sense at home anymore. She subsequently quit her job, wandered around for a year, and moved with her boyfriend to El Refugio. “There are magic people and magic places everywhere,” she tells me, “but on the Camino, everyone has time to share their magic.”  Amaryllis made and sold chocolates in Belgium, but didn’t feel like she was helping enough people. “I wanted to get out of my own head,” she tells me, “and I wanted to connect more with my body,” gesturing to her heart. She searches a moment for the right words and says, “It is important to garden the mind for the right blossoms to grow. That’s what the Camino is for.”


The owner in his garden.

As I said goodbye, Amaryllis handed me a business card. “El Refugio takes volunteers from all over the world. You never know if you might come back,” she says with a knowing smile.


Project Brigid by Robert Brighter

Author with Richard

Author with Richard

It was the morning of June 1st that I met a man named Richard. I had just set out to leave the small town of Vega de Valcarce en route to O Cebreiro, when I came upon a small building at the bottom of a hill. I heard a very loud voice speaking passionately in an American accent and, intrigued, I walked inside. I was immediately greeted by a man who seemed to be in his thirties. He introduced himself as Richard and told me he was from Chicago. We did not spend much time on small talk, however, since he wanted to hear about my experiences on the Camino. I spoke for a while on my story, and while we were getting to know each other, people of different ages and nationalities came to talk with Richard. He offered us coffee and tea. Curious about his familiarity with so many pilgrims, I asked him about the kind of work he does on the Camino. He told me his story. Seven years ago he was on vacation in Madrid when one day on the street told him his shoes would be great for walking the Camino. At the time he had no idea what the Camino was, but after some research he decided to walk, and two days later he was on his way. He fell in love with the Camino and decided to stay permanently, working as a Hospitalero helping pilgrims. During his 3 years as a Hospitalero, he noticed many tensions between the pilgrims and the local people. For this reason, he started Project Brigid, an organization that fosters a sense of unity between those of different cultural backgrounds. He leads workshops such as classes on cooking, arts & crafts, and languages. His project is still very much in its beginning stage, but his passion along with support from pilgrims and locals is moving it in the right direction. He relies heavily on pilgrims he meets to help him raise funds for his project. Richard and his project left a great impression upon me as a pilgrim, especially since I too am trying to best understand the culture of the Camino and the different parts of Spain through which it passes. The most memorable thing that Richard told me was that “change is a good thing.” To me, Project Brigid is about accepting this change and allowing those who might be a little different from us to have an impact on our lives. As a result, we all might have a better understanding of the world around us.


Conversations about the European Union by Paxton Lambright

In 1987 the Council of Europe made the Camino Francés the first cultural route on the cultural itinerary.  In doing so, the Council of Europe suggested that the Camino reflected the diversity and unity of Europe. Both Paul and Alena, two of my Camino friends, live in countries that are part of the European Union, and shared their experiences with me. Alena is an architecture student in her twenties from the island of Cyprus near Greece. Paul is a 34 year old from Germany who worked in logistics before leaving to walk the Camino. Although they both grew up within this system, the two of them have different views on important issues that are often raised within the European discourse. pwpblog2 pwpblog pwpblog3

Alena participated in the ERASMUS program, a program unique to the European Union that facilitates study abroad within its countries. It was through this program that Alena found herself studying architecture in Spain and heard about the Camino. Although Alena has benefitted greatly from the Erasmus program, she does not view the European Union in a positive light because she does not like the forced connection between European economies.  She believes that Cyprus “should not have to pay for other countries.”  However, she admits that being a part of the European Union increases travel ease and provides ample opportunities for various grants and scholarships. For example, the ERASMUS program provides her with a monthly stipend of 700 euros for all expenses. As an American student, I was incredibly jealous of this particular fact.

Unlike Alena, Paul thinks that the European Union is economically beneficial for everyone. Although Germany’s economy is tied to many other less economically successful countries such as Greece, “the amount of money Germany earns on exports due to fair trade makes it worth it.”  Paul also loves that he is able to travel easily within Europe, and after seeing some of the customs lines in Madrid I understand why. The line specifically for members of the European Union was much shorter than the line for foreigners.

However, both Paul and Alena are unsure of the move to bring Turkey into the European Union. Paul worries about the lack of human rights in Turkey, just as he worries about the climate surrounding refugees in his own country. For Alena, the issue is more complicated and is closely tied to her countries past.  In 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus and currently occupies the Northern part of the island. As a result, both of Alena’s parents are refugees who had to flee their homes for the other side of the island and she finds it hard to understand why the European Union would feel comfortable with Turkey occupying a place in the EU.

Although Paul was unaware that the Camino is on the European Cultural Itinerary, he agrees that the Camino reflects the diversity of the European Union. Considering the current political climate, he thinks it is especially important to “meet other people and cultures to avoid any misconceptions.”  In many ways the Camino is the perfect place to do just that. Here, people from all over the world, not just the European Union, eat meals and walk together every day.

As an American, I sometimes find it difficult to understand the complex nature of the European Union.  Much of the media I read talks about the UK’s debate on whether or not to stay in the Union.  It was interesting to hear European perspectives on the benefits and disadvantages of their system. On the Camino conversations can range from favorite foods and TV shows to essential values and political discussions.