A Conversation with Leigh |
The Camino de Santiago helped Leigh find new meaning in her life after a painful and difficult period. In the past year, she has co-founded The Camino Café, which serves the Camino de Santiago community with video interviews, podcasts, virtual happy hours… and Spanish lessons, among other things.
In this conversation, we’ll find out how the Camino has transformed Leigh’s life.
Please tell us a bit about yourself
Hello, my name is Leigh Brennan. I currently live on Bainbridge Island in Washington. I am a Mom to an amazing 21 year old Daughter, Kiley, currently at University for Architecture and to a cute new Labradoodle puppy, Cooper. By vocation, I am a yoga teacher, a co-founder of Sacred Compass Journeys, a Yoga + Camino retreat company, and co-founder of The Camino Cafe Podcast, Zoomcast, and Facebook Community. In my spare time I love to walk, practice yoga, learn about the Camino, and interview Camino Pilgrims.
When did you first hear about the Camino de Santiago? When or why did you decide to do it?
I first heard about the Camino several years ago while watching the Movie, The Way. A few years later, someone I knew went on a Camino Pilgrimage and when she returned, I was inspired by her transformation. I thought it would be something I would do many years from now during retirement with my husband. However, an unexpected divorce led me to take the Pilgrimage in 2019 to begin the process of healing my broken heart.
How was your experience on the Camino? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?
I am so grateful that I went on a Camino Pilgrimage. I walked in the Fall of 2019 with a group of women I just met who were walking to help process various life challenges. Our group was led by a therapist which very positively added to our experience. Although we went as a group, I walked solo most days with an hour or so mixed in walking with folks in my group and/or with Pilgrims I met along the way.
The Camino helped me find new meaning in my life again and helped me to see that I could still experience moments of joy despite the breakup of my long-term relationship. Upon my return, I decided to focus my life and work around the Camino. I plan to move to Spain once the world normalizes.
The first anecdote I want to share is the advice a fellow Pilgrim gave me on day one. He told me to keep in mind that “the Camino doesn’t give you what you want. It gives you what you need.” This advice helped me to let go of my expectations and to open up to what unfolded during my Pilgrimage. In the end, he was correct. The Camino provided me way more than I could have even dreamed.
Another anecdote is one that a veteran Pilgrim and Albergue owner gave me a few days before arriving in Santiago. He told me that the “The Camino doesn’t end in Santiago, it begins.” I didn’t understand this quote until I got home. He was so accurate. My Camino has continued far beyond Santiago in so many ways. I consider myself a lifelong Pilgrim now and I can’t wait to walk again.
Did you learn any Spanish prior to the Camino? Do you think it had any impact on your experience?
No, I did not learn any Spanish beforehand and once I arrived, I felt very inept by not knowing Spanish. On the first day meeting-up with my group, I was involved in trying to coordinate transportation to get us to our starting point. I greatly frustrated a busy cafe owner trying to get help with arranging a taxi. It was a powerful lesson. I felt bad for not showing more respect by learning some Spanish before my Pilgrimage.
I found that in the smaller villages, very few people spoke English and even in the larger cities, I found it difficult ordering meals and communicating with albergue owners in several instances. I knew when I came back to the US that I needed to improve my Spanish speaking skills before returning. I am so happy that I am now studying with Maria to help me in this endeavor.
Any words or phrases you wish you had known?
I wish I had known how to read menus and place orders more proficiently. Other things that would have been useful:
I want… – Quería…
Where can I buy/get… – ¿Dónde puedo comprar / conseguir…?
What time do you open/close? – ¿A qué hora abren / cierran?
Would you help me get a taxi? – ¿Me puede ayudar a llamar un taxi?
Where is the train/bus station? – ¿Dónde está la estación de tren / de autobuses?
Do you have any yoga mats we can borrow? – ¿Tiene alguna esterilla de yoga que me pueda prestar?
Is there a space here where we can practice yoga? – ¿Hay algún sitio donde podamos hacer yoga?
May I get the bill/check? – ¿Me trae la cuenta, por favor?
May I get a diet coke with lemon and ice? – ¿Me pone una Coca cola light con limón y hielo?
What is your local wine/beer/cheese? – ¿Cuál es el vino / la cerveza / el queso local?
¿Dónde puedo comprar / conseguir...?
¿A qué hora abren / cierran?
¿Me puede ayudar a llamar un taxi?
¿Dónde está la estación de tren / de autobuses?
¿Tiene alguna esterilla de yoga que me pueda prestar?
¿Hay algún sitio donde podamos hacer yoga?
¿Me trae la cuenta, por favor?
¿Me pone una Cola Cola light con limón y hielo?
¿Cuál es el vino / la cerveza / el queso local?
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