Much has changed since the events of my Camino. Rainer passed away in 2017, and this is also the year I first met Neill. In going with my plan to change every name he became Ian. Only one name is as it truly is: Victor, the horse guy, is really Victor.
Neill, the owner and restaurateur of the Abbey, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’s not doing so well, and that’s unfortunately not the only shitty thing to happen to him. What sounded like a perfect love story, meeting someone by chance because you took the wrong plane, marrying them, and rebuilding an old abbey between Zubiri and Pamplona as an albergue, wasn’t all that dreamy for him.
He seperated from his wife the same year, 2017, and she left for Great Britain. She also took their child with her and, against court orders, keeps him from seeing the kid. Even though he’s dying. No matter most reasons to separate, that’s just cruel. And, having met Neill, I don’t think he’s the kind of person to do things that would make this level of cruelty OK.
He has a GoFundMe up.
I am asking my publisher to see, if we can send some money directly Neill’s way, and I know that there are other pilgrims out there, who have enjoyed his stories and the Abbey. If you can find it in yourself to drop a few cents his way, I am sure he’d appreciate it.