Waves of the Sea of Vigo: A 13th C piece of sung love poetry
Text and Photos: Nancy Louise Frey
Music: The Dufay Collective, Album: Music for Alfonso the Wise, Song #12
When I lead each tour I enjoy incorporating a new story or some piece of fascinating history. Tomorrow we will be starting our Camino in Portugal tour and for the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to the haunting love songs of medieval Galician jongleur Martín Codax. Little factual information is known about him except that his writing and composition style places him in the 13th C (roughly the year 1230) and that he was probably from the Galician fishing village of Vigo. In 1913 seven of his poems/songs were discovered by accident by an antiquarian bookseller in Madrid (Pedro Vindel). His seven Cantigas de Amigo (a fascinating genre of Iberian medieval poetry expressing the angst of absent love from the female point of view) are unique because they contain both the musical composition (six of the seven) and the lyrics whereas usually only the lyrics have come to us down through the ages and contemporary musicians need to invent or recreate the musical style.
In these songs the singer refers over and over again to her missing love and Vigo, a (now) city on the sea about 40km south of where I live in Spain. The Galician coastline is stunning – deep tidal estuaries meet the open Atlantic with white sand beaches, rocky, hilly shorelines and forested hills that reach down to the sea. I’ve accompanied this post with a few photos I’ve taken of the coast around Vigo and of waves in the winter. It’s rare to hear a voice so clearly and profoundly from the past. The song I share here is the first of the seven and is called Ondas do mar de Vigo (Waves of the sea of Vigo). On the tour we will be driving along the Bay of Vigo and then walking along the shore accompanied by the “waves of the sea of Vigo”. The language is Galician-Portuguese which was the dominant language for poetical expression of the time in the Iberian Peninsula. The singer in this rendition manages to capture the pain of not knowing whether your love will return or not. She looks out onto the waves and wonders, over and over, will he return? I love to watch the sea and I’ve also felt that pain of not knowing whether or not someone will return. I’m attracted to this feeling of connection to a distant past through a common human emotion of longing revealed here both by the lyric and the music itself. Accompanying the article is the Dufay Collective’s rendition of Martin Codax’s Cantigas de Amigo with Vivien Ellis singing. This appears as song #12 on their CD Music for Alfonso the Wise. Here is my English translation. Enjoy this link to the 13th C and this very special and beautiful part of the world:
Ondas do mar de Vigo Waves of the sea of Vigo,
se vistes meu amigo? have you seen my friend/lover?
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
Ondas do mar levado, Waves of the rough sea,
se vistes meu amado? have you seen my love?
E ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
Se vistes meu amigo? Have you seen my friend/lover?
O por que eu sospiro; for whom I sigh;
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God,will he come back soon?
Se vistes meu amado? Have you seen my love?
O por que ei gran coidado; for whom I worry greatly;
e ai Deus, se verrá cedo? Oh God, will he come back soon?
It’s been another great year thanks to all of you who make On Foot in Spain possible! Putting together our own 2013 On Foot “Year in Review” has brought back wonderful memories of amazing luck with rain seeming to be all around us except on top of us in both April and October, unbelievable wildflowers in June along the Camino, the richness of harvest time in Portugal and the stunning views in the Basque Country and Galicia that fill the heart and soul. One of the things I love about leading On Foot in Spain tours is that I am constantly taken back and reminded of what is most important in life: friendship and caring about one another, beauty found in nature, the thrill of knowing and challenging one’s body, the appreciation of the simple pleasures in life.
Memories flood into my mind of these simple pleasures from this last season – swimming in the cold, refreshing mountain waters of the Lor River in Galicia; eating one of Jose’s picnics after a long walk; leading people over a hill where I know a glorious view awaits them; getting to take my shoes off to walk down pristine Traba beach and watching the others ahead of me doing the same; foraging on blue berries, blackberries, grapes, apples and all the other gifts of the Camino; sharing some of these moments with Sam and watching him absorb it all like a sponge; hearing the storks from their weighty nests high upon the church towers; gorging on cherries in June in the Bierzo valley; milking sheep and tasting the fresh milk; listening to people’s stories and sharing my own…
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words so here is a collection of images from 2013 that we hope you will enjoy.
Nancy & Jose
Sweet gift of El Camino memories…..
Just want to say what an amazing pilgrimage you put together. Since I left Spain there is this sweet gift of El Camino memories popping up all the time. I enjoy them but also sometimes they are bittersweet because I miss the group and all we shared. You, Nancy are so smart and kind. You, Jose took such good care of us that it almost seemed effortless but I know it was hard. Oh and you are smart too!!!
Many people ask me about my experience…I still am not able to express how much it meant to me and what it felt like. I tell them about you, Jose, lunch, our group, chocolate, churches, monasteries etc. It is hard to explain the smell of pine trees, the taste of fresh chestnuts, hugging St. James, laughing, being tired, feeling spirit and how grateful I am that I took this trip. I keep trying but please know that your care and attention is appreciated and very easy to voice.
I hope your family is well and stays well. Someday I hope to take another adventure with you.
Kathleen, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela Tour
….learn about myself
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you both for making this such memorable experience. It was a very special week for me, having the time to experience this remarkable place, learn about myself and meet so many wonderful, inspiring and determined people including you and Jose.
Conchita, Quebec, Canada,
Oct 2013, Compostela
….one of the most unforgettable and important experiences
For Wendy – this trip will remain with me as one of the most unforgettable and important experiences in my life
For George – as above. The companionship of our group and others on the walk, together with the countryside, all helped to make a wonderful experience.
