A Dutch Pilgrim's story

2018 edition Camino Guides


Veteran Member
The other day Johnny Walker posted a new topic 'Pilgrim's that have died'. I would like to share with you one of the most poignant stories that I have ever heard, while walking the Camino (or any where else for that matter).
On 14th October, having walked from Cacabelos, we stayed in Trabadelo and noticed that an enterprising Dutch lady had recently opened an Bar in the village, offering a choice of menu somewhat more enticing to the usual Pilgrim's menu, so we decided to give it a try.
At the Bar there were two Dutch couples, far better dressed than our weathered, rather scruffy appearance and we made the comment that they were obviously tourists. They also had a van parked outside with Dutch plates and a companies' logo on it. Anyway, my husband Adriaan is Dutch so they soon got speaking.
What had happened was that the son of one of the couples, having had a series of mis-fortunes during 2008, and having time on his hands until promise of a new venture in April 2009, decided to walk the Camino. He started from Amsterdam in October 2008 and after 3000 kms arrived at SJPP in February 2009. He left SJPP on, I believe 11th February, direction Roncevalles. The weather was fair, but he got caught in a blizzard, tried to return to SJPP, but didn't make it. He died of hypothermia.
After coming to terms the his son's death, the father decided to pick up the Camino from where his son had left off and walk for him to Santiago! His wife travelled in the van with this other Dutch couple (I believe family, because they were all pretty emotional when they told us the story).
They were a bit ahead of schedule, because they intended to meet up with other members of the family (including the grandchildren) in Sarria on 24th October and then, I guess all walk together for the last stretch, so I immagine that they would have arrived in Santiago aboout 29th/30th. October.
I wonder if any of you heard about this story, or met this family? Apart from the story itself, I just want to add that sometimes we make comments, believing that we know it all (Pilgrim versus Turigrino sort of thing) just by going by appearances and not knowing the full story of why someone is doing the Camino. Food for thought!



Veteran Member
Hi Anne, This April as we walked up the CF on the road beyond Orrison we passed by a small wooden cross on the left hand the side of the road-it was obviously new and had a small plaque inscribed with name and date of death in Feb this year. We found it very poignant and were glad that someone had laid flowers there earlier in the day. We had a brush with a snowstorm ourselves the next day and we lit a candle for him when we arrived safely Roncevalles. I often wondered what had happened to that pilgrim and what their story was and now, thanks to you, I know.


Veteran Member
Hi Nell. I wonder what his name was?? I have been thinking so much these last days what an emmotion it must have been for this family to finally arrive at Santiago. Anne
Hello Anne,
I met the father and brother of the young man that died on the mountain. I was staying in an alburgue in San Sol around the end of September along with some friends that I´d made along the way. One of them, Klaus from Switzerland, was cooking a meal for us that evening and he invited them to eat with us. We had a wonderful meal and towards the end of the evening the father explained his reason for doing the camino which, essentially, was to finish the journey his son had started. I think it was obviously a way of trying to cope with his grief. He told us that he would be meeting up with family further down the track. I´m glad to hear that they finished the journey and hope that it brought them some level of comfort.
Hello Anne,
We arrived in Santiago on 11th Oct. Back in Australia I have been sorting my photos. I have a photo of the cross, his name was Jean-Paul. This photo has taken on a whole new meaning.



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Donating Member
I walked from SJPP the 16th of May this year and we too stopped by this wooden cross wondering what happened. Jean- Paul died the 11th of Februari 2009, and mam and dad had raised the memorial cross the 17th of Februari. The memorial is about 10 min walk before Pic´Orisson. How sad. annie



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I sent a post about this death on the 16 fev.

Click HERE for the post.

The link to the French forum was changed. Click HERE for the new one.



Veteran Member
Thanks Theo for the link (I was sure that I had read something about this earlier in the year, but when I searched, I couldn't find anything). I read about the story now on the French Forum link you gave (and the comments)! And thank you Annie for the photo, Jacki for giving us his name, Nell for lighting a candle and Malie for filling in a gap on this Dutch father's journey.
I didn't know whether he had been accompanied all the way by his wife, or whether he had had other members of the family or friends that took it in turns to walk with him. (which is what seems the case). Maybe he walked parts alone. I think that all of us who have done the Camino, upon arriving at the Cathedral, feel an emotion that often takes us by surprise. I wonder - how did this father feel? Anne

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