More from the Gathering of American Pilgrims on the Camino

In previous weeks, I posted an overview of the 2020 Gathering, and then highlights from the Gathering. I’d like to add a few more highlights.

One of the funniest moments, for me, was when the principal coordinator of the Gathering, Sara Gradwohl, and her partner-in-crime, Carmen Marriott, donned a unique sort of homage to the Camino. At once hilarious and a bit surprising, they were the only others at the Gathering besides myself that I remember donning a “costume” of any sort. Their get-ups brought to my mind the classic number in the musical “South Pacific,” when coconuts are used to cover the relevant parts. Maybe one year the organizers of the Gathering could think about holding a costume contest and see what our inventive group can come up with?

Sara in Cockle Shells

I am also still in mini-shock about having been caught in a snow storm. I included a photo of the dock at the Zephyr Point Conference Center in an earlier post, taken on the first day, when the sky was clear and one could see across the lake to the mountains on the other side. The only touch of snow at that time was on those mountain peaks. Then the snow started. Here is what that same dock and view looked like on Sunday. The mountains across the lake are completely invisible.

Dock in Snow

Everyone who reads my blog and/or book knows that I love history. The talks at the Gathering that included Camino history were the most fascinating for me. One talk included a number of slides showing posters used to promote past Holy Years. Here is a photo of one of the slides.


I can’t wait to see what the image for Holy Year 2021 will be!

Our meals during the Gathering were prepared by the Zephyr Point Conference Center staff. Meals were abundant with a lot of choices.  There was always a salad bar option. On our first day there, the staff made a special effort and prepared these special Camino cakes, with the St. James cross on the top. What a treat!


Before the Gathering started, many of the organizers went to great lengths to prepare for it, bringing trunks-full of snacks and other items. One decorative point in our meeting room was the sign below. Sitting in the room each day looking at it, I would wonder, which of these routes should I attempt next? It served as a good reminder that our journey along the Camino is not finished yet!



I mentioned in my last post that the two concerts by Australian singer Dan Mullins were a highlight for everyone. Coming from Texas, I particularly enjoyed hearing Dan’s version of the Willy Nelson classic “You Were Always on My Mind.” Although my own singing is so bad that my toddler son used to beg me not to sing along to “The Wheels Go Round and Round,” I couldn’t  help myself from joining in with Dan. You’ll faintly hear my frog-like voice at certain points of the video. Sorry, Dan!

I also previously mentioned that when Dan launched into “Kumbaya,” everyone stood up and joined in. I was equally enchanted with his song “Somewhere Along the Way.”


Let me end this post with something I brought home with me that I will treasure. In participating in the Silent Auction, I managed to win a fantastic photo of the nave of the church at Roncesvalles. As those who have read my book know, Roncesvalles was one of my favorite places along the Camino–so I am particularly pleased to be the proud owner of this photo. I am going to hang in my Bayou City Press office, near the cockle shell I carried along with me on the Camino, and beside my many books on the Camino and Spain. My photo of the photo doesn’t do justice to the original, but it will give you a sense of the beauty of the original.

Roncesvalles Nave I

I hope these three posts on the 2020 Gathering have been entertaining for those who attended the Gathering, and informative for those who couldn’t make it. Buen Camino to all during this period of the Coronavirus Plague!



Author: Camino for Boomers

I am the owner and editor of Bayou City Press in Houston, Texas. As a Foreign Service Officer, I lived and traveled all over the world for 33 years. My new book is "Savoring the Camino de Santiago: It's the Pilgrimage, Not the Hike."

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