We regret to advise our followers that David Day passed to his heavenly reward on Monday August 28 after suffering from the ravages of cancer. David had been on our prayer list throughout our pilgrimage and many of our followers prayed regularly for his recovery and the wellbeing of his wife and young family.
Thank you for all your prayers and please continue praying for the repose of his soul and for all his family who now grieve his early loss.
Day 36- COMPLETED
Saint Jean Pied de Port
We are now here at St Jean at the foot of the mountains. A day of walking in continuous light rain which gave us a wonderful soft welcome as we saw St Jean approach. I had been wondering how I would feel as we reached the town, would it be a disappointment to see many pilgrims preparing for setting out tomorrow on what probably would be their first Camino while chaffing at the bit to join them? Would it be sad not to see the wonderful Cathedral of Santiago and experience the pilgrim Mass which almost every pilgrim attends? Would it be an anticlimax not reaching the tomb of St James? Would I feel my journey was incomplete?
Well the answer to the questions remained a mystery until we were about 2km from St Jean. We came across an old but beautiful chapel on the banks of the river that flows through St Jean. We sat down in silent prayer and the answer was given to me. A tremendous calm descended upon me, unlike the experience last year in Santiago where it was excitement at having completed the journey. Today there was no excitement, but a marvellous calm and contentment that descended upon me as I offered prayers of thanksgiving for all we have received over the two pilgrimages. Tonight in 30 minutes we will attend the Pilgrim Mass and blessings of the new pilgrims.
We will continue to pray for all our followers and those on our prayer list at this Mass and also receive the Pilgrims Blessing because I finally realise that my pilgrimage doesn’t end, it merely takes on a new phase as we
Some nights ago I discussed aspects of being a pilgrim. I am progressing towards it but still have a little way to go, but will not give up. Enda and I wish to thank all who have followed our journey and all who have supported generously our appeal for Vinnies. Remember should you wish to help Vinnies with their vital work click on our donate icon at the top of our home page. Please remember all those on our prayer page in the days ahead.
We would like to thank our daughter Tara who maintained this site under trying conditions with internet problems not of her making and the positive non-cooperation of Telstra.
But most of all I wish to thank my wife Enda for making this pilgrimage with me despite all her feet problems and her worries that it would be all too much for her. She came through with flying colours and in many instances put me to shame.
When we started I mentioned this was a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for me and in the many periods of solitude as we walked this was realised in more ways than I could have anticipated.
After divorcing her abusive husband, it took Elle a little while to get back on her feet. Thankfully, she had a good job and soon found a decent apartment for her and her two sons (ages three and nine).
All that changed when Elle stopped receiving child support. Soon she fell behind on rent and utility bills and came home to an eviction notice on her door. All at once, the security Elle had worked to provide for her sons after the traumatic divorce was in jeopardy. They had nowhere to turn, and Elle worried they would end up on the streets.
Local Vincentians stepped in, paid her past due rent and utility bills and got her the legal help she needed to keep getting child support. It was a close call, but Elle is thankful she and her boys were able to safely stay in their home.
If you would like to help
You may donate to St Vincent de Paul through the link
Day 35- Ostabat
What a day it turned out to be! Our hosts last night told all guests of a shortcut available today, however, their instruction was in French. The shortcut was not shown on our map and disaster resulted. After walking 11km up and down hills we arrived back at the Gite (3 hours later), where we started. If we had followed the normal longer route our map was adequate but it was incorrect when it came to the shortcut. We accepted a little assistance to complete the day.
The latest forecast for tomorrow is rain and the distance is 25km. We have booked into the Gite (France)/ Albergue(Spain) where we commenced last year. Joseph our wonderful host is still in charge and we wish to catch up with him and thank him for his wonderful hospitality and introduction to the Camino last year. We also wish to talk to pilgrims starting out and share in their enthusiasm.
Thank you to all who are following our pilgrimage and we continue to hold you in our prayers and daily candle lighting. We hope that by being pilgrims in spirit you have a better understanding of what a spiritual Camino means and have gained from your efforts.
Being a pilgrim is a great privilege we have been given and we are doubly blest having the opportunity of making a second pilgrimage this year. With privilege comes responsibilities and we believe it is inherent on us to spread the concept of the pilgrimage of the Way of St Jacques to others. It is a way of giving back a little for what we have received.
We do this through our “Pop Up Albergue” in the Blue Mountains, where we welcome guests who would like to obtain a Camino experience over 2 or 3 days. The Albergue runs on a cost recovery basis only and guests are looked after in the manner of an Albergue in rural Spain. We offer a garden with private areas for reflection or conversation. We recommend walking paths for all abilities because undertaking some physical activity (no matter how small) is a vital part of the Camino experience. In some cases small has been as little as 200metres.
