Sunday, May 25, 2014

Book Review: Grandma's On The Camino by Mary O'Hara Wyman

If you are planning on walking the Camino de Santiago then this book, Grandma's On The Camino: Reflections On a 48-Day Pilgrimage Walk to Santiago written by Mary O'Hara Wyman is a must read.   After years of dreaming of one day walking the Camino de Santiago, Mary a 70-year old grandmother from San Francisco, California finally fulfilled her dreams in 2010.

With the support of her loving family and daily thoughts of her granddaughter, Elena, Mary set off on her pilgrimage which started in the small town of St. Jean Pied de Port in France.  She took the most popular Camino Francés route, a 500 mile walk crossing the Pyrenees and through Northern Spain to Santiago Compostela where the remains of St. James are placed in the Cathedral.

Each evening after her walk, Mary finds a quiet corner to write her daily postcards to her granddaughter Elena.  After each entry she also adds her thoughts from her journal and her post Camino thoughts from her home in San Francisco.

In her book she takes us along on her journey with a great sense of spirituality, honesty and humor.  Through all the physical challenges like suffering from an injured toe, three falls and suspect weather, Mary kept positive, moving forward one step at a time.  On her journey she reflected on many things and the people in her life. She wrote about how she felt the strong presence of her sister who passed away and how she continues to remain an inspiration in her life. She was attentive to the small details in her journey like the moving caterpillar scarf, the storks nesting and the frogs along the trails.  She witnessed the birth of a baby sheep and told stories of the people she met which were both interesting and at times humorous. Her stories makes me wonder about the small magical moments I'll encounter and what life reflections I'll have on my own Camino.

She had so many thought provoking stories that she wove into and throughout her book. One evening after dinner a group of pilgrims, people from different parts of the world decided to sit and share with each other why they were doing the Camino.  A question asked often between the pilgrims.  One by one, a catholic priest from Brazil, a young man from Hungary, a middle aged woman from Belgium, a man from Korean and Italy, two girls from Japan shared something of themselves and to share why they were doing the Camino.  Mary felt overwhelmed by all the stories. When it was her turn to speak, she shared that she did not really know why she was there, but only that she had dreamed of walking the Camino for many years.  She said that "Love has pulled her here". She then thanked everyone for their companionship and the evening of sharing came to an end.  I was at Pep Boys getting my brakes serviced while reading this chapter and I felt a slight tingle as I read it. Mary wrote how this moment affected her and for some reason it also affected me.

My tag line for my blog states that travelling lets me see the world through my eyes.  I think walking the Camino de Santiago will be an experience that will allow me to see the world (and life) through other people's eyes.

With the help of Mary's reflections, I am beginning to see why I want to walk the Camino de Santiago.  I am beginning to understand why everyone who has done it says that the experience has changed something inside of them. I am beginning to understand why this experience will be remembered for the rest of my life.  And I am beginning to understand what Mary meant when she said that it was Love that pulled her to walk the Camino.

I can't wait to see and to feel what my own reflections will be, the experiences I'll have and the people (and all of god's creations) that I'll encounter along the way.  I was thinking of ending my posts with Trekcapi's Camino de Santiago Journey: Walk With Me.  But I'm kind of now liking Trekcapri's On The Camino:  Shall We Walk.  Hmm, not quite as cool or as catchy as Grandma's On The Camio is it? Maybe I'll compromise and say Trekcapri's Camino de Santiago Journey:  Shall We Walk.  :)

Many thanks to Mary for writing this book and for sharing so much of herself and her experiences.  I loved this book and I would highly recommend anyone who is dreaming of walking the Camino de Santiago to read it.  I purchased it HERE on the Amazon Kindle Store.  Buen Camino!


  1. Thanks for the great book recommendation. I wish I was as brave as you to do this walk. I can't wait to hear about your experience.

    1. Hi Girasoli, thanks so much for your comments. I think I'm more nuts than brave. :) Ha Ha! My trip isn't for another year (or so), but I'm already in training and I may even do a staycation this year to try to save up enough money, because I'm not too thrilled about staying in those municipal albergues and I want to save enough to be able to afford private accomodations. :) I know it's not very pilrim for me, but I have to do what comfortable. I may get stuck staying in a communal albergue at some point, which I may be able to do every now and then. I'm guessing it may take me 6 weeks or so to finish. I'm trying to increase my training miles gradually. It took me 9 months to train for a marathon, I think it'll take me about 18 months to train for this 500 mile walk. EEK. :)

  2. I am looking forward to hearing more about your training and the actual trip when it takes place. As always you lead a fascinating life. This is going to be a great chapter in your book of life.

  3. Thanks for the review, Kathy. I'll add this book to my "want to read" list. I think I told you that I read Shirley Maclaine's book about walking the Camino - this one sounds just as good. I too look forward to YOUR camino!

  4. Hi Barb & Annie, thanks so much for your comments . . .

    Barb, thanks for your comments and interest. My trip isn't for another year, but I'm already preparing, training and saving my money. :) I figure it will take me maybe 6-8 weeks to finish, because I plan on doing the really Slow Camino de Santiago version. Ha, ha. I think I have to agree with you. I have a feeling that this will be one of those defining chapters in my life and I can't wait for it to be written..

    Annie, yes you did recommend Shirley book to me which I bought. I decided to get her audio book so I could listen to it while hiking. It was great listening to her narrate her own book. She had some pretty funny moments too. If you liked Shirley's book I think you will also enjoy Mary's book. I can't wait for my Camino too. I wish I was going this year but at the same time I know that I need to train and save my money. I may even take a staycation this year to save for my trip. I think my Camino will take two months, so it's almost like taking two trips in one. :)

    Thanks Barb & Annie & Girasoli for your kind comments.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.