Skip to content

We Walk On. No Matter What.

We were the only people in the hotel dining room at 8:00pm on the eve of our Camino, having decided on an “early” dinner since we wanted to get a good night’s rest in anticipation of a very long hike. An older woman entered the dining room, sat down and ordered. She was at least a decade older than us, and when she finished her meal and got up to leave, we assumed she was a local, or a tourist who most definitely wasn’t going to be walking the Camino. Her gait was unsteady, stiff and tentative, like a colt just learning to walk, or like someone who’d spent a long time in a wheelchair. And yet, the next morning, there she was, walking the Camino just like us. Except that she was alone. She walked slow and steady, less shaky and more confident than she’d seemed the night before. We’ve seen her a few times, always walking alone, moving slowly and in a very focused and contemplative state. We’ve “Buen Camino-ed” her a several times over the past few days (the traditional greeting/encouragement on the trail), and she always smiles at us in return. And even though we never thought, the first time we saw her, that she’d be walking the Camino, let alone completing it, we now believe we’ll see her at the end, in Santiago. She’ll persist.

The Women of Catalonia

One of the very first things we noticed was how many women walk the Camino. Old and young, alone or in groups, we calculated that 70-75% of the people walking the Camino are women.

To better understand why, we’ve spent a few days chatting up the women we’ve met so far. There was the group from Catalonia: Mary Teresa, Ana, Ester and Carul, friends since college (which may have been multiple decades ago). We first laid eyes on them during dinner in the charming old inn that was our home the second night of our walk. Sitting in front of the fireplace, the four of them talked and laughed throughout the entire meal, paying rapt attention when one of them spoke, gazing at each other like old lovers. Their joy at being together was obvious, and the pleasure they clearly felt simply by being in each other’s company filled us with joy, too. The next morning, when we compared hiking notes with them, they teasingly scoffed at how short our trek had been the day before, since they’d walked a good six miles more than we had. They may have been older than us, but they were strong. They’d persist.

Next came Jane and her two adult daughters, Lynnette and Aline. Jane explained that, like us, she’d wanted to walk the Camino ever since she watched The Way. But her husband, who had always claimed he was “allergic to exercise,” wasn’t interested. When he died of Covid last August, Jane decided it was time, and her daughters agreed to join her. Despite a delayed flight and lost luggage, they’d finally arrived at the Camino and planned on making the most of it. They still didn’t have their luggage, but they had their hiking shoes, credit cards and each other. They’d persist.

Jane, Lynnette and Aline

Then there was Ann from LA. Her daughter had walked all 500 plus miles of the Camino back in 2019, and when Ann retired recently, her daughter gave her this trip as a retirement gift. “I left my husband at home. He’s working,” she said. “And, I figured that if my daughter could do it, I could at least walk this last part of it.” She was moving steadily and deliberately, her walking sticks rhythmically clacking against the road as we walked. Ann would persist.

Why is it that the Camino apparently calls out to women more so than to men? Is it that women feel more comfortable taking this contemplative walk because we’re more willing, experienced and perhaps conditioned to be more open, to share and express not only what we’re feeling but why we’re feeling it? Is that one reason (maybe even the major reason) why we live longer than men?

Before I went to bed last night, I read some of my text messages and I was crushed to see that U.S. laws may soon change, allowing state governments to treat women as if they are children, as if we’re incapable of making our own decisions about our own bodies and our own lives. Then I recalled the strong, courageous, contemplative, and joyous women I’ve met and seen on the Camino, women who, although tired, forge ahead, day after day. I have no doubt that each of them will reach Santiago de Compostela, no matter how difficult it is or how long it takes.

Because that’s what women do. We persist. We may stumble and fall, but then we get up and keep going. And the lucky among us will have friends, sisters, cousins, aunts, nieces, daughters, mothers, grandmothers and even strangers, all walking a similar path, who will lift us up, brush us off, offer us water, and help us to continue on.

It may look bleak for so many women and girls in the U.S. right now, especially those of few means, or those who are stuck in dangerous domestic situations. But we are women, and as such, we are strong, courageous, contemplative and joyous. They cannot hold us back, no matter how long or how hard they try. We persist. Always.

Especially when we walk together.


  1. What a wonderful, contemplative musing, Jill. No words to offer – just a full heart for the deep appreciation of womanhood and our grit. Thank you.

    • Thanks Christine. As you well know, “grit” is not in short supply here! It’s truly been inspirational. I’m so lucky to witness and be a part of it.

      • Thank you for sharing your thoughts, observations and opinions about your journey.

  2. It is horrifying watching us roll BACKWARDS on this topic. W. T. F. I am in wonderment as to how this even got put back on the table- it was decided, we move on! However, grab on to all the Girl Power strength you and your fellow trampers can muster and keep it swirling in the universe! We feel it and we need it.

    • Grabbing strength everywhere I can. And everywhere I look, it’s here. We passed one young woman today, dark-haired, Spanish-speaking, who was walking alone. Kent said she had a “wonderful tone to her voice.” Well, we were very happy that she used that voice to let us know, at the very end of an 18-mile day, that by following some young men ahead of us, we were going the wrong way! Mental note: women almost always know the right way to go!!

  3. Very inspirational Jill. Thank you💞

  4. Hi Jill! Really appreciating this installation of Jillosophy. Love it because it reminds me of our own experience of meeting inspiring, persistent women along The Way. And also because it reminds us that even in most challenging circumstances, our persistence will endure. Yes, “especially when we walk together.”

    • It’s very easy to be inspired here, as you well know. Especially by las mujeres!

  5. Aww…Jill! This brought tears to my eyes as I, too, have been angry and frustrated watching the news and thinking how my granddaughters will have less rights then I have had. But you are correct in that women are strong and courageous and will continue to persist! Happy trails.

    • Well, I never want to make you cry, unless it’s in a good way! Thinking of you, your fabulous daughter, daughter-in-law, and their exceptional children. In other words, I’m thinking about the future, and judging by your grandkids, we have nothing to worry about. Love you.

  6. Seek and you shall find. Perspective is a powerful thing. I really needed this today Jill and Im so glad I looked for your email and opened it this morning. Thank you for sharing your perspective, observations and reflective thoughts……Now I can move forward with my day!

    • You’re so welcome (de nada!). You’ve done more than your share of inspiring me through the years. I am only too happy to return the favor when I can.

  7. Hi Jill, hard to believe so much time has passed since high school. Your choice of adventure to walk the Camino is fascinating. Moreover, your descriptive writing is inspirational. Love your observations of women, how we connect to each other as well as our environment. In these challenging times we will need our personal strength and endurance to maintain our rights for ourselves and our children. Looking forward to experiencing vicariously the next leg of your journey. All the best.

    • How wonderful to find your note in my inbox today!! Didn’t we just get on a train to Florida together last month? That, by the way, is one trip you will NOT find me blogging about–I have grandkids now! Thank you so much for your nice comments and for reaching out. You truly made my day!

  8. So well put, friend. My sister and I were talking about the decades we’ve organized, marched, protested, worked on political campaigns, and funded efforts to support women’s rights. We felt a little down last night, afraid all those years and all those efforts may have been in vain. So thanks for the reminder. We will persist and walk together!

    • I hope you know of the inspiration and wisdom (especially political!) you’ve provided me through the years. Because you were there, holding my hand, I learned how to organize, march, fundraise and work on campaigns. You were/are my political Sherpa! So if I helped remind you how important your efforts have been, then I’m very happy tonight. You will continue to persist and walk, because not only is that what you do, it’s who you are. Thank you, my friend!

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *