November 23, 2022
S3:E3 The Camino Provides: Finding Hope, Happiness, and a New Home in Spain

"The Camino de Santiago saved my life." Leigh Brennan ( tried quitting her first Camino de Santiago before it began. Battling grief and depression from a broken marriage, she found comfort, strength, and a new life on the Camino

"The Camino de Santiago saved my life."  Leigh Brennan ( tried quitting her first Camino de Santiago before it began. Battling grief and depression from a broken marriage, she found comfort, strength, and a new life on the Camino. Leigh packed away her old life in America and moved to Santiago de Compostela, where she's giving back to the Camino community through her podcast, The Camino Cafe.





MEET OUR GUEST:   Leigh Brennan

Leigh Brennan is the host of The Camino Cafe Podcast. As an expatriated American, she shares updates on the Camino de Santiago and interviews with pilgrims from her new hometown of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, with a goal of giving back to the community which has embraced and uplifted her. 

MEET THE HOST:  Kevin Donahue

Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.

Kevin Donahue began walking pilgrimage routes in 2019, joining the historical footprints of pilgrims seeking places and people to inspire questions and enlighten answers about faith, hope, and love. His passion for these historic footpaths and reflections from the journeys form the basis for his books: Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal and The Pilgrims’ Table.



Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal | Free Preview

At the crossroads of history and faith, a reluctant pilgrim embarks on a modern pilgrimage along some of the world’s most revered footpaths. Along the way, he discovers the places and encounters people that inspire questions and enlighten answers about faith, hope, and love.

Available from print and digital booksellers, Sacred Steps: A Pilgrimage Journal conveys both the historical context and the modern experience of pilgrimage through Portugal and Spain on the Camino de Santiago, along America’s Pacific Coast connecting the California Missions Trail, across receding tides to Holy Island, from London to Canterbury along Britain’s historic Pilgims’ Way, and onward towards Rome via Europe’s Via Francigena on a journey of discovery.

The Pilgrims’ Table | Free Preview
Brought together by fate for a memorable dinner, five pilgrims recall their emotional journeys along Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Powerful and moving, The Pilgrims’ Table is an emotional look at the transformational power of pilgrimage.

Born from the intersection of my experiences with those of other pilgrims,  The Pilgims’ Table is the story of five pilgrims from divergent paths who come together at a Spanish albergue. The deeply personal stories shared over dinner transform their outlook on pilgrimage and connect them as one pilgrim family.

★ Support this podcast on Patreon ★


 Walking virtually along the world's most revered footpaths and connecting the global community of Pilgrims. It's the Sacred Steps Podcast, available on YouTube and your favorite podcast app, broadcasting from the Shema Studios in Florida, here's your host, Pilgrim Backpacker, and author Kevin Donahue.

Buen Camino Pilgrim's. Welcome back to The Sacred Steps Podcast. If you're joining us for the first time, Buen Camino, welcome. I'm Kevin Donahue, Pilgrim, backpacker, struggling author and host of the Sacred Steps Podcast. On this show, we're walking virtually alongside pilgrim's and authors. Sharing their stories and connecting a community of pilgrims from across the world.

Our episodes cover walking pilgrimages all around the world, including the Camino des Santiago, the Via French England's Pilgrim's Way, the California Missions Trail, the Kimono Codo in Japan, the Jesus Trail through Israel, and many more. To learn about these roots and details from our discussions, you'll find all of our show notes linked in the episode notes on your podcast app, and also on our website, sacred steps

So a big welcome to our first time listeners. Hit subscribe so that our future episodes are available to you automatically on your device. If you like this, You can share it as a text message with someone who might be interested in walking the Camino to Santiago. We have new episodes every other Wednesday, about twice a month, so I look forward to sharing these stories of pilgrimage with each of you.

Today we have two well known Camino pilgrims joining us. Lee Brennan, host of the Camino Cafe podcast and author Brian Skilling who has three books dedicated to the Camino to Santiago. He's actually joining us live right now, walking the Camino Fran with his partner Chelsea. Brian, boy Camino, where are you today?

Bon camino. Kevin Buen Camino. So, uh, you may hear it there we are sitting in the main square of Pam Lona and it's such a lively city and there's so much activity here. Yeah, we left early to beat the heat and since we got here early, we got to explore the city a bit. We got to go into a museum, which was free, and we went and we also went to uh, uh, San, which is one of the churches from my second book back through Fiddle Stars, where one of the secret codes is the first time I went in there, we were coming through town and I went in and I started finding all these different things and I was like, oh, this has gotta go into the next book.

And it did. It went into the, to the second book and it was so cool to revisit and uh, and see everything again. 

In our last episode, you were waking up very early to see the sun rises. What's your routine been like as you've been walking on the Camino More and more 

this week we've been waking up early again to beat the sun. Um, and just to have some, you know, some quiet time on the Camino when there aren't very many pilgrims walking and to walk under the, uh, stars. And so it's been really nice, but it means that we're a little tired cuz we're not used to waking up so early. 


Now the two of you have done this route several times, so I guess I'm wondering what are you seeing that's particularly notable or different from your previous Caminos?

And one of the things that, uh, we've noticed this week is that Camino families are starting to form. It's so fun to see all the people we started with in St. John start to separate into communal families of like five to 10 different people. Yeah. I've also noticed it, it's different traveling as a couple, um, in terms of communal families as well. We seem to be hanging out with other couples and, you know, some solos that are married back home. So it's very interesting just to see everybody 

else forming up. 

So after Pamploan, what's ahead for the two of you?

Up ahead tomorrow we're headed to Point LA right? And it's about 23 kilometers away. And it's also the, the next part in my book, which is really fun. So we're gonna be doing some fun stuff there. 

Thanks so much for checking in with us, Brian and Chelsea. Um, as you continue the Camino fronts, we're looking forward to speaking with you again. Be well. Stay safe, Gwen Camino . 

All right, everyone. Buen Camino gon Camino, Kevin, and everyone, 

if you've made plans for your Camino to Santiago, or if you're already walking like Brian and Chelsea, I'd love to connect with you.

Go to Sacred Steps Podcast and record your voice message online with your Camino plans. We may share your voicemail on the podcast in an upcoming episode. And if you're just beginning to consider a walking pilgrimage, maybe you've seen the Camino in a movie or someone has introduced you to this idea, we have an entire library of short videos covering basics about walking the Camino to Sant.

You can find those on our YouTube channel. At Steps. We have a whole playlist called Camino 1 0 1. In addition to YouTube, you'll find new content two to three times on our social media over at Facebook and Instagram. And since you're here, go ahead and hit subscribe on your podcast app.

In our season three episodes, I've been talking about my upcoming books, sacred Steps of Pilgrim's Journal and the Pilgrim's Table. So just as podcasting is not my day job, as you can probably tell, neither is writing books, but why should I let that stop me, uh, from walking these routes? There are just these insights that I've, that I've learned and stories that have been shared that I wanna share with each of you in a much fuller and richer detail.

So that's the purpose of these two books. The first one, sacred Steps of Pilgrimage Journal is, um, it's really the story of my five unique. Pilgrimage walks Camino de Santiago, California Missions Trail, the Via French over in England, the Pilgrim's Way and the way of St. Cuthbert to Holy Island, and how these historical routes intersect with modern pilgrimage.