George and Wendy, Goodwood, South Australia, Australia
Oct 2013, Compostela
Wow! I felt I was in a week’s course on Spanish history, culture, food, etc. The picnics were great. I am a ‘picky’ eater and there was always plenty to fill me up. I appreciated the variety. Can’t wait for Jose’s cookbook. The experience was wonderful (10+ out of 5). All the stories, history, culture and legends so enhanced my enjoyment and the whole experience. I enjoyed every one of them.
Debbie, Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
All the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends
I love to walk and I walk 3-4 miles every morning but I have never been on a serious hike. Before the trip I was a little apprehensive whether I could make it after I saw the itinerary. The distances looked out of my personal range. I prepared by gradually increasing my distance up to 10 miles on flat terrain with great difficulty. I never thought I could make the distances with the topography I saw. But somehow, it was easier and I was pleasantly surprised. The durations were just enough. The breaks were great and the lunches fantastic. The group was fun and I think the entire experience was rewarding and wonderful. The experience exceded my expectations.
Nancy was a terrific guide - knowledgeable, passionate about her subjects, anxious to share, concerned for our well-being and supportive.
The picnics were outstanding. Jose put together some very interesting and delicious meals. They were enough to fill us but not so much as to be uncomfortable after. Bravo, Jose. I would like his cookbook when it’s published.
I loved it. It had all the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends. I would recommend it and even thinking of doing it again.
Craig, Schaumberg, Illinois, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
A most joyful and holistic experience
It is difficult to put into words what I learned on the Camino, there were so many layers to the pilgrimage. One thing I can say with complete certainty after a lot of tripping and touring in my lifetime... you helped to create a most joyful and holistic experience. I thank you immensely for that and have been spreading accolades about you everywhere.
Suzanne, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
“Slow travel” – unique and amazingly special
Like "slow food" made with care, presented with reverence and savored over time amongst friends. Your walking tours are the "slow travel" - unique and amazingly special. Each moment, each thought, each view is something worth having. This is why I keep coming back *smile*
Maria, Bakersfield, California, USA (3rd time Traveler – Camino, Galicia, Basque)
I’m so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose.
I am so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose. The trip was beautifully paced, with lots of options, so we never felt we weren't measuring up to "expectations." I don't know how you knew it, but you really had a great sense of our hopes and our capabilities, choosing wonderful sections of trails that would inspire us.
Your stories of Portuguese history and fables were wonderful; Jose's picnics were just as delicious as my memories of them along the Spanish camino; Sam was just delightful. I don't think any of us had a dry eye as we bid you three farewell.
Betsy, Boulder, Colorado, USA (2nd time On Foot traveler – Camino de Santiago & Portugal Camino)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
We could be your spokespeople!
We are back to our routine and wanted to thank you again for a wonderful, wonderful time. Dale and I have really felt that we did something so special and the two of you made it special. We have had many opportunities to tell our friends and family about you, Jose and our trip. I think we could be your spokespeople!
Chris and Dale, Lisbon, Iowa, USA
July 2013, Galicia
….a week to remember!
Thank you so much for the wonderful time, the organization, the company and the friendship. You were both so kind to me …. and I am so happy I was with you. I loved Galicia, the contrast between the Death coast and the wonderful forest and villages of the hill country. It really is a beautiful part of Spain. The professional way the walk was organized was excellent. Wonderful food and accommodation and local knowledge made the week very interesting for me. It really was a week to remember!
Faith, Wellington, New Zealand
July 2013, Galicia
I’m filled w/ the most amazing memories.
Thank you for a most wonderful week during which you guided us in our exploration of the fascinating Basque country, as only you and Jose could have done. I am filled w/the most amazing memories. The breadth and scope of Nancy and Jose’s knowledge of history, geography, culture, customs, etc. is unparalleled and just one of the many reasons I would always choose On Foot for a walking tour in Spain. Jose’s picnics were FABULOUS – not just Jose’s world renowned, delicious salads but his choice of cheeses, sausages, bread, dessert, etc.
Christina, Washington, DC (2nd time On Foot walker – Camino & Basque)
July 2013, Basque Country
The week was truly magical.
The week was truly magical. We have always told our children that the best present of all is a wonderful memory and you certainly gave us many rich ones to store in our hearts.
Lucy, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
…expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!)
I want to thank you, Jose and Sam for such a meaningful and rich experience. I hardly know where to begin to talk about how much I felt expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!) So much beauty all around us! Your choice of sights and experiences was fabulous. I loved the variety and contrasts in terrain, in lodgings and in your choices of readings and music especially. I continue to be impressed with your intentional approach to living and learning together. Gratefully…,
Judy, Darien, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
very inspiring educator
We still think about the lovely walk, food, wine, company and experience you and Jose introduced us to… you are a very inspiring educator that brings culture and history alive. A great quality that we have been privileged to be a part of.
Ursula, Roseville, NSW, Australia
Sept 2013, Camino de Santiago
I will remember for a lifetime
Thank you so much for making our trip so wonderful. It is something I will remember for a lifetime. I have tried to take my experience home with me. I am now walking to and from work. My body craves it now. I also am eating differently. It was all that I hoped it would be. Thank you.
Kathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
Nancy and Jose are both extremely professional. They are very knowledgeable about the Camino and are always there to help you with any questions you have! Nancy’s knowledge was my most favorite part! I cannot believe the information that was shared. It was the absolute best learning experience! I wish I would have had a tape recorder so I could replay the information Nancy shared. Jose’s picnics were out of this world!
Cathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
It was wonderful…..
It was wonderful to see you, talk to you, walk and eat with you and be generally spoilt by you and by Spain.
SV, London, UK (3rd time On Foot walker)
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
O a scale of 1-5, I give the tour a 10!
On a scale of 1-5 I gave the tour a 10! You and Jose do such an amazing job! The organization, down to every last detail, is impeccable. The food, lodging choices, history, tours and every aspect was better than I could have ever imagined! Thank you again!
Kelly, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
each minute of it was very precious
I want to thank you for the wonderful experience. I appreciate all of the work that you put into it and all of the little extras that you might feel go un-noticed. I have been asked what my favorite part of this adventure was, I am unable to give a definite answer, only because each minute of it was very precious to me. Thank you.
Janice, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
…you took great care
Thank-you for your wonderful work as our guide to the Camino. The knowledge you shared of the region and the pilgrimage--and especially your stories--added so much to the experience. It was obvious that you took great care in pulling together all the important elements of the trip--the places we walked, the tours, the lodging, the food--providing us with the very best of everything as we journeyed. A special thanks to Jose, too, for he did indeed as you promised "make everything happen." Thanks again for all you did to make the Camino an especially memorable journey.
Vicki, Wilmington, Ohio, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
I just told a friend today; it wasn't 'a' trip it was 'the' trip….
Michael, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 2013 Camino de Santiago
…the use of local produce….memorable, Jose excelled himself…a first class journey
The whole tour was above our expectations. We did not expect the: food, accommodation, coach/drivers, tour guides, lunches, Nancy’s knowledge (each day was an exciting new encounter) to be of such a high standard. Your years of experience indicated to us early on the tour that this was going to be a first class journey. The use of local produce made each lunch memorable. Jose excelled himself in this area.
John & Paul, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
Many thanks for an experience we will live with forever. Ultreya!
Janine & Craig, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
You have a gift of making each person feel special….Jose, he was a smiling face I looked forward to seeing every day.
The trip was perfect in every way. Yes, we were lucky with the weather & the ‘easy-going’ personalities in the group. But, you & Jose, just make it with your knowledge, hospitality & genuine passion for the Camino & Spain in general, plus your generosity in sharing it with all of us. It is very infectious. I’m sure I’ll be back for more. You have a gift for making each person feel special and take a special interest in everyone.
Patrice, Teven Valley, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your care and gentleness…..was inspiring
Our Camino pilgrimage was such a highlight and we couldn't believe our good fortune with the amazing weather, the people we met and the total experience. I loved your particular way of doing things Nancy and Jose - your care and gentleness not only with everyone but with all you do was inspiring for me.
Ann-Maree, Sydney, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart…. for making this the experience of my life
I just wanted to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for making the Camino come alive. I loved the lectures, I loved the food, the accommodations were great and I loved walking the Camino. Thank you for making this the experience of my life.
Annette, Pasadena, California, USA, April 2013 Compostela
I felt I was in a community…
This was the right trip for me. I spoke with a woman who was walking 800km to Santiago. She wanted to know how we were doing this. She could see our smaller packs. I told her we were spending the night in hotels and there was a vehicle taking our things to the next hotel. She said she was spending a lot of her time just looking down and getting to her next destination. The way we did it we had someone telling us about landmarks, history, culture and architecture. Although I came by myself I felt I was in a community and had people I could talk with, laugh with and share my experiences with. Thank you so much.”
Mary Ann, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2013 Compostela
Picnics were like a feast
The picnics were like a feast. Enjoyed the surprise of what was to come and loved the explanations. I felt very well cared for and enjoyed the way the group came together as a unit, enjoying the experience together. Thank you both so much. It would be great to travel again with you both someday.
Margaret, Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge…. outstanding
Nancy & Jose, your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge about the Camino are outstanding. The dedication to all on the tour and care you displayed was commendable. The care and concern you showed my mum during the tour was ‘above and beyond’. Thanks you for making my Camino so special. I would highly recommend you to anyone considering the tour. The picnics were delicious! Loved the local fare! Excellent explanations by Nancy and great set-up by Jose! Many thanks.
Tonia, Carinbagh, New South Wales, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Brazilian photographer Marina de Almeida Prado joined us in June 2012 along the Camino de Santiago.
Here she shares with us and comments on some of her favorite photos from her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. To see more of her work, please visit her website.
Marina de Almeida Prado's Photo Essay on the Camino (2012)
In September 2010, exactly on the 14th, I woke up thinking about the Camino. I knew absolutely nothing about the Camino. I only heard of a few people who had already done it. I eagerly started researching. But a few days later I was completely discouraged, because in my current life with a son, husband, job and home, the thought of leaving everything for 40 days off was just impossible.
One day, just because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I posted the word "CAMINO" on Facebook and immediately a friend asked: Did you do it? I said no and that I would love to do it but 40 days was not feasible. And she told me, there were other ways to do the Camino and told me about the website www.onfootinspain.com.
She told me: “Choose which way and how many days you want to do it. I recommend it!”
My contact with Nancy began on the same day, but due to lack of vacancies, I waited until June 2012.
And on June 3 I left for Spain. This would be my first trip all alone after 12 years. A very special moment. I chose the route "On Glory Roads," The Camino de Santiago From Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela in 12 days.
