For the most part, I like walking by myself. It’s not that I don’t want to meet people – I love meeting people and sharing our stories, it’s that when I walk with others I feel compelled to walk at their speed, and I’m not in that big of a hurry – or that slow.
Also if you want to walk with someone you have to absorb their needs and wants, their schedule becomes yours; you have to stop and eat, have a coffee, take your shoes off, take your socks off, rub your feet, go to the bathroom, wait for them to go to the bathroom, wait for them to buy souvenirs, wait for them to chat with fellow travelers – sometimes I just wanna be like Forrest Gump and go for a walk.
And so I walked…..”For no particular reason I just kept on going.”
So I’ve found myself alone – a lot. But, and here’s the surprising thing – I’m never alone walking the Camino de Santiago.
It’s been almost three weeks since I started my Spanish Schlep and I have not been lonely at all. We pilgrims -for the most part- act as one.
We all seem to hit the road around the same time (7:30AM), drink our first coffees at the same time (10:30AM), lunch (12:00), and roll into our designated village together (2:30PM).
Then we all fall into the same pattern, check in to our hotels or alburgues, do our laundry, take a nap, shop for fruits or supplies fur the next day, go to a bar or cafe for a drink or snack and then rest until dinner.
That’s the toughest part of my day – waiting for dinner!
Spaniards eat really, really late and they’ll be damned if they’re going to change their lifestyles for us pilgrims- even if we are the lifeblood of their economy.
I think it’s Spain’s biggest fuck yous to its visitors.
But walking alone affords me the opportunity to come in and out of people’s lives while we march some 500 miles across Spain.
Two young Italian girls were chattering and all I could hear was “Vodka” and “Cointreau” – obviously they were talking about the drink that fueled “Sex in the City” or is now fueling “Sex on the Camino.”
Ten minutes later a Spanish couple was screaming at each other – I couldn’t decipher a single word so I’m guessing they were either arguing over how long they’ve marched or how “Lost” ended.
I love watching the evolution of budding romances on the road and far I’ve zeroed in on three:
One-Boy from Sicily who sweet on girl from Romania. They’re quite amorous and take their PDA (public displays of affection) to a whole new level.
Two-Boy from Mexico who has a girlfriend back home but has fallen hard for girl from Argentina. You can see these two are mad for each other – they’re inseparable, but I think he’s holding back. My money’s on The Way, though, I think he’s going give in which is great, cuz I can’t bare thinking of him saying to her at the end, “Don’t cry for me, Argentina.” (Oh c’mon, it was right there – you knew I had to go there!!)
Three-Boomer Love. I’ve been watching these two retired pilgrims getting more and more serious. She’s American (New England) he’s from Vancouver. At first they were part of a gang, but now, they’re spending more and more time alone – resting, walking just the two of them, and then the trail telltale – how he helps her in and out of her chairs when it’s mealtime. Guys (even those nice Canadians) only act all gallant when they’re hoping to get some. These two are more shy, more awkward, more tentative than the younger lovebirds – but their feelings are just as real and evident.
There are no secrets when you walk the Camino with your “tribe” day after day – we all hear and see everything – be it your laundry hanging out to dry ON your backpack or your heart out on your sleeve.
Here are my stats
11.1 Miles Marched Today – Hey its Sunday, Day of Rest!
(Mansilla de las Mulas – Leon)
292.08 Miles Traveled So Far
213.8 Miles Left To Go
505.8 Total Miles to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain
Tomorrow – Rest Day in Leon