Why Did You Walk the Camino de Santiago More Than Once?

Hello, Camino friends I was recently reading the Camino Forums and felt inspired to write a little about my pilgrimage down the Camino Francis and why I chose to hike it again the next year before I had even finished my first one.

I first heard about the Camino de Santiago from a friend whom I went on a yearly trek with. We had climbed the peaks Mt. Chirropo in Costa Rica, went to the depths of the earth together to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and hiked the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

So, it was only fitting that we walked the Camino together. We set our date to leave in June 2013. But, as many of you know and some will find out, your pilgrimage does not start the day you leave.

Your pilgrimage starts the day the idea enters your mind. And, then, even more so when you make the commitment to go. As time passed, my friend decided to drop out, but I was committed and went without him. I can tell you from the bottom of my heart it was one of the best choices I had ever made.

I am a sort of a nomad myself. A digital nomad if you will. I have lived all over the US, spent a year on the beach in Costa Rica. I have also lived in Cusco, Peru while contracting myself out online to produce income from my laptop as I go. So going abroad all alone isn’t my greatest fear, although it is a present fear. But, what I have found, and so many travelers agree, is when you take that leap of faith, The Universe brings you some of the most amazing, enriched and kind people to help you along your way.

This is what I happened during my pilgrimage. I took another great leap of faith into the vast unknown and left the US for St. Jean Pied-de-Port on June 19th, 2013, the day after my 33rd birthday. I used the wisdom from my guidebook and booked my first night at the hostel named L’Esprit du Chemin. It was the perfect start to the perfect Camino. We had a communal dinner together hosted by volunteers of the hostel and received a really nice blessing from the emcee.

What I didn’t know at that moment, within that group of people that I was eating with, four of them would become lifelong friends. They would become a part of my Camino Family. They would become so close to me that I miss them on a daily basis and think of them all the time.

I left St. Jean the next morning and walked for the next 33 days. Our Camino family grew to around 12 people with some hikers tagging along and dropping off every now and then. For me, the other Pilgrims….the other hikers….the Camino Family was the absolute best part of the hike.

Within a matter of days, we grew together and bonded as none of us had before. In a sense, we truly needed each other because, in a way, our survival depended on it. We all have a family and are blessed in one way or another to have that family. But, to bond with others in a way that you would trust your life in their hands, while not knowing who that person was a week prior. This forms a relationship that is not only priceless but a relationship where there are no words that exist in any language to truly describe.

The closest one could come to that bond is using the word ‘LOVE’. And that word still shoots short of how I feel for my Camino Family.

The next 33 days were challenging…but graceful. At times it was peaceful, other times frustrating, sometimes the euphoria was indescribable and sometimes it was just plain boring. But this exists with all things. I could go into detail about intimate conversations I had with priests, or a lost inspiration I re-found in religion. I could tell you about the singing nuns in Carrion or getting lost in the mountains near Dragonite, being taken in by a local family, and discussion over boots or shoes. The stories of adventure and misadventure could go on and on, as resides true for most pilgrims.

But, I will keep it as short as possible to tell you this story. Within 3 weeks of being on the Camino, I had decided to walk another pilgrimage somewhere. By the 4th week, I had decided to come back and hike Camino Frances again.

After making this commitment many people have asked or told me “Why don’t you hike another trail?”, “Are you trying to re-create your first Camino?”, “Don’t you think you should hike another pilgrimage in another country?”, “It will never be as good as the first time.”. Well, I have an answer for all of those. I realized I wanted to go back because…for me…..for my life, it is not about doing as many trips or pilgrimages that I can. It is about doing the ones that I favor.

Some may not fancy hiking the Camino Francis a second time. But for me, the Camino Francis is like a woman that I love. Why waste my time finding more excitement and connection with others, when I can gracefully grow and reside happily in her presence. It’s not about being with all of them, it is about being with one of them…with excellence.

Not only did I choose to hike the Camino Francis again, because I love it. But, I also decided to add a little caveat to the hike this year. A group of us are hiking this year to raise money to build an orphanage in Ghana, Africa. This home will provide a safe haven and support ex-slave children. Children that were sold into this horrible life will be removed from slavery and brought to a place where they can be children again. They will receive an education, clean water, good food, and parental figures that they can trust and love. In August, we will be traveling to Ghana to build this home and work side by side with the villagers.