I’m a photographer and I took all my equipment with me. But I wanted to photograph every second of the journey and by the third day I opted to take pictures with my Iphone 4S so I could use the effects of Instagram and immediately post all my emotions to the world.
There were places and people during my journey that touched me so much. During my time on the path, away from my daily life, I realize what a very privileged person I am. What a great life I have and that I am a truly blessed human being.
One thing I can say for sure: after 12 days in the company of 11 wonderful Australians, 1 American (Nancy), and 2 Spanish guys (Jose and Sam), something very special was born inside of me. Unforgettable!
I’ve attached some of my favorite photos. Click here to follow the link to the gallery. Here are my comments about some of the photos:
I couldn’t believe how gorgeous this bridge was. The water reflection was just amazing! The most beautiful bridge I’ve ever seen!
The second most beautiful view of my path. I felt like standing there, time stopped.
This moment was my favorite, because this view is the winner! I could feel the immensity, the liberty. My freedom!!
On the path, lots of stones piled up. These really impressed me.
The picnics were always a pleasant surprise, with different kinds of cheese, cold cuts and salad every day. A moment we all look forward to! And,the pilgrim bar, long-awaited throughout the path by all of us!
Another very special moment in my path...The deepest blue sunset of my journey. The view from my bedroom window. I think I could grasp the meaning of blue.
I was very touched when I arrived at the Iron Cross. One of the simplest and most meaningful moments of the Camino.
For a moment, this iron bucket made me go back to my childhood at the farm.
Close to Cebreiro. A very special place.
The mass, the smell, the people and the place. Pure emotion.
Marina de Almeida Prado
Fotógrafa - MAP . PHOTO
+ 55 11 999102932
Nancy’s Book Review
Walking Your Blues Away. How to Heal the Mind and Create Emotional Well-Being by Thom Hartmann (Vermont: Park Street Press, 2006).
I was gifted this book by a body worker who walked with us along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in 2005. After sitting on the shelf unread for at least a year, the right moment finally arrived to crack open the pages. It’s a quick read and easy to access. The most compelling parts are when Hartmann discusses how walking is a potentially healing activity for emotional trauma. This concept immediately began to resonate with my own anthropological work on the contemporary reanimation of the medieval pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago in Spain, which culminated in my book Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago (UC Press, 1998). In the late 1980s people from many different backgrounds, countries, walking experience and belief systems (and frequently without a religious motivation) began to take up the traditional symbols of the Santiago pilgrim, the scallop shell and staff, and set out on demanding journeys walking westward across northern Spain (and even the far corners of Europe) to reach the tomb of the apostle James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. Every year since then, more and more people undertake this walking journey and come home with positive stories of self-discovery, personal triumph, transformation and, even, change.
I found over and over again during my research that many people were led to walk the Camino (a personal journey that can range from one day to four months depending on the walker) to work through their own personal issues. Many were at a breaking point – graduate from college, mid-life crisis, retirement – or had experienced a loss – divorce, death, employment. Whereas many pilgrimage sites, framed within a more religious context, are sought out by pilgrims to heal the suffering body, I found repeatedly that along the Camino, as they walked, people were healing the suffering soul. In Pilgrim Stories, I write:
The journey of the Camino can reveal wounds – loss, failure, fear, shame, addiction – left festering from daily life. Experiences along the way often act as the catalyst that allows them to be exposed. It has been, and appears to continue to be, a road for hopes and miracles of fulfillment of a different order. Some pilgrims, acknowledging this themselves, refer to the Camino as la ruta de la terapia, the therapy route (Frey, p. 45).
Through the walking experience people opened themselves up, usually without any perceived intention on their part, to a whole series of unforced emotional experiences. Time and again, people recounted thinking of people that had not been in their conscious thoughts for years, developing a more active dream life as well as feeling ‘more deeply’ while on the road.
In my book, I discuss this process of opening as part of the elimination of the distractions/stressors of daily life. When life is reduced to its basics and your mind is not absorbed with the minutiae of running a busy life, full of obligations and demands, all of sudden there is space for feelings, emotions, memories to come to the surface. While walking (though also many times during sleep and dreamtime), pilgrims described to me how they came to new insight, resolution or clarity regarding issues from the past. The walking became a healing process for both known and unknown or conscious/unconscious (prior to beginning the Camino) issues from the past.
In Walking Your Blues Away, Hartmann has added a new dimension to my understanding of this healing process on the cognitive level with his discussion of ‘bilateral therapy’ – the alternating stimulation of the right and left lobes of the brain ‘while thinking of a problem or issue’ (p. 30). Stimulating both the thinking and feeling parts of the brain with the bi-lateral movement, the person is able to process the experience in such a way that it is moved from the forefront of memory to the past thereby reducing its negative hold on your psyche. Apparently most of our memories are processed during our REM sleep – another form of bi-lateral stimulation. Sometimes, though, the memories are too big/painful to be worked through in REM. Bi-lateral therapy works to simulate the same type of memory processing so that painful experiences can be worked through and moved into the past. Hartmann explains, “With the walking therapy…in most cases this recognition that the experience is in the past happens during the walk itself. That is the key indicator that the session has been successful” (p. 13). By applying bilateral theory to walking (an activity that requires the constant stimulation of the brain’s left and right hemispheres with its side-to-side motion), Hartmann offers an excellent way for people to heal themselves without having to resort to traditional ‘talk therapies’, or even any kind of verbalization of the trauma or painful memories. He posits that perhaps we have been healing ourselves, since the dawn of time before we had experts – psychotherapists, psychologists, shamans, etc. – by engaging in our most fundamental human activities: walking and thinking.
