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Onward to the "End of the World"

Seth with friends in front of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which marks the end of the Camino de Santiago

32 days. 500 miles (or about 800 kilometers). Dozens and dozens of cities, towns and villages. Probably at least 150 espressos. Unknown number of meaningful interactions. Showing up in France on March 6 by myself knowing not a single person and entering the square in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela on April 7, with more than a dozen people I started this journey with and others I met along the way. Ending a journey with deep, close relationships that will hopefully last for the rest of my life.

On April 7, 2024, I finished my Camino Frances. It was an absolutely incredible journey. It’s hard to adequately describe the experience and I am sure that after I finish my time here in Spain and return home, I will continue to process the totality of the experience for some time. I am sure that processing will clarify the lessons of the Camino and the good habits and tools for life I hope to bring home with me.

For now, however, I can say that it was a fulsome experience. The visual experience was diverse. I walked through forests, across rivers and streams, through mountains and industrial areas, in open landscapes and tight spaces, through small villages and big cities, and so much more. It was a sensory experience, with weather playing a major role. While we largely avoided rain in the Frances. We had cold in the beginning, unyielding sun and heat in the middle, terrible winter weather in the higher elevations last week and nicer weather as we entered Santiago. Puddles and mud were a constant along the way.

It was a physical challenge. The first day and subsequent days were really hard, as I got in “Camino shape”. But as the days went on, I found that I could do longer stages, that my feet could walk longer without hurting and that I could attack elevation in ways that weren’t possible early on. Any day of 20km or less became a walking rest day. I fortunately didn’t struggle with blisters or knee pain like some I walked with, which made my Camino much less challenging. 

It was a mental and emotional challenge. After the first day I thought “can I really do this?” Once I got the hang of it but found myself in the meseta—the 10-day stretch of vast, somewhat boring high plains between Burgos and Leon—I had moments of questioning whether I needed to be walking for 30+ days. I have missed my family immensely which has worn on my emotional state. Yet, being organized and intentional so I could successfully attack and accomplish each day gave me mental and emotional strength, such that each day I felt stronger and each day became easier. And I have gained so much confidence in speaking Spanish as well.

All of the challenges and my ability to meet them was helped by the people I have been surrounded by in the Camino. I got really lucky that the random day in which I decided to begin was the same day some other really wonderful people started. The fact that so many of us finished together was a testament to how we held each other up all along the way. It’s easier to attack a long stage when you know you will see your friends along the way and when you get to the Albergue. These folks were interesting, compassionate, fun, considerate, understanding and caring. It was truly a Camino family and made this experience so special.

But the moment ends. It was weird to take a rest day today; to not wake up and walk. Over the last 24-hours I said goodbye to most of this Camino Family and will now set out for the last four days of walking to the ocean, to actually complete the walk from France to the end of Spain. Only 5 of us are walking to the “end of the world”. While it is sad, this last bit will be a nice transition from the emotional end of the Camino Frances. I am excited to walk four more days knowing that at the end of it, I get to finally come home, reunite with my family and get back to life and work. 

Top Row: Shoes that walked 500 miles across Spain, horses along the way, Spanish countryside

Bottom Row: Group dinner, open skies along the camino, selfie in front of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedra

I want to thank all the friends and supporters who have followed this journey and will follow its last stretch. Your comments on my videos and encouragement has enhanced the experience. Your support for the Freedom to Walk campaign has been inspiring and will be a positive force for our wrongfully convicted clients who are doing the complex work of finding stability and success post-release.

Just as I have a little more walking to do, the Freedom to Walk campaign has a little bit left to go. I hope you will help us continue to bolster the Exoneree Support Fund over my last four days of walking and have your gift matched. Together we can do our part to help freed wrongfully convicted men and women in Florida find peace and stability in their freedom.

I love you all. Buen Camino.


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