Impossible Dreams

Posted by on Sep 14, 2013

Impossible Dreams. Or, how I came to return to El Camino.

 [This is Part 3 in  mini series about El Camino de Santiago. To read from the beginning click here.]


In my last entry I shared about  Camino Hospitaleros and my desire to be one.

I didn’t know if I had what it took logistically or financially or emotionally for the job. If I had what it took to welcome and care for new pilgrims every day, each with their own needs and nuances, footaches and heart aches, triumphs and hungers and care for them in any way I could. And in addition, clean, run and maintain the auberge which could sleep anywhere from 20-120 pilgrims a night.


And yet when I also first heard about the camino, it also felt imposible.


What I am learning is that it is okay not to not know, and still hold onto a dream. 

In fact there is something sacred about holding on to impossible dreams. It gives them space to grow.


After my camino I graduated from grad school, worked for NHANES, and then eventually started my own business. My dreams about the camino continued and grew as I did. Working as a nutritionist, coach and yoga instructor, I began to imagine how amazing it would be to host a retreat on the Camino, harnessing the energies of a path said to follow fault lines in the earth, and constellations in the sky. And of course, introduce people to the Camino.


Here was another dream that also felt completely impossible. Me? Host an international retreat along the ancient and sacred Camino? What did I know about that doing that? Oh, I know! Nothing…


But once again I allowed the dream to co-exist with the not knowing. And then one day in a moment of frustration I let go of my to-do list and learned the steps of how to become a hospitalero.


It looked pretty grim unfortunately as I had missed all of the trainings and application dates and placement periods. But I still sent out a few inquries. And then óut of the blue´I got this email.


“Dear Pamela, We have had a cancellation for a hospitalero at Gaucelmo starting the 15th of September and would like to know if you would be interested…”


I quickly looked through my photos and realized I had been to this place! I hadn’t stayed there but (strangely…) was given a tour as I walked by. I have no idea why. The albergue was made of stone, felt very organized and well-run, and was located in the tiny village of Rabanal close to the highest point of the camino. I was especially smitten by Rabanal’s houses and rooftops.


Here are the few photos I snapped that day.


Entering Rabanal


The view from the church bell tower 


The walk from Rabanal to Santiago also contained my favorite memories from the trip. And as  you might have guessed, I said yes.


I start tomorrow.


I fully admit that I do not know what I am getting myself into. I do know being a hospitalero involves a fair amount of work (my partner David from the UK told me to bring my elbow grease!). Together we will be doing everything from welcoming pilgrims, to scrubbing toilets, to serving tea, and keeping the auberge stocked and running smoothly. We will serve the needs of each pilgrim and become temporary residents in this town that claims only 100 people in it´s peak season.


I have big shoes to fill but luckily I do not need to be like James or Marianne or Tomas or (Swiss) Marianne. I just need to be me.


Afterward a few weeks as a hospitalero, if time and my body allows, I will also walk to Santiago and hopefully this time to the End of the Earth. I will also be scoping out locations to hold a retreat one day.


I’m excited. I’m nervous. I still don’t know many of the hows, wheres, and whys.


I’m also learning that it’s all just a part of being Brave.




PS Here is a doodle I found on an old piece of paper- from who knows how long ago! 🙂

retreat along the camino



  1. I really love this posting. I am and always a big supporter of all things positive going for you. As my travels come to an end for now, I’m looking to my dreams and trying to handle the regret and doubt that surfaces. This posting is very helpful and inspiring. Love you pammy! Keep shinning!

    • I’m glad it was helpful Rocket!! Your travels to new places may be over for a bit but the exploring doesn’t have to end. (As Devarshi said after the UFO landed ‘WHAT IS IT?’)

  2. Hey Pam,
    this sounds wonderful , good for you girl , and to all the unknown …just say YES we CAN !!! you have so much positive energy and the right aptitude to do this ,i will be looking to hearing more about this adventure !
    love Jacks!

    • Thank you Jackie! I keep hearing it is a lot f work but Im ready as I can be 🙂 Peru wad the same and an experience Ill never forget.
      We just had tea in the garden and vespers (gregorian chants) begn in an hour next door. Big hugs!!

  3. Thinking of you, Pamela, and hoping you are soaking up as much grace as you are sharing with the pilgrims. I love that you always follow your dreams, wherever they take you. Looking forward to all the updates. All the best!

    • Thanks Allison! The pilgrims are amazing. In four days we’ve had over 100 people from 28 countries. Thank you for your note and support!!

  4. You popped into my head today as I gazed upon the clear blue sky. Hoping you are well and enjoying all life is offering you. Hugs!!

    • Thanks Lauren! I absolutely love it. I can’t even complain about the long days. Hope to post more on fb soon since its quick Andy breaks are quite short!
      Anyone can friend me by searching my email: malo.pamela@
      Hope to write another blog soon but it’s challenging on my cell phone!

  5. You are inspirational ! Love your zest for life, courage to follow you dreams and ability to conquer your fears. YOU GO GIRL !!!

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