His work is strongest when discussing the history of bilateral therapies and the application of them to walking based on his own experience and practice. Bilateral therapy has its origin in the development of healing techniques derived from hypnotism first recognized as therapeutic by Mesmer in the 1700s. He describes the fascinating story of Freud’s initial usage and success with bilateral therapy and hypnotism before he abandoned this path in favor of psychotherapy when hypnotism was discredited in Europe and America in the 1890s. His middle chapter on cultural bi-lateralism is over generalized and I found it to be an unnecessary distraction to the larger theme.
The last three chapters provide concrete advice on how to utilize his technique not only for resolving past trauma or negative feelings around a nagging issue but also as a means to increase creativity, motivation and physical health. His technique is thoroughly described and is easily accessible to the lay person. It consists of five steps very briefly summarized here (pp. 62-67):
1 – “Define the issue”. Figure out what’s bothering you and picture it in your head.
2 –“ Bring up the story”. Flesh out the issue and determine its level of strength inside of you.
3 – “Walk with the issue”. It usually takes less than 30 minutes to get resolution.
4 – “Notice how the issue changes”. While walking observe how your feelings around the issue shift.
5 –“Anchor the new state”. Review the transformation of the feelings to fix it in your mind.
He encourages a positive and optimistic viewpoint and helpfully reminds the reader: “Remember: There is no failure. There is only feedback. Learn from the feedback and continue on.” (p. 65)
His ideas resonate with my own observations of how people experienced the walking along the Camino. It was very common for those walking to come to some kind of resolution or decision. Many people wanted to do something more creative with their lives upon return home. Others spoke about returning to the Camino to ‘recharge their batteries’ – that the walking along the Camino gave them mental and physical energy that they felt lacking in their daily lives. Perhaps it was simply engaging in this process of bi-lateral movement while walking that allowed people to stumble along the path to their own healing process. In 2008 I interviewed a modern-day Camino legend, John the English gentleman who aids wayward pilgrims in his campervan, for a chapter I wrote for Lonely Planet’s 7th edition of Spain. He had a nice of way of describing the same process of healing. I asked him why he thought people were walking to Santiago today and he responded :
“My impression is that a very large proportion have suddenly been confronted with a grave problem with home, work, family, career, their physical health or love life…and they are so overwhelmed by their everyday preoccupations that they don’t know what to do about it. Walking the Camino is a unique kind of therapy. I call it ‘Self-administered Ambulatory Psychotherapy’. Troubled minds heal themselves – by walking the Camino de Santiago. (Spain, 7th edition, article: Camino de Santiago by Nancy Frey, p. 125, Lonely Planet, 2009).
John has also observed the healing quality that is experienced by those who walk this historical pilgrimage path. Intuitively people have sensed that walking to Santiago will be good for them and have heeded that call to go, once again, the ‘human speed’.
Hartmann’s book and technique will potentially be very helpful to people who walk (or those who don’t but who would like to) and who would like to more consciously make their walks productive for healing, creativity and focused thinking. While for many people the bi-lateral movement brings about the healing without realizing it, by having the technique available, it can potentially help people focus on problem solving as well as ‘anchor’ the new state so that the change is more lasting. In Pilgrim Stories, I write: “While it will not determine outcomes, making the pilgrimage can help the participant on a personal level to ‘rework the past’ and possibly ‘move toward a renewed future’ (Frey, p. 46). This sentiment is in essence the point of Walking Your Blues Away – it takes a very basic human activity and explores its great potential for healing and future well-being. Go take a walk!
 Thank you Erin Susan Parks for bringing this book to my attention. Erin is the owner of LMT Massage for Optimal Living in the Atlanta area.
The Grand Tour of the Camino de Santiago emphasizing the artistic, cultural and historical treasures of northern Spain while walking through scenic countryside to Santiago.
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO: On Glory Roads
The Road to Santiago rarely fails to impress: the constantly changing landscapes, diverse flora and fauna; the encounters with unique and inspiring people; the varied legends of pilgrims past and present; the countless artistic and historical treasures found at every turn; the possibility of enjoying both silence or the animation and color of a Spanish fiesta; or the knowledge that your footsteps join those of millions before you across a thousand years of European history.
We walk in the shadows of this past and seek as well to understand those created in the present on our walking tour along this great medieval pilgrimage route.
COMPOSTELA TOUR: León to Santiago
Join us for this special 7-day tour starting in León and continuing through the rural Galician countryside. You will be eligible to earn the Cathedral’s certificate of completion, the Compostela, as we walk the last 100km over 5 of the 7 days.
Enjoy bucolic country lanes, enchanted forests and countless hamlets as we wend our way over the rolling hills to the ancient city of stone, Santiago de Compostela.
GALICIA, Celtic Spain: From Sea to Mountain
Wedged in between the roaring Atlantic and the gentle eastern sierras in Iberia’s northwest corner, Galicia is a magnificent combination of rolling, irregular countryside, 750 miles of breathtaking coastline, numerous deeply penetrating fjord-like estuaries as well as mixed forests and winding rivers.
On the tour we explore the wild coastline, the sea an ever-present right hand companion, as well as Galicia’s mountain, valley and river systems with delightful walks in forests rich in flora and fauna.
