If I ever write a book about this experience it’ll be called What the Hell am I Doing Here?
A lot has changed since my first post. I think it all began with a Dutch man on the trail who started talking to me back at the beginning, near Estella. I felt a little more brave about approaching people after that and so that evening at my albergue in Estella I sat down at the kitchen table and…well, I sat there awkwardly until people started talking to me.
Everything got better from there.
And it’s not that I set out on this trip with the intention of trying to avoid being alone or anything. It’s just interesting to see how these little Camino bonds happen, and how families form.
Many faces have become familiar since my first day. I was overjoyed in Los Arcos when I made friends with the Spanish folks, who could, in fact, speak perfect English. I befriended a loveable Brazilian guy and a sweet Chinese girl and we sat in the town square on Good Friday, drinking wine and watching a bizarre religious procession.
I’ve been marching with the same pilgrim family for days now – Terri the Aussie, Tibor the German, Flemming the Danish, and Rachele the Italian. We pick up people here and there, sing songs, and complain about blisters and the shitty food. There’s an Italian man, Mario, who called his mother from Santo Domingo to ask about a pasta recipe and then cooked the most incredible spaghetti dish for us using the bare basics. Now Flemming and Tibor cook for us, and I much prefer to be the dishwasher.
But everyday is a new challenge. I’m fatigued and my feet hurt. One day was so extraordinarily windy, we walked five hours without talking to one another. Today we woke up in Ages to lightning and thunder, which quickly turned to snow…lots and lots of snow. I was wet through; freezing and miserable. But somehow we made it all the way to Burgos as team of eight, and I doubt I could do it alone. I’ve considered quitting a few times, to be honest.
But then, a while back I had one of those moments. I was walking alone and there was no one around for a long time. I was a little bored and so I started singing and listening to music, and suddenly in the distance there were these snow capped mountains and a fortress perched on top of a hill. Everything was so overwhelmingly beautiful that I started crying and I couldn’t stop. I was just so happy and thankful for the opportunity to do such a walk, and I felt so blessed for my own two feet to carry me.
And then Riptide by Vance Joy came through on my Spotify. It’s my spirit song and it just happens to pop up every time I’m in emotional turmoil. And so everything was right in the world again.
That’s about as religious as it gets.
That Dutch guy, by the way, his name is Gerrard and he has the uncanny ability to just pop up o the trail in the most unexpected places. He’s become bit of figurehead for me and the other walkers. It’s funny how you can know people in less than 10 days, and be comforted by their presence.
So here I am on The Way. And every day is a new adventure.