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.