It's a book about how pilgrimage invites exploration to the questions that are very core to faith, hope and love. I hope you'll download a copy when it's available next spring. I'll link it in the show notes, but sign up for a free preview and My second book, the Pilgrims Table, is similar in that it is drawn from these walks where I've met really just the most incredible people and I've gotten to connect with so many of you through this podcast and, and through our passion.

For pilgrimage. The Pilgrim's Table is the story of five pilgrims from all different backgrounds. Um, some of deep faith and a few lost souls, if you will. They come together over dinner in an albergue at the end of the Camino de Santiago and Muxia. Uh, they share a night together that's filled with love and storytelling, laughter and tears, and hopefully some unforgettable tales of walking these historic routes, all told by these pilgrims at the pilgrims table.

It's my first ever fiction book and I can't wait to share it with you next spring, so sign up for that one. I, I would say sign it for both really, but free preview signups are available now at I mentioned earlier we have two very special Camino guests today. We just heard from author Brian Skilling, who will be walking the Camino with us giving live updates on several of our upcoming episodes.

Brian's also gonna do a full episode with us in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned for more with Brian Skilling.

Leigh Brennan, who hosts a great podcast, the Camino Cafe tried to back out of the Camino several times. She nearly quit the Camino before she had ever begun suffering with the grief and emotional turmoil of a broken marriage.

Leigh Set out on the Camino de Santiago in 2019, and as she will share with us today, the experience saved her life from depression. Leigh Found comfort, strength, and a brand new life on the Camino. She packed up the history and baggage and memories of her life in America and moved to Spain to live on the Camino.

Now she's living in Old Town, Santiago de Compostela, right in the. Of the Camino community, giving back to Pilgrims and helping others find their way through her podcast. The Camino Cafe and videos live from Santiago on her YouTube channel. Our Little Pilgrim podcast community is a small group, and I'm really proud to have Lee as a friend.

I hope we get to connect at the end of my June, 2023 Camino, um, with my son Jack, um, because it would be special to spend time with Lee in Santiago to call Costella. She interviewed me for her show earlier this summer, and it's great to welcome one of the pilgrim community's kindest souls to the show.

Lee Brennan, welcome to the Sacred Steps Podcast. 

Oh my goodness. Kevin, thank you for having me on. I can't believe we are actually doing it. It was a joy to interview you recently, so I'm, I'm so glad to be here. Thank 

you. I think we talked the entire summer, maybe more about how we were gonna do these podcasts, and I think it took us the entire summer to record two short podcasts together.

So I am thrilled to have you. Thank you so much. Uh, for those who didn't catch the episode, I happen to be on Lee's podcast, the Camino Cafe podcast, uh, a few episodes ago. And Lee is gonna be on the Sacred Steps Podcast. We're one big podcast family, but for those who know Lee from the Camino Groups from the Camino Cafe Podcast, I thought it would be great to have her on the program today.

Talk a little bit about how Lee became Lee. So for those of you who don't know, uh, Lee, you're living now full time in Santiago to com. Costella. 

I sure am.  pinch me. I can't 

believe it. . So just down the, just down the street from the cathedral. 

Yeah, I'm about a four minute walk from the cathedral. I live in Old Town and yeah, it's a great place to live.

So if we hear the bells or anything during this podcast, and that is a sign that we're supposed to be connected 

for this episode, yeah, you might hear the battles. More likely you're gonna hear people walking by, uh, you know, we we're just getting ready to wrap up siesta here, so, uh, people will be headed out for taps and drinks, so you might hear some people outside getting ready to do that, but it's a fun place to live.


one of the things that you have been doing for the last couple years is actually bringing Santiago home to all the Camino pilgrims who have either not been able to travel because of the pandemic, or it's just not the right time for them to be traveling. What's it like being in Santiago full? 

It is amazing.

Uh, I never quite imagined how great it would be and, you know, during Covid I sure was dependent on people like Johnny Walker, um, sibel of people that were already living here, that were showing us Santiago and none of us could come. And so I feel like it's just a way for me to pay it forward now and to, uh, just give people an idea of what it's like to live here.

It's amazing for me. I, I'm getting to meet pilgrims every single day and it's, um, more than I could have ever imagined. It's a very full life here. 

Speaking of pilgrims, you became a pilgrim for the first time you walked your first Camino to Santiago in 2019. I gotta know the back story. Like Oh. Called back.

You what? Called you to pilgrimage that first Camino to Sant. How 

much time do you have? We've got all day . Well, the very first thing you know, I'm, I'm like almost every typical American. I saw the way and kind of tucked it back in the back of my mind and, uh, thought that eventually I would walk it with my former husband.

When we were still married. I thought that would be something we would do in retirement. And so I just put it the back of my mind after the way. And then I was teaching spinning class, indoor cycling class at a gym that I worked in, and one of my students went on the Camino. And I, I was familiar with it, but, um, she went, and when she came back, she was a changed person.

Uh, she was a doctor and she decided to give up her practice and she'd only been practicing for a few years. So she had just finished medical school. It was pretty fresh outta school. And after she came back from her Camino, she decided to go into an order. She became a nun, uh, in service. Yeah. And hugely transformational

Yes. So I watched this transformation in her and I thought, wow, you know what? I want some of that someday. So again, I tucked it to the back of my mind and then a few years later, as marriages sometimes do, our, our marriage wasn't working out and we were getting ready to divorce and I was at dinner with one of my best friends and, you know, my, I was falling apart in every way you can imagine.

Mm-hmm. , I think she was trying to cheer me up and she said, you know, what's on your bucket list? What do you wanna do someday? And, and I said, the Camino. And she said, you're Kitty. She said, you know, I have a friend that's running a group for people that are going through transitions, um, from, you know, a breast cancer survival or survivor or divorce or, there were many different things that people were going for.

She said, you ought check it out. And so I went home that night. I called and found out about it and I thought, well, you know, I was, I was a mess. And I thought, well, this might be a good way for me to go, is to go kind of with a group, but I. I had imagined my Camino to be very, very different and. Wanted to make sure that I was gonna have a lot of time in solitude because I, I didn't really wanna walk it as a group, and I was assured that, you know, I would be given that time.

So I signed up that night and, uh, I probably almost canceled four times. I had emails written, I was literally on the phone ready to cancel, um, because I. I thought that my Camino was gonna be one of joy and celebration that we had made it. Our daughter was off at college, we had retired, and instead I saw that my Camino was going to be a lot of crying and a lot of grief processing, and that didn't sound that fun.

And so, uh, I kept trying to cancel and all my friends and family  thank God said, no, you gotta go. You gotta go do this. And I am so grateful that I did it because I think, um, you know, it saved my life. Yeah, it really changed the direction of, well, I was in no direction there for a while and I was probably on the brink of depression, if not worse.

And I think the Camino. Gave me a chance to see that I could be strong on my own, but more importantly, to show me that I did still have courage. And that was something, you know, I'd been married for 22 years and, uh, had been part of a family unit, and all of a sudden I found myself an empty nester with my daughter off at school and then a bigger empty nest because then there was no husband.

