A cross-cultural friendship began last year when two 2016 Camino Provides patches were ordered by a man named Hans (Buijsrogge) from the Netherlands. When he received the patches, he emailed that he was very excited because he and his best friend, also named Hans (Sleven), were going to walk the Camino Portugués together in the fall. He told me of some health issues they both had, but they were finally ready to fulfill their shared dream of walking the Camino. They were enthusiastically reading my Camino Portugués Stages to prepare, and I was excited for them to soon be following in my footsteps. I wished them “Bom Caminho!” and looked forward to following the adventures of Hans & Hans online. Then, I didn’t hear from them for about six months. An unforeseen tragedy completely changed the course of their journey.
When Hans explained what had happened, I was in tears. He said they would like to eventually share their story on my blog. I remember saying, “Take as much time as you need, and heal.” He recently emailed me this interview, published by the Dutch Saint James Association and translated into English by René Sleven, the son of Hans Sleven.
I am humbled and honored to share their remarkable story of friendship, loss, and Camino camaraderie.
Below is an interview with Marie Louise Muscat Azzopardi, a pilgrim who walked the European Peace Walk (EWP) in 2017, and friend of guest blogger James Portelli.
Pilgrim Interview: European Peace Walk
By James Portelli
Meeting Marie Louise
Have you ever crossed paths with someone who strikes you as a breath of fresh air, a person brimming with positive energy? My wife Tucc and I have known such a person—Marie Louise—for a few years now and we always look forward to meeting her on treks we join. I recently met with Marie Louise to discuss her most recent trek, the European Peace Walk.
I am happy to share another collaboration with James Portelli, the guest blogger who wrote route reports for Camino Inglés/Finisterre among many other insightful posts. For this one, James interviewed four friends from Malta who walked the Camino Francés in September and October 2016.
From left to right: John, Alex, Raymond and Pierre
James and John, one of the peregrinos mentioned in this piece, had participated with other Maltese pilgrims on earlier Caminos raising over € 100,000 to support local charities.
Below is the interview, ‘Ultreya Pellegrini Maltin,’ which translates to ‘Onward Maltese Pilgrims.’ Enjoy!
Sebastian and Finn are a gay couple who have lived in Spain for eight years. In October – November 2015 they decided to take their pug dog, Bandito, and cat, Luigi, on a long walk. Not just any walk: the Camino Francés. I shared their incredible story, The Pug and Cat on the Camino, and added it to my Favorite Camino Blogs page. I contacted them to see if they would like to have a pilgrim interview. Sebastian responded and compiled the answers from all the boys. Below is a modern family’s take on walking the Camino with their adorable four-legged compadres.