Welcoming, Gifts, and Hosts

If you have had the opportunity to embark on an adventure with TrekEpic, then you understand the excitement of arriving at a new accommodation each night. This is especially true after a long rewarding day of walking in rain or shine led by Andrew, Bruce, and Leslie. Today, we celebrate this wonderful aspect of the trek experience. This being our hosts, their unique gifts, and their welcoming nature which continues to bring hope to our individual worlds.

Connie, a fellow trekker who spent 12 days on the Camino De Santiago in Spain, says “We were blessed by many gracious hosts who welcomed us with local foods and a warm clean place to lay our heads. One of my fondest memories is the hospitality we experienced everywhere we went. The innkeepers had great pride in their spaces and their food. When I think about traveling abroad again, I would prefer to stay at inns vs. hotels because of these experiences.” I often think of a woman named Teresa who drove Andrew and I to the grocery store in the pouring rain because she knew our group was starving and did not have a car, nor was there a restaurant nearby. She let us drape our wet gear all over the first floor upon arrival, no hesitations or questions asked! I vividly recall a Galician grandmother in Northern Spain who sounded like she was screaming at our group. I, speaking Spanish, had to continuously reassure the group it was just her way of speaking. She was kind and forward – although I will admit I was a bit scared of her at times as well! I remember the large farmhouse, Casa Norita, where a young couple from Northern Europe served homemade ‘stew’ from their own home country. The meal was incredible and a nice break from the Spanish (although delicious) food we had had for days straight.

I remember Nicky and George, a couple we stayed with in Wales, UK, who provided home cooked meals for us every night, including a delicious British sticky toffee pudding. Neither I or anyone else was embarrassed to go back for seconds. And then of course there was Steve, a former royal chef residing in St. David’s, Wales. Steve was charismatic and unintentionally hilarious. He had a gift of bringing people together through his love and passion for food. Krystal Contreras, a participant on the 2018 Wales trek, remembers fondly on her time stating, “Steve embodied such humble hospitality that I had never experienced before and I feel so grateful to have met him.” One time Steve picked our group up from lunch in the next town over. As we made our way ‘home’, Steve pulled into a fishing dock. He had seen a fisherman bringing his boat back in from a trip and wanted us to have fresh seafood for dinner. Then, there was the time he surprised us with fireworks on our group’s last night in St. David’s. Once, Steve put together ‘fun’ activities for us which incidentally included doing chores on his land. The group reluctantly volunteered, but out of love and respect for Steve obliged. We knew he had carefully curated an experience for us and we did not dare let him down. Steve never missed out on an adventure or the chance to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. He made everyone feel welcomed with his gracious smile and laugh. Steve was well-loved and he will be greatly missed by those who were lucky enough to have had the opportunity to know him.

In loving Memory of the ultimate TrekEpic host, Steve Lawton, d. July 11, 2020

— Mariel Amador, Trekker and Guide