So, uh, it was quite a big transition for me and, and very unexpected. So coming on that Camino literally changed my life. And, you know, I, I don't think that Camino has ever ended, to be honest. I saw that, um, you know, someone told me as I was walking and I was not far from Santiago and. They said, oh no, you know, your Camino doesn't end when you get to Santiago.

It's just beginning. And I did not understand that at all at that point. Didn't understand it when I got to Santiago. Um, you know, I'm still working that out, but I literally still feel like I'm on that first Camino. It's never ended. 

Thanks for sharing that. Appreciate it. There are so many who you talk to on the podcast who find you said you know themselves on the Camino, and really start to have a deeper understanding of where their life is going and the journey that they're on.

And I think what you said reflects so much. Your Camino is still, uh, unfolding ahead of you as you look ahead. Um, back in 2019. You arrive in Santiago de com Costello, you were living in the United States, Lee. Yes. But now you're living in Santiago to Costella. How did that transition take place? Was there another Camino that kind of brought you more permanently to Spain?

Uh, actually it wasn't the Camino, it wasn't another Camino, it was that same Camino. So after I got back home, um, you know, I was starting to find self-identity again, and I'm a yoga teacher by profession, and so I decided, you know, uh, I was walking with a lot of pilgrims that were having a lot of difficulty physically, and so I.

You know, what I could do is I could maybe be a tour leader and combine yoga practice with pilgrimage. So I went back home, I started a business right away with a friend and we were getting everything set up to lead tours. And at the start of 2020, I started taking some additional trainings. Um, one being are youve yoga, massage, so that I could help pilgrims with some massage during those tours.

And I was in London in March of 20, uh, 2020. And, um, Was supposed to be back in Santiago for Easter so that I could do some research for one of the, uh, trails or one of the routes that we would be leading on. And Covid happened and I  literally you did literally, uh, was sent back to the us back into what I considered the boiling pot of my life that had fallen apart.

I was back in the family home. Um, you know, and none of us knew, of course then how long that was going to last. But I think that during that time I started, you know, that was two more years of processing grief, first of all, and started getting involved with some other things as far as the Camino was concerned.

And I started thinking during Covid that, you know, life is short and maybe. Maybe leading tours isn't really what I want to do. I started thinking about, I think I wanna live full time in Spain. I wanna live on the Camino and find a way to service and give back from there. So I took a a class with James Bl of Devour Tours he was offering, offering his very first class of the masterclass to move to Spain,

So I started taking that class, it was excellent. And um, during that I'm like, you know what? I'm just gonna go for it. I'm gonna apply for the Visa. And if it's meant to be, It's meant to be. And I guess it was meant to be because I somehow, I mean, we're talking, I'm a girl who, uh, you know, I hate paperwork.

I don't like administrative kinds of things. I, you know, traveled a lot with my husband, but he was always the one that was organizing the travel. He was kind of, you know, I just kind of went along and it was a big deal for me to apply for that and to think about moving to a country, especially a country, I don't speak the language mm-hmm.

And, um, it was a big step for me in seeing that I had began to develop a new identity, a new selfhood right. With me as a single person. And it was quite a stretch for me to do this. And now I've been here one full year and my visa was just renewed. So I've got another two years now. All right. And, uh, if I stay during that and another two years after that, then I'll be an official resident.

But, um, Yeah. So that's how it came about. And if you would've asked me five years ago, Hey, Lee, will you be, you're gonna be living in Spain? I'd be, you're crazy. I won't be living in Spain. Uh, so it's, uh, you know, I still sometimes can't even quite believe it. And I tell people, uh, anyone that's watching right now, if I can do it, any of you can do this.

And I mean it from the perspective of walking a Camino, um, you know, I'd never done anything like that. I'm not a, I mean, I've hiked in my life and I've, I've done a few physical challenges and things like that, but this was totally different in coming to a foreign country and walking across the country that was new to me, and then moving to Spain.

And so, you know, I, I, I'm not, there's nothing special about me, it's just that. Just go for it, I guess. Um, and so I'd just like to encourage everyone that you know, even if the Camino is not your goal, whatever your goal is, you can do it. And I, I think that I'm proof that, just give it a try. 

Our guest today is Lee Brennan, her podcast.

The Camino Cafe podcast is streaming on Apple Podcast Spotify, and she's got a great YouTube channel. You'll find all of those linked in the show notes below. So give a tap, hit subscribe, give her a like, and, uh, let's make sure that you get a chance to experience Lee, cuz she's a wonderful spirit on the Camino Lee.

You, um, you were walking again, the Camino Frost in 2021 and ended up doing some time at one of the great Berges, uh, the stone boat. Yes. And I'm wondering if you'll take us back a few months, uh, a year or so to your time at the Stone Boat. 

Yeah, well, what a great experience that was. I had the opportunity to be the artist in residence at the stone boat, and it was an opportunity for me to see if I wanted to own an bergy on the Camino Francis.

So the stone boat, if you haven't been there it is. And Robin Alde Camino. And literally the front door opens onto the Francis. So I literally lived on it. And so, um, yeah, in 2021, I received my visa to move to Spain and I arrived sometime in September and kind of got settled, did the initial paperwork, and then I drove to St.

John and started walking from St. John to my new home at the stone boat. So that was quite an experience for me. And, uh, so many things happened there. Uh, I don't even know where to start, but I, I had become so focused on getting that visa and the process of moving to Spain that I had kind of. Forgotten about really what I was doing to some degree, which will make more sense.

So, as I said off in San John, I, you know, I'm walking and as pilgrims do, you know, people always say, well, why are you walking? You know, why are you here? What you doing? And so I would start telling people, and people kept saying to me, oh my gosh, you're so strong. I can't believe you. You're like, what? You, you've moved from the US and now you're gonna move to this berg and you know, by yourself.

And, and they would, they kept saying, you're so strong. And it didn't sit with me because I kept thinking I'm no, I'm not really strong. Like there's many days I'm like, you know, kind of sitting on the floor crying still, you know, I'm, I'm still going through a lot of grief and I'm not moving to Spain just cuz it's fun.

I, I'm moving to Spain to, because I have to, cause I have to start a new life. You know, this, this wasn't what I expected at all. So I, I, I didn't find that it was strong. And then finally, um, one day someone said to me, I'd met them earlier in the day and we'd had a conversation about why we were both walking.

And later that night we were at dinner and they said to me, you know, I've been thinking about your story. And it's not that you're strong, it's that you're brave. You have a brave heart. And that I could own. I, I thought, okay, I, I can own being brave. And that really helped me, uh, when I arrived at the stone boat because it was a whole new experience here.

I was living in Robin Al Del Camino, which, uh, if you've walked the Camino Francis, you know that it is a lovely time to walk through, you know, it's right before cruise to Farrow a town away from that. And, you know, you've got the Vespers at the church there, and it's lovely. But to live there as a single person is really out in the country.

And there were very few residents that lived there in the winter. And so it was very lonely and no one spoke English. It was. You know, everybody spoke Spanish, of course. Right? Which shouldn't be a surprise, but because it was such a small village, it made it very difficult for me. Mm-hmm. . And so it gave me an opportunity to, uh, you know, focus on my own healing as well as look at, you know, what, what do I wanna continue to do from a service perspective on the Camino?

