The end of the story

You gotta hear this story.

I mean, no kidding, this is one of those stories that comes out of nowhere and makes your jaw drop. Then it makes your heart open up. And finally, it makes you cry tears of joy + disbelief + OHMYGAWWWWD!

This is Camino magic. (We’ll get to that in a moment; first, the back story.)

A few months back I had the opportunity to interview a very determined woman for my YOU on the Camino de Santiago podcast. She was planning to take on the task of walking a pilgrimage from Le Puy, France, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, over three months.

That’s more than 1500 kilometers. The Camino Francés X 2.

For me that would be huge, but for my guest – Nysie – this was far beyond huge. You see, on September 22, 2012, Nysie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. For the next 10 years she was in and out of bed (mostly in), physically and cognitively devastated by this disease.

Her 20-year dream of walking the Camino took a huge hit with the onset of MS. Unable to walk, Nysie realized there would be no more Camino, no more hiking, no more traveling, and no more immersing herself in the sacred space of the great outdoors.

And then in early 2023, everything changed. With a new medication, she regained her mobility and began to walk herself back toward her pilgrimage dream, one half mile at a time.

You can hear Nysie’s before-the-Camino story in season four, episode nine of the podcast.

Now let’s get to the end of the story and that Camino magic I promised.

Nysie reached Santiago de Compostela and walked into the plaza in front of the Cathedral on June 26. Bearing witness to Nysie’s arrival was another of my podcast guests, my friend Chad.

Chad and his daughter were on final approach to Santiago after walking the Primitivo route when they met Nysie. I am going to share Chad’s version of the story because Nysie will be back on the podcast in season five to share her side. (Chad might be back on the podcast, too; I just haven’t asked him yet.)

man and woman in front of Cathedral

Here is Chad’s story, shared with permission:

“ . . . But the real magic started about half-way through our walk today. Bonnie [Chad’s daughter] and I had just climbed up a long incline and had stopped to look at a monument. The woman who had been standing next to it started talking with us. “Are you the father and daughter team that has been walking from Sarria?”

“No, we are just finishing the Primitivo.”

We exchanged the regular Camino pleasantries, which included that this wasn’t our first rodeo and that Bonnie and I had walked the Portuguese Camino from Lisbon with [family] two summers ago.

“Wait. Were you interviewed on a podcast? On Nancy’s podcast, YOU on the Camino?”

Nancy Reynolds has created a very helpful podcast, especially designed for those preparing for their first Camino. She interviewed me before I walked the Francés route solo last year and recorded a follow up interview when I finished. We have become Camino family and stay in touch regularly. I couldn’t believe that this woman had recognized me from what little Bonnie and I had shared, and possibly my voice, and connected it to what she had heard online.

“Yes!” I responded.

“She interviewed me too!”

And then I got chills because I realized who she was. This woman walks with a little hitch in her giddy-up. Back in April Nancy had interviewed a woman named Nysie who has Multiple Sclerosis. She was diagnosed 10 years ago and had to put aside a dream to walk the Camino. This year she decided to do it regardless of the additional challenges of her physical condition.

On the podcast episode she shared she would be walking from Le Puy, France before joining the Francés route, and she would be walking for about three months.

I was walking the Greenbelt beside the Boise River when I heard her share her inspiring story. I messaged Nancy later that day, “I was very impressed with Nysie and her huge plans despite her physical limitations. Do you have a rough idea of her schedule? I’m wondering if I will be finishing around the time she is.”

My heart was in my throat as I realized that what I had written to Nancy three months ago had just magically happened! We randomly found each other on the Camino having walked different routes, different dates, and different speeds.

Bonnie and I slowed our pace and we talked with Nysie for the next half hour. We came upon a café so we had a second breakfast together, getting to hear each other’s stories, but this time face to face. I read her what I had messaged Nancy and we all teared up.

Bonnie and I then made our way to Santiago, amazed at what had just taken place. We finished our walk, got our Compostelas, ate, checked into our hotel, did some shopping, and then messaged Nysie to see how she was faring. What took the two of us five hours to walk today, including our breaks, took Nysie ten.

So we waited for her! We filmed her last steps down the stairs, past the bagpiper, and into the plaza. She had added me earlier in the day to her follower’s group page so I was able to share her victory with her family and friends seconds after it happened. We then located another café in the shadow of the Cathedral and celebrated together.

It was the perfect ending to a very special Camino!”

Now . . . check out the video of Nysie’s arrival into Praza do Obradoiro. I laugh-sobbed all the way through – maybe grab a tissue before you hit play? Oh, and be sure to turn up the volume so you can hear those bagpipies!

Shared with permission from Nysie and Chad.

Hooray for Camino magic!

Are you ready to make your dream of walking the Camino Francés a reality? Find out how I can help.