We'll pass small, rustic villages, archaeological ruins and witness traces of antique ways of living and working.
On this 7 day/night walking tour we roughly follow the medieval pilgrim's way from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela taking in the area's beautiful green mountain and valley landscapes as well as spending two nights on Galicia's spectacular southern coast in Baiona. We stay in three UNESCO world heritage towns - Porto, Guimaraes and Santiago de Compostela.
BASQUE COUNTRY & PYRENEES: Europe's Oldest Culture
Straddling the gentle western Pyrenees, this region is home to Europe´s oldest living language and civilization, breathtaking coastal and low mountain trails, prehistoric remains, sensational award-winning food prepared with charateristic Basque flare and charming seaside towns and high country villages.
Also included in our itinerary is a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Learn about Basque history, culture and folklore, enjoy lush coastal and hill trails, and treat your palate to a gastronomic odyssey.
PICOS DE EUROPA: Heights of Emerald Spain
Lofty green and grey, the Picos de Europa play sentinel to the Cantabrian Sea only nine miles away. Surrounded by thick stands of beech and oak, sculpted by four strong river systems and modified by hundreds of years of shepherding, the ever changing limestone Picos offer a unique environment and a wide variety of walking opportunities through lunar-like high mountains, crystalline glacial lakes, lush woodlands, winding rivers, high open pastures and alpine meadows. We’ll explore the National Park’s most stunning trails and introduce you to the shepherding traditions that have made the Picos famous worldwide for their pungent blue cheeses.
Bravo! Thank you so very much for your wonderful and thoughtful review of "The Way."
A love letter to a love letter, as it were!
As someone who is so invested, so intimately connected to The Camino, I am both pleased and quite humbled by your remarks.
Your own personal story of finding your heart-mate while on pilgrimage is yet again, another miracle of St. James!.... I truly enjoyed our meeting at the after-party and I wish you much continued success as you take pilgrims through their (literal) paces along this most extraordinary journey.
I hope to one day join you, without the cumbersome crew of 50 following along with cameras, so that I might enjoy "a true pilgrims experience" along this most magical route. A road to the center of one's own being and one's own heart.
Thank you, again, for your most gracious feedback! Buen Camino y Gracias!
Best vacation of his life
This is not a tour, but a life changing experience.
I have to tell you that on the way home, Terry said this trip was the "best vacation of his life". He may have mentioned it at our farewell dinner as well, but I wanted to make sure that you knew it. One day, I hope to put my thoughts and feelings about the Camino into words. In the meantime, just know that you are awesome, your family is awesome and you have given so much of yourselves to all of us as we explored a unique and treasured bit of world history and current pop fascination across Northern Spain. How lucky are we! Nancy, you are a wonder. You have made this trip unforgettable! You are bright, articulate, organized, helpful and just an overall pleasure to be with.
This is not a tour, but a life changing experience. You made me realize that I could challenge myself physically more than I ever had. Loved the fellow pilgrims, the food, the history, the culture, sites and your lovely family. What a gift! Thank you so much.
Mary & Terry, Pasadena, California, June 2011 Camino
Nancy makes the stones talk. Jose’s picnics – all brilliant.
Nancy excelled herself with her enthusiasm, warm and friendly manner. She makes the stones talk. All of Jose’s picnics were brilliant. Where is he to prepare them for us in NZ? It was all a marvelous experience and made very special by Nancy, Jose and Sam. You all played an important part in imparting your knowledge to us and enabling the whole group to become very united. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to treasure such a memorable and special walk. Buen Camino.
Pat & Don, Wellington, New Zealand, June 2011 Camino
Awesome is inadequate…
Awesome is inadequate to describe the love, passion, care and thoughtful planning the two of you have embodied in our wonderful journey.
Irene, June 3-13, 2009
Vancouver, BC, Canada
…once in a lifetime experience
You should be very proud of your work.
Thank you again for a truly memorable journey on the Camino de Santiago. Your tour is aptly named and it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience. You should be very proud of your work. I cannot speak more highly of the both of you and the care you gave us.
Blessings to you both. May you continue in good health to share the glories of the Camino with other fortunate pilgrims who choose to follow you on foot in Spain!
Paula, 30 Sept - 10 Oct, 2009
Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Jose and Nancypedia…. You are my personal miracle.
Jose and Nancypedia! 12 centuries in 12 days! You made it happen. Thank you so much for enabling us and sharing your knowledge with us. You made our journey a sensory delight. You are my personal miracle.
Fran, June 3-13, 2009
Vancouver, BC, Canada
I treasured meeting each and every person on the trip.
I still have not gotten off my high after our wonderful trip. All I can say is that there is a powerful reason for your being led into the path of taking people on this
I cannot tell you how much I loved the whole experience. As I said, I
wish I could keep on walking. I treasured meeting each and every person on the trip.
The big highlight was meeting you and Jose. You are such a wonderful couple and you bring so much care and enthusiasm to the work you do. Aside from all that, the fact that we are Kappa sisters made it all really special. Congratulations on a job and life mission well done.
Elena, Sept 29 - Oct 9, 2009
Westport, Connecticut, USA
….the wonderful memories will be with us forever.
The Camino may be over, but the wonderful memories will be with us forever. I am at a loss for words to say how much I enjoyed the company of you Nancy & you Jose.