And is this the right place for me? If I'm gonna buy an Berge, is it the right place? And I ultimately decided that it wasn't, because for me, um, I think if I had a partner, it would've been different. But otherwise, you know, I, I. I don't even know how I could have done it on my own to be, to be ranked, you know, owning an berge for all those pilgrims, dreaming about it.

It's a hard job. That's a really hard job. Um, hard job, day in, day out. And when I say hard, I mean physically. Mm-hmm. , uh, you know, doing the laundry, cooking, cleaning, and then you do it all over again the following day. And I thought, you know, I'm not, I'm not 30 anymore. And I, that seems like that's, that's gonna be really hard to do on my own.

And, you know, my original plan was to move to Santiago when I first thought about all this. And then I diverted and I tried this, and I'm so glad I did because I, I learned a lot about myself. Um, and it was great living there, right on the Camino, you know, it was fun. But I think ultimately I said, you know, I need to back up.

I need to go to language school. I need to. B I think in a situation where there are other maybe expats or sometimes we usually call ourselves immigrants, I'm always mixed on what to call us, really. But I think I need to be around some folks so that I can have conversation in English cuz I was very lonely and I'm gonna regroup.

So I picked up again and moved after almost three, four months there and moved to Santiago. So now this was my second move into a foreign country, which also required some bravery, but, uh, I, I'm one tough girl. Now, let me tell you, compared to who I was in 2019, I mean, listen, I still cry everybody, you know, I still have my days.

We all do Lee, right? Like that is live . 

You've, you really, um, have used the Camino one. One of the reasons that for those who follow Lee's podcast, you know this already. Um, but for those who are maybe hearing Lee for the first time, I think I already told you, you need to subscribe to your podcast, but I digs.

Lee, thank you. One of the reasons people just fall in love with you over and over again is because you're such a caring and kind person and you give a lot of yourself to others. Um, and that's just a bit about who you are. You said you came to grips with, you know, owning this, this strength and resiliency.

We talked a little bit on my episode, on your podcast about the space that the Camino offers, those who are needing time to reflect or be contemplative. What is it about the Camino da Santiago that creates that head space for pilgrims? Mm. 

So many things, but I think the, the ultimate thing is, you know, we talk about this liminal space, you know, this thin veil where.

You know, you just feel closer to the heavens. There's more of a connection between nature and heaven. And I feel like, you know, when we're out walking on the Camino, we, we tend to all the, all the titles drop away, all the pressures, all those layers that we have upon us when we're in our normal everyday lives kind of just goes away.

And all of a sudden what begins to emerge is who we are at our most inner self. That place where, you know, uh, where we are our best without all the stress, with out the titles of having to be a mother, a wife, uh, you know, whatever the work is that we do, and so on. So I feel. You know, we get a, we get back to nature.

So there's all these connections that begin to happen, and I think the connections are so multi-leveled. You know, that first connection is the connect, the connection back to nature, which I think we all crave and, you know, we don't get a lot of in our everyday life. So there's first that then I think there's the connection to others, right?

All of a sudden we're with a, uh, we're walking by ourselves. But, you know, someone said you, you start off walking by yourself and you end up walking with 500 people. Uh, you know, you meet so many people as you're walking, and I think as an adult, You know, there aren't many times where we get to meet a lot of adults who are on like the same kind of journey we're on.

You know, you might get that maybe on a sports team or maybe when you first have kids or things like that. But I think this is one of those opportunities where you get to have a connection with people where you're all at the same goal. You're all trying to get to Santiago and you know, we're coming maybe with different problems, but at the end we start seeing that we're not all alone.

We all have very common problems. There might be different flavors, different degrees of things, but I think there's this validation that's going on that, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm actually a normal person and on these things I'm experiencing aren't just unique to me. Everybody's having challenges and I, I think that becomes a really deep connection that builds very fast friendships, which is lovely.

I think then there is this connection to. You know, you're, whatever you consider your source, whether that be God or the universe, whatever is that bigger thing to you, all of a sudden, like I said, there, there's this thin veil where you feel connected to something greater than yourself. And you know, I, I think that there is this spiritual, if not religious, but spiritual.

Uh, transformation that can take place if you're open to it. And I think for most people that happens. And it's a, it's a really beautiful thing to feel that connection once again with all the noise, you know, not so much of the noise of, of home, of the constant news, the constant, uh, things that are going on in your everyday life is just kind of pushed to side and it's just you and nature, the trail and the source.

And then, uh, the final thing is reconnection back to your inner self, who you really are and. You know, it's not like that's all a better roses sometimes, right? Because we have light and darken us. And, um, sometimes I will speak to pilgrims who might be a little bit disappointed because they didn't expect the dark side, right?

The shadow side or the, oh, I didn't come here to process that stuff, you know? Um, but I think that that's a good thing that happens for us because that's where transformation comes, is when, when it's finally quiet enough that we can begin to process. Sometimes things come up from childhood, from, you know, you're, you're walking one day and you're thinking, why am I thinking about that?

I haven't thought about that in years. And, um, you know, to me that that means it's been trapped in our bodies somewhere trapped in the back of our mind. And we've been, um, maybe distracted on purpose or just distracted by, you know, the things we do, building a family, um, building careers, things like that.

Taking care of folks. Uh, I think that the Camino gives us this beautiful space to. Process what we're ready to process and to begin a transformation. I think a lot of people walk at some kind of crossroad, right? Um, you don't have to be at that, but I think a lot of people do. And even if you're not at a crossroad, I, I think that the Camino just has this way of working.

Its magic that there's gonna be some stuff you get to process. And I, I think it's a beautiful thing. Um, and it's also can be a challenging thing, right? Yeah. Um, pilgrim pilgrimage does not mean that you're taking a vacation on the Camino or wherever it is you're walking. I mean, you've walked so much, you know, that.

And, um, so there is work still to it. Um, but I think if you trust and open your heart, some really great things can happen for you. 

Well said, well said. We, we talked in detail about. And you kind of alluded to it earlier, we talked in detail about finding your Pilgrim family mm-hmm.  and the times when that happens.

Yeah. Sometimes it's during your Camino, sometimes it's months later. Sometimes it's before you even depart. I'm wondering if you reflect back on your multiple Caminos, um, where you found your Camino family and where your Pilgrim family maybe helped you, uh, complete the journey. Oh 

my goodness. Wow. I, um, my Camino family , it is, it has grown so much over the years.

You know, my first Communo family, you know, I had a, a group that I went with, so it was kind of a easy, easily made, but I still made some very close friends during that, that were not a part of the group because, uh, like I mentioned earlier, I wanted to walk a lot by myself. And then, so, uh, that group. All the people I met that first year, um, very, very close, but where I, I took over to recent memory now, so my last Camino in 2021, I, one of my best friends that I met during it was Donnie and, uh, Donnie from Yonkers.

I call him . And Donnie and I met the first day outta St. John. We were walking up the very, you know, like right after you leave the bridge and you're just kind of just beginning the communals where we met the big con. The big, well, we weren't into the big climb, we were to like , like the mini hill before you start any of it.

Um, I mean like five minutes into it. And, uh, we started up a conversations, I was so surprised to meet another American right there, you know, very first person I meet that day on the Camino. Anyway, I, I just bring Donny up, uh, to say to you that he, after we walked, so, uh, you know, we talked about why we were both there and he's like, yeah, I've always thought about moving to Spain.

