Hey there folks,
Camino is a very strange place, lemme tell you. Of course, if you’re out here, or have walked afore, you know this already. But if you haven’t walked the Way yet, let me a’splain the situation to you.
For many people, the Way is little more than a walk through northern Spain with some nice photo ops here and there, some fuckold churches (can I say that?), and sharing a big room with a bunch of drunken assholes that need to wake up at 5AM to walk 20km to the next big room full of drunken assholes.
For me, it is (mostly) that, but there are a great many things that go unappreciated and undocumented in the copious amount of (unnecessary) guides people lug around.
Today, whilst having my second breakfast (that is, coffee) at some village or another, I was sitting by my lonesome enjoying the placid scenery. Pilgrims abounded in the cafe, drinking their cafe con leches as if it was the only thing Spain had to offer for sustenance. Peasants, I thought to myself, eating and drinking the same thing day in and day out without exploring their other options. I can be a tad bitter in the morning before my (second) coffee – some things don’t change.
As I sat there deep in tranquil thought (mostly about how I dislike hordes of other people), a very welcome, familiar face bounded into town, simply aglow with positive energy as he ran across the Way. Enter our Icelandic Hero, stage left, who looked every bit of Beowulf as he strode into town. It had been several days since our last encounter for he and his American comrade of Seattle fame had taken a “football day” back in Burgos. You often think that people who take a rest day might be written off, that you will never see them upon Camino again.
And, oh, how silly is that notion, comrade!
Yet here he was, previously a full two days behind me, now sharing coffee and conversation with me as if we had never parted. As we laughed about the merry happenstance, I was overcome with profound joy. Truly, yes, truly a Camino moment.
Therein is the beauty of Camino, for it is never as you expect it to be. Those you had previously parted with, either passing beyond them or watching them fade into the distance, suddenly reappear at the oddest, yet happiest, times. It doesn’t matter your speed, fitness level, or kilometers a day you walk, for we all end up there at the end of the day. Poetic, really, when one stops to think about it.
Yet that is not the only reason I find Camino so enticing.
At a single dinner table, one is liable to converse in half a dozen languages with people from just as many, if not more, countries. Upon the Way itself, you are very likely to be accosted by a curious pilgrim inquiring about your bag, your tattoo, your hair, your anything, really; before long, you’ve made a connection, language be damned.
From all walks of Life, pilgrims, adventurers, wanderers, fitness buffs, and curious folk come to roam about this hallowed trail. Beautiful; absolutely beautiful that so many people come to share the same experience. United, then, we all are in our quest for a piece of immortality.
And here, in merry happenstance, one might very well find it.