The Extraordinary Adventure for Ordinary People

Wick crossing the Pyrenees in 2007. Our first “extraordinary adventure” with God.

Wick crossing the Pyrenees in 2007. Our first “extraordinary adventure” with God.

Have you had the experience of telling someone back home about an adventure you’ve just had, like walking the Camino, and watched as their eyes glazed over for lack of interest? Don’t take it personally, there is scientific research explaining why that happens.

In a recent article Forbes travel writer Jonathan Look, Jr. points out, “It is a common complaint of veteran long-term travelers everywhere. You return to your home town, excited to tell friends your tales of hiking the Camino de Santiago [or some other great experience]…and no one cares.” 

Apparently it is a common phenomenon. Returning pilgrims certainly know it. Science says it’s not you, it’s that your adventures are “unrelatable.” It turns out that studies were done and the results show that people would rather talk about familiar things than they are curious to hear about new things you can relate.

Looker cites a paper by Harvard psychologists Cooney, Gilbert & Wilson titled The Unforeseen Costs of Extraordinary Experience. “At worst, people may be envious and resentful of those who have had an extraordinary experience, and at best, they may find themselves with little to talk about.”

Most of us who have walked the Camino count it as one of the most meaningful experiences of our lives, a time when we received healing and God’s love in new ways, and left behind things in our past that need to stay there. We return home forgiven, forgiving, and more like the person God had in mind when he created us. We wouldn’t trade it for anything. And even if we struggled on our walk, we would do it again in a heartbeat.

So what’s a returning pilgrim to do? It helps me to know the science behind my friends’ yawns and eye-rolls, and not hold it against them, but it also prompts me to look for other adventurous people, and find ways of having interaction with other pilgrims. We hope you will experience welcome and enjoy the mix of Camino tales and photos on our website, FaceBook, and Instagram as expressions of pilgrim community. Come join us, read our stories, add your two cents, and have a laugh or two. You are welcome here.


Wick and Helen Van Wagenen first walked the Camino in 2007, and God has used every part of their experience to shape their lives since then. They are grateful for the opportunities to make many more trips to research routes, test gear, and volunteer along The Way. The Van Wagenens and their family and teammates continue walking the Camino, and enjoy helping others make the trip of a lifetime. You can contact them at