You can find us on
We will open up on request for even one person who is looking for a Camino experience.
After tomorrow night’s report you may care to donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society through our donate link; should you have found our written ramblings of interest. We have enjoyed writing them and they cause us to reflect at the end of each day on our feelings and aspects of our progress.
Day 34- Aroue
I managed to leave Navarrenx and catch up with Enda despite Christine appearing from nowhere out of a bar door offering all sorts of summer wine as an enticement to stay with her (see picture). Then it was a day in which the weather started deteriorating, firstly to very strong winds and then rain. Fortunately we reached our destination before the skies opened due to an early start. Our arrival was delayed a little by Enda taking time out to rescue a young foal; so she has earnt for herself another pilgrim upgrade. Because of the threatening weather we tended to push ourselves a little harder today which probably explains why we are so tired tonight.
Last night we had an open fire at our Gite. To my great surprise we saw what looked like a didgeridoo hanging alongside the fire place and which was burnt at one end. It seems this didgeridoo like implement is used to fan the fire. The host told me its French name (quickly forgotten) and said it is very effective for fire lighting. I suggested it could be played but the mouth piece was too charred! “Its not used for music” he replied before running out to bring in a didgeridoo which he proceeded to play. He informed us that many a person in France plays the didgeridoo. This didn’t surprise me as he was the third person on the Camino we met that had at least one instrument.
Please remember all those on our prayer page. In many churches across France we have lit candles and prayed for them, as well as all of you who are making this pilgrimage in spirit with us. We are now entering a Basque district in the foothills of the Pyrenees and one observes a difference in the internal architecture of churches as more ornate designs are employed and the more austere walls disappear.
As the weather started to deteriorate today, as the winds grew to fierce intensity it would be easy to succumb to feelings of gloom. I think this is a natural human tendency, but it is not of any practical use, it doesn’t get rid of the miserable conditions and will only make them appear worse than they are. So when matters became uncomfortable I found it useful today to apply some of the principles of mindfulness. In doing this I remained aware of the wind and the darkness that was spreading over the countryside but avoided making
judgmental decisions. I simply listened to the howl of the wind, felt the strength of it blowing in my face and noted the complete absence of the wind when we entered forested areas. In the dull light, I saw the flowers
(probably many weeds) growing along the banks of the road in a new light. The brown tops of some long grass like plants suddenly took on a beautiful russet hue. The blues, the whites and the yellows of so many flowers suddenly took on a brightness of their own, a brightness one can never see on sunny days. Their brightness neutralised dullness in the skies. Even observing the rain pattern patterns in the distance and the variation in cloud textures put one very much in touch with the environment. Of course it doesn’t fix the weather difficulties but it sure puts them in manageable perspective!
Tomorrow is forecast to be fine, but on Tuesday I will need to apply plenty of mindfulness as heavy rain is due!
Day 33- Navarrenx
I will take responsibility for leaving the charger adaptor in Pomps and thus only providing a minimal report yesterday. But the saying “the Camino will provide” again turned up trumps.
Firstly, the manager of the Gite went out of her way to assist us by phoning back to Pomps and explaining in French to our host there what was missing. (Imagine Enda and I trying to do this with our limited command of the language.) She then rang Transports Claudine and arranged for them to call into Pomps, pick up the adaptor and carry it 2 stages to Navarrenx.
Around lunchtime today Enda received a text message from her saying that the adaptor had been collected and would be waiting for us when we arrived at Navarrenx. We are truly grateful pilgrims.
There were no shops open at the previous village last night, or again this morning. The only place today where one could buy lunch was closed. So after 20km of walking we were feeling rather hungry, but once again the Camino stepped to the fore. We just happened to be passing an isolated farm house on a largely deserted route when a small white delivery van dropped in with the daily bread delivery for the farmer. We were able to buy a fresh baguette from the driver! It was precisely the same time we received the text message about the adaptor. Again we are grateful pilgrims.
So tonight we are safely in Navarrenx. The countryside becomes even more beautiful each day and the richness in the wild flowers is astounding. Beautiful green hillsides and many small forests encompass us. Today we ate our late lunch at a table alongside a fountain and a small shrine depicting Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.
Enda was truly amazed when we went past a magnificent home where she observed what appeared to be a lawn mower (without the handle for pushing it) running around the lawn without a human in sight. On closer inspection it couldn’t cut grass and appeared to be either a very large remotely controlled toy with someone using it to amuse the pilgrims; or an experiment in robotic control as the device had to work its way around the many obstacles it encountered.
Only three days left of walking and we reach St Jean Pied de Port. So it is time for us to ask ourselves some searching questions before we finish, as to why we walk a second Camino, what lessons have we learnt and what
do we hope to bring back to everyday life.
