It is difficult to describe how hearts from around the world bond on the Camino. The togetherness we feel makes this unlike any experience Sue and I have had. So far, it far outweighs the aches and inconveniences.
Some snapshots from the Camino:
- Teen adventure: A high school senior from Maine shared the trail with us for a couple of hours. He was walking for two weeks, having been invited to join a mother and her daughter. The girl, a sophomore from his school, had a knee injury so she and her mom had to rest. He was enjoying being able to drink beer in the bars on the Camino. We bumped into the group a couple more times in the next few days.
“Sorry, Charlie”: While waiting for the bus in Carrion today, I saw the Dutch woman across the street who had won our game of Sorry, Charlie! a few days earlier. I could not remember her name, so I called out, “Sorry, Charlie!” and she turned to me right away. We had a quick reunion before Sue and I boarded the bus. We saw another player from that game, a tall Frenchman 74 years old, several times on the Camino afterward. Each time we would all smile and say, “Sorry, Charlie!”
- 60 miles a day: A college physics student from Missouri on a study abroad semester in Spain got off his bike and walked with us for awhile. He bought the bike in Pamplona, made some repairs, and was planning to ride 60 miles a day. There are many bicyclists on the Camino and they yell out “Buen Camino!” as they whiz past.
- Just do it: A Swedish middle-aged man sat next to me at a sidewalk cafe in a small village. It is his second Camino. His first was two years ago. “Why are you doing another so soon?” I asked. He pointed to his head and said, ” I just had to do it.”
- Saving a marriage: “Why are you doing the Camino?” is a common question. A New Brunswick couple who joined us for dinner had an answer we hadn't heard before: They were separated and are hoping Camino will restore their marriage. They said it is going well so far. They have four children and five grandchildren.
- Sicilian back again: A guy in his 20s from Sicily was limping along on bad knee. He had done the Camino in August and wanted to come back. He had just taken four days off trying to allow his knee to recover. He had come about 160 miles. He had spent his senior high school year in Mesa, Arizona. Today, we saw him in Leon, still limping, but covering at least 15 miles a day.
- Camino reunion: Beverly and Junior are American women in their 60s doing the Camino together as a reunion…they had not seen each other since high school.
- Sisterly love: A Texas woman in her early 20s planned a solo Camino, but brought her brother because she thought it would be good for him. She bandaged his blistered feet every morning and was patiently helping him overcome his special needs.
- Aussie mates: Three Australian oil engineers, in their early 60s and friends for 40 years, are doing the Camino together. It all started when one of the men said he was going; the others asked if they could join him. They booked their flight two days after deciding to go and were here in three weeks. We had a long chat with them over a couple of cervezas. Very nice chaps!