Stanley, June 3-13, 2009
Huntingdon Cambs, UK
Thank you for providing the perfect launching point for "exploring, dreaming, and discovering."
Tony and I have been trying to practice what Mark Twain preached in that quote on your site: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." I have learned to plunge into new endeavors and new experiences with vigor. I will always think of our On Foot in Spain pilgrimage as the first step in that direction of doing unusual and exciting things with our lives while we are still able! The memories from that enriching and beautiful week will never fade. Thank you, again, for providing the perfect launching point for "exploring, dreaming, and discovering."
Best to you and your family and don't be surprised if we show up again on one of your "walks" one of these days.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
…the lessons learned while walking have blessed my journey
Congratulations on 10 years of introducing all of us to such an amazing corner of the world....I cannot tell you how often the lessons learned while walking have blessed my journey....I happily anticipate another walk in the not too distant future…
Cathy, October 2007
Your introduction to the Camino was a transformational event.
Thank you, thank you!! Your introduction to the Camino for me was a transformational event. My return the following year for the walk from St. Jean to Finisterre, via Santiago and Muxia was extraordinary. I'm still mining it for learning, writing, visions, and discoveries.
Seattle, Washington, USA
…your openness and remarkable capacity to interact with a highly diverse group of travelers
…expertise, energy, patience, and great sense of humor that contributed so much to an unforgettable experience.
The planning and implementation of the tour could not have been more exact and competent. But both of you were able to transform a very good tour into an extraordinary experience. Anthropologists and art historians, I contend, must know everything and, certainly, Nancy, your introduction to us of the history, folklore, art and architecture, food, music, topography, and literature provided all us with an enviable introduction to a road that countless others have traversed without the same cultural stimulation. Further, you took care of us, assuring that we did not stray from the route, that all accommodations were satisfactory, and that none of us became lost or discouraged. This speaks to your openness and remarkable capacity to interact with a highly diverse group of travelers. In fact, you encouraged interaction, and I was delighted to share experiences with my fellow pilgrims. As I mentioned the last evening, the challenges of the walk divested us of identifications, thereby enabling us to appreciate the valuable qualities and diversities of others. You deserve our gratitude and congratulations on instilling us with such an exhilarating experience. Nancy and Jose, thank you very much for your expertise, energy, patience, and great sense of humor that contributed so much to an unforgettable experience.
Don, May 21-27, 2010
Muncie, Indiana, USA
…truly a shared journey
I cannot thank you enough for giving each of us (but especially me), such personalized service/attention and kindness. The Camino is about a shared journey and you and Jose shared your strong attachment to the region and the Camino with us making it a much richer experience. I have never been on a tour before, but suspect that they are pure business-like enterprises. This was much more intimate and was truly a shared journey not simply among ourselves but with natives who choose to share their thoughts and themselves with us. I leave feeling a sense of friendship from 7 short days. I truly cannot imagine doing this journey any other way. Thank you!
Claudia, May 21-27, 2010
Washington, DC, USA
…. the magical journey to Santiago ….continues to feed not only my spirit, but my soul.
The onset of the holiday season, specifically Thanksgiving Day tomorrow, seemed an appropriate time to once again say thank you to you both for the magical journey to Santiago on which you led our group last month.
I am in many ways still under the effect of those charmed days spent walking, talking, listening and learning from you. I unexpectedly still feel very zen-like and serene, something that rarely lasts more than a day or two after returning from a vacation. But the reminiscence of walking w/you through the history, culture, tradition and geography of not only Spain, but Galicia and the mystery of Santiago, continues to feed not only my spirit, but my soul.
Thank you, thank you.
Christina, October 22-28, 2009
Washington, DC, USA
Wonderful for the heart, wonderful for the mind, wonderful for the stomach.
I like the way Nancy treats the people in the groups
Thank you for a wonderful trip – wonderful for the heart, wonderful for the mind, wonderful for the stomach.
I wouldn’t want to recommend any other guides because of the wealth of knowledge the both of you have – about the Camino/different regions/architecture/culture.
From observation, I like the way Nancy treats the people in the groups – you know when to be personal, when to be professional & you try your best to spend equal time talking to all in the group. Personally, I call that a balancing act.
Juliana, May 21-27, 2010 (2nd time traveler)
Wanganui, New Zealand
I am just so very thankful that I did the Camino with you and Jose.
You asked for evaluation comments. And, while I usually get 'that look' from my husband when I more often than not offer my ideas on how something 'should have been done,' I can honestly say I offer NO suggestions for change in how you organize and manage this 7-day Camino adventure. Everything worked great for me, and I am just so very thankful that I did the Camino with you and Jose. And, the Camino IS still with me, and I, too, hope it does stay with me.
Thank you again for all you and Jose did and continue to do for us pilgrims. I thoroughly enjoyed our little group of 6. And, although I began the Camino as sort of a 'tag-a-long' person …. I loved the experience...every step of it.
Nancy, October 22-28, 2009
Athens, Georgia, USA
Thank you for teaching me how to be simple and enjoying my life in an easy way.
I still remember all the days that we spent together (almost every day!!!!). I am in love with walking now…cause I spent that time thinking about me and the important things in my life. Thank you for teaching me how to be simple and enjoying my life in an easy way. I will never forget that!....You guys are amazing!!!
Alessandra, July 23-29, 2010
Atlanta, Georgia, USA/Sao Paolo, Brazil
Could any other trip offer more? No way!