He's like, you know, so tell me how you do it. And so we kept seeing each other over the course of this Camino. And so I would share with him, you know, the process. Well, I'm happy to say that Donny also moved to, uh, spade and he's been here just a couple of months. He's not in Santiago. Uh, he's over on the coast, but, uh, he was actually just here.

I, you know, so we got to visit with one another and I have so many Pilgrim family members like that now that are just so, so important to me. And, you know, so I have Pilgrim family members that I've walked with. My family, though also has grown greatly, probably like yours from doing the podcast. And that was something I never expected.

And, um, you know, as I started the podcast, just, you know, as kind of a , a way to keep my Camino spirit alive during Covid, and then it just, it just grew organically. I, I, I didn't plan on being a podcaster that just all kind of happened by accident, but because of what I've been doing, my Pilgrim family, you know, I fall in love with absolutely everyone I interview.

And so the joy, I cannot even begin to tell you, Kevin, the joy I have in my heart because so many people have walked since I've lived here that I have gotten to meet in person that I met during the lockdown or during the two years that I've been doing the podcast. And so, you know, I consider all those people part of my family.

And that has been such a joy. And then, um, you know, my dad and I walked the Portuguese this summer and I was really nervous because he and I decided to walk the Portuguese and not the Francis, which is, you know, I'll just say I'm biased. I love the France . Um, and, but we chose not to because we knew it was probably gonna be busy, uh, during the time that he was here.

And, um, so we started the Portuguese and I kept thinking in the back of my mind, like, oh, you know, what's gonna happen? What if we don't build a family? I've told him about all this stuff that's gonna happen, you know,  and I, I've never been on the Portuguese. What if it's a, a big failure? And, um, you know, I can't even tell you the miracles that happened during that with my dad.

Um, everything I could have hoped for happened for him and for me and for us during our Camino, which included making a pilgrim family that I never anticipated. And just give you an example. We met someone that actually his brother lives in the same neighborhood as my dad in Florida, so they're getting ready to have a reunion.

He's already had a reunion with another person that lives in Florida. Uh, some of the people that we walked with have already been back a second time that I've gotten to spend time with back here in Santiago. So I, I feel like my Communo family, it's, uh, there's a, it's, it's a very wide group now, and I'm so grateful for every person because it has, you know, sometimes I, on my sad moments and I can think of all the loss that I feel I have losing my marriage, but what I have gained, you know, and I don't think there's any trade off, right?

Loss is loss and, and there's always grief for that. But my life has become so rich with so many people and you know, people from so many different countries, from many walks of life. It's a very full life now that I. You know, would not have had, had that not happened. And so I've kind of adopted a, a whole new philosophy on my life.

Like, who knows? You know, I, I, I didn't think I'd be living here. I didn't think I'd be a podcaster. Um, I didn't think any of this stuff was happening. And so, uh, I credit a lot of that, you know, my, my Pilgrim family has been so incredibly supportive. And, you know, I regularly have people in my Camino family just checking in on me and really cheering me on through this process, which, you know, I never anticipated that, you know, I, you know how it is with this podcast, right?

We're interviewing people, have written books and made movies and have done some really cool things in life. And to feel their care and concern is mm-hmm.  just so comforting on those days when things are a little bit harder. So, you know, I love having a, a Pilgrim family. And, you know, I do wanna point out.

Because I do meet with a lot of pilgrims when they come into Santiago or as they're walking, they will reach out to me. And I have seen some pilgrims be kind of disappointed because maybe they'll hear your show or my show or Dan's and um, you, you know, we pilgrims like to gush about all the great things that happen on Camino.

Right. And one of those we're of, of them I family's. Yeah, exactly Right. And I think sometimes, um, you know, people get this impression that, oh, you know, I'm gonna have a Pilgrim family of 20 people and we're gonna hang out all the time and you know, we're gonna vacation together later and you know, it's gonna look like a certain way.

And I've hung out with pilgrims here in Santiago who that didn't happen during their walk. Right. And, uh, I can think of one person in particular that their family actually. When they arrived here in Santiago. Um, it's a very long story, but, um, something had happened on the Camino and um, they needed some support and all of a sudden that family that they had anticipated didn't look like the family they had imagined, but they got the family here.

And so, you know, I just wanna encourage everyone that, you know, just like with anything on the Camino, I think, or just anything in life, , you know, watch what you're expecting, right? Because I think when we begin to expect something, that's when we find disappointment and we don't know how that Camino family is going to form.

We don't know what it's gonna look like. And, you know, your Camino family may be small, maybe big, but here's the thing also, um, you know, you don't have to walk with a group, right? It doesn't mean Sure you're walking with a group every day. It might just mean a dinner here or there. It, you know, it might be one person that you meet up with in Santiago, but if your heart is open and you want to.

Have that kind of experience. I think if you put that energy out there, then yes, you will meet the people that I think you're meant to meet. And to also keep in mind that you might be here to also meet somebody else, meaning maybe you are the gift to someone else because you're going to listen to their story or you're gonna help them because of some life experience you've had.

So the Camino isn't all about what you get, it's also you giving back and you might literally be giving back more on your walk than what you anticipated. And so, you know, I I, I just wanna encourage everyone to not build up a lot of expectations about how it's going to be because, uh, you don't know. And, um, it's probably gonna be better than what you can expect, but it's going to be different than what you expect.

I think. Pretty certainly, at least that's been my experience. 

Well said. I want to shift gears a little bit, and I want a lot of people. Who walk the Camino, whether it's the Portuguese, the Norte, the, uh, France, fall in love with Spain. Yeah. And they say to a significant other, to a, a brother sister, an aunt, an uncle girlfriend, a boyfriend.

I really wanna move to Spain. And you did it. And we've talked about the, the backstory, but yeah. You know, I wonder if you would just answer a few quick questions about Sure. This period in your life where you moved from the United States to become, uh, a Visa resident in Spain, and Well, on your way to becoming a permanent resident in the eu.

Yeah. Harder than you thought it would be, or easier than you thought it would. Mm. 

It's been harder in ways that I didn't anticipate. Mm. Um, again, I say anyone can do it if I, if I'm doing it. But first of all, you know, the number one thing is  learn to speak the language. That has created a lot of extra challenges for me.

And look, if you're watching this, you're probably like, well, uh, yeah, anybody should know that. But here's the thing, , as a pilgrim, I got around just fine. Right? So in my mind, well, I've walked the Camino, I have enough Spanish , you know, I can, but here's the thing, you know, when you're on the Camino, you, especially on the Francis, you're walking along an infrastructure that is used to having pilgrims.

They pretty much know what we're going to order. They pretty much know what we're going to ask for, right? You, you're gonna order a tortilla. You're going to ask for a room. You're, you know, So there's not a ton maybe that you need to learn there. And I'm not saying I was even great at that, but I got by easily.

Right? However, living here is a whole nother story, right? So I, I'll just give you a couple of examples. When I'm out in Robin, all, uh, I had a flat tire on a car that I was driving. Well, I'm stranded, you know, and I've gotta get a tow truck and I'm in the middle of the country. The, the tow drivers not speaking English,

Um, so it, and, and in that moment that was very stressful, um, to not be able to speak the language. So, you know, I, I think the more Spanish you could learn, the better, the easier it would be. Second of all, um, I have had to learn a whole new appreciation for, and this is why I said earlier, you know, I don't know really what to call myself an expat immigrant.

