Walking the Camino and Trying Really Hard Not to be Judgmental

I’m trying really hard to be a good citizen here on the Camino knowing that for many, it’s a life’s dream; a search for meaning in life, a pilgrimage in hopes of a miracle, or penance for some past misdeed.

And I’m really trying not to be judgmental, but c’mon the dark forces are all around me, there’s no escaping its pull.

Let’s just start with my journey to Madrid.

There I was seated in 7A on my way to D.C. playing word games, solitaire and ordering snacks.

I was trying to decide if I should be having deep thoughts -BUT- It’s kind of hard to have deep thoughts when the guy next to me is in a deep drunken coma and reeks of booze.

He’s been passed out since we boarded and Maker’s Mark is having it’s revenge. Each time his head dips down, his body convulses him awake… but only briefly, then he nods off again. I don’t know whether to laugh or ask for a glass with some ice cuz I’m getting toasted off of his fumes.

But I’m trying not to be judgmental.

Test number two came on my flight from D.C. to Madrid.

A young married couple were assigned to my row and we exchanged our pleasantries but once we reached 35,000 feet – everything changed.

The woman in 8D literally began doing a downward dog, and a pigeon pose, and finished it off with child’s pose.

I know it’s an international flight and we’re all supposed to stretch so when she asked if I minded if she stretched, I just kind of mumbled, “err, yeah I guess, ok.” But then she rolled out a padded mat placed it there on the floor in front of us and began doing her “stretches” – And I shit you not – she put her leg over her head – I seriously shit you not.

I’m like, wait, I know we paid for extra leg room but this is crazy as fuck.

I began looking for cameras because I was certain this was being taped, but no.

Her husband, meantime sitting between us is not phased one bit, he’s totally into the inflight screening of “Doctor Strange” (very fitting).

But not the guy in 7C! He can’t believe the show he’s getting – as he vacillates between wild fantasies and then catches himself and offers me with the international WTF look.

But I’m trying to not be judgmental.

Today though on the Camino – I lost all my hopes of not being judgmental.

Every single guide book, online group and forums say that Day Two on the Camino is a walk in the park, even describing it as “Easy” you know, a casual downhill stroll.

They’re liars – all of ’em.

Today I I left Roncesvalles headed for Larrasoana and walked 17.3 miles uphill followed by steep downhills that could easily be labeled as Olympic competition Black Diamonds.

Today’s descents were fucking brutal on my legs, hips, and toes. I checked my map and apps numerous times just to see if I got lost, like maybe I had accidentally turned on to another route to Santiago de Compostella.

It was so bad, one man had to be taken away by ambulance and another, slipped and fell hard while crossing a stream.

I feel like I’ve been through Navy SEAL tryouts.

I don’t know how these travel guides got their books published, I guess their editors never left their desks to fact check.

But there I go again being judgmental.

I also started getting all judgmental when I had to stand in line to go to the bathroom at one of the very few public restrooms along the way. I mean c’mon there’s no public toilets, folks have to go in the bushes or find a cow field. I’m thinking to myself, holy shit, if there’s like 250,000 people who do this every year – some entrepreneur should charge to let folks go, but no, they are literally pissing money away.

But then the kicker …

There was this couple, probably in their 70s – I could never shake them and never lost site of them with their matching hiking pants, shocking white hair and their public displays of affection.

They held hands the entire walk – except for the times they embraced with deep, long, passionate kisses.

I was going to tell them to get a room, but you know, I’m really trying not to be judgmental.


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