This was the perfect trip. It included everything that I find important. Besides wonderful planning that translated into all of the excellent food, lodgings and cultural exposure and education, I also challenged myself physically and allowed myself to grow a little spiritually. Could any other trip offer more? No way!
Allison, May 21-27, 2010
Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
The smoothness of the operation – appears seamless.
I really, really looked forward to this trip. It was all that I had hoped for and more….Nancy was full of interesting and amazing facts and anecdotes. Wonderful! The smoothness of the operation – appears seamless. On the first trip, I was a little more pre-occupied…This time, I was more relaxed listened more, saw more, felt the Camino more. The sense of contentment and whole I experienced in O Cebreiro is precious and unique.
Shani, May 21-27, 2010 (2nd time traveler)
Wanangui, New Zealand
We have … been dreaming about when we can travel with you again.
It was a joy to see what treasures Jose had found for our lunch.
Mary and I keep talking to each other about how wonderful our Compostela trip was in October. It is hard to explain to those who were not with us, what it truly means to us. When we talk about the daily walking, they want to know how far we went and the kind of terrain. We have found it impossible to explain the feel of the morning air, the rhythm of walking, the vistas of the fields, or the fog, or the town and hamlets. We have tried to describe the great sense of accomplishment in climbing up to O Cebrero, how good dinner tasted that night, how we watched the queimada, and how comfortable the beds were, etc. Each day brought its own changes and different feelings. Most often it was a sense of gratitude for the ability to be there. During our single day of rain, I remember what a joy it was to walk with the rain on my face, and then how good it felt to put my hood up. We knew we were doing okay on the trail when we saw Jose on his bicycle riding our way. It was a joy to see what treasures Jose had found for our lunch.
I turned 65 in Madrid just before the trip started and now I am rapidly approaching retirement from my job. You helped me experience the Camino and this trip will stay with me for a very long time. I thank you most heartily.
We have lately been dreaming about when we can travel with you again. While we have not determined when that will be, we know that we will do it again.
Mark, October 2010
Vienna, VA, USA
CAMINO IN PORTUGAL
….the perfect antidote…
Once again, it was a wonderful tour. Thank you to you and Jose for indeed providing the perfect antidote .....
I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. As always you did a great job of integrating the walking, the eating, the learning and the conversation, all in the context of the lovely and fascinating places we visited. I just wish it were longer!
It was lovely to cross paths and journey together again. I suspect that it won't be the last time.
Susanne, June 21-27, 2009 (2nd time traveler with On Foot in Spain)
Malvern, Victoria, Australia
…it seemed we had known all the people all our lives!
The experience was fantastic: right combination of walking, guided tours, excellent picnics!!!, free time, etc. In our case it was very relaxing and the company of Nancy, Jose, Marina and the group was exceptional. At the end of the tour it seemed we had known all the people all our lives!
Philip, June 22-28, 2010
Moments that I will cherish forever.
….all the picnics were spectacular.
It was an honor and pleasure to be on your tour. The walk to Ponte de Lima, through the lush, hydrangea-filled countryside was magnificent. Walking that day through a pine and eucalyptus forest with the sound of music out of the blue, from some church out of sight, was almost surreal. I’ll never forget the amazing and gigantic sycamore trees framing our path into Ponte de Lima.
My favorite picnic was in the churchyard in Carracedo for the setting but all the picnics were spectacular. I am trying to recreate the salads Jose prepared with the straightforward ingredients. You need to publish Salads of the Camino. You’d sell millions.
The trip materials were fantastic – really first-rate. Precision marked both preparation materials and execution of the trip, but I never felt ‘pushed’. There are too many things that come to mind. Moments that I will cherish forever.
Thank you all so much for everything. I loved the trip.
Kristin, June 22-28, 2010
Another superb Camino experience
Thank you both for another superb Camino experience. We loved everything you planned and effected for us. And we hope to walk with you again. We also especially enjoyed the company of our fellow travellers (pilgrims??).
Mary Daley, June 21-27, 2009 (2nd time traveler with On Foot in Spain)
Malvern, Victoria, Australia
I really enjoyed learning why things happened….
We sincerely hope our paths will cross many times in the future.
Thank you for the wonderful trip. I had a great time; quite apart from being shown some wonderful scenery and historic settings I really enjoyed learning why things happened and how they contributed to the culture of the region. The spontaneity, both large and small, during the trip was refreshing – something I suspect was engendered by the easy going atmosphere of the group and the fact you and Jose already had an inkling of our personalities.
As always the picnic food was terrific and the aperitifs a nice surprise.
We sincerely hope our paths will cross many times in the future.
Roger, June 21-27, 2009 (second time traveler with On Foot in Spain)
Malvern, Victoria, Australia
We will recommend your tour to all our friends.
We have Charles to thank for recommending your tours and we had a great time! We will recommend your tour to all our friends.
Karen, June 22-28, 2010
Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA
It was a non-plus-ultra, intercultural mediation….
We would like to express our deepest thanks to you for guiding us in every sense during those three days. It was a non-plus-ultra, intercultural mediation and we appreciated it very much.
Giuli Liebman, Nov 18-21, 2009 Private Galicia/Camino Tour
Università Roma Tre
To Nancy Frey. The Best Guide Ever! Thanks for the Most Amazing trip/adventure. I couldn't have imagined or hoped for a more fun, experienced or better guide!! I'll be back.
Anne, 10-13 May 2009 Private Galicia/Camino Tour
Westport, Connecticut, USA