Neither, neither word really fits for me. Mm-hmm. . But I do know what I have learned is a whole new level of compassion for people that do have to flee their country and live somewhere else. You know, I came here voluntarily. I brought what I wanted from the us. It wasn't a whole lot, but you know, I brought stuff.

Um, you know, I came with a little nest egg, you know, so that I had money. But it's still been difficult for me. I can't imagine coming to a new country and not having those things and things. You know, when you're walking the Camino, it doesn't seem that different. It's kind of cute. The things are cute that are different, right?

Like true. It's charming. It's charming that you have to go to, uh, you know, that you have to go to the pharmacy just to get ibuprofen. Oh, it's charming that things are closed on Sunday or whatever. Um, But when all of a sudden you're living someplace like that, it's not quite so charming when you've got, you know, 20 errands to run and all of a sudden you kind of wanna be like, I just wanna be a target, right?

Where I can get my groceries, get my ibuprofen, drive my car there, hit a couple of other spots. Um, so sometimes some of that charming stuff. It kind of goes away a little bit cuz it's reality. You're, you're actually living here. A lot of people 

say that about me too. They're like, yeah, charming, but it wears off 


Might you 

live with them ? Yeah. Um, and and then the last thing is our customs, customs are so different. You know, I just give you a quick example of something . So, uh, I, I arrive in Raval, I have to go to a store cuz that's the bigger town where I have to do all my visa paperwork on this end. And um, you know, all the processing here seems to an American to be, uh, and no offense, Spain, cuz you know, I  there's many things that are better in Spain than they are in the us right?

So there's trade offs everywhere, but it does seem like things here are really more bureaucratic or done more paper ish than what maybe we're accustomed to in the us. So, uh, when you, when I arrived, I had to do this paperwork in Astorga that involved having to go to the police station and get. Another set of fingerprinting done here, right?

In order to get what's called a Neo card, which is your identification card. Well, in order to get that appointment, you have to go to a bank and you have to pay this fee. And this piece of paper has to get stamped. You have to show them some papers that you brought from the US and then they give you another paper has to be stamped.

The stamps are really big here. Okay? Like, I didn't even know what they meant, like get a stamp. I'm like, oh, you, you're on another 

pilgrimage. You're like, I'm going from the bank. I need to get a stamp. I gotta . 

I thought they meant like a postage stamp, but no, it was like, you know, like those stamps, we used to have like the received stamps, you know, they have like the date on it and all that.

Well, that's what they meant. So anyway. So, uh, the day I had to get all this done, it couldn't be done until the day before the actual appointment. So everything has to be dated a certain way. So I'm like, okay, so friend and I, we go get a coffee and then it's time to go to the bank and get this stamp and you had to pay cash.

So I'm like, okay, cool. So I had my little, I think it was 12 euro, so I have the money, um, show up at the bank. It's about 11, 10, you know, cause things start here later everyone. That's another thing you gotta get used to. So, you know, we have our coffee at 10 30 and then we go moseying over to the bank at 1110.

I've got all my forms and I've tried to practice what I'm gonna say, which is another whole stressful thing, right? But I don't even get a chance to say it cuz literally I walk up, I'm starting to hand the form and I see this like, Nope, impossible. And I'm like, what do you mean? And so now of course we don't even hardly know what they're saying, but turns out in Spain, From 11 o'clock on every single day, there can be no cash transactions at a bank.

And I say, I'm sorry, what? Isn't that where they keep the money? Right? And so then I'm like, oh, maybe they mean I need to go to their ATM and get some of their cash , right? And I'm like, oh, okay. Do you want me to like go to that atm? Nope. No. Literally there. There are. Cash transactions. Well, that's the only way you can pay for this form is buy cash.

The only way you can get the stamp. So there was no getting what I needed to do. I then could not go to my appointment the next day and I could not reschedule that appointment because you can't have two appointments in the same 24 hour period. So everything got, um, pushed back by two days because I had waited until 1110 to go pay to get this form stamped.

Things like that. I don't know how you would even know unless you lived here. Right. And so, um, I had to start really learning and you know, I'm still working on this Kevin , there's this saying here in Span, it's 

slightly less charming the way you described it than the charming part. 

You have to learn what's called tranquila.

Tranquila, right? You gotta be calm, everything's fine and it's gonna work out right. And you know, as I've grown up my whole life in the US I spent 57 years almost, well, 56 years in the United States. You know, I'm pretty Type A. It's been a hard adjustment to relax. When I don't understand some of the customs or the way that things work, I will say that I am easing into that and it's getting better.

And, um, I think I'm gonna be a, a better person at the end of all this, you know, because I've, you know, I used to say in the US everything's figure outable, you know, it'll all be all right. But, um, I've really had to live that here, . Yeah. Um, and, and really starting to learn how to be patient and to not worry that everything does really work out the way it should.

But this past year has shown me that I still had a lot of work in that arena to do, and I still do. Right. Um, it's very easy to get wrapped up in some of these issues. Um, but they always work out. You know, I, I was so worried I wouldn't get my visa renewed. I don't know why it's not, you know, I didn't do anything wrong since I've lived here.

But still, it's like, it's really intimidating because you gotta go through a lot of hoops and, and I'm not saying you shouldn't. It's a privilege to be able to live in another country and, you know, I'm very grateful for that. And also a privilege to be able to do it on a voluntary basis. You know, not because I'm running from something, right, or, you know, trying to escape war.

So at the end of the day, you know, you always have to put things into perspective. And so I, I think I'm learning better how to do that. Um, probably. I think a little victory this past week as my hot water heater went out in my apartment in Santiago. And I think, um, you know, a year, two years ago that would've really spun me out.

Like I, I would've been just a mess. But it's been like, well, okay, I guess I don't have hot showers for several days, you know, and then they came, this happened like three or four days ago. And, you know, that's, that's a whole experience is having repairs trying to be done in your home when you don't speak the language.

And, and you know, they don't speak English and nor should they have to, it's their country. Right. But, um, Anyway, uh, he came last night of a, you know, Friday was today Saturday, so it was Friday night and I'm praying I'm gonna get hot water for the weekend. And he, he leaves saying, nah, it might be next Wednesday, next Thursday.

And, you know, and I was like, okay, alright, well that's really sad. Okay. And he left and I was actually okay. And I don't think I would've been that before. And you know, maybe for some people listening, you'd be like, oh my God, you're so spoiled or whatever. But you know, That's been a, a real thing cuz I think in the US you know, things typically in my places usually worked, you know, and some things here have not quite worked out in the way that I intended.

Um, but I think I'm better able, better equipped to handle some of these things than what I was a couple of years ago. So, and I'm just giving you small examples, but you know, there've been plenty of examples. So, you know, for folks that wanna move here, I say, yeah, go for it, you know, but be realistic. It is.

Walking a camino is one thing and that's one. You do get a lovely slice of life of what it's like to live in Spain. But again, it's only a slice and it's the slice that's on the Camino. Um, You know, people, real people live here that have real jobs, you know, and, and you know, there's a life outside of the Camino here as well.

And, um, but it's all very doable. And if it's, if it's something you wanna do, I would encourage you to come and research it, work on the language. Um, really come and research where you think you wanna live and what you wanna do here. And, and why, what's, what's your why for wanting to do it? Because when the days are hard, you have to have a big why.

And I have a big why. You know, I have two of them. I have my big why's at the end of the day is that I am, you know, creating a new life. And that's a pretty big mission. And then on top of it, I decided that I was gonna give back to the Camino because it saved my life. So when I'm having a really bad day, I have some bigger purposes of being here.

And so I can say to myself, well, you know, this might be hard having to learn how banks work or, you know, whatever it is I have to do here, but that's part of my job. So to say, you know, I consider this my vocation now what I'm doing on the Camino. And you know, it doesn't, it does it, there's no requirement that everything be easy.

You know, it, it's part of my job and it's just part of something that goes with it. And so, right. I think knowing what your big why is, is so important because there will be challenges and I'm no different than any of my friends here that have come from the US or from any other countries. Uh, we all share these same kinds of challenges and we laugh often about, there's some very fun, heartwarming kinds of stories like that, but, There are challenges, certainly just as there would be if somebody moved to the us.

Yeah. Lee. Uh, our guest is Lee Brennan, the Camino Cafe podcast. Lee, can you stay with us for a couple moments? I want to ask you a couple questions about Santiago and then a little about the podcast as well. Okay. 

Sounds good. 

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Lee in the brief time we have left, uh, I want to ask you a little bit about life in Santiago.

Now we have an American expert living on the ground in Santiago in 2022, and you do a great job of live streaming from Santiago on your Facebook page and giving everybody a little flavor of what's happening. Um, but you've had a couple months in Santiago. Mm-hmm.  give us some advice. What's a can't miss?

Don't miss in Santiago to Comella. 

First off, plan some extra time so you can stay a few days in Santiago. Um, you know, so many people plan their trips so tightly if you have the luxury and cuz I know sometimes you can't get time off work, but if you have the luxury plan to be here two or three days, because Santiago is an amazing city in Spain, period.

You know, it's. Yeah, it is. People come from all over Spain, like this is a place where Spaniards come and holiday, right? Mm-hmm. . So, um, there's so much to see. So the things that would be on my list, um, top one is the rooftop tour of the cathedral. It is amazing. The views are gorgeous. It is to not be missed, but do it on a good weather day.

uh, the tour of the cathedral also is lovely, the museum tour of the cathedral also. But my favorite museum tour is the Pilgrim Museum, I think it is. Excellent. And it's free. And, uh, they have a rotating exhibit, but then the permanent exhibit that is at the Pilgrim Museum is, Just wonderful. I, I learned so much there and I loved seeing it.

You not only get the history of pilgrimage itself, but of the Camino, but also Santiago. So it's thrilling to see some of the models of the cathedral, how it was built, as well as the city of Santiago. So that's really fun. Uh, the next thing I would say is the food , the tops here are amazing and I, I still think, I, I don't even know how, I don't think it's possible for me to eat at every restaurant, every cafe.

Uh, it, it's just endless of wonderful little places to go and get coffee, wine, tops, whatever it is you wanna get. The food is amazing. So, you know, you wanna have a couple of days here to see that. The other thing I always want to say to Pilgrims, Oh gosh, so many things here. Uh, one thing is I know some people will come here and it can feel a little overwhelming.

It can be busy, you know, it is also a tourist city, right? So there are Spaniards coming to pay, visit to the cathedral or just Santiago itself, as well as, uh, cruise ships, uh, from Vigo. We'll send busloads of tourists here from all over the world just to see the cathedral in the city so it can be busy.

And so I see sometimes the pilgrims feel, um, a little overwhelmed, but no, we have a beautiful park, Alameda Park where the, uh, do Marias are, is a lovely park that you can reconnect back to nature. And we also have some lovely trails that. Would remind you all around the city, they're so easy to get to, uh, that you can feel like you're right.

Well, you are in Gothia, but I'm saying you're gonna feel like you're right back in Gothia walking in the Camino. Um, so you can get that nature hit again. So don't feel like you have to constantly be in the noise of the city. Uh, the last thing I would say for folks that are watching us because we're English speaking, is there are some great resources here in Santiago for English speaking pilgrims.

And the first thing I would say is Mass with Father Manny. And you don't have to be Catholic. Um, it is a Catholic mass, but he has designed it specifically. For English speaking pilgrims. And it is a lovely mass. Um, and that is offered at the Pilgrim Chapel, at the Pilgrim office. You just have to let people know it's at 10 30 every day, but Wednesday.

And it's a lovely loving mass. And then during the main Camino season, uh, Camino Companions led by Sister Catherine, uh, they invite everyone up after mass for tea. And it's a lovely little pilgrim circle, just very informal. That's lovely to go to. I've been to it several times and I love it. And then, um, at three o'clock they offer a more formal, um, kind of processing a, uh, a chance to, you know, just talk and process what happened during your Camino with a group if you want.

There's also the Pilgrim House with Faith and Nate, and that's an opportunity to go if they got everything for you. I mean, we go sometimes just to get, make our own copies here. They're so kind to us, but, um, they have a great place to just hang out and rest and, um, You know, basically you can do just about anything there, but sleep.

Um, so it's a great resource for English speakers and, I mean, anyone's welcome, but, you know, they, they all, all the volunteers there speak English, so that's handy. And then, um, mother Anna is doing English mass on Sundays at the Anglican Church, and, um, that's an Alameda Park as well. So, uh, you know, I, I feel.

You know, we all do this rush to get to the cathedral, and that of course, that's important and hopefully you get to see the Botto Romero. But, um, I do think there are these other things that are in English. And sometimes I know for me, because I don't speak Spanish, I, you know, it's hard to understand what's happening.

Uh, you know, I can't, I don't understand all the words maybe the priest is using during the homily. So there are some opportunities where you can go and, and hear things in English if that's something you're wanting to do. And lastly, look me up, right? I tried to meet with Pilgrims, um, you know, just to lend an ear and to, you know, hold space for whatever your story is.

Uh, and I, I love talking with Pilgrims. So, yeah, let me know if you're in town. . 

So Leah is in Old Town. She's recording her podcast, the Camino Cafe podcast. I wanna ask you a couple questions about the podcast before we go. Okay. So you've been doing your podcast now for a couple years. Um, and as you said, you've met a lot of people.

Doing the podcast, we interact with people and it's almost like your podcast family, right? Like you, because you talk in such depth. And you and I, we talk before we record. Mm-hmm. . Hopefully we'll talk after we 

record cuz No, I'm sure we will. We're family now, Kevin. Exactly. You're stuck with me. But 

you know, you, you start to learn and people are sharing and there's a lot that goes on and they sort of become your family.

So I'm gonna ask you the question that I never want you to ask me. And since we've already recorded my episode with you, you can't ask me. So, um, that's not fair. I had to second I know. Here 

comes, here comes, oh 

gosh, here we go. Favorite episodes. 

Oh, favorite episodes. Gosh. Okay. 

If no one has ever heard the Camino Cafe podcast, we want 'em to subscribe, but don't miss what episode.


my goodness. Okay. Well guys, listen, I fall in love with everybody I interview and that's the absolute truth because everybody's got a story. Everybody. And you know, sometimes I'll interview people and they're like, I don't really have anything to say. And then, you know, partway through I'm like, oh my gosh.

