91-year-old finishes Camino



Photos by Larry McIntyre

Walking alone from St. Jean Pied de Port, 91-year-old Manuel Furtado Caetano (“Mike” on the Camino) began on September 4, 2013, and received his Compostela on October 11. You should be aware that Mike is a retired naval aviator (WW II bi-planes) and science teacher, as well as a prostate cancer survivor. He has a total hip prosthesis and has had major back surgery. He walks five miles daily at home and regularly drives his VW van 1000 miles. He was all-state in wrestling and cross country in high school and a Scout leader for 53 years. He and wife Marguerite attend Mass daily at Nativity of Our Lord where he received a pre-pilgrimage blessing. They have eight children. At 83-84, using the trail name Cimarron, Mike walked the entire 2175-mile Appalachian Trail, and remains one of the oldest to do so. Although pilgrims wait in lines for beds, laundry, showers, and meals, Mike received a few age-related special privileges in the albergues. While averaging 20 kilometers per day, he still managed an hour for photos – “mostly with girls.” Yet he didn’t want to favorite food in Spain was spaghetti! He said of the Pyrenees: “For heaven’s sake, the route is mostly paved; what are people complaining about?” He had no blisters; however, he suffered two injuries: a fall in the shower requiring five stitches in his leg; and bursitis in his hip – he took a cab 50 kilometers to Burgos for a cortisone injection. After receiving his Compostela, he bussed back and walked those missed 50 kilometers. He hoped to be one of the oldest to complete a Camino, as he is on the AT. Often along the way, seeing dozens of pilgrims taking cabs, he wondered, “Why don’t they just enjoy the walk, like I do?” He took a train 500 kilometers in the wrong direction before finally reaching the Rota Naval Base near Cádiz. From there he flew military space available to Dover AFB, got in his car he’d left there, and drove 900 miles to visit his grandson in Melbourne FL, before heading another 450 miles home to Pensacola, Florida. He plans to attend the April 2014 Gathering of American Pilgrims in St. Louis. Meet him there. This is no ordinary 91-year-old! See Mike (Cimarron) on Facebook.

An excerpt from: La Concha, a publication of American Pilgrims on the Camino


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