Camino: Porto to Santiago, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow


Decontamination crews are spraying down the streets of San Miguel de Allende today. The visuals alone ought to drive the doubters indoors. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

So, Mexico entered Phase 2 on Tuesday. While the president still hugs and kisses the babies and young girls, his Health secretary has called for restaurants and casinos to be closed, for public gatherings to disperse — you know, the same stuff we have been doing in San Miguel for a couple of weeks now.

Only, a lot less.

Phase 2 is clinically called the “community transmission phase.”

Phase 2 feels like Mom calling the kids inside to safety — after it starts raining. The kids have been playing outside, conscious of the dark clouds building.


San Miguel de Allende in self-isolation is just as beautiful, if not more so. Fewer people are loving it to death and that is something to think about. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

They rush for home as the rain splatters on heads and clothes — drenched and dripping all over the rug. Sorry, Mom. Welcome to Phase 2.

Yes, the raindrops are a metaphor.

What is Phase 3? Men in black, driving lorries up and down empty streets, calling out, “Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!”?

Sorry. Too gruesome? Too dark?

Perhaps I should heed the words of Garrison Keillor this morning: “ We are surrounded by goodness, why be fascinated by the incompetence at the top?”

And it is true. At street level all over the world, people are acting unselfishly, heroically, sensibly. 

It is in our nature, mostly.

People make jokes about natural selection and encourage Trump to resume holding “victory rallies” but I really think most people want to do the right thing.


Curbside in Colonia San Antonio where, these days, the Bougainville petals pile up instead of the trash.

Self-isolating is nothing new. 

During an outbreak of bubonic plague in 1665-66 the village of Eyam cut itself off from the world for six months and stopped the spread of the disease from London. Beyond Eyam to the north were Manchester and Sheffield.

They sheltered in place. Food was delivered to the outskirts and left for them. They paid with money soaked in vinegar. The villagers met at an amphitheater — where they kept social distance from each other — to discuss affairs, share news,  and hold church services.

Of the 700 residents of Eyam, 260 died. But uncountable thousands beyond the village lived.

You can read the full story here, including the heartbreaking tale of two young lovers caught on opposite sides of the town line.


The heart of San Miguel de Allende this morning — the normally bustling Jardin Principal and Parroquia de San Miguel. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

Also today, my neighbor Linda shared an essay that draws six lessons from walking the Camino de Santiago that are applicable to the current health crisis.

The Camino is a collection of pilgrims’ trails that originate all over Europe and end in the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. The most popular begins in France and is 700 kilometers long.


Neighbor Jimmy made these plates for the three Camino families who live in our building. The spirit of the Camino is certainly alive within these walls

Last September-October, Rose and I walked from Porto, Portugal, to Santiago.  All of our neighbors in this building are veterans of the Camino. We are all Peregrinos. (pilgrims). This happened purely by chance but a happy coincidence it has been. Our shared experiences on the Camino are getting us through this shared experience with coronavirus.

The lessons in this essay by Samantha Wolf reflect some of those experiences. (Importantly, you need not walk the Camino to appreciate the wisdom of Wolf.)

Among the lessons she describes: 

  • A retreat from everyday life is good for the soul.
  • Where you are now is not your final destination.
  • It will hurt.
  • The Camino spirit is everything — a sense that we are all in this together.

Wolf writes briefly but poignantly on applying each lesson to the current crisis. Believe me, they can help you through all this, whether you have walked the Camino or not.

In that spirit, why not think of this trial as your personal Camino?

Read Wolf’s essay here and savor her wisdoms.

Like the Camino, this crisis has the power to change us. How it will change us is entirely up to us to decide.

I look forward to that day when we all emerge — 10 pounds heavier, too much facial hair, roots showing, pale but healthy — knowing that, like the people of Eyam 350 years ago, we saved lives by doing the right thing.

As Keillor also wrote this morning from Manhattan: “My heroic wife is devoted to keeping the plague at bay and has instituted strict measures and enforces them and Maia and I obey her, no argument. The tyranny of hygiene. We’re eating light, living simply. A monastic life, in which you find out what really matters: love and friendship, health, useful work. God have mercy on us all.”

A couple of more posts on Coronavirus and San Miguel:

And here’s a final message, from another Manhattanite, the great Randy Rainbow. If Randy can sequester himself — in sequins — for the good of mankind, we can too! Crush the curve!


3 thoughts on “Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow

  1. Pingback: Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow « Bound for Belize

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