While I’m gathering up enough steam to write another “day on the camino” post, let’s talk about the other peeps who are crazy enough to walk 200 miles – or more.
On our way out of St. Jean Pied de Port, we met handsome young Alex from Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated from college this spring with a major in English and a minor in computer technology – or something like that. He was walking the entire camino – all 500 miles of it – by himself with everything on his back. He was not sending his luggage by way of taxi to the next hotel like we were, so he had his clothes, extra shoes, Head and Shoulders – EVERYTHING – in his backpack. No wimpy lumbar pack for this young man.
At dinner in Roncesvalles, we sat at a big round table with other pilgrims, one of whom was a young man from Sweden. He was a little vague about what he does for a living – I think he was in computer technology too, wasn’t he, Kath? He said he was taking a break to decide on his next career. His English was excellent and, oh by the way, he spoke several other languages as well. Put us to shame, he did. He was also traveling the entire camino by himself and carrying with him all of his gear in a pack that weighed 7 kilos total.
We met so many people from different countries – from as far away as Korea and Australia and Hawaii, and from all over Europe. Some traveled singly – mostly men, young like Alex and older like the gentleman we kept passing on the 2nd hundred miles. He spoke a language that I didn’t understand – surprise, surprise! – so we never did figure out where he was from. He just kept plodding along…sometimes we passed him, other times he passed us.
We met many couples – again, young and older, and many groups. We saw one child of maybe 8 or 10 years, but I think he was doing just a day hike with his family. There were a few groups of teenagers – all European, perhaps all Spanish. One small group was a young Scottish guy walking the entire camino with his girlfriend and her mother. Kathie just went up and started talking with him because he had red hair and beard; she figured he must be Scottish and having walked the Western Highlands she’s now Scottish herself, you know. (Just teasin’, Kath!) Anyway, he was out of work back in Scotland so he decided to walk the camino. He was liking it so much that he said when he reached Santiago he’d probably just turn left and cut down through Portugal. Neat guy.
Some of the travelers were on bikes. Believe me, getting up and down those rocky slopes on foot is tough enough – I don’t know how those guys did it on bikes. Once we even saw a group of guys on Segways. Never saw ‘em again…they left us in their dust.
It is estimated by Wikipedia that more than 200,000 pilgrims will have walked the camino this year – and those are just the ones getting their compostela in Santiago.
From what we saw, the majority were walking the entire 500 miles and with full packs. Bless ‘em all. Buen Camino!