Our current feelings are somewhat different to when we were approaching Santiago last year. Three days out, there was wonderful excitement, not only for the two of us, but amongst all around us, as they approached their goal of the tomb of St James. Even for those with no religious affiliation, the excitement was equally obvious. On
this Camino there is no beacon of Santiago drawing us in, (like the lines on the shell of St James) to the centre; so those feelings of intense excitement are not present. It is a much more relaxed form of spirituality we are experiencing. There is no desire for us to cease our walking, we would just love to keep going and continue the feelings of oneness with the tranquillity of our pilgrimage. Perhaps looking at it another way, the Camino is teaching there is no end to a true pilgrimage. I hope this is true and that our pilgrimage continues through the time remaining for us.
It was late on a Thursday evening in winter when Louise first called SVP. Her house had just been flooded by a torrential downpour that had damaged the heating. With a young baby to care for, Louise was at her wit’s end.
The woman at the end of the line explained that local Conferences usually only visit once a week on a Tuesday. Louise understood. But within an hour there was a knock on her door, and two local volunteers were there to help.
She was never so happy to see anyone.
Louise had only recently moved into the house with her seven-month-old son, and had to put down new floors and kitchen tiles. And now this was all destroyed. Recently made redundant from her last job, Louise was really going to struggle with all these new bills.
That’s where volunteer Marie and the local SVP conference came to her rescue. Using donations from compassionate supporters such as you, they were able to give her vouchers for food shopping and to get some new household items in her local Vincent’s shop.
“I was amazed and so appreciative,” says Louise, “and I couldn’t thank Marie enough for coming out to help me.”
But the story didn’t end there.
Prior to needing the help of SVP, Louise had decided to return to college to further her education. She had always had a passion for computers and technology and had been accepted for a place on an IT course in DIT. But juggling the costs and stresses of being a single parent and studying full-time was very daunting.
“A few weeks into college, I was finding that at the end of each month when all the direct debits and bills were taken out I was left with literally nothing, like nothing. I didn’t even have money for shopping. I was even stuck for nappies sometimes, and that’s when I had to call SVP again.”
“Marie came out to visit me and she has been wonderful. She has been a big supporter of mine and I know she cares. She really encouraged me to stay in college and to get my qualification. I really wouldn’t have been able to do it without Marie and the other volunteers.”
Thanks to the grace and generosity of SVP’s supporters, Louise was able to stay in college and complete her two-year course.
And then one day, as she was coming to the end of her course, Louise visited Marie with the best news.
“Oh Marie,” she said with excitement, “I’m after getting a job… and I won’t be needing your help anymore!”
“She was so thrilled and delighted for me and my son,” Louise recalls, “but she said, ‘Keep in touch, make sure you keep in touch’. And we have been keeping in touch, you know, since I started work. It’s to her that I owe everything to. I can’t describe what it was like to see the smile on her face when I came to tell her the news that day.”
As someone who has benefitted from a little help at the right time, and had her life transformed, there is no better person than Louise to tell you about the difference your support of SVP makes:
“I would just like to thank the donors and tell them how SVP are the backbone of all our communities. Whether it’s for homeless, whether it’s just for the normal, everyday working person who just needs a dig out in that particular time or whether it’s for a young girl or boy starting college, SVP help everyone and they are so important in the community.”
“A lot of communities would find extreme hardship and difficulty if SVP weren’t there. These men and women who dedicate their time and hard work to SVP – it’s just amazing. They help everyone, whether it’s financial or just to sit there and listen to an elderly person or someone who is going through a difficult situation. They’re there. And if SVP were to pack up and leave the community, I don’t know what would happen to a lot of people. What SVP do and stand for is just so wonderful, and without them I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
If you would like to donate to the St Vincent de Paul Society please click on :
Day 32- Maslacq
A comfortable walk crossing the river Pau to the village of Maslacq. Weather still cold but sunny as
the day progresses.
Disaster last night, we left our charger for the computer behind and there is only 20% charge left on the computer now. No shops in this town, this is just a short message before our charge is gone. We hope we will be able to buy a charger in the next town tomorrow. If so a longer report tomorrow.
Day 31- Pomps
A 21km walk through some nice hills with views of early morning fog lying in the valleys below. A moment of inattention and we were away on the scenic route! No going back is our motto so we navigated our way through, with little thanks to the Michelin Guide, but Miam Miam Dodo proved invaluable as did a short consultation with a retired farmer. Instead of a yes/no answer to our request “was this the correct turn?” we not only received the yes but it was contained in long discourse which confused us entirely.
The rain has passed us by, but the day remains cloudy with bursts of welcome sunshine to provide a little warmth.
