June 5: The Silver Censer Awards for 2014

Award Banquet held annually at O Gato Negro, Santiago de Compostela

Alyssa-Hailey photo
The Jeff Goldblum Award for fear of flies, with badges of honor for dramatic performances, and wearing her knee brace next to her heart goes to Alyssa.





Amy-Giancarlo photo
The Second Annual Little Miss Sunshine Award, held conjointly with the Pathfinder Award for getting lost, goes to Amy.





Mike-Giancarlo photo
The conjoint Pathfinder Award for walking an extra 10 km in the rain on the hardest day of the Camino goes to Mike, the Marquette heart-throb.





Andrea-Giancarlo photo
The Vince Lombardi Award for a granite head and the offer to tackle anyone goes to Andrea, our resident engineer and rugby player.





Katie-Hailey photo
The Snookie Award for being Joanne and entertaining us all, while getting a branch-full of nature in the eye, goes to Katie.





Julianna-Giancarlo photo
The coveted Coco Chanel Award for being best dressed by virtue of actually wearing a dress and remaining cool, calm and collected (except with Chase bank) goes to Julianna.





Tom-Amy photo
The Seinfeld Award for stealth standup or lie-down comedy, with a Bill Clinton badge for playing the sax (and who knows what else), goes to Tom.





Matt-Giancarlo photo
The “Mud Hill” Award for carrying someone else’s pack to La Laguna while claiming he’s not a nice guy goes to Matt.





Giancarlo-Giancarlo photo
The Tony Bennett Crooner Award goes to Giancarlo, the singing psychopath who may never show his dark side, except perhaps to his nonna.





Nicole-Amy photo
In this version of the Hunger Games, the Hair on Fire Award goes to Nicole, the mollusc-free pundit who has read everything.





Hailey-Giancarlo photo
The Florence Nightingale Award and this year’s Energizer Bunny Award go to Hailey, the neon-colored health care professional who may have neither had nor lanced a blister.





Allie-Giancarlo photo
The Little House on the Prairie Award for offering to teach in Spain’s smallest village goes to Allie, our own bipolar (i.e., walking with two sticks) peregrina.





Rickie-Giancarlo photo
The combined Steve Jobs and Rock of Ages Award for tech savvy, maintaining the blog, and bonhomie mit Rhythmus goes to Ricky.





Rachel-Hailey photo
The Kierkegaard Award for philosophical eccentricities goes to Rachel, the tireless student of religion and society who has confirmed a love for ritual, beer and taxi service.






Gyug-Amy photo Myers-Giancarlo photo


PHOTO CREDITS: Photos of Allie, Mike, Andrea, Julianna, Giancarlo, Ricky, Hailey, Amy, Matt and Dr Myers by Giancarlo Milea; photos of Alyssa, Rachel, Katie by Hailey Cox; photos of Nicole, Tom and Dr Gyug by Amy Gembara.

June 5-6: Santiago!

As I write this, the smells of El Gato Negro come rushing back to me – the pulpo, the pimientos, and of course, the pan. After our inside (and outside) look at the cathedral, our pursuit of the authentic pilgrim experience continued, and we found ourselves in the classy arms of a five-star establishment. Well, five stars if the rating system were determined by great companionship and how much “sweet smell of success” hung in the air. We spent two hours together, and our final meal was one for the books. Although we were in a warm, crowded back room of this small bar, we were all glowing with pride – we had FINALLY made it to Santiago. Yes, there were bumps and bruises, but we were all together, a Camino family, sharing in one last experience that would conclude one of the best times we will ever have.

Following our feast, the illustrious Drs. Gyug and Myers surprised us with our very own version of the Oscars. It was at this point that we all realized just how once-in-a-lifetime this experience truly was, and just how wonderful our two leaders truly are. Thoughout the Camino, they paid attention to the multitude of personalities, likes, and quirks of each and every pilgrim in our group, and presented the Camino awards to each person, tailor-made. From Little Miss Sunshine (Amy) to the Kantian who “does the right thing whether he likes it or not (Matt),” these awards came straight from the keenly observant minds and kind hearts of our professors, and the gifts they gave each of us reflected this compassion. The Camino awards made the experience that much more special, as it reflected just how close we had all become.
la foto 2
Queimada | Photo by Mike Perlowitz

The capstone of our last evening together was the Queimada ceremony. Unique to Galicia, the traditional Queimada ceremony consists of sitting around a cauldron of burning Queimada (a special Galician drink) while reciting an incantation together to ward off evil. It seemed like a fitting end to our journey – together, we warded off the evils of blisters, sunburn, and tendonitis, trading them in for laughter, conversation, and even a student-professor arm-wrestling match for the ages (picture included). It truly was a perfect ending to this life-changing pilgrim experience.
Final test | Photo by Mike Perlowitz

Although we’ve finished our Camino pilgrimage together, the journey is never truly over. As we go forward, the Camino, specifically this Camino experience, will hold a “special place in our hearts (to quote the talented Giancarlo’s ‘Camino Song’).” I, for one, have grown by leaps and bounds from this experience – the confidence, companionship, and occasional blister (for which a fellow peregrino always provided a band-aid) have given me a renewed faith in humanity, in the goodness of the human being and the indomitable human spirit. I think I speak for all of us when I say that our Camino experience has taught us what human solidarity truly entails, and what the human experience is all about. Our two-week Camino may be over, but our lives’ Caminos move forward, with the lessons we’ve learned and the friendships we’ve formed always in mind.


June 3-4: Melide

Melide Town Hall
Melide Town Hall | Photo by Andrea Waterman

The walk to Melide was a nice 14km and gave us all some time to nap and recover before our final two-day trek to Santiago. After settling in at our albergue, we headed over to Plaza del Convento. This plaza is the crossing of the Camino de Santiago (the French Way) and the Camino de Oviedo. The parish church in the center is 14th-century Romanesque with sixteenth-century wall paintings and an ivory baby Jesus. Unfortunately, we arrived at the same time as a funeral procession and were not able to see the church for ourselves.

Melide Traditional Pastry Display
Traditional pastry display | Photo by Andrea Waterman

We did get to visit the Terra de Melide Museum, which gave us insight into the history of the town’s culture. I certainly enjoyed the traditional dessert display, which showed how its famous pastries, ricos, melindres, and amendoados, were made. We then visited the Church of San Roque, which was combined with the Church of San Juan previously and is also 14th-century Romanesque. Next to it stands the oldest stone cross in Galicia, the Crucero do Melide. On one side Christ is shown majestic and godly, while on the other he is shown crucified.

Although we are all in some pain from two weeks of walking, it is with very bittersweet hearts that we make our final trek to Santiago…




Welcome to the 2014 Fordham Camino group! This is the sixth time a Fordham class has walked from Leon to Santiago along the historic pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago. As in past years, we will walk for two weeks, about 200 miles. We will be in Leon for a day, then begin walking on 23 May, to arrive in Santiago on 5 June. Members of the group will be presenting at the various sites along the way, and posting to this blog as we go. Last year’s group left us some great videos, so you can see what this year’s group can expect:
Kasey Fausak: Set to “Cups,” by Anna Kendrick
Ben Kelly: First Steps, Part I and Part II
In the last few months, we’ve been meeting, reading, and walking regularly to City Island from Rose Hill, a pleasant 20 km day. With this winter’s snow, it hasn’t been as easy or as often as we all would have liked, but it’s the end of the semester, and we are ready to begin.

See you there!