The Camino is now well known in Spain. For a while it was forgotten, as the older religious Pilgrims fell away and many of the small towns or rather villages struggled to keep their livelihood going . About 18 years ago there was a sudden reawakening of interest. A few famous people wrote some books, movies and documentaries made and many people from around the world pitched up to complete the journey.
The Spanish government has now invested money into it and the European Union is giving some help and the villages are flourishing, the path is well maintained and there is a resurgence of pride amongst local Pilgrims. To get a certificate of completion one needs to complete the last 100km of the route. I overhead someone saying that people now put it on their CV , much like Comrades I expect.
In August, the route has its busiest time. Half the recorded Pilgrims are Spanish due to it being summer holidays. Today we met many of the new Pilgrims. How could we tell? They smelled clean, fresh and looked groomed. Their shoes were still new and their yoga mats uncrinkled. Plus they chatted a lot as they dawdled together in their original bunches in matching t-shirts until they reached the first hill. It was decidedly mean I must admit and I recognised the look of horror as I strode past without my rucksack and greeted with a cheery ‘beunas dias’. They panted back a mumble and we all moved slightly closer to the end.
This increase in foot traffic meant our initial two hours was busier than before and noisier. I watched my Camino mate stride off into the distance and I knew it would be crazy to try keep up. Our night before’s 4 bedded hostel room which initially, had seemed idyllic was close to becoming a scene from ‘Orange is the new black ‘ when Grace caught the dreadlocked ladies smooching up a storm. She didn’t have eye pads or earplugs like I did so she was grumpy, with reason, when we set out. For a moment we were wishing for the randy Germans back. Flies had pestered me most of the night too so the initial surge in this morning’s speed was good to get the aggression out of the system. After our first drinks break the route calmed down and at times it seemed like we were the only two walking. The trees are magnificent and I was seeing faces and shapes in all the gnarled branches and ivy.
We reached our overnight stop fairly early and managed to get a private room for the two of us. The weather heated up after we finished and I felt for those new Pilgrims working their new journey on foot.
Four days of walking left and I am looking forward to it.