Those Pyrenees continue to grow in size each day but there are 5 more days until we reach them. Just when we are comfortably in our stride, the end comes into sight. We would like to draw the Chance Card saying Go Back 10 Spaces and If You Pass Go collect 200 Euros.
Many of our followers have seen “The Way” a movie about a disaffected Dr Thomas Avery (Martin Sheen) who goes to France following the death of his adult son, Daniel (Emilio Estevez), killed in the Pyrenees during a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. Should you never have seen this uplifting movie we strongly encourage you to do so. Most pilgrims arrive at Santiago feeling a change in their life as did Dr Tom. Maybe no where near as dramatic but a change all the same.
I was going to ask you to pray for all pilgrims who undertake the Camino when we had finished in 5 days time. To pray that they receive a life long benefit from their undertaking. But I bring that request forward to tonight following a pilgrim we met this afternoon.
The man arrived at our Gite dragging his belongings behind him on what could be described as a wheelbarrow in reverse. He lost his daughter last year in a car accident and is undertaking this Camino in search of understanding and explanation. He is greatly in need of prayer. So I will have Tara add him to our prayer list as the unknown pilgrim. Please pray for him (and other pilgrims) as well as all those already on our prayer list
Thank you to all who are following our Camino walk and have contributed to our appeal in supporting the St Vincent de Paul Society. To help them continue with their great work ,all donations no matter how small ,help immensely.
Below is Samantha's story outlining how St Vincent de Paul Society helped her.
A hand up from Vinnies at just the right time has turned Samantha’s life around and she and her children now have a bright future ahead of them.
Samantha* started life in Samoa as one of 10 children. A childhood filled with trauma – emotional, physical and sexual abuse, separation from her parents, constantly moving and never having a home to call her own – set the pattern of vulnerability that has dogged her life.
Aged 25 and pregnant with her first child, Samantha moved to Australia with the man she would later marry. After separating from her husband, fearing for her safety when he tried to pursue her and the death of her mother in Samoa, Samantha found herself in a downward spiral. Struggling to survive, she began binge drinking and smoking.
“I had abandoned myself in a way and was not caring for myself – this was my way of coping,” said Samantha.
In amongst this, Samantha fell pregnant with her second child. Her partner also physically and mentally abused and tormented her on a daily basis. He destroyed her Citizenship Certificate, her children’s birth certificates, their school reports and clothes.
At the end of her tether, she fled with her kids to a friend’s house, ending up in a shelter for several weeks. Sadly she soon returned to her ex-partner, after he begged forgiveness and insisted he’d changed. But, as Samantha puts it, “with little self-esteem and belief in yourself, it is easy to fall prey to others lies.”
The abuse worsened and Samantha fled to another shelter three months later. She’d already sent her eldest child to live with his father to protect him and needed to get her other child and herself to safety. She and her five year old son travelled overseas but soon returned to Australia.
Upon her return her abusive ex-partner tracked her down and tried to kill her by sitting on her chest with a pillow over her head while her son slept beside her.
Samantha spent the next five and a half years constantly moving. With only sporadic casual work, debt piled up and with no stable income, finding stable housing became impossible. She and her son lived in share accommodation, caravans, private rentals, and motel rooms. Sometimes they wandered the streets with their suitcases, worried where they would sleep for the night.
Samantha lived with paranoia, a locked jaw and faintness. Traumatised, she was hearing voices - all symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Samantha’s job agency worker understood Samantha would find it difficult to find stable work without a place of her own, and contacted Vinnies Families Back on Track (FBOT). Samantha was accepted into the transitional housing program, and soon she and her son moved into a fully furnished two bedroom unit.
The Vinnies Support Worker worked with Samantha to set goals for herself and to guide her through achieving them.
“I was encouraged to see a positive life for myself and my family and provided all the support I could want to help me achieve my goals,” said Samantha.
Samantha was provided with support to get out of the cycle of pay-day loans, was referred to a psychiatrist and other health practitioners and participated in education and skills-building workshops. Samantha was beginning to take care of her physical and mental health and build self-confidence.
“My Support Worker encouraged me to believe in my strengths – my sense of humour, my insightfulness, my ability to provide a better life for my son.
“Families Back on Track is not just a place, it was a home for me and my son. I was given respect and felt that I had dignity for the first time in my life. If it was not for Families Back on Track and their vision for me, I would not have been able to transcend my past and envision a better life for myself,” she says.
Samantha has since gained a Counselling Diploma and completed a Diploma in Community Services. She dreams of going to university to study Psychology, wanting to pay the kindness she and her family received forward and help other domestic violence victims.
*Real names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people we support.
Jerard & Enda's
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