I have found, that in life when you commit to one thing when you are wholeheartedly committed to what you truly want, limitless inspiration and opportunities will grow from that. When I fell in love with Camino Francis and my Camino Family, I also fell in love with commitment. And this fact will change everything for the rest of my life.

Buen Camino, Chris Reynolds

11 thoughts on “Why Did You Walk the Camino de Santiago More Than Once?”

  1. Hi Chris, just read your story and am very touched by your mission in Ghana.
    I walked Camino Frances in Aug/Sep 2018 and will return.

    I suspect your 2020 walk has been affected by the current world viral difficulties and, I assume, your plans in Ghana would be similarly affected.

    Do you have a website where I can follow your progress please? It’s a wonderful cause you stand for, giving those children a chance at a better life, basic freedom we have.

    Cheers and best wishes,

  2. Just a side note to think about. Walked the Frances twice; Portugal once; Norte once; next is the Primitivo.

    The best part of all Caminos is the people you meet. As a veteran of 31 months combat in Viet Nam, I find it extremely difficult to open up with other people–afraid of getting close. But the Camino occasionally lets me put off my invisible armor and be “myself”.

    One thing I have noticed is that a LOT of people walk because they are unsatisfied with their lifes and want something else…not money, but satisfaction. Like the German woman who hated being a policewoman and now is in traing to becaome a doctor. She said she needed the time on the Camino to THINK.
    But , of Course, I always wonder why so many quit walking…never haerd any say they quit because of tiredness or pain.

    • Update—- walked the Primitivo at age 74 . Just finished the Sanabres at age 76. One thing I hear frequently from locals and Pilgrims is that they believe the commercial joke that starts at Sarria is ruining he Camino.

  3. Great article Chris. That Camino sparked a love of long distance walking. Norte, Kumano Kodo, frances again. Can’t wait to travel again. Send link to your fundraiser

  4. Thanks Chris, I had a tear in my eye reading your piece. Particularly now as it is 6 yrs since I walked Camino Frances and the reminders of my Camino family now scattered over 3 countries are particularly poignant given the situation the world is in right now and the inability to travel.
    I live in hope to hike again. Buen Camino.

    • Chris, thank you for sharing your experience on the Camino Francis. I can say that my wife and I share several of your thoughts. We walked the Camino Francis in 2017 and having enjoyed it so much we walked it again in 2019 with two of our adult children. The Camino changed our future adventures permanently. Since 2017 we have walked the portuguese interior, the Primitivo and the Via Podiensis. The Camino Francis is special in so many ways and we have never felt the same as we walk the other caminos. We will be back to walk it again in the near future.

  5. Chris, your story is inspiring and heart-warming. I agree with you that those you meet on the Camino and with whom you band together become more than friends; you entrust your life with them almost and, yes, you think about them every day and give thanks that you met. All the very best with your wonderful project in Ghana.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  6. Chris,
    You story is very inspirational and uplifting ,
    Thank you ,
    At 72, I finished my first Camino Frances from SJPP May/June 2022,
    Walk when I should have take a cab, rest when I had nothing in the tank, but I kept going one step at a time ,took me 34 days plus 6 days of rest, because I also wanted to stay and want to see the cites and towns of Pamplona, Logrono, Burgos, and Leon , extra two days in Sahagun and Sarria were not necessary.
    Met some wonderful people along the Camino from all parts of the world.
    It I was inspiring and uplifting, despite very draining ,exhausting and feelings of loneliness at times .
    Camino does not bring you what you want,
    Camino brings you what you need.
    Camino give you so much ,
    Camino take some away .

    We travel , Chris, not to escape life, but for Life not to escape us .

    I admire your goodwill intentions and the best of Luck for building safe house in Ghana for the children.
    Kudos to you Chris.
    Wishing you long meaningful Life Chris,
    Cheers .. always !
    Buen Camino
    Jagdev D. 🇨🇦

  7. I’ve walked the Camino Frances 1 1/2 times. I loved every step. I’m preparing to retire in 2023 and this walk is a gift to myself. I’ve walked this route 1 1/2 times (2018 – 2019) and loved every step. The treat this time is to bring a long time friend so she too can experience the “magic” and attend the high mass at the end. Greatest experience in my adult life…!!!!

  8. Thank you for this story Chris. I’ve had this desire to walk the Camino for about 7 years but because of my circumstances I haven’t been able to. Your story encouraged me to keep that dream alive. God willing, I will do it in the next 2-3 years. You’ve reinspired me.


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