And they have an amazing story. But, um, some that I think are memorable for me from a transformational perspective. Um, I'll say Rocco's story. Mm-hmm. . Um, because Roo, you know, he, he really took a grief and turned it around and ended up. You know, the work that he started doing after his caminos have literally saved lives.

And, you know, I can't think of a better story than that, is when we use our own paying transformation to turn around and pay it back. And I think Rocco has done that and that's been a super popular episode of the Camino Cafe. Um, other, other ones I think people really enjoy. You're probably hearing some of the screaming outside maybe.

So , its Saturday night in Santiago. Everyone , but, um, you know, they're excited about the podcast. Yeah, I guess so. Um, you know, I have some great episodes with, uh, Ray and Dominique who moved from the US and opened up Casa Banderas and it's just exciting to hear their story because they. They, they are living that pilgrim dream of walking the Camino and then deciding that they were gonna buy an bergy that they passed and they did it, and they're doing it now.

And so that's, uh, a really fun episode to watch. I also really encourage folks to watch, um, any of the ones with Warriors on the way. I think Father Steven is doing an amazing job with his, um, with his program for veterans and in particular, uh, all of his episodes I love. But also, uh, Jan Rose who walked with him and now helps him with his tours, um, her interview, she is a person that she really moved me.

Uh, and I, I would like for more people to know her story. But boy, listen, you know, I've interviewed so many people. I think I'm up to like a hundred people. So, you know, uh, for me, when I read somebody's book, and then to meet them and interview them and learn more about their book writing process, so like BB and Ann and, uh, Gigi, I, there's so many.

I could go on and on a name, but truly, I, I love them all. And I, you know, I'm, I'm mentioning once to You. I think that really resonate. Uh, I think Brad's really resonated recently. Yeah. Um, you know, and I think one of the things that happens is that, You know, I think we, we as pilgrims, we wanna talk about our Caminos, right?

And there's only so much that our families are gonna tolerate, right? So now we gotta find , we gotta find, well said, right? We gotta find other people that will listen to our story. And I think, you know, Kevin, I think what you and I are doing, and Dan and Brad and anyone else that's doing a communal podcast, we are providing a platform for Pilgrims to be able to share their stories.

And, you know, when we can share our story, it helps us heal a little bit more, doesn't it? Because we're hearing in our own voice what we've been processing. But then also I, I think that, I think there's actually a protest moment. So , it's 

quite loud. I told you it was about the podcast . 

Anyway, um, anyway, I was going to say that, um, you know, we get to share that story, but I think more importantly what I hear back from listeners and viewers is, They will hear somebody tell their story and then all of a sudden their problem maybe seems a little bit smaller, or they feel very validated because they're not alone in the world, and that they realize that somebody else has the same kind of story.

Yeah. And the thing that warms my heart the most, and, and you know this, Kevin, is that, you know, my hope with my podcast is that if just one person hears us talking and that gives someone the courage to go and finally book their ticket here, that I've done my job because I know that they have the chance now for healing from whatever, whatever thing that they want to heal from.

They have the opportunity by coming and walking. And I recently had someone that came into Santiago. I'd never met him, and he had reached out to me. He said he'd listened to several episodes and that those episodes literally convinced him to come and walk. And you know, sometimes I'm like, oh, is that really, you know, thank you for that compliment.

But then he literally sat.  and recited quotes that Rocco had said and a few others. And so that's when I know that through the sharing of stories, you know, we can tell people, you should walk a Camino. Everybody should walk a Camino. And I do believe that  very much, I think we'd have more peace in the world if everyone walked a Camino.

But I don't think that's the best way to tell someone. I think the best way to encourage someone to go is for them to hear our stories. And so I, I feel very blessed to have been able to be a part of this podcast community that we have going right now. Um, and to be able to host, I, I don't know what else to call it, but a, a platform where people can share their stories.

And I think we're recording some history, you know, that is gonna be interesting to people down the road when they listen back to what pilgrimage was like. You know, because right now, you know, for you and I, we can only read about. Past pilgrims, you know, someday people are, you know, as long as video, YouTube and all this stuff lasts, people are gonna be able to go back and watch what we've talked about during this time.

And it's amazing to me, uh, you've, I'm sure you've ran across this where I've interviewed pilgrims that walked in, say, 80, 85, and the difference of the Camino from 1985 to now, even the difference from 2000 or 2005 to now. Radically different, you know, as far as technology, the amount of material that's available, the way the Camino was marked, the infrastructure, uh, when I interviewed Brad, you know, he told me about having to carry a couple of, a couple of days food.

Uh, they, you actually used paper maps and all this, and this was like 2005. It wasn't, you know, to me that long ago. So it's gonna be, you know, I think we're recording history here for some other people and I, I think that's a real, um, honor for us to be able to do that. And I, I, I'm glad to be able to do that.

So, you know, I don't know which podcast will resonate with people the most, but, um, those are stories that, you know, stand out to me, the ones I've mentioned. But I think, you know, every single pilgrim is gonna have a story. It's amazing to me. I mean, I just this morning met with a pilgrim here in Santiago, who's 85 85, and he just walked from St.

John. And, um, it's just amazing to me what, what people do. So, you know, I don't think you have to be a, a a, you know, an a communal author or movie maker or, you know, have some radical thing happen to have an interesting pilgrim story. I think every pilgrim, if you talk to 'em long enough, they've got an interesting story that happened on their camino, and likely we'll have a message for all of us as a reminder of, you know, maybe some things we can do in our everyday life to be better humans or to, uh, lead a more content life.

Part of my Camino Pilgrim family, my, my podcast family, li Brennan from the Camino Cafe podcast, you'll find her show link below in the show notes. Apple Podcast, Spotify. Over on YouTube, Facebook as well. Please, uh, click subscribe. Enjoy some of the interviews that Lee does with Camino Pilgrim's authors and her tours of Santiago Lee.

I am looking forward to seeing you next summer in Santiago to Comella, but until then, um, be well and stay safe. Andwe 

cam. Yeah. Thank you Kevin for this. This was such an honor and so nice to be able to sit down and talk to you about all things Camino and I, I'll put in a little plug for my news show, which I'm starting tomorrow, which is called Good Morning Santiago.

And it's gonna be, uh, a show where I'm bringing news from Santiago and the Camino. And, uh, you can meet pilgrims like, um, John, who I met with today, 85 and still walking. So I, I hope to be bringing really, um, relevant stories about what's happening here. So I, I hope folks will check into that as well as the other episodes.

And, you know, congratulations to you. I think you are doing amazing, amazing job with your podcast and, and your book, and I can't wait for you to come here and for us to meet. So thank you for this opportunity. 

Thanks, Lee. Look forward to seeing you soon. Be well. All 

right, you too. 

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Leigh BrennanProfile Photo

Leigh Brennan

Podcast Host

Leigh Brennan, is the host of The Camino Cafe. The much-loved podcast features Pilgrims from around the world that have walked the Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage. Formerly the Artist in Residence at the Stone Boat albergue in Rabanal Del Camino, Leigh's latest project is 'Good Morning, Santiago', a streaming exploration of Santiago de Compostela.