It seems like I have been Camino bashing so today while walking, I was thinking about all the things I have learned on this journey.
I have to start with the different interesting people I have spent moments or meals with. It started with a pilgrim meal, moments after getting off my first train from Paris. We were mostly female with two token men at the gathering where our Hospitelero (host) told us that the previous evening the balance had been majority male. I met Danes, Swedes, Australians, ministers and atheists as well as some experienced pilgrims returning with their family to start the journey. This little group became a bit like family on seeing some of them later on my journey except names were forgotten. (Wait- that is like our family too!)
On subsequent meals I met a cardiac surgeon from a famous clinic in the States and a History Professor from another American University. Both men were originally from the UK. I learned a lot from both. There was a group of 6 from the UK that were walking a stage, all of whom were over 70. Two of them had met as mature students recently on an Art history degree. They fascinated me and the one lady was extremely witty. I met a Hungarian who worked with models on some interesting shows and he wanted to start up a coaching agency for women over 30 to get them dating. My walking partner has a fascinating story and she renovated her RV ( campervan to us Saffa’s) all by herself.
The history professor probably taught me the most about the Camino. He told me that as a Catholic, if one was to die while on the Camino, purgatory would be by-passed. He shared how most early pilgrims never made it to Santiago as crime was rampant and most would be mugged, robbed and harmed. Women in the small towns would ‘aid’ male pilgrims in various ways in order to make a living. He explained about the Spanish agriculture and we had huge discussions about how the Catholic Church needed an urgent Renaissance. Well, I didn’t really discuss, I asked the questions. He was a fascinating man and I am still mulling over much of which he told me and that was almost a week ago.
There will be many more stories and memories that will no doubt surface over the course of my life and it helps me to write them down. For now, I am looking forward to the last stage of the journey now that we have broken the 200km left mark and I must admit that I am looking forward to finishing.
So as I hear the rooster mark the end of his day and my bed squeaks as I turn slightly, I settle down to a hot night in a very strange hostel, in a town almost forgotten by the world and remember the magic that is constantly happening in my life.